The Day I was Disowned for wanting to Travel (with Video)

I had expectations of what that moment would be like. The moment where I reveal to my brother I would be leaving the United States for a year. I would be selling off all of my possessions, quitting my job, and leaving.

I thought it would go something like this:

Hey Derrick, I have something to tell you. I decided to move to New Zealand for a year, and I’ve already got my ticket.

What the fuck?! That is so stupid. That is possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard

My brother would probably laugh at me. He would probably think it was some joke. He would probably be angry with me when he realized I was serious about the trip.

But I never thought he would disown me.20130814-150814.jpg

In one of my recent posts when I revealed that I had lost both of my parents at a young age, I noted that my brother since then had been a pillar of strength for me. A stubborn, conservative, and sometimes linear minded pillar, but a support for me nonetheless.

Just like my father, my brother tends to learn towards the “normal” expected lifestyle; get a stable career job that provides health care, job security, and a retirement. And all he would talk about when he would get on my case for being irresponsible is the fact that he could retire comfortable in 25 years.

Hell, I can’t even plan months in advance. I tend to enjoy the very moment I am in. But the moment that I revealed to him I was moving to New Zealand was not at all enjoyable.

It was two weeks before I was to take the California Zephyr from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, and then off to a place I knew nothing about. I just knew it was far away, and was the first country I would ever travel to, and it was all I wanted in my life at that moment.

My brother happened to be having a BBQ with a bunch of friends over that night, and I figured that by revealing it there, the environment and friends would help defuse any situation that followed.

So what I did was call everyone into the kitchen of his sparkling new house, set up my phone on a table to record the confrontation (I figured his reaction would be kind of funny) and made my reveal.20130814-150933.jpg

In a month, I am moving to New Zealand. I already have my ticket.

Good luck. But if you move to New Zealand, I will probably have no more communication with you.

Why?” I asked, confused.

For what?

You’re my brother” I said, not understanding where he was taking this.

No, sorry. If you move to New Zealand you are not.

And then the conversation took a turn for the worse. He became slightly more aggressive, but overall he kept repeating one harsh line.

You are not my brother anymore.

My brother, my only direct blood left on this planet, had officially disowned me because I wanted to travel.

And had officially torn my heart out. Like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and he discarded my heart into the fire.

20130814-151328.jpgMy throat felt as though I had swallowed a whole apple. Tears welled up in my eyes. My chest felt as if there was an anvil atop it. My stomach was tied in an uncountable amount of knots.

I cried.

I hadn’t cried for nearly 3 years since I had found my father dead on our back porch.

For a person that felt as though he had no more tears to cry in his life anymore, I cried fiercely. I couldn’t understand how my brother could do such a thing to his little brother, especially since we were all each other had.

Apparently not. And apparently he was content not having a brother anymore because I wanted to chase my dream.

I left that day, and I wouldn’t speak to him for nearly 6 months. Well, in reality he wouldn’t speak with me.

His wife drove me home that night and I was balling the whole way. She tried to lighten up Derrick’s reaction but making the standard efforts at consoling, but it didn’t help.

I was so angry, so pissed off, that I couldn’t wait to leave. And I hoped I would be gone longer than that year, maybe forever.20130814-151110.jpg

And off I went. I said goodbye to my parents in the cemetery, I was on the train, and then taking my first steps onto foreign soil.

I emailed my brother and his wife updates just to assure them I was okay, but I was really doing it to show them I actually did it.

When my brother and I started talking again, it was over the Voxer walkie-talkie app. He almost acted as though he had never said anything, and he even accused me of not trying to talk to him. A friend of his, Nikki, had voice messaged me on Voxer asking how I had been doing, and also asked about my brother. I guess after telling her of our fallout she had a nice chat with him.

I still loved my brother, but deep inside I was still angry. How could he do such a thing to me? But I wanted to repair the relationship still. So, instead of staying in New Zealand for the full year, I chose to fly home 3 months early and surprise him on his birthday.

And surprised he was, but that was about it.

That day, and since that day, we have never really spoken about my trip. He has never shown interest in hearing about it. And even when I’ve gone on other trips like Haiti and we go to dinner to a pub after I return, he looks away watching TV when I talk about it to his wife, then comes back into the conversation with an, “Oh, yeah, cool.”20130814-151433.jpg

The rift between us has grown, and every time I am with him I now feel like it is out of obligation. Oh, how I would GIVE for some sort of small curiosity and support about my dream. But instead of having my father, mother, and brother telling me they are proud of something I am doing — I have nothing. No, I do have something, I have my dream and I am proud of myself for not letting it falter.

