I spoke to my brother, like I thought it went well and we are okay. I mulled over my grievances, as I see them, until I finally reached a few conclusions that gave my mind some peace.
1. I cannot control how other people perceive my brother and I in the program.
If we are seen as a pair, one depending on the other, by some people I cannot do anything about that. The most I can do is allow my work ethic to speak for me and hopefully show that we are two people with two separate minds rather than two bodies that share one. Whether that sinks in with some people or not is out of my control so I cannot dwell on it.
2. I cannot change the past.
Anything that has transpired between my brother and I up to this point that led to me feeling resentment but I did not address immediately cannot be undone now. What’s done is done and the most I can do is have an honest conversation about my wants/needs/concerns going forward. No reason to hash up the past. If anything is that important to me it is my responsibility to bring it up in the present, not allow a year to go by and then tongue lash someone for a percieved slight they did not know they committed. That would not be fair at all.
3. It is my responsibility to own how I feel.
My brother is not a mind reader, neither is anyone else in the program. If something happens that I feel strongly enough about to address it then that is exactly what I should do and I have to be prepared for whatever the consequences of addressing it might be. I cannot hide behind a fear of “rocking the boat”. The only way things will get better and I will feel better is if I take an active role in making that happen.
So with all of this in mind I spoke to my brother. I decided to address something that had happened in the present, me feeling as though he spoke for me without my permission when it came to forming groups in class.
I explained that I have been giving it some thought and I feel uncomfortable with the way everything went down in class in terms of how our group was formed. I explained that I felt like agreed to something for me without checking with me first and I wanted to know if I was off base and how he saw what took place. He understood what the situation looked like to me and then explained what happened, which was different than what I thought had happened. That made me feel a bit better. I explained I was in no way disappointed with the group we ended up with, just with the idea of now having a choice and feeling like someone else was speaking for me. Once I understood that is not exactly what happened we cleared the air and were able to move on.
This was a good transition into my next point, that we do not have to do everything together and that I do not see us as a package deal. I explained that I was a bit uncomfortable with what he had said (we are a package deal) because it is very important to me that we both have the opportunity to stand on our own and succeed. I broached the subject by letting him know that if he had wanted to be in this group that was being formed without my knowledge that he should feel free to have done that even if I chose to work with a different group of people and visa versa. He understood how I felt, we have had this conversation before, and explained that in this case he does not know that many people in this class so wanted to work with me because I am one person he does know and he trusts my work ethic in a group setting. I totally get that. If I didn’t know very many people in a class I would gravitate towards those I know I can trust to do the work. In the case of this class I know and have worked closely with close to a dozen of my classmates, I was excited about my options. I did not realize my brother knew so few people, my bad.
I am glad we cleared the air, this is how communication falls apart, because you don’t have the full story and get bent out of shape about your perception of what happened. We all do it from time to time, I am glad I didn’t allow myself to fall into that hole this time. It makes me wish I had addressed some other situations when they occurred, it could have saved me a lot of frustration, now I know, lesson learned.
The plan going forward is to take a few minutes to debrief after any class we have together to make sure we are both on the same page about anything that could have been misinterpreted while in class.
At the end of the day my brother is the only person I care about in this program. I care about a lot of people don’t get me wrong, but I have been in this relationship for 31 years versus the relationships I have formed over the last year. His takes priority. It is crucial that we check in and guard our relationship as siblings against any misunderstandings that could come up in the program or in life.
I feel good about where we left things, I feel more comfortable about the idea of future talks and feel more at peace with association that is made between him and I in the program. That is about all I could ask for.