Yesterday I went to see my little brother’s new apartment. Well, “little” is really pushing the laws of adjectives since he’s actually 29 but he hasn’t seemed to take life as seriously as the rest of us old fogies. Curiously, I know of 2 other people around his same age that seem to subscribe to a more extremely dependent way of life which is to expect the rest of the hard working world to provide them with the help and comfort they “deserve”. So what if they are just reaping the benefits of other people’s struggles? That is not their problem!
The little brother was always grateful for the help but he was also used to not having to be accountable to anybody but himself. I guess it was hard to live by the iron hand of his big sister who rented him the floor above while he and his baby momma got on their feet. The drama and stress this caused, he is also of strong character which means he is as volatile as I am, was sometimes a little more than I could handle. Things came to a head earlier this year with some pretty fucked up, depressing and scary shit happening so it became apparent why there had to be a parting of ways and he would have to leave sooner than he had planned.
Inwardly, I was racked with guilt because I was worried about the many addictions and mental health issues we inherited from the paternal side of my family. Would I get a call in the middle of the night telling me I had to bail him out or worse, come visit him in a hospital? Where would he wind up living? A hovel in the middle of gangland?
Outwardly, I put on a warrior mask and I held strong to the voices around me who, unintentionally I hope, were implying I may have delivered him to the wolves. I held strong by no longer volunteering to give a helping hand even with something as simple as moving his things. I felt I had done enough, you see.
Considering the fact that he was the child I helped raise and would lug around like my baby monkey, it was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Andy was witness to all my breakdowns. This wasn’t the only family issue I was dealing with since it seems the whole fucking world thinks I owe them my life. They don’t realize how draining it is to always try to be the strong one. It turns out, my body was sending out one warning sign after another and I had to finally listen and begin to put myself before others.
When we were driving to his apartment, I noticed how the neighborhood I once lived around had gentrified. It no longer seemed like you had to worry too much about being jumped under the elevated train tracks. I looked appreciatively at the old school construction of the buildings I had never seemed to notice before because my eyes were always glued to the path in front of me with frequent looks behind me to make sure there were no attackers tracking my progress.
The houses surrounding his building had a charming array of flowers and people hanging out on their stoops watching the world go by. I was comforted when I saw his apartment. A clean, small studio with only the bare necessities but perfect for a single man, making his way in life on his own. Currently he is working full time, studying part time and supporting himself 100% of the time. I couldn’t be prouder if he had told me he had won the Nobel peace prize. Okay maybe, that’s a bit exaggerated but I still feel like my heart is filled with all sorts of warm and fuzzies.
He has always been very stubborn, fearless and wanting to do things his way, I can relate, and I am happy that he is back on track to where he wants his life to head. I know he will need us every once in a while but it’ll be easier for me to resume the “big sister” role because I see how hard he is trying.