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Ruby – “I feel every pain that passes his body”

Ewen is my big brother, he has consumed my life from the moment I entered this complex world. I never recall questioning why Ewen didn’t talk, nor why we couldn’t attend the family meet-up or neighbours birthday party. My pride for my brother has always been in great abundance not leaving any space for potential resentment. Every essay or art project in school was made about my big brother’s special soul. I wanted everyone that knew me, also to know about my brother too. (We are a packaged deal of course).

A young brother and sister sit next to each other on a train

We had a happy childhood really, although I don’t think I’ll ever let go of the fact my brother managed to eat my homework or my library book at least once a week. (How does one explain this to their teacher?) I laugh now but trust me little Ruby wasn’t even cracking a smile. Ewen had an unprecedented obsession with tearing paper and eating it, apparently my homework jotters and stinking library books were particularly inviting!

Ewen moved into a residential school five days a week when he was 10. From once being identifiable to myself as Ewen’s sister, I felt empty coming home to the quiet house. No one to tickle or share snacks with. No one to serve at my pretend shop or take orders from in our made-up kitchen. Ewen never understood these concepts but all I truly needed was his company. I felt I couldn’t forgive my parents for making me an only child. The sailor of my ship was taken away before I could warn everyone it was going to sink.

Sometimes I feel time has stopped moving around us and this bubble of being purely my brother’s sibling is never going to change. I still won’t stay out past 10pm with friends on a ‘Ewen’ weekend and I still give up much of my life to make my brother’s a better one. This adulting thing really sucks, I’m now 19 and I struggle to separate my life from Ewen’s. I feel every pain that passes his body and under any condition I will always put him first. We are the real-life version of E.T. and Elliott.

Ewen came home permanently in 2021 after reaching crisis point. Things went from bad to worse and he was detained under the Mental Health Act for fifteen months in a psychiatric hospital. Something that no one outside of our situation could ever begin to comprehend. Those months felt like someone had stolen all the air from my lungs, every breath was a fighting one and all I truly wanted, was to scoop my brother up and look after him for the rest of my life. I was still in school at this time, sitting those life-dependant exams. How on earth was I supposed to retain information when my head was stuck in flashbacks of my brothers soul-destroying cries, whilst my shirt rubbed on the raw injuries from his fingernails covering my chest?

People compliment how beautiful my relationship is with Ewen, however, as my match begins to burn out, I find myself existing and surviving, rather than living. From once not being identifiable without my brother, I now feel engulfed by his life completely. Every event is second guessed by ‘What about Ewen?’. I hope I won’t regret spending my young adult life being a shadow of my brother’s one, but man, is that hard to navigate, because truly, at the end of the day, he is and always will be, my whole entire life.

An adult sister and brother smile at the camera

Follow Ruby on Instagram at Ewen and Me

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