There’s been this rumor going around my family that my brother Joey broke up with his girlfriend. Last night, the rumor was confirmed. My mom was devastated, and told me, “I feel like she’s the one he let get away.”
I’m pretty upset about it too. I keep having to stop myself from crying – as though it was me getting dumped. But we all really liked this girl; in the few months they were together, she easily became part of our family. For Christmas, she got me skimpy pajamas; Martin, a pound of bacon; Doug, beer; and my parents, a spot for their dog on our local shelter’s memorial tree. How can you not fall in love with that?
I guess the problem was logistical: she’s 32, my brother’s 25. She probably wants to settle down and make babies sooner rather than later, and he has a different plan for himself. You can’t change those things. They’re often deal-breakers. I get it.
But… Shit. Is this how my people felt when I split with my ex? Did they love him as much as we all love this girl? Were they personally hurt by the loss of a person they’d come to accept as part of the clan?
I’d like to say I’m sorry if they were, except that, when I think about it, I’m not sorry. I had to lose too much myself – my ex’s 50% of that clan, for example, and a few of my own half – to give a shit about what other people thought they were losing. And I still stand by that; it was my life and my loss. Those other people needed to stop worrying so much about their own hurt feelings and support me.
And now I’m a big hypocrite, because I don’t want to support my brother, who has repeatedly broken up with girlfriends for no apparent reason and with no good explanation, and left them reeling. Even as we were accepting this most recent girl into our lives, I kept telling Doug and my parents, “It’s too bad I like her, because I don’t really like him [in these situations].” What I’d like to do, instead of supporting my brother, is get ahold of this girl (who, understandably but annoyingly, has deleted her facebook and fallen off the face of the planet) and tell her I’m on her side.*
On the selfish bright side, I no longer have to worry about my brother getting married and having babies before I do. And maybe my poor mom, who had put her trust in yet another of her children’s failed relationships, will finally start to realize that Doug really is going to be hanging around for a while (even if she has to tell herself that it’s only if compared to everyone else) and accept him a little more warmly.
And maybe I, in turn, can finally stop worrying about the state of my own union and waiting for the other shoe to drop, because here we still are, despite a rocky beginning and several insurmountable-seeming challenges over the past few years. Maybe I should consider myself lucky to be in a relationship that’s withstood the tests of time and trauma – I mean, I already do, but the reminder of how fragile even the most “perfect” relationships can be certainly helps.
And that being said, I have to cut this short, because Doug and I are going on a date tonight.
*Mattie, if you’re reading this, I’m so, so sorry. We really do all love you and would have been honored to have you in our family. Would you like me to set you up with Martin? He loves babies and probably would be happy to have some of his own, like, yesterday.