We Are Enough - The Impact Of Brothers
Me once more
Just want to start off with an enormous thank you to everyone who has read, commented, shared and liked the last blog. You are all BEAUTIFUL human beings!
It really means the world to me that you are all taking the time to share and read them so from the bottom of my heart… THANK YOU
Now its time for the final one in this series of “being enough”
First I want to first take you back to June 18th 1996
4 days after my 4th birthday, (Not that I remember much about it )
But what I do remember is that a small bundle of joy as many people referred to, arrived, and entered my life and turned it upside down.
His name was Blade. (No reference to the Wesley Snipes movie that came 2 years later)
And that ‘so called’ bundle of joy would later grow up to be my younger brother.
But back then little did I know the effect he would have on my life and the impact he’d have on my heart and vice versa.
Back then little did I know of the brotherhood we would form.
The bond that would be forged over the years and last forever.
Little did I know how big my capacity to love someone could grow.
Looking back over the past few months and the blogs i’ve written I thought I can’t have a series about being enough and the impact of an absent father and not have one about the relationship that Blade and I have formed, partly as a result of our father being absent. And also the relationships I have formed with my other ‘brothers’ - But more on them later.
See growing up I really struggled having a younger brother around (as I suspect many older siblings do) because up until he came along, I was an only child.
So with my father barely around that meant I got all the attention off my mum and other family members, so being an only child up until that point was sheer bliss.
But then Blade came along and that all changed.
No longer was I the only child and centre of everyone’s attention.
I now had a sibling to compete with, which at such a young age is really hard to get your head around and grasp.
I had to learn to share the attention and have patience with the fact that Blade was getting a lot more awareness.
Many of times I would put him in harms way or wish he wasn’t there and looking back that’s not to take anything away from the relationship we now have and the brotherhood we now share, I guess I was coming to terms with the change that had occurred in my life.
And I was a crazy jealous older brother.
Now if you have been following these blogs you’ll know that our father wasn’t in our lives growing up and where that effected me in a real negative, toxic and rage fuelled way, Blade on the other hand reacted the polar opposite to me.
and that’s what is amazing to me that you can have the same upbringing and go through the same circumstances and react and come out completely different.
It never really fazed him growing up without a dad.
Or if it did he never showed it.
He had mum
He had football (At which he was bloody good at!)
He had a male role model, a father figure in his football coach
He had a group of friends in the football team.
It was only until recently that I found out that he did look up to me at times during his childhood and this is what really got to me as looking back I was no role model.
I was constantly in trouble with the police and hanging out with the different crowds that my estate and Newport had to offer.
I was regularly arguing with our mum, shouting and screaming and saying absolutely awful things that I have to live with forever.
Punching holes throughout the house and running away from home.
Beating up our mum.
THAT was the behaviour I surrounded him with.
THAT is no role model (in my eyes)
THAT was no one to aspire to be like.
Reflecting over our childhood I guess I never stopped to think that we were in the exact same situation.
I was selfish in a way thinking that it was all effecting me and why didn’t my father want to come and see ME
But there was another child in my brother who had all the same questions as he was experiencing an absent father as well.
He never had a dad in the same way that I never. But what he did have was an older brother and someone to look up too.
What we did have was each other and I never realised that until later on in my life.
We were enough.
For each other anyway.
Even though my childhood and teens was nothing to take influence and aspiration from, it was part of a bigger journey and a bigger story of growth and development and that Story/Journey for Blade is one that he does take inspiration from.
When the first blog dropped he messaged me and said ‘Its so real hearing it in writing. I am so proud of you! makes me want to be a better person because i never want you to be ashamed or angry at me!’
I could never be angry at a man who has the biggest heart in the world and takes after our mum in the fact that there isn’t nothing he wouldn’t do to help someone out.
His capacity to help others and care for others is spell blinding.
I could never be ashamed of a man who never gave up on me and believed in the good in me.
And being a younger sibling can’t be easy either as you’re living in the older ones shadow in some ways.
How many times at parents evenings would teachers compare us and our grades? Even though we’re two very different children with different capabilities.
