As some of you may have picked up on from other posts where I’ve talked about my family, I have a lot of siblings. I am the oldest of six, one brother, and four sisters. Now that was already a big family, but when I was in my early twenties my parents got a divorce and have both since remarried, each of them inheriting even more children (four from my step mom, and six through my step dad) from their new spouses. Now if you’re thinking that is huge, think about this: Most of us are married or in a serious long term relationship. My family is HUGE!
Now, because when this all happened I was already an adult, and out on my own, I haven’t really gotten a chance to get to know all of them as much as I’d like. Plus, my step mom’s from Washington State, so some of her kids still live up in that area, so I still haven’t met some of them. Still, it’s kinda neat to think about the fact that I’m not really the oldest any more, and that thought has given me a new perspective on how my younger siblings feel.
Being the oldest is a big responsibility. You’re the first to be able to help with chores, and when your old enough your parents can rely on you to look out for your younger siblings when they need time away from being a parent. The younger kids also look up to you to see how you deal with things, so having a positive outlook is really important. I learned early on that when I was positive and confident it helped my younger siblings to not be quite so afraid when things were bad. I didn’t always feel it, but I faked the crap out of it until some of my other siblings were old enough to start doing it for themselves.
Now that we are all full-fledged adults, things are different, but they are also very much the same. I still feel responsible for the care and well being of my younger siblings, and I feel like I owe it to them to be a shining example of strength, maturity, and wisdom. I feel like I fail at it most of the time, I am certainly not the most emotionally stable person, and I’m hardly an upstanding citizen, as I’m not registered to vote, I’m heavily in debt, I didn’t finish school, and I’m unemployed. I don’t even have a valid ID card, but I try to give them as much love and encouragement as I can to not only fulfill their dreams, but also to do what’s right.
Recently I’ve been relying more on them, and they have all been so strong and supportive of me, but it made me feel so ashamed that I needed to rely on them. I know they all have their own troubles, and asking them to deal with mine seemed like an extra burden that I shouldn’t be putting on them. I guess a part of me is still having trouble letting go of the idea that I don’t deserve help when I need it, and this was compounded by the fact that I read somewhere that bipolar people can tend to be manipulative.
I know I can be manipulative. I used to manipulate people all the time to get things that I wanted, or force them to see my side of things. It is such a rush to twist someone else’s thinking so that they agree with you despite how they really feel, particularly when they are unaware that you are doing it. It makes you feel powerful. It also makes you feel like you are the scum of the earth, or at least it does for me. These days I try really hard to foster open communication and keep my mind free from bias so that I can see and understand other people’s points of view. Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, I have linked my needs and desires to manipulation, so now even saying, “I need help,” sounds to me like I’m trying to selfishly twist their arm by making them feel sorry for me.
There’s this show I like called Supernatural that follows a pair of brothers on their quest to rid the world of evil. In the end of season two the older brother, Dean, sells his soul to a demon in order to bring his brother back from the dead. The younger brother, Sam, is furious with him for doing this. During a heated discussion between the two, Dean states, with tears in his eyes, “I had to look out for you. That’s my job!” to which Sam replies, “What do you think my job is?” Dean, startled and confused asks, “What?” “You save my life over and over. Man, you sacrifice everything thing for me,” Sam replies. “Don’t you think I’d do the same for you?”
I cry every time I hear this heartfelt exchange. Like Dean, I feel responsible. I would sell my soul to save any one of my siblings. I would do anything for each and every one of them, without question. It’s my job. Until recently I never realized that they could feel the same way about me. They have all been so supportive, each in their own way. From reading my blog every day, to letting me read them my books and giving me feedback. They’ve all known for a while now that I am bisexual, and they never judged me for it. When I’m having a meltdown, I know that I can turn to them for help and understanding, even when I don’t understand myself.
I am so proud of theses strong, wonderful people with whom I share DNA. They are living their dreams and fighting their demons with such grace and dignity! They truly are an inspiration to me, all in their own unique ways. I hope they all know how special they are, and how much I love them, and want them to succeed.