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.

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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.

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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.

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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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An Intense Musical Experience

I’ve recently contemplated music and how it affects my life.  I know that everyone has their own musical preferences and their own artists that speak to them, so I’d like to think that it’s universal  in nature. It has the world as its audience and influences us all in different ways.

I just went to a concert last night with my brother.  Well, and his ex-wife was there as well …awkward. Anyway, the concert was Shinedown with Three Days Grace and P.O.D. as the opening performance and we were right up by the stage!  My brother and I always go to see Three Days Grace (and Breaking Benjamin until they disbanded.  Get it? Disbanded?) when they come to town.  It’s been a tradition of ours since I was a freshman in high school.  Unfortunately, this tradition will likely end since the lead singer, Adam Gontier, has left the band indefinitely.

Exactly!

I know!

During one of the TDG’s songs, I had this weird moment of clarity.  I felt separated from the concert.  I was an observer, watching the audience participate in the music.  It dawned on me that hundreds of people from all different backgrounds had come together for a mutual experience. We were all united from that moment.  All of us were here to listen to music we love by the bands that impact us so greatly.  It was such a surreal moment for me. As much as we like to isolate ourselves, we can be drawn together by the purest form of expression: music.  Going to a concert of an artist you love is such a phenomenally superior experience to listening to a record. I know you all have had an experience where you really connected with someone, no matter how brief the encounter.  Just imagine that, but radically magnified- shared with hundreds or thousands of other people.  That’s what one person or group can do. They can unite us in one single purpose – one connected experience.

Sadly, this experience was somewhat dulled by the broken TDG performance.  Don’t get me wrong, the replacement singer did a great job with what he was given.  It’s just that he had no connection with the audience.  He was there to perform, not express.  When Adam is on stage, he just loves it.  He bonds with the audience( at least the Nashville audiences) and puts himself into his songs. Simply awesome.

Left to right: Barry- lead guitar, Adam-vocals, Neil- drums, Brad- bass

Left to right: Barry- lead guitar, Adam-vocals, Neil- drums, Brad- bass

However, when Shinedown came on stage I was blown away.  I had never seen them on live and I was only vaguely familiar with some of their hits. But, by the heavens above, they were so static. Every band member was in their zone, they loved their music and their audience and we loved them right back.  Before they even played a song, Brent Smith (the vocalist) asked everyone in the audience to turn to their neighbors and shake hands, high-five, and form a connection.  Just that simple act of connection –which I am a total sucker for- heightened the experience. More than just loving what they were performing, they sounded amazing doing it.  Later in the performance Brent actually took a break and discussed this very concept- the unification of people through one single medium: music. Specifically, rock music, but this is applicable to any meaningful song. Anyway, Brent has fantastic voice and Zack and Eric were smashing on guitar and bass. Barry is a decent drummer, but he can’t hold a candle to TDG’s Neil Sanderson.  They really rocked it…geddit?

No?  Okay...

No? Okay…

Getting back on track, I was captivated.  The images playing in the background of their songs, the poems and stories they played between and within their songs, and their talent really cemented the experience for me.  I could feel the meaning in each of their songs.  I understood their lyrics and got something out of every song.  Their music is more positive than I expected.  It can be sad, even mournful, at times, but there is a kind of optimistic tilt  in their songs.  I’ve been so influenced by more positive, upbeat music lately.  I don’t necessarily mean poppy, fast music, but music that isn’t depressing or angry. This is why I think Shinedown is one of my new favorite bands.  Their music reflects the changes that have come over me much more accurately than my past favorites. Maybe this is just another sign of my increasing maturity and inner growth.

Or something like that...

Or something like that…

I’m going to try to include a few videos or at least links to videos of some of their songs that stood out to me the most, but I want people to check out all the songs possible.  Like I stated at the beginning, music is subjective and a song will affect you differently than it will me.   I went to Amazon and bought their first three albums and their live CD.   It’s been more than worth it, especially the live set.  I think they are classified as alternative rock, but many of their songs resemble ballads and have a lot more positive implications than other alternative artists.

Whomever reads this post please take a minute to think of your favorite artist. Genre is irrelevant. What matters is that you really think of the one that is the most influential and inspirational to you. Find one band or person that has been there for you in your life.  Whenever you were down, who did you listen to uplift yourself?  Whose lyrics have spoken to you? Inspired you to change how you view or express things?  Why are they so important to you?  Feel free to post in the comments if you wish.  I’m always open to any new musical suggestions and eager for new discoveries.  I love hearing about people’s passions and inspirations, and maybe you will get something out of it, too!

Left to right: Zack- lead guitar, Eric- Bass, Barry- drums, Brent- vocals.

Left to right: Zack- lead guitar, Eric- Bass, Barry- drums, Brent- vocals.

Simple Man- Shinedown

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbN99f9esS4

Save Me- Shinedown

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8dyxGiBx3g

If You Only Knew – Shinedown – One of their most well-known songs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NCDqYynUQk

Diamond Eyes- Shinedown

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hez6tDpiWDA

Her Name is Alice -Shinedown – influenced by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHQQUH0DomI