Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sibling Memories: Letting Them Go

Sibling! (Photo credit: Gus Dahlberg)
I've highlighted some of the fun moments that I shared with my siblings this past weekend and now feel like I need to be honest about one of the not so fun moments - at least for me.  It was when I had to confess my jerkiness to my brother and apologize. Family dynamics, birth order, reactions to grief, geographic distance, and just simply having different personalities, means that my relationship to each of my siblings is different.  Over time, relationships that were awkward can feel nonexistent or icy if they are not tended.  Such was the case for me.

As I sat enjoying the company of my two brothers and two sisters this past weekend, I had a mini epiphany.  Listening to stories of childhood moments, present day struggles and joys, and future hopes led me to the basic realization - we're all just doing our best.   There are things that I regret in my own life and mistakes that I've made.  My brother is the same.  I realized, as I sat listening to his hopes for his marriage and his conversations with his children, that I really owed him an apology.  In my own mind, I had been replaying a sequence of events between him and his family from over a decade ago, keeping him frozen in time.  It was embarrassing to own. 

It was humbling to see how small I could be and how easy it was for me to drift away from my brother.   I realized that I needed to let go of some of my memories.  Holding on to images of our younger selves, trying to find our way, sorting out our priorities, rebuilding our lives after major loss was not fair.  The real truth is that my aloof, emotionally distant approach to my brother was hypocritical.  My own behavior wasn't modeling anything healthy or loving.  Things happen in relationships that we regret, or that make us angry or sad.  We have to be vigilant and know what our memories are preserving.  Some memories we just need to let go of.

Can you imagine letting go of some of your memories - memories that are holding someone in your life in a freeze frame?  Or, if not let go, then allowing space for new memories to be added? 
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  1. I think its hard to let go when you don't have new memories to put in its place. One major thing I took away from this weekend was that while I love the old memories, they were no longer enough. We definitely need to let go of certain memories but in the same breath, we need to replace those memories with positive ones - otherwise those memories that we held on to for so long are likely to resurface.

  2. I totally agree. I have to carve out times for the people in my life or it doesn't happen. Friends, husband, siblings, the only ones that get my attention most every day are coworkers and they're the least important group in my life.

  3. The amazing thing is that sometimes we don't even realize (because of our own day-to-day life) that there is a problem until it's pointed out to us. Just getting through "today" is sometimes such an achievement that we forget to see what else we are missing.I was glad to reconnect with all of you and I always felt most of the distance in my relationships with my siblings was my own fault.