My older brother is reading Harry Potter for the first time. I was insanely jealous and proud when he told me he’d picked them up for a bit of light reading. Jealous because I remember what it was like to read them for the first time, and I’ll never get to do that again. Proud because well, I’m a self-proclaimed (and confirmed by the rest of my social life) PotterHead.
My relationship with my brother has waxed and waned, like most sibling relationships do. However, in the throes of my alcoholism, when I had disconnected emotionally and almost completely physically from the family, he and I did not speak. I would show up to family gatherings at my parents home, and he would act as though I was not there. It was gut-wrenching. I went into my mom’s bathroom and cried and cried. I missed my brother. It just wasn’t enough to get me to look at what I was doing to myself and to others, and recognize that I needed to change my behavior. The pain was excruciating, but my solution was still to cover that pain with substances.
I felt like a tourist in my own family. I sat on the outsides, watching time pass, watching events happen, being there but never present. My memories of those times are vague and clouded, my life covered in a drug-induced, alcohol-fermented haze. I remember not fitting in, being apart from, an outsider.
I got my brother back the day I told him I was getting sober. It was almost as though nothing happened, like we didn’t lose the time, like we’d been friends all along. The past almost 5 years have been a gift. I cherish the texts, the phone calls, the Facebook notifications and the opportunities we get to hang out. I love that he’s reading Harry Potter, and it’s just one more thing we can relate on. Random texts from my big bro about one of my favorite topics? It just doesn’t get any better than that.
I’m no longer a tourist in my own life, an outsider to everything, just watching. I’m fully immersed in all the joys and frustrations that life has given me, and I allow myself to get angry, or sad, to stand up for myself, to be kind, to think of others, to reach out, to pray, to take baths, to do yoga before bed, to get in touch with myself and to be a friend to others. To have relationships. Meaningful ones. Those are the gifts that I get each day. Those are the things I deprived myself of all those years.
I refuse to miss out on anything else.
Especially Harry Potter texts from my brother.