*sorry for the length of this post but it really needs to be said in just one gulp*
You might have noticed a couple of times where I mentioned I had brothers and yet I didn’t say much about them. That is because my focus was on the two most important people in my life who reared me. Their influence is still with me today. My brothers were there as well. Though they were present they were not as influential as my parents. We were all too close in age.
I have three brothers. The two older brothers, we are all about a year and half apart in ages, until me the third in line, then my little brother who is almost four years younger than me. Oh we all had our sibling rivalries and fighting wasn’t uncommon, however my older brothers did at times try to protect me or I think they did, if I couldn’t protect myself but of course only if they knew I needed their help. My little brother, I tried to protect as did my older brothers. He was our baby brother.
I grew up a tomboy. Yep, I liked playing with trucks, and cars more than Barbie dolls, guns, bows and arrows more than playing at tea time. I wanted to climb the tallest trees until one day I did and got to the top and looked down, then was too scared to come down until my next to the oldest brother came up and helped me down. That was the end of my tree climbing days.
I played with my brothers when they allowed it, which wasn’t too often. So for the most part I lived a very solitary life. I had friends at the most, one or two, one across the street until my father forbid me to play with her any more. The other lived about a mile away as the crow flies and since we lived in the country I could hike across land and probably reach her home faster than riding my bike along the street, however that was only when I was permitted to go to her home which was not very often. I didn’t invite her to my home very often because each time ended up in an embarrassing situation for her to see, either because of how my father acted or how he treated me.
Therefore, learning as a child to not invite friends over has created this uncomfortable situation in my adult life when it comes to entertaining friends in my home. I just never know what to do when they are there and I have this uncomfortable feeling that they are judging my housekeeping skills, which I know comes from my father never being satisfied with the chores I did around the house. Something I know I need to work on.
When our parents divorced the older brother next to me in age decided to live with our father. This baffled me because out of all of us, he was the one brother I had seen my father actually strike with the back of his hand across the back of his head when my brother got mad at the plastic model he was trying to put together and threw it across the room. Granted I don’t think my brother should have thrown it across the room but I definitely think my father should never have struck him.
At first I was confused and sad when he decided to live with our dad however I am a person who can and does adjust with change. It might take me longer mentally to adjust but I do and it wasn’t long before he was just a brother I rarely ever saw.
I say rarely because it was known to us that it was our father’s responsibility to schedule visitations with us, and yet he never did. It just struck me now that apparently my mother never did either with the one son who wasn’t living with us. How strange that I wouldn’t think about that until now. Or maybe she did and he just didn’t want to see us, however I don’t think that is true. When he was old enough and had a car he came to visit, however not very often, I remember only one time.
I can’t help but think, the two of them, my parents I mean, chose to let their fears govern them keeping them away from the children who didn’t live with them. For they would have actually had to speak to one another to schedule visitation. It is too bad children have to suffer or hurt because of things like this.
This however is what we learned. I should probably mention that all this about my family not communicating, not having social interaction between each other isn’t rare in my extended family. It would actually be more uncommon for someone to pick up the phone just to chat than it was for the silence that rained between calls which were just about making sure someone would be home when they decided it was time to come by. Those visits would be months apart, sometimes years apart, so to say calls between my family was rare is saying it mildly.
When I left home, my feelings about my brothers were that of a sister who thought her brothers were of such character they would do anything in the world for her if they could if she needed them. But then I had altruistic feelings about the government and military too. I apparently had a lot to learn.
As an adult I tried to keep in touch. I tried calling, talking, and it was always my mom and I making sure the family got together around Christmas holidays. So at least we got together once a year.
When our father passed away, I was the one who received the phone call from of all people one of my brother’s ex-wives who apparently stayed in touch due to her wanting to keep in touch with the grandfather of her son. She thought we should be made aware of our father’s passing. I should probably say now that circumstances with my father had grown so strained by how he treated me one day when I went to see him that communication had ceased altogether. My brothers, including the one who had chosen to live with him, had all eventually ended up in similar circumstances. Eventually we all stopped even trying to see him and communication stopped completely. When he died he only had a couple who had decided to be-friend a lonely old man and they had decided to not contact us when he became sick and then later died. My ex-sister-in-law stated she was lucky to have found out when she did about his passing.
I was the one who pulled everyone together to go say our good-byes. That period is a whole other story but I’ll talk about it briefly. The people who took care of our father were shocked when we all walked into the funeral home just before closing at the end of the viewing period. Later one of them tried to manipulate my oldest brother by playing upon his emotions. The day we went to our house to go through our father’s things they called and asked to speak with me. We had hired an attorney at this point and he watched over me closely while they spoke with me on the phone.
These people tried to manipulate me as well by playing upon my emotions. At one point telling me we had no right since we hadn’t seen our father in over ten years. By that time I had enough and I told them they had no idea what went on between us and our father and they had no right to judge us or keep us from having the opportunity to help him or see him when he had become sick. And I hung up the phone. Our attorney had hovered over me throughout the call walking past frequently letting me know he was there.
At the funeral I received another shock. When it was time for the family to be separated from the rest of those in attendance to pay our last respects, these people were there too, as if they were family. They were not.
I had no voice at this time. I don’t mean I wasn’t able to physically talk. I mean my voice was blocked emotionally. I couldn’t speak. When I saw them I wanted to ask what they were doing there but I just couldn’t do it.
The person overseeing this part of the service asked who would like to cover our father. I didn’t know what he meant. None of us moved, then suddenly the woman of this couple took a step forward and my sister-in-law who had come with us, nudged me and asked me if I wanted to do it. I felt like I was in some kind of dreamland all through this.
