At a recent dinner, I drank too much wine and called my younger brother a lazy (expletive) in front of our parents. I’m mortified. This will sound bitter, but I was a professional athlete and am now a doctor with two children and a great husband — yet he’s the golden child, even though he’s living at home (he’s 30!) and jobless. I want to help him through this rut. How can I be a better big sister?
Dear Big Sister,
Your first overture must be not toward your brother, but toward yourself. A doctor, an athlete, a mother and a wife, and you still feel under-recognized by your family? It’s time to be happy without needing your parents’ endorsement. I’m challenging you to a tectonic shift: Use internal measures of success rather than external ones. Refocus your lens on your own family. See? You’re doing well — in fact, I’m pretty sure you’re all standing in a pool of sunlight.
Still, you do owe your lazy (expletive) brother an apology. Call him. Knock on the stickered door of his childhood bedroom. Ask for his forgiveness. A heartfelt apology acts as an open sesame. Let him tell you about his circumstances and see them for what they are, instead of in relation to your own. Then get out from under your parents’ roof — in every way.
Claudia Dey is a novelist, columnist and Governor General’s Award–nominated playwright. She is the author of How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier.
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