I grew up with a part of me constantly by my side. In ways, the most vital part of me. His name is Roderick Blakely, my younger brother. I have a plethora of fond memories with my only sibling. I recall so vividly building fortresses in our living room and taking leaps of faith off the dock down the street. I try to remember our childhood through rose-colored glasses, but that’s not what makes him so important to me. Through trauma, treacherous screaming, and slamming, I was his home, and unbeknownst to me, that made him mine.

My household was never filled with malicious people but nevertheless, it was chaotic. We both were bombarded with immense amounts of love but there was also a thick, invisible wrap of toxicity packaging it all together. Through my parents fighting, all I ever wanted was to preserve him and I knew he loved me eternally for it. Roderick has always been slightly afraid of the dark. The fear of something hiding beyond his bed was agonizing. He would find me and my presence was enough for him to fall asleep in minutes, but I would stay on the corner of his bed, deep in the darkness surrounding me. I was safe knowing that he was safe and that I provided that for him.

When Roderick was twelve, he was accepted into a specialty program at Hamelin-Laie, an International Boarding School in Barcelona to someday accomplish his dream of being a professional soccer player. Before his departure, I knew that I would miss him but I didn’t know the extent.

Roderick tackled his fears and learned how to live on his own, across the world. I, though, was left without my purpose. As he escaped the darkness that petrified him, I plummeted into it and felt useless without him to help. Only on a recent trip did I truly realize that I not only missed our companionship, but a sense of home. When my house wasn’t safe, he was. In need of a way to escape this, I plastered my walls with nostalgia and sent him a poetry book I wrote about our childhood. Through reflection, I realized I was using his fears to mask my own. I have rediscovered my purpose, disconnected from what I mean to him. Through therapy, leadership positions, poetry, and even redecorating my room, I have found who I am. Because of that, I finally feel secure in my body and brain. He has learned how to fall asleep in complete darkness and I now can see my light beyond the reflection in his eyes, mirroring it back to me. I can fill my house with everything beautiful and grow to a point of feeling safe in my own skin.

Now, I can trust myself to be a safe-place and I am fulfilled knowing that in the process, I have made a home for him to come back to. One that he won’t need me to save him from.