I went to see the shaman again. I didn’t have a particular agenda and I didn’t feel a profound change after I saw him the first time, but I liked talking to him. I don’t think his belief system is any less legitimate than the rest of them. In fact, I think it’s a good way to view things.
We talked for a long time, mostly about my feelings of “not being enough,” and things I’m uncertain about—all the topics that make me a broken record. I was annoyed to be discussing these things, but he told me not to worry about it, because what I was really talking about was myself. That’s the truth.
He asked me a number of times if I’d been jealous of my older sister when we were growing up. He’d asked the same question during our previous sessions. I said no. My sister is five years older than me, and when I was little we were so different and far apart in age, it never occurred to me to be jealous of her. Maybe I was jealous of the fact she seemed to never be in trouble, at least not the way I was. I was always in trouble. I was often doing something spazzy or dumb (because I was so worried about being in trouble that I had to make my fear come true just to get it over with). The shaman seemed to accept this explanation. Mostly.
He got ready to perform the healing ceremony, and I found myself standing, once again, in the middle of the room with my eyes closed, clutching a black stone in each hand. Right before we began he suggested I connect more to my feminine energy. I didn’t really understand what he meant, but a physic once told me the same thing. I didn’t really understand it then either. I kind of resented it.
Even though my eyes were closed I knew the shaman was standing in front of me, and I was expecting him to begin singing or spitting on me. But he didn’t. He said simply and with surprise, “Do you have a brother?”
I opened my eyes.
I told him I did. I told him the whole deal, that my parents had a son between my sister and I who died of pneumonia when he was ten months old.
He said that when he was looking at me, he saw my brother very clearly. He was right there, right next to me, or maybe even on me. He told me my brother was trying to live through me.
I had no expectations for that session, but even if I had been forced to draw up a list of all the things that could happen, this would not have been one of them.
Thinking about it now, I accepted this idea very easily. It wasn’t uncomfortable or startling or scary. I just said, “Really?” I didn’t try to feel for my brother or sense him in some sort of illogical attempt to confirm his presence. I asked if my brother had negative intentions, and the shaman suggested he did. My brother was pissed I was alive and he wasn’t. The shaman asked if I ever did or said things I didn’t intend to. I do, but doesn’t everyone? He suggested this might be my brother’s influence.
This required a big shift of thinking on my part, one that I have yet to fully make. As I mentioned elsewhere on this blog, the biggest feeling I had toward my brother was sadness. I was sad he died as a new baby, and in a hospital, full of tubes.
When I think more about my family and our early dynamics, I understand a lot of what I experienced was the result of my parents having a son before me who didn’t survive. Even my mother told me that my father was hoping I’d be a boy. So although I didn’t find out about my brother until I was ten years old, I’d spent my life until that moment navigating complex expectations. I received a lot of emotional information about sadness, disappointment and fear that I couldn’t understand. This is a big realization, but it doesn’t feel mind-splittingly huge. It just made me understand that I did, actually, have a sort of relationship to my brother, and he affected my life much more than I realized. Still, I never thought of my brother as an agent in my life, an active influence. The shaman’s vision upends this. He thinks my brother’s been with me the whole time, essentially messing my shit up. Pretty crazy.
During the ceremony the shaman tried to remove my brother. I was instructed to tell my brother to leave and let him go. I didn’t even know he was there, and I certainly didn’t feel I was holding on to him, but I went with it. The shaman began rubbing stones on my body, pressing them forcefully against my stomach and back. I saw myself sitting in a pew in an empty church. My brother, who looked like a teenager (probably because I hope I still look like a teenager) sat down next to me, and we looked at each other sadly. We didn’t speak. He was delicately handsome and blond. I also saw myself holding him when he was a baby, comforting and smiling at him. I actually don’t really remember telling him to go away or trying to “get rid of him,” though I tried. It was hard to accept he had a negative agenda towards me, even though it makes sense, too.
The shaman was very fired up about all this. I was too, but in a detached way. The shaman told me he banished my brother, but we still need to work on the issue.
When it was over I didn’t feel an immediate change. I went to a birthday party directly after, so I didn’t have much of a chance to process what happened. In the week that’s passed since, I haven’t found myself thinking about it very much, which doesn’t mean something didn’t happen.
I do feel a little different—lighter, less negative. It’s easier for me to be positive, and I feel that my anger is less present. Although I said everyone says and does things they don’t intend to, I often felt I could be bitchy or negative when I really don’t mean to be at all, which is different from randomly saying something stupid at a party. I believed my surprising meannessess were actually revelations; that they betrayed the petty person I really was. Now I’m not so sure. I still can’t believe my brother had it out for me (that’s the wrong way to put it, but I can’t find the right one), but something was going on, and yes, something has changed.