Dreamers will always face fierce opposition, even from family, but you still have to stand strong.

I have now accepted the fact that my brother will never understand the life I have chosen. I know he means the best for me, and just wants his little brother to be safe, but his lifestyle choice isn’t my lifestyle choice. I will still go on traveling and doing what I love.

I have yet to tell him that I am leaving for Thailand in November. I know how he will react, but I hope he won’t rip out my heart again.


How did you reveal your travel plans, and how did your family react?




  1. Billy August 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Ryan, It’s me, Billy, your ex-ipad student. Currently in Estonia, just got here from St. Petersburg via Helsinki! But what I wanted to tell you was….I remember when I told my Mom, back in the mid 1980’s, that I was going to spend 6 months surfing in Central America. I was going to leave just after Christmas, and as a present that year my Mom gave me an Atlas. A really nice World Atlas. And on the first page she wrote……” I hope you visit each and every page, Love, Mom” I am now 8 months into my around the world adventure and I know that my Mom, bless her soul, is looking down and encouraging my every step, still urging me to see “every page” Don’t let your bro get you down, he’s jealous. Go for ur dream!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author August 15, 2013 at 2:20 am

      Billy, what a phenomenal story and thank you for sharing that. Trust me, I know it’s you every time you comment on here and I’m always glad you stop by! I really let my brother bum me out for a long time after that, but I’ve just accepted that I can put forth the energy and effort best I can, and keep chasing my dream, and hope he will accept me. If not, I’ll have to keep on keepin’ on either way!

      Cheers, and sounds like you are having an AMAZING time on your trip!

  2. Robyn August 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Sometimes people just don’t understand. Keep those who love you and accept your decisions close. Blood or no blood.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author August 15, 2013 at 2:21 am

      You are truly right Robyn, and I am trying. I’ve accepted the fact that he won’t understand and that I just have to focus on me. Thank you for the encouragement!

  3. Kitty August 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    hey Ryan,
    Some people will just never understand another person’s drive in life. I spent 32 years trying to make my mother at least like me if not love me. And at some point in that 33rd year of life, I said fuck it. I can’t make people love, like or even agree with me. I have to concentrate on what makes me happy so I tossed the people that made me miserable.

    Christmas dinners have been pretty awesome ever since.

    When I announced that I was packing it all up (putting important bits into storage) selling and donating my stuff and buying a ticket for Nicaragua for 6 months, I thought the friends would think I was nuts (point being I am a little in a need antidepressant kinda way;) and want to chain me to the wall.

    To my relief and surprise, everyone and I mean EVERYONE thinks this is the best thing I could and should ever do. I have had nothing but love and encouragement. It makes me feel a little safer knowing I have so much support. It may be different when I get back and need a couch to crash on…. Nah! ๐Ÿ™‚

    You’re travelling and filling your life with good. Eventually the bad will bubble over the top and wash away from your personal vessel. What’ll be left is pure. What is left is you.

  4. Fiona August 15, 2013 at 5:00 am

    Wow. I cannot even begin to imagine the emotions you went through. My father thought I was crazy to leave a full time, permanent job when the recession was really hitting Ireland when I left 3 years ago. 3 years on, I am now living and working in Africa and my parents are used to my “So I’m moving to in a month”.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author August 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      That is awesome that you are still at it after 3yrs, happy for you! Hopefully my brother will come around at some point.

  5. Caz Craig Makepeace (@yTravelBlog) August 15, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Ah man Ryan that sucks. I am so sorry. How heartbreaking for you. I’m publishing a post on this topic in a few weeks; it’s never easy to disappoint those closest to you. Most of the time they just don’t know what to say and how to handle their own pain at seeing you go. Sometimes those we love take it personally. We’ve experienced upheaval before like this, but eventually they come around. I’m sure your brother will soon get used to it and understand how much this life means to you.

    I think you’ve done the right thing in continuing to follow your dreams. You can only ever live your life for you.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author August 16, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Amazing insight Caz, you definitely shed some light on it and I am definitely hoping my brother will come around at some point. But either way I’ll keep traveling and keep trying to see him. Can’t wait to read your piece in a few weeks!

  6. Katie @ Domestiphobia August 16, 2013 at 11:29 am

    1. People are scared of what they don’t understand. Combine that with alcohol, and anything less than a belligerent response would be surprising.
    2. It is for that reason that any time you attempt to live or work outside the status quo, you will find resistence. When I told my neighbor I was moving to Costa Rica for two months, he told me I was going to get raped and murdered and asked what I wanted on my headstone. My husband had to take even more crap than I did for “allowing” me to go. Resistance is a very normal reaction from people who are scared.
    3. No lifestyle choice is necessarily “better” than another – there’s only what’s better for you. It’s possible your brother feels insulted by your very vocal rejection of his lifestyle choice, and anger is also a normal and unfortunate response to feeling defensive.

