Saturday, 13 July 2013

What Makes a Brother a Brother?

What makes a brother a brother?

for Brian 'B2' Mackdaddy
Brother from beginning to end

I'm not being sexist in choosing to use the word 'brother;' I view my dearest female friends in the same light, and they are absolutely the pillars of my world. Sisters, brothers, they are of course the same. But since this was inspired by, and I am writing it for, Brian, who is not a female, I will ask it thus: What makes a brother a brother?

When I ask what the criteria are for being someone's sibling, the first answer I often get is along the lines of, 'being expelled from the same uterus,' but often phrased in much more boring ways. But this is not a prerequisite or a criteria - it is optional and often not true. My biological mother's other son is not my brother - he is an abusive, sick alcoholic drowning in his own toxic miasma of bullshit. And he disowned me, threw me out of his home at the pointy end of night shift police's attitudes at 3am, into the winter night with barely the clothes on my back. He is worse than Walder Frey, because at least Walder had motive for his gross betrayal of the sanctity of hospitality (the Red Wedding, in Game of Thrones book/season III). The alcoholic nonsibling is just histrionically twisted and drunk.

So if coinciding originating women's parts aren't relevant, what is? To answer this we must look at what it means to be a human being.

Humans are constantly learning and improving. We are mostly unpleasant and immature, with occasional moments of approaching something tolerable. But it is in the words of the great William Blake (the poet, not the serial killer), "He who suffers you to impose on him, knows you." Everybody we keep around us is a choice, and we choose to keep them around because, yes, we like them, but deeper than that, because we know them. More often than we would like to admit, we are an imposition on other people. Everyone is. But choosing to keep somebody in your life means that you choose to value their noble qualities more than you are annoyed by the other 90% of them.

Brothers are one small step more noble, one giant leap towards something truly beautiful indeed. Brothers are the only people who we hit with the full force of our ugliness. There's a few old sayings along the lines of 'Why do we only hurt the people we love?' Why, indeed?

Why do we unleash our inner darkness and violence on our brothers? Surely they are the least deserving of such. The reason we do it is because when we are at our darkest, our most lonely, most afraid, our brothers are the only ones left. The only ones who love us so much as to still be there when we need them the most. To share our pain, to forgive us when we attack or project onto them, to put up with our shit and respond to it with 'thank you sir may I have another?' until all the hurt is bled out of us. Then they offer their arms and hearths and liquor cabinets, to pick us up or keep us standing tall. They don't expect or demand an apology for the things we say and do in our dark moments, but they receive them anyway, eventually, and saying 'sorry' is tremendously important. Especially to our brothers. They are the least deserving of the darkness of our hearts, and this is the reason why they see it at all, and also why they weather it until we're back to questioning their parentage and sexual integrity.

Brothers don't just share a beer with us, they share our ugliness and our beauty, our trials and triumphs, our falls and our jokes. I am loved and appreciated by my brothers and sisters. I am loved and appreciated by my family, the family I chose. They are the only family I have ever known. And I love and appreciate them.

Thanks Brian for being my brother.

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