Older Siblings Leaving for College

I have two siblings, one brother and one sister, both older.

As of recently I have now watched them both leave for college, and have experienced the  being the much dreaded left behind younger sibling. Both experiences felt different for me, but it’s always tough to watch your siblings move on in life without you.

My sister went to college when I was starting eighth grade. Her last two years of high school she took on a lot of responsibilities and was really busy, so I didn’t see her a whole lot. I was also really sick and spent most of my time in my room, so that contributed to the situation as well. My sister and I are polar opposites and butt heads growing up; the five year age gap also didn’t help. When she left I was sad because I knew life would never be the same, but it wasn’t particularly devastating since we didn’t spend much time together anyway. It was hard to watch her move on, but it was more jealousy than grief. Now that she’s gone we have a much closer relationship and communicate with each other more than we ever have.

My older brother left for college mid August and this time things were different. He did two years at community college and lived at home, so we didn’t have the typical send off after high school was over. There were points in the past six months that I didn’t think he’d even try to apply to a university, let alone get in and decide to actually go. When the time came for him to move out it felt surreal. Now I was going to be the only child in my house. I spend the majority of my time alone and now that time will be even longer since he’s not around.

There’s a million selfish reasons why I didn’t want him to leave, but there’s also some concerns fueled by love. He’s a type one diabetic and the thought of him going so low he passes out and no one finding him or him not taking care of himself is nauseating. I may be his younger sister but I want to protect him and make sure he’s safe.

People often think of parents having a hard time when their children go off to college, but siblings can have a hard time too. Living with siblings verses just living with your parents is very different, and is a hard change to make. For me it’s also hard to watch my siblings move on, because I question if I will ever be able to do the things they’ve gotten to do due to my health.

I know so many people (especially people who only have one sibling who’s older) who had a really hard time watching their siblings go to college. It’s definitely a huge change for the whole family, and can be a rough transition. If your older siblings are leaving for college soon or just recently left, know that it will be hard in the begining but after a while a new normal sets in.

 

 

 

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The Flip Side

Long before I became chronically ill my older brother struggled with chronic illness. He constantly had strep throat as a kid, which resulted in the removal of his tonsils and adenoids, and he got pneumonia twice in one month. Any time a stomach bug or the flu went around he always got it and was out of commission for much longer than the rest of us.

When he was ten some more alarming changes began to take place. He would drink copious amounts of fluids, which caused him to start wetting the bed, something he had never done before. He also lots of ton of weight and looked super pale and frail all the time. If you’re familiar with type one diabetes, then you know these are obvious symptoms.

He was diagnosed in August of 2007, when he was ten and I was seven on the first day of school. My paternal grandfather had type one and died of diabetic related complications. He didn’t take care of himself, went blind, and had to have one of his legs amputated. While he died back in the 70’s, and medicine has changed a lot since then, it was still a scary diagnosis to get.

I remember my dad picking me up from my friends house and waiting the whole drive home to tell me the news until we walked through the door of our house. I didn’t know what diabetes was since I was seven, but from the look of sorrow on my fathers face I knew it was bad. We visited my brother in the hospital and I’ll never forget his thin pale face siting in the hospital bed. I let him prick my finger (even though way back then I was terrified of needles) and it made him excited.

I can’t speak to how diabetes changed his life (besides the obvious), and he isn’t one to share his emotions, but it definitely changed mine. I have a much greater knowledge of both type one and type two diabetes. My families eating habits changed a lot to cut carbs, especially in unnecessary places like liquids. Neither I nor my sister complained about these new things, because we could see how hard it was for our brother and parents.

The sound of my brother crying and begging my parents not to give him his Lantis shot will forever haunt me. He was only ten years old, and his life was flipped completely upside down. At that time I didn’t see it like that, because I couldn’t possible comprehend the complexities of getting an initial diagnosis of a chronic illness. Now when I is see “jokes” like “this hamburger is gonna give me diabetes” or “that looks like diabetes on a plate” they infuriate me. The lack of knowledge and false information out there astounds me. Especially surrounding type two. Not everyone who has type two is fat, eats terribly, and lives a sedentary lifestyle. There are so many factors that can play into someone have diabetes. There are even a ton of medical professionals who are so uneducated about diabetes and believe the myths surrounding them.

Being on the flip side of chronic illness now, I try to take what I learned as a sibling and observer and use it when handling my own relationships, and examining the ways chronic illness affects them. I feel lucky, in some sort of twisted sense, that I’ve gotten to experience both sides, because I believe it’s taught me much more than I could have learned form only experiencing one or the other.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Unconditional

Unconditional love is something that I find hard to wrap my head around.

I don’t think most people truly love each other unconditionally. I wouldn’t fault someone for “conditional love,” it isn’t easy to love someone no matter what they do.

In church we use the phrase “God’s unconditional love” a lot. I believe he is truly the only one who can have unconditional love. In Sunday school over the summer we discussed this subject and we were told to come up with words that we believe unconditional love should be. One of mine was tenacious. I threw it out there not thinking much about it, but now I keep coming back to that word. Love should be tenacious. It should be unwavering and we should persevere through the hardships.

The easy thing to do is give up, except when it’s the hard thing. I don’t believe you should have to have unconditional love for someone who is abusive, and although I’ve never been in that type of situation from what I understand it isn’t always easy to walk away. I have a door-slam mentality when it comes to relationships sometimes. When things begin to go awry and people hurt me I want to get them out of my life as soon as possible. That isn’t the healthy or mature thing to do though. That kind of love is conditional. That love isn’t unwavering or preserving.

I think I have a fascination with unconditional love because it’s so rare. The closest thing to unrestricted love is some parent-child relationships. I say some because there are always those awful parents who kick their kids out for being LGBTQ+, getting pregnant, or are abusive.

Parents who whole-heartedly love their children no matter what are so beautiful to me. I hope I can be that open and loving towards any future children I have. I honestly think my parents would love me no matter what. I have a sibling who has tested that belief time and time again over the past few years and they have continued to stick by their side. As frustrating and painful as it can be, it has taught me a lot of lessons about relationships.

Unconditional love is something I will continue to strive for in all my relationships. Continue to love boldly, whole-heartedly, and unconditionally!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

P.S. The whole time I wrote this, I couldn’t help but sing “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry😉

 

“Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

Come just as you are to me
Don’t need apologies
Know that you are worthy
I’ll take your bad days with your good
Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you, I love you”