I read somewhere that siblings are such a powerful influence on us, because they are our first peers. I think this there is a definite truth behind this, as I look at the relationship that I have with my sister. What is somewhat interesting to me, however, is the almost instant rapport that I have been able to develop with my bio siblings. Meeting them has been quite an interesting study of nature v. nurture. I thought I would give a brief description of each of my siblings.
My sister that I grew up with is almost two years older than I am. When my parents first brought me home, from what they tell us she had a bit of a regression, or jealousy, or whatever you might want to call it. She would climb in my crib and steal my pacifier. Growing up we tended to fight like cats and dogs. Things changed when she went to high school, while I hung back in junior high. For whatever reason that was the catalyst that changed us into best friends. While she was my most ardent supporter, she could also be my most vocal critic, but I think she only did this because she knew that I would accept open, honest criticism from her. Today she is smart and funny. Nobody can make me laugh the way that she does. We are very honest with each other–things that each of us might be able to get past our parents or respective spouses don’t get by our BS detectors. She is a wonderful mother, perhaps underscored by the strength that she has displayed raising two girls with autism. My two nieces and my nephew are great kids. I think that she is depressed like I am, but it comes from different places. She is a cynic and a pessimist (which of course I can see right through) while I am an optimist with strong anxiety. Sometimes it seems like we are depressed because life has “proved” her right while it has “proved” me wrong. I put those in quotes because depression takes things that most people would simply shrug of turns them into big, hairy deals.
While my biological siblings are in essence still relative strangers, having only seen them in person a few times, it is amazing to me the connection that I feel and the real sense that I am indeed a part of the family. Also, each of them have qualities that remind me of myself.
My first brother is 2 years younger than I am. He is very tall, which was a little strange at first, because I am reasonably tall, and having a younger brother taller than me didn’t quite mesh in my head for a little bit, even though logically there is no connection between birth order and height. He is kind of quiet and reserved, much like I can be, but has an easy smile and has been easy to talk to once I got to know him. I compare him to the way that I am when I first meet people, or when I am around people who I don’t know very well.
My next brother is 3 years younger than I am. He looks a lot like me. I am positive that if we were someplace where we both met somebody that we didn’t know, we would not have to introduce ourselves as brothers. I think that we probably have more in common than that. We both have a hearty laugh and a genuine but seemingly mischievous smile. Incidentally, we all have this quirky crooked smile–sometimes it is harder to see, but when I look at some pictures of everyone, I will notice it and think to myself “there it is!”–an interesting genetic phenomena. I liken him to the self that I show to my close family and friends.
My next brother is 9 years younger that I am. Currently he is in college studying English with an emphasis on creative writing. In particular he has a passion for poetry. He is easy-going, easy to talk to. I imagine that he is the life of a party. While it seems they all share my love of music, reading, and writing, there is a definite passion that is perhaps most evident in him, particularly writing, of course. He seems to live life with complete gusto, while still being able to keep his feet on the ground. He is the me that I have deep inside, wanting to get out.
Last but certainly not least is my sister. She is nearly 19 years younger than I am. Even though we are technically from the same family generation, I was worried that we may not have a connection, but this appears to have been unfounded, despite our gender and age differences. She is brilliant and mature, perhaps a side effect of growing up with older brothers. Lovely Wife mentioned the other day that she forgets about her age (she is a sophomore in high school). She has definite passions, ideas, plans, and goals for her future. In her I see the me that I once was, and who I wish to be again. OK, minus the girl part. You know what I mean.
I am still finding my place in my suddenly larger family, but I am loving every minute of it. It feels almost like I am getting a clean slate, able to choose the things that I like from my upbringing and those that I like from my genetics, and meshing them into what will be my true self. When I have finished this process, I think that I will have also found my way out of depression. I love my siblings and I love my families. Finding that very unique me is and will be quite an adventure.