I stepped forward and did under the guidance of the man from the funeral home. He told me to take the covers and cover him as though I were tucking him in to bed. I did as he said and then I reached up and touched my father on the chin. He didn’t feel real. This was the first time I ever touched a dead person, and he didn’t feel real. He was cold and hard as a rock. His skin didn’t move, it didn’t feel soft, it didn’t feel real. I knew it was him, well of course just his body, but this is when it hit me like a stone brick that he was gone.
It only took a second, only a second for all of this to come home and I turned around and collapsed into sobs of grief. I reached out and the only thing I found was my oldest brother’s arm which he kept bent at a ninety degree angle where I clutched him. No one held me, no one surrounded me with comfort or embraced me.
This is my family. This is how all of them are, not just my immediate family but uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents. It is what they know. So stoic, so solid, so difficult to bend into giving comfort.
I swallowed those tears that day. I pulled myself together. We finished the service, then at the end, the uncle I mentioned in another post came up to talk to us. I stood to the side, not saying a word.
Then it came time for the graveside service. I stood beside my little brother at the end of our row. When we stood at the end, and I turned, my heel caught in the mat under my feet and I nearly fell back into the casket. My little brother caught me and held on until I was able to release my heel. Then when I looked up my uncle was there again. My brothers spoke to him, all of them, never questioning my silence.
Years later, a few days before I moved away to live with the last man I lived with, I sat down with my two older brothers and their wives. We all met at my oldest brother’s house and when I think back now on the position I took up when I spoke with them, I find it interesting. See if you do too.
My brothers and their wives sat on the sofa and chairs or ottoman in the room. I sat on the floor, not kneeling but my legs were curled underneath me a little to the side. I had to look up to them to look in their eyes. I find this interesting. One would think when a person was going to take a stand, one would take a position of power, of dominance to get their point across. This is not what I did.
From my sitting position, I told them very clearly that I was tired of my mother’s and others expectations of me, of expecting me to live my life the way they or she thought I should live. That I was now going to live my life for me. They sat and nodded, seemed to agree with me but mostly they had nothing to say.
When I moved away and ended up in Canada, it became even harder to remain in contact with my brothers, not because of the distance but because I became tired of being the only one who made the effort. Eventually all I heard from them was from their wives when something happened, like my brother ending up in the hospital, or his wife was in the hospital dying, or from my little brother when my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. And then just before she died.
I was in a situation where we couldn’t go home because I didn’t have all the papers we needed for going back and forth across the border so we never went to her funeral. In this day and age, someone could have recorded it for me, but I have to admit I didn’t think of suggesting it until after the fact either and I’m not sure I would have wanted to remember her in how she probably looked at that stage of her illness anyway. Since it had been so long since I’ve seen her I remember her in how she looked in her 50’s and 60’s. She and I look quite a lot alike and I see her face sometimes when I look in the mirror. It used to bother me a lot but it doesn’t so much anymore for I see myself now with just some of her facial features.
Remembering how my father looked was hard enough. He had also died from cancer. Cancer of the lungs that had moved into his brain. It is a hell of a way to die for both of them.
Since my mother’s passing I’ve had no contact with my brothers. Not because I don’t want to but because, well honestly, how can anything withstand just a one-sided give and give and give where others just take and take and take, eventually what one has to give finally becomes empty or just too precious to give away to people who do not appreciate it.
The sad thing about all of this is my brothers are all technology literate, meaning they have computers. They have email. All their wives have Facebook and sometimes that is the only way I know they are still alive and well.
As I headed out on my own after the last man I lived with was sent upon his way, I started considering my position, my wants and needs. Actually I had started considering them some time before that but had never voiced them aloud. I am sure I have a division problem between what is a need and what is a want, so bear with me if I say something is a need when it is really a want.
In my consideration, I’ve had a deep desire for family. Family in the terms of people who are supportive, caring, offer a helping hand when you need it, who I can do the same for as well. In some ways I thought of them as a community, who shared what they had and knew with each other. I knew when after the man I had lived with last left, that if I desired a family beyond just me and my daughter, they most likely would not be blood related which was fine with me. The trouble I had, was in how to build such a family when I had very little skills in doing so. As I’m learning today, my first priority is learning who I am, getting intimate with the real me and from there I can move forward.
I want someone by my side that can help me with not just helping me learn about the real me, but also in building an extended family. Family who will protect each other, and help each other grow. I don’t think it is beyond reach. From what I’m learning I think it is a very real possibility. I’m also learning we can grow such a family even if we do not all live within a few miles, tens of miles, or hundreds of miles of each other. We could span the globe if we so desired.
If you feel this way. If you want to build such a family or be part of such a family, let’s talk. I’m sure we could come up with something.
But most of all I’m learning I want a dominant man in my life, the little bit I’ve experienced lately has shown me how connecting with my submissive self and performing a simple assignment can make me feel so strong and happy. But I need one who is able to help me completely understand this part of myself that has been hidden for so long.
In writing this and writing about my past, it is very clear to me what I’ve been seeking. A compassionate hand tempered in steel, someone patient and kind while at the same time tough as nails when I try to avoid what is uncomfortable to me and who knows when to pull back and not push too hard, someone who isn’t afraid of the powerful emotions I have inside that desire to be released, someone who burns with passion hotter than mine so he can ignite the passion I know is deep inside of me. I could say so much more but this post is already way too long. So I’ll stop now.