My brother and I have never been very close. As kids we fought almost daily, there was no love lost between us. Now, as adults, we get alone well enough, but I would definitely not classify us as friends. We are siblings so we see each other at significant yearly holidays and phone each other a few times a year usually because we are arranging some sort of joint gift for another family member or saying happy birthday to each other. In fact, as we have contemplated the very real possibility of only having 1 child, I will admit I often use my relationship with my brother as an example of why having a sibling isn’t a guaranteed life long friend.
I have often said that if we weren’t siblings we would probably never cross paths and we wouldn’t choose to be friends. It’s not that he’s not a nice person, he definitely is. It’s just that we are so incredibly different from each other that we have so little in common that we wouldn’t probably ever cross paths or have any reason to be friends. Really, the fact that we are siblings is what ties us together. And, that’s not a bad thing, at least not in my opinion. I just look at is as being what it is. (Which is interesting because other family member relationships like this have caused me way more stress and anxiety over the years, for some reason it just never has with my brother, which I think has to do with the fact that I’ve never expected anything more from our relationship, where as I have definitely expected more from other relationships in my life – anyways, I digress).
I guess I share the past history of our relationship because the most interesting thing just happened.
My brother, for the first time ever, asked me for serious advice!
Not advice like which color do you like, but more like I’m at a crossroads in my life and you can probably offer some constructive suggestions. (I will not go into specifics of the conversation because it isn’t my storey to share nor is it the point). The point is that I was so taken by the conversation, that Mr. MPB probably thinks I’m a broken record as I haven’t stopped talking about it.
Honestly, over the years my brother has been great at giving me unsolicited advice on every topic under the sun and at the same time he’s been great at ignoring my perspective to the point of not even including me in conversations while I’m in the room. I’ve always assumed our relationship has been very stereotypical of an older/younger sibling relationship – big brother knows all, little sister knows nothing. Which is probably somewhat appropriate when the siblings are 8 and 3 years old respectively, but at some point we both grew up and should have become more equal.
Needless to say our recent conversation completely surprised me. And, it has left a lasting impact on me because it’s the first time in my life that I felt like I was taken seriously by him. And for me, that was a notable experience simply because it has never happened before.
I’m curious, maybe this is the sign of a changing relationship? I know one conversation isn’t about to change everything, but I do know that I’ll be more likely to engage in a conversation if I’m acknowledged to be in the room and if my opinion if valued. I cannot help but wonder if maybe things are finally changing? Or at least, maybe the door is opening to change, even if just a little bit?
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