Interpretive Incest: The Brother-Sister Dynamic in Action

Despite the physical/mental abuse from my mother to my brother, our father’s abandonment, my brother’s failed marriage, and my struggles with relationships- we’ve retained that important brother-sister bond. And, logically we would make it inappropriate, weird, and –again- mildly incestuous.  I’m OK with this, and I fully embrace the absurdity. Although there are still –understandably- more elements to consider, I’ve gained so much insight just from writing this.  I don’t know how, or even why, I despised writing all these years; it’s wonderfully therapeutic.

Do any of you have siblings?  Ideally the answer is “yes”.  Why else would you care to read this?  How many of you are close to at least one of your siblings- I mean, pretty close?  Are there ever any sexually awkward moments between you two?  Now, I don’t mean incestuous sexual elements…well, maybe I do. All our day-to-day interactions with others contain loads of sexual tension, whether individual or combined.  It would only make sense that interactions with our siblings are even more privy to that. No, I don’t mean legitimate sexual desire between siblings (though it does happen), but that weird, unspoken awkwardness when saying anything around your siblings that involves your- or their-  love life. Just that little twinge you feel when your brother or sister says something that you immediately internalize. I think this type of dynamic is more common with siblings of opposing sexes. It gets a little awkward when  these siblings discuss things pertaining to their relationships and sex in general.


This is sort of what it feels like….sometimes

Freud proposed that any incestuous tendencies or implications could be traced to childhood sexual abuse, specifically from the relative being discussed. While truthful in many cases, I oppose the notion that the abuse needs to be sexual in nature. The same is often said of those with eating disorders and I’m certainly an exception to that. Furthermore, that the abuse must have been caused by the sibling/relative in question is far from being a blanket statement. My brother and I rapidly bonded from mental and physical abuse/neglect from our parents- much like a relationship spawned from mutually experienced grief. I’m pretty sure I’m on to something- something personal, yet extremely common.

 I’d like to think that I’m close to my brother.  Not everyday communication close, but…enough.  We’ve had our long bouts of distance – physical and emotional- and we don’t live very close anymore.  However, he’s so much like me that I can’t help but feel that we’ll always be close.  “Well, duh! You’re brother and sister!”  Right. Unfortunately, sibling rivalry is extremely common and can last long into adulthood.  I’d like to think- though perhaps wrongfully- that any of our residual anger or bitterness is directed at our parents as opposed to each other.  It may not even be consciously acknowledged, but is likely there.  With this mutual “enemy” we have gotten closer in recent years, hanging out a bit more and talking about more personal subjects. These discussions leads right into this weird, awkward, mildly incestuous place- not willingly, but often hilariously.


Part of this recent closeness can be attributed to a decline in my brother’s marital status.  He’s divorced now, but the past year or two has been increasingly difficult for him. Perhaps he drifted – only naturally- to his more empathetic sister instead of his unstable mother for support.  Maybe it was subconscious, maybe it was conscious, maybe it was Maybelline.  I don’t know; I’m not a damn therapist.  At any rate, this drifting towards me was a result of failings within the realm of marriage and sexual tension with his wife. Even now, many of the times hang out are often during some type of relationship issue.  When he needs to forget or distract himself from these issues, I’m pretty sure hanging out with me is one of the preferred method.  It’s even an ego thing, it just…is.  So, there’s the sexual dynamic from his perspective – in the midst of sexual and relationship tensions, the natural gravitation is towards his sister?  I mean, I’m legitimately asking; I have no fucking clue..

But, that's OK...

But, that’s OK…

On my end, I’ve always had a slight envy towards my brother.  He had a lot of the qualities that I wish I could integrate into my persona and he was always the type of person whom I wished would be my friend. In our earlier years ( I was about 12/13, he 15/16) I experienced jealousy towards some of the girls he “dated”.  I don’t think it was that weirdly desirous type of jealousy -no Ferdinand/Duchess dynamic here. But, some elements of sexual confusion were certainly there.  I was just heading into puberty, he was on his way out, my mom was cheating on my dad every night, they were “separated”, yet living in the same apartment, I entered new school, no friends/peer harassment on my part- all of these elements came out in this time.  And, although we were on two entirely different paths at the time, we grew so much closer than we ever had been.  Mind you, he used to try to kill me- yes, legitimately- in our childhood, so any improvement would have been smashing.


This was about the time my battle with food began.  At this phase of my life (and until I was 18) I was a compulsive and emotional over eater   I filled the void left from my peers and my parents with constant eating/snacking, books…and my cat.  The formation of an eating disorder coupled with a blossoming sexuality led to so much damn confusion.  Oddly enough- or maybe not so odd considering the nature of this post- my brother was the only one I had close to me during these years.  When I was finally coming into , um, womanhood it wasn’t my mom (or awkwardly, my father) who was there for me- it was my brother.  I can never thank him enough and, although I am frequently unable to express it, he is very close to me. Although, I think that’s one of the more brilliant elements- we don’t need to express it because it’s simply understood.

Reminiscing aside, it’s actually much clearer now why I have this distant –yet remarkably close- relationship with my brother.  We embrace the awkwardness when we discuss sexual frustrations, find comfort in the blatant innuendos, revel in our inappropriateness, and enjoy the discomfort that all of this brings others.  As I have read, quite some time ago, in some dank corner of the internet: “Incest is WIN-cest!” I embrace the nature of our relationship, and the interpretations it can incite with others.  What could be better than questioning preconceived notions of society?



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