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I was an only child for the first 5 years of my life. I had all the attention, all the toys, all the devotion. The only thing I didn’t have was a sibling. I remember my friends telling me how ‘lucky’ I was not to have a sibling and how much they envied me – I don’t know if I wanted one desperately or not, to be honest I think I didn’t mind either way.

Then my mum fell pregnant and my world changed. I remember being SO excited she was pregnant and when she finally had him I couldn’t wait for him to be older so that we could play together and laugh together and  I could have someone who could relate to me in my little world who wasn’t an adult. Boy (excuse the pun) was I wrong.

From about 2 years old my brother was somewhat of a pain in my life – probably because I am ‘generally right’, have strong opinions and want to do things MY way – much like most people I suppose. Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Growing up, nine times out of ten I couldn’t stand my brother. Not only did I not like him very much, I don’t think I loved him very much either. When I went away on an exchange year I’m not even sure if I sent him one email. He was just there, a being, someone who “got in the way.”

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I think what drives me mad the most is that he takes each day as it comes; doesn’t have a  care in the world and his friends are more important to him than his family. I see what this does to my father, to my mother and to me. I would say we are a close family (which seems a contradiction of terms) but I think he thinks he is the ‘outsider’, and he’s not.

As I have gotten older it often pains me that he and I aren’t that close – I thought our bond was growing stronger – especially when he went away for a year – but now I’m not that sure. When we fight, we fight like we’re arch enemies; he still doesn’t listen and I want to strangle him more often than not.  On the other end of that scale, he does sometimes take advice, opens up with his girlfriend woes and will be there like a shot when I’m in trouble.

He is such a personable lovely young man when he isn’t showing off with his friends, whingeing or bragging and generally being a brat.  I see all of us, his family, trying to ‘change him’; ‘make him more responsible’ and ‘tread on egg shells so as not to disturb the peace’. It’s quite ridiculous really.

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I wish I had bothered to get to know my brother all of those years ago – perhaps I would have some insight into how he conducts his life. But I can’t live life on “what ifs”.

I’m still trying to rebuild a relationship with someone that I never really got to know, and it is so difficult sometimes that I wonder if it’s worth it – especially when it doesn’t seem to be reciprocated. I will keep trying though because one thing I do know for sure, the more I do get to know my brother, the more I not only love him but quite like him too.

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