When my Mother died I was twenty-two years old. I was in my sophomore year of college, had transferred for the fourth time but was finally loving the major that I settled on. My Mother died leaving my brothers and me with 2 teenage boys (14 & 16) and I knew we were going to make it.
I thought that as the middle brother of six boys, I would be overwhelmed with the help that I needed. Initially, my older brother was there for us. He stepped up and co-planned a lovely ceremony for our Mother with me. This brother, who was 32 at the time, had spent a majority of his life in and out of prison and because of that, I barely knew him. There is an intimate knowledge that comes with being raised side by side with someone. We never shared that.
All at once I was caring for an ex-con (who wanted to pretend that the money he made wasn’t from selling weed out of our mother’s house), his son, and my two little brothers. At the time of our mother’s death I tried to reconcile the fact that I had to work with what was essentially a stranger, all while getting calls from my permanently incarcerated twin brother who would remind me that I’m not doing things like my mother and I will never be her.
The first month was crazy, but I had my older brother around for chores and help as I worked retail (14 hour days) and tried to finish my degree online. Growing up, I had been homeless twice due to these two separate brothers making bad decisions that adversely affected my life. So, as I’ve grown, I’ve become accustomed to spotting particular behavioral patterns that show that you may be living in an unsafe environment. Now, my older brothers had multiple people coming through the house and downstairs into the basement, which I was never allowed into. Neither had jobs, but they both had money coming in (none of which benefited me or our younger brothers), and finally I noticed that my brothers were often switching cars when they came and went.
So one day, I sat down and told them that I’m not sitting idly by while they threaten the home and lives of our younger brothers and I asked them to leave. They went kicking and screaming but they went and I’ve never felt more at peace in my own home.
Now this story goes on for years and I’d be writing forever. One day I will write a memoir that will shake the world, but let’s finish with some highlights:
I still have not reconciled with my older brother.
My twin and I are barely on speaking terms.
My younger brothers are amazing though.
Taylon the youngest is 17 now and he has his first summer job and great friends and a bright future.
Jalik my brother right above him is 19. He got kept back and is doing a year again but he also has a summer job for the second year. He’s a tougher case because he’s on the the autism spectrum and he’s highly functional. With enough prodding, his social skills have thrived and his school skills go up and down. But the main issue is now that he’s a legal adult, he wants to be treated like an adult and I’m ill-equipped to treat him like one for a host of reasons.
My story doesn’t end there but the moral does. Family bonds are important but they do not outweigh the safety of you or the younger members of your family’s lives.
Thank you to Kenneil for sharing your sibs raising sibs experience.