Being an elder sister to my younger siblings, I’m not sure if I should be forever grateful to the higher being for awarding me this role or to sulk in the overwhelming duty I feel attempting to measure up. The responsibility that this role entails for me is sometimes too much or maybe I take it too seriously than I should hence why I have decided to write and share this. Maybe I have it all wrong and your insights or perspectives on this might lessen what I feel at times. I would very much appreciate your advice/comment/input below if you resonate.
One of my major challenges of growing older has been seeing my siblings growing older too and making their own crucial life decisions of which some of these I wouldn’t have made if I were them based on what I know now. I do know that is expecting too much but in reality I can’t help it but be on their face. I think I was too comfortable when they were younger and followed suit the rules they had assigned to by our parents or even by me. When they actually listened and had no choice but to take heed of the advice. Not to say that our parents knew it all or what they asked of us was always the best for us but you get what I mean. But now the bitter pill to swallow is watching their adulthood gradually unfold in this world of sin. It is quite something not to see them as the little innocent humans my mind wants them to always be.
Maybe it’s the feeling a mother has sometimes when they wish their babies to remain infants and stay innocent. We, the older siblings have this feeling that leads us to be very overprotective of our smaller ones. It’s like when first borns feel like they have to parent their younger ones. I don’t know if it’s just me but this feeling is hard to shake off and it manifests itself in one way or another in our relationships. For good or for worse.
I am a younger sister to one brother and it might sound weird to say that at times I wonder if there are any responsibilities I have for him except to be the gorgeous and loving sister that I am. Huh! did I just blow my own trumpet? Not a question. On a serious note, I do actually wonder if there is more I’m supposed to do. It sounds only natural for the elder ones to take care of their younger ones although it does however happen that the younger ones take care of the elder ones. Whichever way I think love should be the leading factor. And even this sometimes isn’t enough.
I think the basic primal instinct for someone like me in this case is to protect and be there for all my siblings. Equally and adequately and in the best way that I can, without beating myself up over and over again. But is it easy? No! How realistic that can be I leave it up to you. I have been an adult longer and have learnt a thing or two that I wouldn’t want my siblings to go through. Finding the balance and the grace to be fully there for them and not fuck it up in the process has been quite a journey for me.
This journey has involved some long silences that can be mistaken for grudges. Admittedly, I grew up around a dysfunctional extended family and one thing I always dreaded was for my nuclear family to turn out like that. Taking from my extended family drama and others, I couldn’t wrap my head around how two people born of the same womb would let their differences turn them into ardent adversaries.
Looking into my personal journey and from where I am at right now I see how possible that can be. I have painfully learnt that it all comes down to communication. We so many times let our ego take charge and coming down from it requires a lot of grace. Communication is actually key to everything. I think for this to happen we have to be a bit more open minded and also realize what the intentions or end goal is from both sides. Some of us are poor communicators and that has to be taken into account. Assumptions being the mother of all fuckups play a big role in feeding into the seemingly irreconcilable siblings disputes.
I like to think that your sibling has your best interests at heart. And even if you can’t take their advice on anything, showing that you hear them would mean a lot. Y‘all coming down from your high horses and having a mutual understanding not led by greed, jealousy or any ill motive which should never be the case is the harmony needed.
I think we also get it twisted a lot that people owe us their lives. Just like some parents make it clear to their kids that because they birthed and raised them that everything they do has to be in their honor and that they should always feel indebted to them till death, some of us become like this to our siblings. That because we helped them at some point in life they should never disappoint us. This is such unrealistic and unnecessary pressure. It is like literally telling someone not to live.
At some point I wanted so bad to instill the values and whatever else I thought was good for my siblings on them and I got frustrated when it didn’t work the way I had hoped. I forgot so easily that they are their own persons, that they each learn differently, that they are now becoming adults, that it is okay for them to make mistakes, that they all have their own different outlook on life, that what we now have in common isn’t only the ground rules at home that we were accustomed to, that what they want to become isn’t supposed to be something I have to fully comprehend, that they basically don’t owe me anything, that they can stand by themselves and thrive even in my absence, that what they do with their life isn’t about me, that I am only a spice they can do without or with when their tastebuds crave it, and life moves on. That and even more.
It is painful to accept this but it is true. I have also learned that in so badly wanting the best for them I can fuck up our relationship. It’s hard to fathom drifting apart from people you love so much they are literally your world. That fear for me is insanely crippling and quite daunting. I recently felt an undeniable ounce of guilt for leaving my family. God knows how many tears I have shed because of this. The uncertainty of it all. Me not being present to witness their most remarkable achievements and see their growth first hand. And so on.
But I have accepted that there can be love in giving space. That support doesn’t come in one form. I‘m learning to forgive myself for being tough on them. To find some comfort in knowing that one of my main motivations of starting this blog was to share bits of me with them given the distance and time zones. I‘m beginning to accept that the so called mistakes they make or might make have absolutely nothing to do with me. Hell, there is a great chance that what in my eyes I want to term as mistakes is in their eyes their biggest blessings. I have also learned I shouldn’t ever question myself for their actions. Managing my expectations and letting them take the path that is theirs to take is something I have no power over and no option but to accept. Yes, they will always be my younger siblings and this overproctective layer might or might not fade. I can only hope that love abides us till the end of time.
What will be will be