Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Source

I seem to have this influence, this aura, about me. I don't know what it is, or what I do for it to express itself, only that it does. I seem to exert this . . . almost calming influence over some of the people I reach out to. It's almost like the voice of reason. But I want to know, what is the source of this? First some examples.

If my brother found out about this he'll ninja his way into my room and kill me in my sleep. Anyway, about 2 years ago my youngest brother began cutting himself, on his arms and legs. He did this for a few months before my parents found out. It was winter, so he had every excuse to wear long sleeves and pants, which did a great job hiding all this. In addition, he preferred to wear long sleeves and jeans anyway. But find out my parents did. See, in my brother's room, he had this blanket. And he would wipe his blood on it, so it looked like little patches of dried blood all over it throughout the course of the months.

My mom went to his room to gather blankets and such to do laundry, and she found the bloody blanket. She confronted my brother and found out he had been cutting his arms and legs. Understandably, she freaked and she called me while I was still at the university. I saw the blanket myself when I came back for winter break. My parents took my brother to a psychologist but couldn't afford more than 3-4 months of therapy or whatnot. My brother had been using scissors and string to cut himself by rubbing these against his skin over and over again until the burn became a wound. And he would pick at the scabs to keep them fresh.

By the time summer vacation rolled around, my parents disclosed to me in secret to find out why my brother was doing this and help him stop. Like I knew the answer. As my parents say, my brothers will listen to me in ways they'll never listen to them. I didn't really openly confront my brother about this. I asked him about it but I knew he probably didn't know the answer - how many really know WHY they cut themselves? So no adequate answer was given.

Yet, in the months I had been home, he seemed to have gotten better. I don't know what it was. He had been sluggish and tired for months, taking really long naps and sleeping way too late for a kid in high school. Then gradually he seemed to regain some of his strength and he stopped cutting. My parents think it was because of me, of something I did or said to him. What that was, I don't know.

I have my guesses. Perhaps I connected with him subconsciously in a way that never of us realized. Perhaps he was sick of being compared to me, because as the oldest I am "the example" that they must either meet or surpass. Perhaps he was lonely after I went to the university as I had been present in his life from the day he was born (obviously). Whatever it was, something about my presence helped. Maybe I was there to ask him to play video games with me, to run with me (which he almost always refused), to just sit around and do nothing but watch TV. Whatever it was, it seems to have worked.

It's not just my brother though, but my cousins as well. My cousin in Chicago, who'll be going into 11th grade in the fall, is coming to visit us for about 2-3 weeks. My parents already paid for his train ticket. However, it's not for fun. While he's here, I'm supposed to get him to do the SAT and ACT and improve his scores. It'll be like a standardized test boot camp of sorts. I feel bad for him. But while I was in Chicago, I was able to get him to work on it, he did listen to me (although he forgot what I taught him just as quick). A few days ago my uncle was complaining how he stopped doing the tests, and wanted me to email him to motivate him again. It seems I'm the only one who can get him to settle down and work on these standardized exams?

My little cousin in California loves me. I think he loves me more than any other relative. Whenever I visit, he would always want to play with me, spend every moment with me. He would drag me around by the hand to do things with him. I gave him attention, I played with him. When he was only a toddler, I fed him for like 3 days. After that he didn't want his mom to feed him anymore, only me. I remember him falling asleep on my stomach, or waking up really early to come wake me up. He would not leave me alone, but I didn't mind much. I love little kids.

And about 6 years ago I was a counselor for a day camp thing that ran for 2 weeks. My group of kids really liked me. They liked my friend, who was my counselor partner, somewhat less. And my friend would always ask me, "Why aren't you tired?" I don't know why, I just couldn't stop. In any case, I could get them to behave. And they liked asking me questions without much inhibition. I even got along with "the trouble kid" and somehow got him to interact better with the other kids.

Amongst my friends, I'm often the secret-keeper - the one they tell some secret and then swear to secrecy. My friends are also surprised when I perceive something, as if they forget that fact for some reason. I guess I am good at detecting others' moods, even if I don't always overtly show it. If I ask just the right way, I can get almost any of my friends to open up to me and tell me their problems. I'm also patient enough to not force the issue.

But why though. Is it because I listen well and ask the right questions? Because it's surely not because I give the best advice. Why would they trust me to their problems, and never inquire about my own? Why can't they see my own insecurities and issues? Do I mask it that well? Sometimes I'm like the patch-up, the one who's supposed to make things - if not better - at least understandable and bearable. I hear it from my parents all the time about my brothers and sometimes cousins, I hear it from friends sometimes as they tell me to help them figure out how to deal with each other.

In any case, I'd like to know the source of how I get people to open up around me. Perhaps it's because I don't generally withhold the good and the bad. Who knows, but I do know this: this influence/aura thing will become useful when I'm a doctor. In the mean time, where's the person who can draw out my issues out into the daylight?


charlie said...

I think that if you really care about people in general you can "feel" them. Some people are so selfish that they never really see the others for what they are, as they are so much concerned about themselve without noticing the others. If you know how to listen and watch, you can see if someone is in a good or bad mood, happy or not. People also feel that back, when someone listen to them or care about them, and it helps them a lot.

You must look strong, in your character, so that the others can't see that sometimes you are also sad, or anything else.

I feel like you about the "aura" thing.

Mike said...

What a difficult situation! Hopefully your brother isn't cutting himself.

It sounds like you have a gift for being in tune with people and sensing their emotions.

Anonymous said...

you already found him ;)