People are never stagnant; we’re constantly evolving. Similarly, when you put two people together, no matter what label their relationship has, it will never remain constant.
It’s with that in mind that I’ve recently chosen to embrace an opportunity presented to me with a new perspective.
For those of you who don’t know, I come from a blended family. I have four siblings, three of them being eight to thirteen years older than me, one being six years younger. And my relationship with each of them has never been and will never be stagnant.
My oldest brother, Bubba, (His real name is Kenny, but we call him Bubba. Or Bubbutt.) and I have always had a peculiar relationship. We aren’t very similar beyond the fact that we both like money. In fact, that’s probably our only mutual interest.
My brother left home when he was sixteen. I was four. Since then, I’ve always described our relationship as one where if we were close, we would have a very typical “big brother-little sister” relationship; however, we weren’t close. In fact, for most of the last sixteen years, I probably only saw him a few times a year. Every time I did, though, empty promises were made and I always got excited that things would be different and I’d eventually start spending more time with him.
Those promises were never fulfilled, things never changed, and eventually, this disappointed little girl simply gave up. Why bother?
And so, any hope I ever had at being close to him diminished greatly. When he came around, it wasn’t for very long; on holidays, he showed up for the food—usually food I cooked—and left; when he called, I didn’t show much enthusiasm at all; when he asked about things going on in my life, I kept conversations at a minimum; when he started inviting me to hang out with him, I quickly declined. To make matters worse, I’ve always shown a harsh favoritism amongst my siblings; while my relationship with my sister is in constant disarray, I’ve always been close to my brother, Chad. Sometimes, when my little brother, AJ, takes a break from being an angst-ridden thirteen year old boy, we get along, too. But I always described Bubba as this somewhat-estranged brother that never really comes around.
Recently, my brother has been going through some hard times. As a result, he started going to church with my parents every Sunday about eight months ago. When I’m home from school on Sundays, he’s always there. A few months ago, he started staying at my parent’s house a lot more frequently. I guess a couch is your best bet when you don’t really have anywhere else to go. A few months ago, my parents were blessed to have the ability to purchase the almost-condemned house behind ours. They’re paying him to tear it down, so it only makes sense that he spends the night at our parent’s house. In other words, I’ve spent a lot more time with Bubba in the last six months then I have in the last twenty years of my life combined.
The other day, he came into the living room to watch game four of the NBA finals. While I have never had an interest in basketball whatsoever, he’s a Lebron James fan-boy. I was just about to leave the room, when he asked me who I was rooting for. For some reason, instead of my usual, “I don’t care,” response, I decided to mess with him and say I was pulling for the Spurs. This led to a bunch of smack-talk over a stupid basketball game. It also led to me watching the rest of the NBA Championship with my brother (elevated smack-talk included).
I didn’t think much at the time, but we’ve never bonded more than we did over those dumb basketball games. Beneath all of the sports-fueled battle of wits, we were actually talking. And not just about Lebron James, either. I actually opened up.
It wasn’t until my dad mentioned in passing that Bubba had told him of his determination to re-establish a relationship with me that I started feeling really, really awful.
Looking back, I think my sentiments were painfully obvious that I really didn’t care what happened between us, because I never expected anything to change. I’m embarrassed by the lack of empathy and compassion I had towards the situation. On the outside, I just seemed like an emotionless bitch. On the inside, I was hurt, but I never had any intention of making that known. (Note: I’m ignoring the fact that he’s spent the last sixteen years struggling with his own issues, because at the time, that’s not exactly something that crosses the mind of someone when they’re upset, too.)
It’s overwhelming to try and wrap my head around the concept of someone trying so hard to reach out to me when I spent so much time making it clear that I didn’t care. Can you imagine the patience that must go into something like that? That he cared that much that we have a close relationship, despite my cold shoulder treatment, is pretty cool.
With that being said, that tiny ounce of hope inside of me that I let die a long time ago is alive again. It’s time that I start trying, too.