This post is intended to be a sequel to an earlier post. However, I’ve tried to write it in such a way that if you don’t feel like going back and reading the earlier post, it will still make sense.
A while back, I wrote about how my father’s attitude toward me influenced my choice to pursue a career in the Performing Arts, against his wishes. But I left out some information about the family dynamics involved. Partly, I did this because the post would have been much too long. But also I did not wish to implicate any of my living family members in any way, nor cause them to stumble along their paths.
After reflection, I’ve decided to make an effort to express something of value that I don’t think would be negative information, should my brother chance to read this blog (which is, by the way, highly unlikely). Hopefully, this information, if it hasn’t crossed his mind already, will be as useful to him as the information in the previous post was to me.
I have already revealed how my father’s desire that I, the firstborn son, follow in his footsteps came into conflict with my natural genetic and God-given predisposition. I simply was not inclined toward things like electronics, mechanics, and carpentry. So my father was always disappointed in me, even though I showed strong skills in completely different areas.
My younger brother, however, turned out to be quite attracted to electronics and to scientific matters in general. As a result, he spent much of his time alone with Dad, in Dad’s special radio room, learning such skills. He wound up finishing high school in only three years, getting 800’s across the board on Math, Math Level Two, Chemisty, and Physics, being accepted to the technology school of his choice, graduating from college with a 4.0 GPA, getting a Ph.D. in Math from an even more prestigious University, and enjoying a successful career as an electrical engineer, chip designer, and Math research professor. Needless to say, I am very proud of him.
However, the message that Dad gave me; specifically, that I “could not do anything right,” was painful enough, without it having to be combined with a second message, one that I did not relate in the earlier post. That message was this:
“And I hate to break it to you, Andy,
but your brother?
There’s no reason to worry about him!“
Now, what kind of message do you think my brother would have been receiving all of this time? Granted, I wasn’t there when he and Dad spent so much alone together. I was alone in my bedroom, playing the Wurlitzer spinet piano that they had moved there for my convenience. But it only stands to reason that the message would have been something like this:
“Son, you’re making me proud.
There’s no reason to worry about you!
Too bad Andy can’t do anything right.”
While the impact of my having received a message from a father at an early age that I was incapable of “doing anything right” was hard enough, I can only imagine what the impact of my father’s message to my brother might have been. What would it be like to have grown up believing that there was no reason for anyone to worry about me? Again, I can only imagine.
My brother and I are now in our mid-sixties. Without going into horrendous detail, I can guarantee you that there are plenty of reasons to be worried about him. Though he did have a successful career, and I remain proud of him for that reason, he doesn’t seem to get any exercise, he was severely overweight last I saw him; and frankly, some of his personal habits and practices are troublesome. It would not be very discreet of me to state what these habits are specifically. Suffice it to say that they are the kinds of practices that people generally find to be problematical.
So, while I am programmed from an early age to believe that there’s no reason to worry about my brother, that programming is in the process of being shattered — just as much as my age-old idea that I “can’t do anything right” is being shattered. I also wonder if some of his troublesome behaviors and attitudes are a result of an age-old, unconscious idea that Dad planted in him; specifically, that there is no reason for him to worry about himself.
There are numerous other facets to this, not the least of which has to do with our Myers-Briggs types. My brother, like my best female friend, are both INTJ’s. I will contend that the INTJ is the most self-confident of all the types. I also tend to get along with INTJ’s better than with any of the other types — hence my best female friend. But we INFJ’s can find ourselves riddled with self-doubt. Does this not recall Dad’s treatment of both of us, at an early age?
While I am not, by nature, a worrier; I am, by choice, a believer. So rather than worry about my brother, I choose to pray for him instead.
You see, my brother and I love each other. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. And while I wouldn’t exactly want my brother to “worry” about his health, I do pray that he wll cease to overlook some of my quite natural concerns. But then again, am I my brother’s keeper?
The answer to that would be another blog post, or even an entire book, in itself.
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