Friday, February 1, 2013

My Moral Compass Doesn't Exactly Point Due North

Has everyone seen 27 Dresses? Na? Okay quick synopsis. It’s a chick flick about a girl (Katherine Heigl) who loses the guy she’s been in love with for years (but never told) to her bitchy younger sister who lies and manipulates everyone. In the end Jane (the older sister) splits them up and ends up with the ridiculously attractive and understanding and cynical/sarcastic James Marsden and they quite literally get married on the beach and everyone is happy blah blah blah. So my title happens to be my favorite quote from the awesome best friend and then there is this line right after:

Jane: You're the one who's always telling me to stand up for myself. 
Best Friend: Yeah, but that's not what you did. What you did was unleash twenty years of repressed feelings in one night. It was entertaining, don't get me wrong, but if it was the right thing to do, you'd feel better right now. Do you feel better right now?

I remembered it right after I had this conversation with my brother:

Mike: (paraphrase) Can I borrow money?
Me: (paraphrase) No. I’m not a bank and I’m not loaning out money to anyone besides Mia.
Mike: Ok well thanks a lot sis the one time I’m doing good and need a little positive reinforcement you back out like I mean nothing to you? (he says this to me every single time he needs something)
Me: You constantly use me and steal from me. If we want to talk about meaning nothing to someone I’m pretty sure you got me beat.
Mike: Go about your wonderful fake pampered life you’ve always had and wanted! Don’t act like you give a shit about Mia!
Me: (String of expletives) Pampered!? I’ve worked my ass off to get here and I refuse to feel like I owe you because you’ve done shit with your life!

And that was it. Now to some this may seem calm but it’s the first time I've said no. Generally the conversation would be more like this.

Mike: I need money
Me: ugh grumble grumble I really hate doing this and this is the last time and you really need to start working but yea how much do you need?

However with that approach nothing ever changed so I went full on bitch to him. And you know what? I didn’t feel better. I felt like shit. Because for most of my childhood I resented my brother. I thought he got everything, the love, the attention, and I was left with nothing. I had to work my ass off to get any ounce of recognition but Michael was like a gift from the Gods. He was beautiful and popular and I was fat and ugly and spent more time with books than I did people. But even with my resentment I always stood up for him because my brother and I were taught that the only two people we could count on were each other. Whenever he was accused of something I fought tooth and nail to clear his name. Even when I knew he was wrong I still fought for him. I also fought him a lot as well; throwing punches was like the equivalent of hugging in my family.  
But come my senior year of high school I was working with one of his friends who had kind of grown up with us and he just throws out “your brother had it a lot worse than you did.” I thought about that and asked my mom what he could mean. She opened my eyes to what actually happened growing up. 
See my grandparents raised my mother, brother, and I, making us kind of all like siblings in my brain. And my grandparents were very much addicted to drugs. They were also diabolical and manipulative. When my mother was young they got her addicted to drugs so that they could have an inside resource into the young person’s world of drugs. When my brother came of age they did the same to him. They pretended to love him and get close to him so they could use him. I saw my charismatic brother getting all this attention and awkward me getting nothing. If I had known what was going on I would have wanted nothing to do with their “love.”
Now for the last three years I’ve used that to let my brother’s actions slide. So what if he used me? If he stole from me? If he neglected his daughter and beat/cheated on his wife? That’s all he knew. But yesterday I finally cracked. I was tired of being played, lied to, and cheated. But most importantly I was tired of feeling terrible about myself because I was successful and he wasn’t. I used to think that the reason I was here was because of good fortune and luck, things my brother simply didn’t possess. But I need to give myself a little more credit than that. I didn’t go out and party. I didn’t screw a bunch of guys in high school. I did skip class a lot but I always made up the work. I did my homework, I participated in any extracurricular activity I could, I worked for my money instead of stealing it, I spent my entire senior year up to my eyeballs in applications for schools and scholarships and got up early every morning for seminary and to practice for the SAT. My brother didn’t do any of those things. I did.
But even with all that knowledge, I still feel like shit. Because I wasn’t simply correcting my brother or telling him no, I made him feel terrible for even asking. I brought up twenty years of resentment over twenty dollars. And now I’m sitting here remembering every sweet thing he has ever done for me and wondering why I feel this need to constantly prove I am better than him. Why I have friends that say things like this:

I react like this: 

And because I really don't want to end this with me being all sad and wondering about my worth to the world let us have another quote from 27 dresses. 

Jane: I think you should just admit that you’re a big softy, that this whole cynical thing is just an act so that you can seem wounded and mysterious and sexy…
Kevin: Whoa, whoa, whoa. What was the last one? 
Jane: What? 
Kevin: Did you say “sexy”? 
Jane: [nervous] What? 
Kevin: You think I’m sexy? 
Jane: No. 
Kevin: It’s okay if you do. 
Jane: I don’t! 

And then after that comes this:

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