    This must have been so hard to share. Obviously I don’t know you and I don’t know your brother, but maybe fully embracing him – telling him how much you love and still want him in your life and how much you appreciate his role as an anchor for your wanderings – well. Maybe he just wants to be admired, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. arielle August 19, 2013 at 2:31 am

    What a rough situation for you, Ryan. Good on you for doing what makes you happy and ultimately fulfills you. Your story reaffirms how lucky and blessed I am to have such supportive, and more importantly encouraging family (friends are mostly supportive but some take it personally- I understand their standpoint) who have always been avid travel enthusiasts themselves. I can’t imagine having to deal with their disapproval, it would be heartbreaking. Sending nothing but positive energy your way as you are about to embark on a new adventure to SE Asia! You are going to have the time of your life and be too happy to dwell on the negativity coming from others. And when you are truly happy and fulfilled, everything seems to work itself out and fall into place. It’s a beautiful thing.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author August 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Thank you Arielle for your kind words and encouragement. I am so happy for you that your family is so supportive, I think it is amazing that the people you love will dive head first in with you without fully understanding your passion as well! I am staying รผber positive and I appreciate you sending me good vibes!

  8. Toni August 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Even though it may not mean a lot, I’m incredibly proud of you. You have lost both parents in such a tragic way and now, although still alive, it feels like you have lost your brother too and yet you are one of the most special, positive and highest achievers I know. I sometimes feel so guilty when I can’t get out of bed due to being ill and I see how ridiculously hard you are working towards achieving your dreams and how happy you are to do it.
    You are an INCREDIBLE person Ryan and though your brother may not see it, we certainly do. Please believe me when I say that you truly do inspire others and I think that is brighter, bigger, sexier than a ‘society life’ could ever be when someone follows the crowd instead of their heart.
    The fact that you continue to be such a uniquely special person is a pure credit to YOURSELF. You have brought yourself up to be a wonderful man and our lives, just through your blog, are better for you in it. So whilst it may hurt, please remember (as I recently found out) that it is sometimes the families we choose that love us more than our family could ever want or are able to do.
    A beautiful post from a beautiful soul xx

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author August 21, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      Thank you so very much for your deeply kind words Toni, it means a huge amount coming from someone who inspires me! We all face out struggles through this life and in no comparison needed, because what matters most is how much we strive to live to the fullest, now how much each other hurts. And I know you are at the forefront of trying to live the lifestyle you want, and I’m proud to have gotten to know you through travel blogging! Thank you again ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. eemusings August 21, 2013 at 4:23 am

    WTF, so sorry to hear this. We are Kiwis so taking off to travel is just as normal as staying put – everyone was basically like “oh yeah, cool, about time”. I hope NZ treated you well.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author August 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      Oh, New Zealand was marvelous to me, miss it tons!

  10. TammyOnTheMove August 22, 2013 at 12:39 am

    I am sorry to hear that your brother isn’t supporting you. I am no psychologist, but maybe he felt that you are leaving him for good, and it may have reminded him of your parents passing away, and that upset him. Every person deals differently with grief and unfortunately your brother has taken a very radical step. He shouldn’t dictate your life though. If you don’t want to live his lifestyle then he will need to accept that and I think if you give him a bit of time he eventually will.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author August 22, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      This is another reason why I write about my personal struggles, is because people like you are constantly helping me to figure out emotions and shedding light on different perspectives. I know he was hurt, and at the time I couldn’t understand it or his reaction. Now I do, but I still hope he may get past those strong disagreements with my lifestyle and accept me.

      Thank you for this comment!

  11. Lela September 2, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I guess, he just doesn’t want to lose you.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author September 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      It seems like that could be one of the underlying causes. But I wonder why he doesn’t see me while I am back. Still trying to figure it out ๐Ÿ˜›

  12. James July 22, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    It’s always really surprising to see how people react when you drop big news like this.

    My one sibling, whom I regarded as one of my best friends, wouldn’t talk to me for months after I left. Even now that I’m back I can tell there’s always something between us, like I betrayed her by leaving on my trip. Meanwhile other siblings I never got along with are surprisingly intrigued and reach out to me far more often.

    It’s the same way with friends to a lesser degree. It really sucks, but hey if it wasn’t the trip it might be something else down the line.


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