SIBLING RIVALRY – by Marlene Daley

SIBLING RIVALRY

Our mother, father, siblings, extended family, friends, neighbors, peers, culture, locale, education, colleagues, mates, experiences, travels, religion, spiritual inclination, beliefs, mundane trappings, and so on, are all necessary or preordained “enablers” on this journey of life, which leads to self-realization. But we must be particularly thankful when relationships with our siblings transition, blossom and bloom into something as wonderful as friendship, for without compromise, there will certainly be differences between “individuals” that makes for a relationship that is sometimes untenable. Dr. Wayne Dyer was right on the button when he said that, “Your friends are God’s way of apologizing for your relatives.” I guess he knew that despite the saying, “Blood is thicker than water,” and that family will more often than not be there in times of need, making friends within the family is often difficult.

Take the scenario of a family of ten children who grew up in St. Kitts. They were thrust closely together not by intention but by virtue of the fact that throughout their upbringing they lived humbly in a small dwelling. Who would have thought that life’s natural arrangement would have driven a wedge between such constant close physical interaction, rather than pushing them psychologically apart. “The space was always too tight,” Steven the eighth in lineup, bemoaned, “I couldn’t wait to grow up and live on my own. I was suffocating.”

That need for space manifested at an early age, far too soon for the many years of growth that it would have taken to get to the point of independence. Impatience would sometimes set in and reared its head as anger.

The speeding passage of time and the constantly growing bodies brought the need to find ways to maneuver in spaces that were technically growing smaller, in order to not bump into each other.

The sigh of relief came when at 22 years old Steven (not his correct name), ventured on his own. He had been working a regular job but saving, as it was sometimes termed, “milk out of coffee.” His challenges were welcomed, as they diminished in size by the freedom that he had waited for years to exercise. Those members of the family left behind would no doubt take leave of home over time as his older respected brother Joseph had. Joseph had moved to England to attend college. The social and economic advancement that would evidently be the outcome of any such venture lured Steven into joining his brother. They all knew he was the brightest of the bunch and that confidence and ambition is contagious. Plus, being able to share living expenses made the venture that much more attractive.

Joseph’s small loft apartment was spartanly furnished but immaculately kept. He had gotten a full scholarship and nailed a job on campus. Within a couple months of Steven’s arrival Joseph complained about his heavy steps. Steven was baffled by the thought. He was barely heavier than his brother, but he wondered even in this reality how he could possibly “walk lighter.” House rules were in place which Steven, as an adult now, found a tad bit difficult to accept. What with a midnight “curfew” when peers who had wisely formed small groups to ensure success, were all over the place doing assignments? Joseph did make it clear that his focus was his school work and any coming and going late at night was a distraction. He told Steven that, “he was not taking any prisoners.”

Grouses, which were old and far and few between them in childhood, were now being brought up in conversations intended to thrash out differences that had nothing to do with the here and now and Steven’s appeal to stop seemed to be falling on deaf ears. Steven was now gradually coming to terms with this being sibling rivalry. He remembered days in their youth when Joseph would play horrible tricks like throwing the carcass of a flattened dead frog, evidently run over by a car tyre at him, but he thought it was all about childhood pranks and nothing else. He recalled being constantly singled out by his mother especially, for his outstanding work at school but was too distracted for his need for space to see how this was affecting his siblings. “The chicken had now come home to roost,” in delivering punishment and extracting the degree of attention that excluded him from the limelight of childhood.

Joseph had “misplaced” his high school graduation ring, and it was extremely embarrassing and unsettling for Steven to have found this out through friends on campus. He was furious. He saw this as a blatant attempt to tarnish his integrity, reputation and honesty. It was his most painful experience coming from his brother and he swore that he would never allow any such thing to happen again. This broke the last thread that of respect and trust that he had for his brother.

Seeking an alternative live-in arrangement on the same campus was out of the question. He quit the college and has not spoken to or made any effort to contract his brother since. That was 9 years ago.

Marlene Daley    http://kotchmagazine.com/

 

 

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