My Brother

*I’m digging through old writing and I have found some stuff that I think might be worth posting.  This was written sometime in 2015.*

This is not an easy topic for me to write about. I don’t want this to be a catalog of perceived wrongs or just the good things about my relationship with my brother. I want to give a fair portrait of my relationship with my brother.

I have an older brother. His name is John. John has Asperger’s Syndrome and epilepsy. He is adopted. John is six foot nine inches tall. He is the most gentle person with animals I have ever met. John is also the crassest person I have ever met. Our relationship is… complicated.

John is different than most older brothers. He is nineteen, but his sensibilities are that of a thirteen year old. John can’t be left alone. He could seize and really hurt himself. John is socially awkward and doesn’t always get social cues. He doesn’t know how to tell if someone is disinterested when he is telling a story, if someone got his joke, but doesn’t think it is funny. and other things like that. John has no filter. What a normal person knows not to say to their grandmother, John says on a regular basis.

I used to resent my brother. My parents would always make a big deal over his, in my childish perspective, tiny accomplishments. He would color in the lines once and there would be a celebration. I would always color in the lines and not even get a pat on the back. John couldn’t ride a bike, but he was congratulated for trying. I could ride a bike with no problem, but no one cared. I understand now why my parents did this, but at the time I did not. It was a massive injustice in my mind and it was all John’s fault.

When I was born my brother was unhappy. He pitched a fit, actually. He was jealous that his mother was holding a new baby. This wasn’t exactly unusual behavior from an infant, but this behavior continued all the way into adulthood. My brother was always jealous of me. Who could blame him? I could do things that he couldn’t. Things that he struggled with, I did with ease.

On my birthdays (in early childhood), my parents would often get my brother a gift too so he wouldn’t complain. John hated when I was the center of attention. He would pitch a fit and complain to the point where I was miserable.

When I got my learner’s permit my brother was extremely jealous. Because of his epilepsy he couldn’t drive even though he was older than me. He wouldn’t go anywhere with me (when I was driving) without criticizing any little mistake I made.

When I entered into a relationship with a girl from his horse riding classes, he was, once again, jealous. He called her “The Foul Blue-haired Temptress” and me “The Love Leech.” Luckily, she took this all in stride and laughed about it. This time he was concerned about losing me which was kind of nice. It showed that he cared in his own weird way.

In later years, our relationship has improved. I used to ask ‘What is wrong with John?’, but now I know there is nothing wrong with John. He is just different. I understand John now. I don’t expect him to be like everyone else’s older brother. I love my brother. I wouldn’t want to have any replacement. He is special to me. He may be crass, rude, and just plain mean sometimes, but so am I. I would do anything for my brother. When I look to the future, I know that I will have to take care of John and that’s okay. I wouldn’t want my brother to be left all alone without anyone to look after him. They say you can’t choose your family, but I think you do. You choose who you keep in contact with, who you associate with, and who you trust. I choose John. He is compassionate, funny, and his heart is in the right place. Despite our past, I value my relationship with my brother even though it isn’t conventional.