"Where is Josh?"
"Do you think Josh would want to come?"
From the time my brother left our childhood home, he was a ghost to everyone but me. He had had enough of my parents to last him a lifetime I guess, and enough of our family, to be done with the lot of them. At least that was the way he felt at the time.
He also was not super great at keeping in touch with our high school friends. I don't know if it's genetics or environment, but that dude was very hard to REACH. Not for me, but I also never felt the need to be in constant contact with him. Our bond provided the understanding for us both that we would always be there for each other, no matter what. In that way, I think I have been extremely fortunate.
But being used as a conduit to get to someone else can be aggravating. Everyone, well, most people who knew us both, would use me as a way to get to him. Maybe intentionally, maybe not, but the outcome was always the same. I mean, I knew I was loved and appreciated by these people, but it was challenging, and still is, to be used in order to get to someone else. I guess I didn't realize, though, how painful it is as well.
I will never forget the week I spent with my brothers in Maine, visiting my father. It was the last week I would see him. But my brothers would not go see him without me, and my father really wanted to see my brothers before he died, so I shared my week with them. I shared my Dad's last week on earth with my brothers. I didn't realize then what I was giving up. I do now, and see that my pain around this type of behavior stems from the grief I felt in losing my father and the resentment I have toward the people who used me as a buffer.
I also see this in my relationship with my fella. Certain women, over time, have befriended me to be be closer to him. It has been a source of great stress for me in my relationship, but I didn't realize why until today when I was talking with a good friend about this topic. I had thought all along that it was a jealousy thing. I was wrong. I am not jealous, I just want nothing to do with someone who is using me to get to someone else. It's a self-respect thing.
I realize that this seems quite obvious, especially as I read it aloud, but sometimes it takes decades to learn a lesson. This lesson, I hope, is not one I will have to keep re-learning.
It is genius, really, how my brother's behavior has shaped me into a facilitator. I have been doing this all my life, for one reason or another, and always felt like it was something I was doing to help people, but the thing about my brother was, he didn't really want relationships with those people, and my fella doesn't really want relationships with these women. But for some reason, I have felt the need to protect these people from the sting of rejection, while in the process allowing myself to be used.
There are times when personal growth is fantastically painful, when all you want to do is roll up in a ball and cry for hours because you just realized something about yourself that hurts. This is not one of those times. This is one of the times where personal growth feels like a huge VICTORY because with this knowledge, I am now free. And I don't have to care what people will think of me because I am not helping them get close to someone else who wants nothing to do with them.
I am now realizing that the lesson I was supposed to learn from my brother was how to NOT have relationships with people. I find it quite stunning that I could live my whole life knowing a person and almost miss the real genius of his ways.