My whole life I longed to be my brother. I wanted to be a success, I wanted to be like a man, so I could gain the appreciation I thought he had. I wanted to be my Dad, not my Mom. Truthfully if anyone ever said I would turn out like my Mother in the past I would have destroyed them, these days I would say that is an honour. Being the oldest daughter was not an easy job and having a brother come along pretty much for my first birthday was probably a little overwhelming, but I know myself and I most likely thought he was a living breathing doll that I would continue to have to take care of for the rest of my life.
In my eyes growing up I saw my brother as having it all. I was a girl and my parents had a double standard so even though he was younger he had all the same privileges I had. For example, we had the same curfew (because he was a boy and apparently my parents didn’t have to worry about him). It was a constant struggle for me having to share everything and having no personal boundaries (we slept in the same room and so did my younger brother when he came along). Not to mention our birthdays were 8 days apart so my Mother often had our birthday parties together. I can remember throwing a temper tantrum because I wanted my own cake, I didn’t want to share. To an outsider looking in, it may have looked like I was a selfish brat but honestly, I just needed to try to assert my independence and be someone other than my brother, but I didn’t know how. I just knew my Dad paid attention to him and always asked him to do things and I figured out quick that if I wanted to be around him I had to like the things he did, the things he was showing Andy how to do. I wanted to be my Dad’s son even though I was his daughter. I’m not sure my Dad ever knew what to do with a daughter, he only knew his job was to protect me, he didn’t really figure out the encourage and accept and care part. He was to keep a roof over my head and protect me, keep me safe because I was a girl. My brother did not have to be kept safe. He was fully capable of looking after himself, but I apparently wasn’t. Instead I got conditioned that I needed someone, I could never do it alone and this was a message that was perpetuated over and over. I have lost count of how many times people have tried to manipulate and control me over telling me I cannot do something. The truth is they are telling me I cannot do it because they most likely cannot. They are projecting their insecurities onto me and for almost 45 years I was naïve enough to believe almost everyone that said I could not do it alone.
So my wake up call to not wanting to be my brother or a “man” (apparently I had penis issues, as in I wanted one because I thought it would make me better, more accepted, more likeable) came when my ex-husband struck me in the head with my cell phone and I screamed to my brother for help and he became a pacifist. He wanted no part in helping me, yet he was supposed to protect me and help me, be my family. I ended up asking someone else for assistance, a woman, who in turn called another woman who had a man that took her seriously when she said someone was in trouble and my new life began. Strangers that barely knew me came to my aid and this was just the beginning. When I finally stood up for myself and roared I started to find myself again. I spent time with my brother as I had been providing for him and his family (I let him live rent free in my home and paid the bills and provided him with a substantial amount of extra cash) only to realize that he had become my living doll again and he needed to strike out on his own. I began to re-examine my life and the people that had been telling me that “I could not do it” and started to see that it was not me that couldn’t do it, I had been doing it all along (albeit sometimes I didn’t know how). One day I wrote down my accomplishments and looked at them for a long time and for once I focused on my successes instead of my failures (although nothing is a fail, it’s a first attempt in learning). I saw that although my life moves in circles, the circle was widening like a spiral. I was growing with each experience good and bad.
Although life had taken me down some pretty shitty paths I had learned so much and it was all coming together. I finally could see the light in the darkness, the forest through the trees. I had a friend point out that the greater your pain, the greater your purpose and that although lots of people had suffered the fate I had, I was different in that I chose to speak out about what happened to me to try to affect change. I could not see the change I had already affected because it was very clouded with conditioning, but a veil was lifted and suddenly, I started to feel a sense of pride and I knew I was important, but I still had a disconnect because I wanted to be my brother. My perception of him was that everyone liked him, and he was amazing, always laughing and smiling but then I remembered a conversation I had with my granddaughter while watching “The Little Rascals.” I had explained to her the difference between real people and fake people. I remembered how my brother had told me that I could not live alone and that his children could never find out what had happened to me and I realized he was imposing his will on my like others and telling me what could and could not happen in my life. He was trying to control me because he couldn’t live alone, he needed me.
I knew I was important, but I did not feel it, because I wanted the respect my brother got as a man and I did not know that I could achieve it as a Woman. I saw other important men in my life and the respect bestowed upon them and I looked up to them because I failed to see myself as their equal. I was somehow taught that as a woman I was lesser than a man, secondary, I needed one of them to survive. When I wrote down my accomplishments I started to see that these were all achieved by me, no one else. I was the one that served in the Canadian Armed Forces, I was the one who had went to University with two small children while working full-time, I was the one that kept a roof over my children and their friends heads (although not the most appropriate ways at times but I forgive myself). I also realized that I had set boundaries and did have limitations. I had walked away when I had too much in the past, I knew what I needed. What a revelation. I actually knew what I needed, contrary to what I had been told my whole life which is that someone else knew what I needed. A man, a doctor, a teacher, a CAS worker, therapists, these people knew what I needed but I apparently didn’t. I had been accused of not listening my whole life but I was. I was just a slow processor and it all made sense at once.
After 46 years I came to the realization that I don’t want to be my brother, and I don’t want to be a man. I was raised the way I was so that I could be who I am and I have my brother to thank for doing all those things with my Dad and me just being there to learn. I am perfectly fine being me, having my accomplishments, learning my lessons and walking my path, being real. I didn’t have to be my Dad’s son because I already was his SUN, his whole life. His sunshine, his Dawn and he was always proud of me, he just didn’t know how to express it, and I don’t listen to people, I listen to the voice in my head and heart and gut which is probably the reason I have chose such a difficult path.