Stephanie Ashe
April 27, 2016 9:57 am
20th Century Fox

I’ve always been jealous of people who are close to their siblings. Growing up, I thought nothing in the world could be better than having a sister, and I based that almost entirely on movies and TV. I was even envious sisters who fought until the last 5 minutes of the movie like Bianca and Katarina in 10 Things I Hate About You. When they finally bond, I internally screamed “I want that!” But instead, I had a brother, so I’ll forever wonder what it would have been like to have a sister as a BFF.

There’s nothing wrong with my brother, or having a brother in general. It’s just that, for a lot of reasons, my brother and I have never had a tight-knit relationship. I think the main reason for that is our age difference. He’s 11 years older than me, which doesn’t seem like such a big deal now, but when you’re a kid, even a one year difference can feel huge. When we were younger I idolized my cool, older brother, and he was, of course, annoyed by his obnoxious little sister. I begged him to let me hang out with him and his friends, and he repeatedly kicked me out of his room every time. I often called him by a nickname I’d made up for him, which was totally fine until I did so in front of his friends. His friends made fun of him for that relentlessly, and I was left waiting for the day when I was old enough for him to think I was worthy of his time.

Eventually he matured, and being cool was no longer his top priority. Unfortunately for me, by the time that happened, I was literally the worst teenager in the world. I was super hormonal and moody, and it was fairly normal for me to lock myself in my room and not speak to anyone for the entire day. And honestly, that was probably for the best anyway. When I did speak to anyone, I was angsty, sarcastic, and downright mean. I don’t know why anyone still liked me. The worst part of these years was that my brother consistently tried to reach out to me and bond, and I consistently blew him off like he’d done to me so many times before. This was our chance to get to know each other and be close, and I wasn’t having it.

So his teen years weren’t good, and my teen years weren’t good, but once we were both out of adolescence we had another chance at closeness, right? Yeah, no.

When I went away to college, our lives became irreversibly separated. I rarely called him, and he was usually not around during my visits home. Even now, as two mature-ish adults, we still just aren’t close. When we speak, it’s very cordial, and we react only to the situations we’re in. We talk about the Thanksgiving meal we’re eating, or the cute thing the dog is doing, or the show that’s on TV. We never talk about the past or the present. Neither of us really have any idea who the other one was, is, or plans to be.

What sucks is that movies tell you that your sibling is supposed to be your best friend. When you feel lonely, they are supposed to be the one person you can talk to. When you want to sneak out of the house and need someone to cover for you, they’re supposed to be there. When you skip town to find Topanga at Disney World, your brother is the one who is supposed to take a blow up doll version of you to school so the teachers don’t catch on. Okay, so maybe I never really expected that last part.

At the very least, I did expect to have a sibling to share things with. I wanted someone who really knows me. After all, he’s seen me at my very worst, like those six months in 2nd grade when I wore a blue jumpsuit to school every day. I think the issue is we’ve never seen each other at our best, because we refuse to let the other one in. When I was ready, he wasn’t, and when he was ready, I wasn’t. It sounds like a crappy rom-com breakup excuse to say that the timing was off, but it kind of was. Our relationship took more work than either of us have been willing to put in.

Maybe there’s still a chance, but it does feel like our window of opportunity is up. We live in different states with different lives. He’s my brother, so I still love him unconditionally, but I do really wish I could say he was my friend.

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