Yesterday was my brother’s 37th birthday.
I thought for sure I was going to be emotional about it; birthdays have been a reminder of the family I lost when I ran away. But I really didn’t feel anything at all. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t anything. I just said today is my brother’s birthday and then I went on with my day.
I used to feel sorry for my brother. I used to feel guilty for leaving him behind. But all of that changed last month when I finally saw my brother for who he really was: my mother’s son.
I know it isn’t all my brother’s fault. I think he drank a little too much of our mother’s Kool-Aid throughout his life and he continues to see the world through the distorted lenses that she prescribed to him. He lives in my mother’s version of reality, a reality devoid of truth and decency, a reality full of lies and artificiality.
But that’s not an excuse for all of my brother’s actions. He’s had choices, yet he has continued to make the wrong ones time and time again. He’s chosen to be a follower instead of a leader. He’s chosen to be a user instead of a helper. He’s chosen to be a boy instead of a man. He’s chosen to be a husband instead of a son. He’s chosen to be greedy instead of fair. He’s chosen to hurt instead of heal.
My brother didn’t have to be that way. He made those choices on his own, and he will have to live with them. I no longer carry any guilt. I no longer feel sorry for him. I only feel sorry for the little girl who lost her brother. Her brother, the only person who was there with her through some of the pain, and the one person who should have understood more than anyone what they went through. That brother is gone, though I’m not sure he ever really existed.
I wanted my brother to be someone who I now know he will never be. I wanted him to choose good over evil. I wanted him to be better than what she wanted him to be. But that’s not who he is, and I can’t change that, just as I can’t change who my mother is, or who my father was. I can’t change any of them. I can only change me.
My brother and I share parents. We share the same last name. But that is where our similarities end. We are vastly different people, who have taken completely opposite paths. My brother chose complacency, and I chose rebellion.
My brother will always be the golden child, never doing wrong, always getting whatever he wants. But he will never realize that all of it comes with the cost of his freedom.
I will always be the black sheep, doing everything wrong, getting nothing I need. But that’s okay because I have my freedom, and that freedom hasn’t cost me anything I hadn’t lost already.