Brotherly burden

Joey Garcia

I start high school in August and my parents want me to attend the same school my brother attends. I don’t want to. My brother always puts me down at the same time that he says something that seems nice. Some of his friends do it, too. My parents worship my brother, and say it’s great that he’s paving my way. How can I get them to take me seriously?

You don’t want your parents to take you seriously, honey, you want them to agree with your preference. Understanding the difference can inspire you. Owning what you want will empower you. Be assured that your request is reasonable. By standing up for yourself, you are shaping your future.

Since your parents aren’t listening, write them a letter. Explain that you don’t believe you will thrive at (the name of your brother’s high school here). Tell them you want to forge your own path, not follow tracks laid by your brother. Be clear that you feel your concerns have not been heard. Make a direct request to attend (name the school of your choice). Explain that existing tension in your relationship with your brother can subside more easily if you are at different schools, with separate friend groups. Hand the letter to your parents. Wait quietly while they read it. If they still fail to agree to your request, enlist a family member or teacher who sees what your parents cannot see about your brother.

It’s not uncommon for a parent to have a favorite. But the reason a parent chooses one child over another varies. Sometimes the favorite child exemplifies traits a parent wishes they had, and the less-favored child is most similar in personality to the parent who least likes that child. So don’t take your parent’s behavior personally. They haven’t yet learned to treat you and your brother as individuals. No matter. Let it be your work in this lifetime.

A recent Meditation of the Week featured a Maya Angelou quote: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you,” and then you asked: “What secret do you need to tell, and to whom?” My uncle molested me, and his oldest daughter, for years. I was about 4 when it started, and it lasted until I was 12. I will never understand why. I now realize this abuse is behind my addictions, incarcerations and psychiatric hospital stays. Is the sexual abuse a secret I must address? If so, how do I do it? I haven’t spoken to my family since 2014. I don’t want to bring up the past, but I owe it to my inner child to be free. Advice?

The secret you need to tell is to yourself. Here it is: You do understand why your uncle molested you and his daughter. It’s because he is mentally ill, and throughout his life anyone who might have seen signs of it chose to stay silent. You are not to blame for the abuse done to you. It does not define who you are. It is a heartbreaking tragedy that you experienced. You are learning to thrive. There is no need to contact your family. As you continue on the healing path, you will discover that your inner child becomes free when integrated into you. Does that make sense? The healing of one’s inner child means that there is no longer a separate identity to be called inner child. Instead, you are whole.

Meditation of the week
“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that,” said first lady Michelle Obama. Do you celebrate your uniqueness?

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