I Can’t Make You Love Me, So Why Am I Here?
I don’t consider myself a saccharine person, but one thing I wouldn’t mind having a little bit sweeter is my family. We get together on holidays and birthdays, but there’s always a lot of dead air. Dead air, as in someone just sucked all the oxygen out of the room, leaving only panicked expressions on our faces.
It doesn’t help that my family has dwindled down to around ten people. Here’s a social math rule: the more people there are to spread out an awkward situation, the less awkward it becomes for each individual.
I love my family and appreciate the time we have together, even if it’s not what I always hoped I would have. Still, I was never able to get past my older brother’s aloofness. We’re six years apart, and we had what I’d describe as a less-than-average childhood. We both made it through extreme medical crises, but not even those brought us any closer. Now that we’re adults, I still don’t understand why he doesn’t want to associate with me.
I’ve tried joking with him, engaging him in conversation, and even asking his girlfriend to hang out. I got what could be best described as robotic replies, blank stares, and insincere offers of help when I need it. At his wedding, I hugged him and told him I loved him… to which he replied, “I know.”
“You know” things like you need to eat your vegetables, pre-treat stains, vacuum more often, and floss every day. That’s not how you reply to someone who genuinely loves you.
Things have deteriorated to the point that he and his wife will not talk to or even look at me. They don’t address me, and when saying goodbye, they hug and kiss everyone and pass over me… repeatedly. To my knowledge, there was never a catalyst to our relationship being like this. I’ve discussed it ad nauseam with friends, and none of us can figure out what I did.
After having a door slammed in my face 1,000 times, I’m not going back for 1,001. At this point, I’ve decided that the door will stay shut on any hope for a meaningful relationship between my brother and me. I don’t pick fights with him, and I don’t ignore him when he talks to me. But I’m through trying to get him love or even like me.
I don’t know why it took me so long to apply this one piece of dating advice to the rest of my life: You can’t force someone to have any type of affection for you.
My real dilemma stems from the fact that, now that my mother and grandmother have caught on to what’s happening, I’ve been told to put a smile on my face. A simple fact of my family is that the women make excuses for the men: unacceptable behavior is brushed off with excuse after excuse.
But why should I condone and reinforce completely unacceptable behavior? I won’t do that. And since I won’t, I’m seen as an instigator.
It all came to a breaking point on Mother’s Day when our mom told me that she was fed up with the way things were, and to get “revenge,” I shouldn’t let him or his wife know that they bothered me.
Mom, if you’d like to join us in the land of reality, we’re all over here *frantically waves hands*.
Tears and high-pitched voices ensued, and surprisingly, she conceded that both my brother and his wife had been treating me like garbage. I told her to talk with her son if she wanted to see any resolution to this stalemate.
I also told her that if a boyfriend treated me the same way, and I continued to chase after him looking for love and affection, she’d tell me to ditch him and move on. She agreed, but still thought that slapping a smile on my face would fix my woes. That’s like someone offering you a Band-Aid after you’ve been shanked. No thanks. What’s the point?
I don’t know if my mom ever talked with my brother. Either way, he’s never reached out to me.
This has been going on for years now, and I still haven’t figured out how to make my family happy without driving myself insane. So I’ve decided that, for once, I’m taking a stand. My sanity comes first. The crappy facade that we have a perfect and happy family comes in a distant second.
It’s crazy to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. So this girl has wised up and is done beating her head against a wall. No, I will never be able to make him love me, so I’m shutting and locking that door. And I’m not going to keep pretending that everything is fine.
My family may not understand this, but it gives me some peace of mind to go forward with a guilt-free and apathetic relationship with my brother.