I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with my older brother. We hadn’t spoken in 17 years when I found him on Facebook three years ago. Since then we had spoken on the phone, but still hadn’t seen each other. It wasn’t until his wife reached out to me and asked if I could come down to see him for his birthday. It was a total surprise.
Needless to say I was nervous. The last time I had spoken to him before I found him on Facebook had left me in a puddle of my own misery. Speaking to him triggered panic attacks and PTSD episodes. It wasn’t his fault, it was just a matter of my own mental and emotional health not to speak to him.
So we met. I spent the weekend with him and his family and it went well. We didn’t fight. I didn’t have a panic attack. And best yet I got to spend time with my nephew whom I had never met.
The weird part was that we have such different memories of our family. It could be the age difference. He is seven years older than me. But I think it’s more than that.
I forgave my parents and grandparents several years ago because I realized I would never be able to move on until I did. Seeing my brother again was the ultimate test of that. It’s all well and good that I can say I forgave them and let it go, but being faced with a person who is the embodiment of them takes it to a whole other level.
Being able to spend time with him without feeling all those old, destructive feelings is all the proof I needed. I have moved on. I have become my own person. I am me and I have a life that I’m proud of. As much as I would like my parents’ approval and them to be proud of me it doesn’t make me less of a person if I don’t have it. And I don’t need it.
I hope one day my brother can get to that point too, for his sake and the sake of his son. Going down memory lane was very painful for us, but I’m hoping the happy times we spent together recently will help lessen the importance of our pasts.
We can now build on much better memories.
It’s taken me quite some time to process all of this. It wasn’t until I used my Grandmother’s measuring spoons last night while making dinner that everything hit me. I used to be focused on everything my family did wrong and what they did to hurt me.
And, oh man, was I angry.
Now I choose to remember the good things, like my Grandmother baking with those same measuring spoons and her letting me put in the different spices after carefully measuring them. I suppose I could mourn the loss of those good times or the good times I should have had, but didn’t. But I would rather celebrate the memories that come flooding back from being able to use something my Grandmother used.
I would rather celebrate the fact that my parents taught me the value of hard work, honesty, and determination. They cultivated a spirit of independence – which ultimately came back to bite them in the ass, be careful what you wish for – in both my brother and myself. Gender wasn’t the issue.
And as I get older I understand they were doing the best they could with what they had. They were people who had the same doubts and fears and insecurities I have often felt. And ultimately I choose to believe that deep down they only wanted what was best for me even if it was limited to their narrow vision.
They helped to make me who I am today with one vital difference. I don’t have to repeat the cycle. I can celebrate the good, learn from the bad, and let the next generation be who they need to do be.
I never knew measuring spoons could mean so much…