A Trip of Love, Trust and Miracles

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I have three older brothers.  I am the youngest and the only girl.  My youngest brother calls me.  He has been struggling with depression since his wife asked for a divorce almost a year ago.  He is in trouble.  He is in BIG trouble.  I decide to fly out to California (I live in Virginia) to help him through this time.

 As background, my brother and I have always had a very volatile relationship.  The family we grew up in was violent.  Yes, we had our moments of pure joy and happiness, but our “bad” moments were many and filled with rage.  Cooke is the brother that is closest to me in age.  I was the annoying little sister.  I always wanted to do what he did, and as we grew we were very competitive.  As adults we try to get along.  We know we love each other, but we trigger the crud out of each other.  Our times together usually end up in arguments (and someone leaving) or tears, or both.  Just like my father and other brothers, I don’t feel that Cooke has ever really “seen” me.  He has been relentless in telling me my faults and can have a sense of humor that is acerbic, humiliating, and inappropriate.  To be fully honest, balanced and more importantly, he has a HUGE heart, he is funny, intelligent, handsome, has a wonderful sense of style, and is incredibly talented.  God was in a GREAT mood when Cooke was born – he outdid himself in many ways!!

 Cooke’s call for help sent me into a dilemma.  This past summer I had an unusually horrific time with my family and promised myself that I wouldn’t be with my family alone again.  To help him, I would have to be alone.  My husband has a company to run and needs to stay to take care of our dogs.  I also was honored that Cooke asked me to help him.  I love my brother and my heart called for me to be with him during this very difficult time.  So, I did what I tell my clients to do – I called in support.  I called two friends in California I trusted.  They promised to have their phones on constantly and were there for me 24/7 during my stay.  I knew I could count on them if things went “bad” with my brother.  I had a counselor in California that had offered to be there for me while I was there, if I needed to talk.  I had a session with my therapist in the airport as I was leaving.  I created boundaries with family that told them I would be there for Cooke, but I also had to take care of myself.  I would do what I could for Cooke, but I might have to change my plans if things go awry.  I had a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.  All so that I could give Cooke the support that he needed while giving me the support and safety that I needed as well.

My therapist was awesome in helping me set my intention for my trip.  She reminded me that I was out there to be a sounding board for my brother.  I needed to listen to him and be there to support him.  I needed to remove my agenda and work with HIS agenda.  I was also there as his SISTER, not energy worker or therapist.  I have a tendency to push – so, I needed to be conscious of when I started to push and back off.  Finally, we set the intention to expect the best from this trip.  This trip could be miraculous – it could be the beginning of a new relationship between us.  I am sure my time with my brother wouldn’t have gone so well if not for this well given advice!!

 I got into California late (my time) and stayed for four days.  I listened for hours.  I did my best to let him lead.  When I would push, he would get triggered and defensive.  I would back off, and he would shift.  It was a beautiful dance.  I asked him what he wanted me to do – I asked him what HE wanted to do.  This is how we set our intention for our days together.  I arranged time for myself and time with my friends.  I saw family.  We got him organized.  I trained him in a park a few blocks from his apartment to start getting him physically active again.  I helped him create budgets and a plan for his divorce.  We wrote out lists, made phone calls, set up appointments, wrote emails, and got things done that had been left undone for quite a while (which is VERY common when suffering from depression).  I told him my life-long struggle with depression.  My most vulnerable and scary moments.  I told him about my divorce – why, when, how, and the lessons I learned on this challenging path. 

 As we did these difficult tasks, I would mirror for him his ability to trust his gut, work through (over and around) every obstacle that was put in his path, and that he was sooo normal in being insecure about his talent.  It is hard for us when we think that we are broken.  I tried to mirror for Cooke daily that he was NOT broken.  He just hit life’s speed bump from Hell!  As we tackled each item on his daily lists, his confidence grew.  Facing his worst fears wasn’t so bad when he had love and support! 

I saw a side of Cooke that was fragile, warm, loving, caring, and vulnerable.  When he would start to get his “edge”, I would calmly ask him to notice where he was at the moment or let him know that he was hurting my feelings, and he would shift.  This was unknown territory for us – loving, honest, and intimate territory.  I felt seen, heard, and honored.  I was softer, kinder, gentler, and more loving.  I spoke my feelings and my truth with compassion.  I didn’t dig my heels in (as I so often do), and I did my best to hold compassion and love for my sweet brother.  He did the same in return.  He would “blurt” out compliments to me:  “Our brothers don’t appreciate you.  I wish you could stay another week.  I love you soo much.”  These heartfelt comments opened my heart and brought me to tears. 

Everything happens for a reason.  I am sorry that Cooke hit this speed bump, however, if not for the speed bump, our relationship wouldn’t have shifted and changed.  We are connected now as we have never been connected in the past.  Forgiveness – true forgiveness; Compassion – true compassion; Trust – that comes with surrender – is not something we, as humans, experience every day.  I experienced it this last week.  We are both different because of this experience – in a better way.

 I love you bro!