How many times would my behaviour overshadow his own achievements?
It must’ve been hell growing up without a father and on top of that you have an older brother, another elder you want to aspire to be like, to take guidance from and he doesn’t wanna know either.
Take credit in how far you’ve come as it would be so easy to blame everyone else just as I did. And carry so much rage with you but you were better than that.
I had to go through everything that I went through as a teenager to come out on the other side a better person. A better role model. So I can tell him that you don’t have to go down the same route I did.
You may not have had a dad but you have me
And I have you.
And if i’m honest that’s all I need.
And that now means through all that growth and time we’re in a place where we watch Flash religiously and that’s our little thing.
We look forward to spending that time discussing life
We go to eachother with any problem - big or small.
We constantly seek advice from one another
We support each other
We grow together
We rip each other with banter on a daily basis
We love each other as brothers should.
But ‘Brother‘ doesn’t just mean that you share the same mother and father.
For me brother can mean sharing similar experiences and growing and evolving together as a result of the shared experience.
I have brothers who are not blood but will hold the title of brother to me because we’ve bonded over similar situations we’ve found our selves in and/or seeked advice for the situations and how to best deal/cope with them.
Just some of the names of the brothers I’ve made over the years be that on the estate or in uni or on my travels.
The one thing we all had/have in common was that we had each other
We were beacons of hope and we didn’t even realise it.
What we have realised is that we have made amazing journeys without the guidance we initially craved.
With all the cards we were dealt we have matured into brilliant men who can continue to grow and evolve to be better than what was expected of us
James has grown to be one of the best dads on the planet but also one of the bravest men I know. He’s one of my heroes without a shadow of a doubt. And ive had the privilege of having one of my heroes in my life for a long long time.
As I mentioned in my first blog I’ll be a great dad (When I eventually become one) because I know what its like to feel like im not enough and i’ll never let my child feel that and James also lives that value. He knows what its like to not have a dad in your life and the questions that brings and he’ll never let his daughter feel that. He’s the living embodiment of a hero to me.
Luke is the brother I found in uni and in a period in my life when I had left Blade for a duration and really needed a brother to help guide me and steer me out of trouble with the suspended sentence looming over me for the entirety of uni. He was and still is a brother till the end and I couldn’t be prouder.
He’s the older brother I never got to have.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that you never know the way people look up to you and look to you for guidance so don’t underestimate the impact you can have on the people that need it.
All the above mentioned and so many more have had an influence in whatever way in helping build me into the man i am today writing this blog and releasing these life lessons.
Its better to build others up than tear them down.
To finish off I was sat on a train yesterday morning on my way to perform, hyped to be listening to Stormzy’s new album ‘Heavy is the head’ (absolute work of art and a sheer blissful album) and listening from start to finish
A song came on called ‘Do Better’ and I had to add this section in before I released this final blog because in that moment of hearing the lyrics of the chorus tears started to fall down my cheeks because I instantly thought of my brother and his journey and the man he has become.
My emotions ran wild with regret, pride, fear, love and so much more.
the chorus went like this 👇🏼
‘I know everything is ok
Imma need you to do better’
Those are the lyrics that I want Blade to carry with him forever (that song is from me to you bro)
Imma need you to do better than I ever did because I take so much inspiration and pride in the fact you never made the same mistakes as me.
You were so much better and you can be a role model in your own light.
Because you’re a role model to me 🖤
One verse said ‘was a troublesome youth, had a desire for war’ 👆🏼
And looking back, my war was with the world, With everyone. Including him and as a result it took years and years for a relationship to grow and flourish.
But I wouldn’t change it for the world because by going through those ups and downs it’s made me appreciate the value of a brother and what that means to have one in my life.
It’s made me more thankful that as we’ve grown and matured into young men we have that closeness and openness.
Yes he’s my younger brother and he always will be but more than anything he’s one of my best friends.
He’s one of the best men and he’s done that all on his own.
Thats what I want all my brothers and every single person going through the same struggles that I did to carry with them.
Do better than I ever did.
Be a better person than I ever was.
We never needed a dad
Because WE were enough and we always will be.
Do Better - Stormzy