How I've Dealt With Being Estranged From My Brother
I have lost my brother, again. Gratefully he is alive, but we have not communicated for many years.
Silence. Total, deafening silence.
There is little point in getting into all the nuances and explanations as to why my brother and I do not speak. Tiny fissures have grown between us and spread like wildfire, leaving a charred history over the last few decades. It’s complicated and stupid and it sucks. Let’s just say we have disparate ideas on family, children, responsibilities, culpability and much more.
What do we agree on? Music and food. One thing we loved to do together was cook. I miss that—planning the meals, goofing off at the grocery store, setting up the kitchen, chopping, and sautéing, music blasting with the windows open wide letting the Southern California sun stream in. Talking, laughing and loving. I’m comforted by those uncomplicated memories and have tucked them away inside a special place in my heart.
So, how do I deal with this estrangement? This non-existence of a relationship with my only brother? If someone asked me a few years ago, “How is your brother doing?”, a lump would immediately form in my throat, my heart would start racing, tears would sting my eyes and then I’d have to figure out what to say.
Back then, all I could muster was "Uhh, fine," and then I'd work frantically to change the subject.
Now, after some time, introspection, soul-searching and hopefully some self-evolvement (including therapeutic pathways such as yoga and meditation), I’m able to answer that same question today without a full-on anxiety attack because I have come to a place of peace with the situation being what it is.
I accept that it is AS it is and I have let go of trying to control it or change it and I have stop wondering about the “what if’s.” What has happened is behind me and no amount of worrying or freaking out or second guessing my own actions is going to undo where we are today. Even writing about it and putting it out here to share with the world is a breakthrough and helps me heal and move forward.
This is not to claim that I’m unfazed by the current circumstances. I feel as though some part of me has been severed, and it stinks because I still love him and care about him and hope he is healthy and happy and fulfilled in his life. I remember how he could make me laugh at the most random and inappropriate times. I miss laughing with him more than anything. There are tears as I write this, but it’s OK, it feels good and normal and appropriate to be sad because it’s an unhappy, unnatural situation and even though he is alive and I’m grateful for that, I still feel deep sorrow and loss, a mourning.
The hardest part has been letting go of the anger. The anger at him for shutting down and the anger at myself for not being able to fix our problems, to make everything OK.
But learning to release the anger has been the most advantageous coping mechanism by far-- I'm learning we can never evolve to another, more peaceful stage of acceptance and forgiveness of ourselves, others, or a situation—if we stay tethered to anger.
I’m open and optimistic that my brother and I may communicate again in the future, but I don’t dwell on it anymore. One thing will never change, he’ll always be my brother and I’ll always love him, no matter what.
And I can’t help but wonder sometimes how he might answer the question, “How is your sister doing?”