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my relationship with my brother - at breaking point

(38 Posts)
wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 22:19:13

I’m posting this because of an incident that happened over Christmas but that is really the breaking point for me, the problems have gone on for years and years.

My brother and I never got on as children, we are in our 40’s now. Looking back I can see I was horrible to him but he was horrible to me too. I was always (and still am) much more emotional than him and got upset easily, he was always quietly sarcastic. By the age of 16 or so I wanted desperately to be close to him and it seems like I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to make him like me and failing.

Although we’ve both tried to do things together (we have similar aged children) we just don’t get on. If I’m in his company for more than a few hours he is sarcastic and finds ways to ignore me or put me down but I’ve kept on trying.

He married about 15 years ago whereas although I’ve had children until 2 years ago I wasn’t in a steady relationship and his wife has simply always been as cold as ice towards me. I’ve tried and tried but she has always (to me) made it patently clear she doesn’t like me.

This Christmas we all stayed with my elderly mother. Their 12 year DD who had previously always been fine was very rude to me on a number of occasions. They weren’t there and didn’t hear the incidents but there were a number of them (for example she said I was having ‘a hissy fit’ when I wouldn’t continue to play monopoly with her when she was cheating at it! – I think this is a totally unacceptable way for a 12 year old to speak to their adult aunt). My view is that she is mimicking her parents’ disrespect for me. On boxing night we were all watching TV and the DD said ‘wantanewname can you be quiet?’ as I said something to my 8 year old DD. She said it with a smirk on her face and very rudely and so I ignored her. This was followed by my SIL shouting at me ‘My DD has asked you to be quiet. How dare you ignore her and be so rude, she’s talking to you, you wouldn’t like it if I was ignoring your DD etc etc’. My brother backed my SIL up, the DD carried on smirking and even my poor mother said ‘Yes Wantanewname you should’ve been quiet etc’.

To say I was humiliated was an understatement. I feel totally undermined and feel it is the straw that has broken the camel’s back. There is more but this is becoming an epic. I don’t want conflict, I just want out. I don’t want anymore contact but wondered what others thought? I feel like they (my brother and his wife) have treated me with so much disrespect over the years and I just feel at the bottom of the pecking order and can’t be around them again. I have friends, I have colleagues, I have a partner (who unfortunately wasn’t there or I’m sure this wouldn’t have happened as I feel it was a form of bullying as I was there on my own with my children) who all are polite, respectful and like me.
(may put this in AIBU as well)

Hi wantanewname,

re your comment:-

"One thing I haven't mentioned here is that the thing that hurt most of all was that afterwards my mother said to me 'Someone should have
stood up to you years ago".

And what was your response?. That's the sort of thing that a toxic parent would actually say, that's basically saying its all your fault. You are the scapegoat in this family for all their inherent ills. Notice too that none of them have said sorry, such people never apologise nor accept any real responsibility for their actions. Such people as well never change. I also think your mother had a hand in nuturing the now poor state of the relationship with your brother and you when younger; she may well have praised him to the skies and favoured whilst you were told to take a back seat. He's not going to change and you will never get his approval you still seek.

Your brother learnt about relationships first and foremost from his parents and has simply carried on where your own mother left off. His own daughter now has become a mini version of them. All this dysfunction can and does go down the generations.

You would not tolerate any of this from a friend, family are no different. You owe it to yourself to only spend time with people who make you comfortable, not scapegoat you and by turn your own family unit and blame you for all their ills.

Detach from them and ignore any communiques your brother sends you. Do not acknowledge anything from him if received, shred any letters without opening. I would also suggest you post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread as that may well help you as well.

DeckSwabber Thu 30-Jan-14 07:51:00

It sounds as if these issues come from when you were young and you were both 'horrible' to each other. Being horrible to a sibling is pretty normal - lots of raw emotions, jealousies and rages. I think a lot of it is about getting parental attention, so not really aimed at the sibling at all.

It also sounds as if your parents didn't deal with it well, and it may have left some nasty scars. You are saying you want to move on, but for some reason your sibling won't/can't and your mum is encouraging this.

The dynamics in my family are the other way round because my brother is older but my mum's inability to address the sibling rivalry has meant that we will probably never get on.

Holdthepage Thu 30-Jan-14 08:32:15

I don't think you need to be overly dramatic about cutting contact just quietly avoid them.

My brother & I have a terrible relationship & have zero contact but as our DM is elderly this does cause problems, because sometimes joint decisions need to be made about her health/welfare. The only contact we have is by brief text.

I also agree that in some cases it is the DM that causes the problems between siblings. My DM has always played us off against each other, she does it without thinking & still does it now & "gets upset", her words, because we don't like each other.

KouignAmann Thu 30-Jan-14 08:35:38

My younger brother told his son my DN that I had bullied him when we were younger. After reflection I think he was right as I can remember some terrible fights. I have struggled to understand why as I am a sensitive kind person generally. Much reflection on family dynamics (Passive Aggressive mother who never expresses anger) has made me thing I was the family barometer! But he is right and I am working round to a heartfelt apology.
How did your DM and DF deal with disagreement in the family?

TinselTownley Thu 30-Jan-14 10:09:27

I've lurked and read with maximum objectivity and I do think there's a distinct possibility you might be downplaying your responsibilities here.

If you are still stuck in replaying the destructive relationship you endured in childhood, it's precious wonder your family are irritated by you.

Getting wound up over Monopoly in your 40s is a sign you really, really need to let some stuff go. You don't have to see them. Just don't make contact. However, it might be wise for you to talk your feelings through with someone while you avoid seeing and talking to them.

I'm sure you are not as immature in other areas of your life but the way you have couched this does suggest a high degree of 'woe is me' victim hood that simply isn't becoming in a grown up.

Either see them or don't. You are a woman now, not a squeaky, petulant little girl. I rather get the impression you try their patience equally so no one's lost anything if you really can't even do calm, detached civility for your children's sake and just get on with it, have they?

winkywinkola Thu 30-Jan-14 10:38:29

I wouldn't play Monopoly with a cheater either Tinsel. I would definitely pull up a 12 year old on it too.

Look op, whether you're right or wrong, your relationship with your brother, sil and niece is pretty unhealthy. Sack them. Avoid them. Perhaps your dm too for a while.

It's not like you've lost anything apart from a fantasy relationship where your brother loves you. He sounds like a sarcastic nobber, his wife a shrieking harpy and their dd a true brat.

Binned.

Next.

TinselTownley Thu 30-Jan-14 11:05:00

Never mind Monopoly, if I felt as the OP does, I'd sooner play Russian Roulette than be there at all.

Which is why I think there may be a little more to the 'I have always been more emotional than him' statement than immediately meets the eye.

I was surprised to hear that a mother who has always been very close to you, op, suddenly turned on you.

Can you be dispassionate for a moment and look at the situation and see if you might be in the wrong.
To be honest, I wouldn't be irked by one of my dn's saying I was having a hissy fit, but they are relaxed with me and we joke/tease a lot.

But obviously, your relationship with her might be very soured and she said it aggressively.

Hoppinggreen Thu 30-Jan-14 13:43:35

I am in my 40's and my brother bullied me for years. I stood up to him last year and haven't seen h&m since. I still get to see my lovely SIL and the kids so I'm fine with it.
Just because someone us family it doesn't make their behaviour ok. Cut him off and don't look back

WhereAndHow Thu 30-Jan-14 17:03:22

My DB and SIL are similar, but less vile than yours. They've been together forever, so don't seem to ever consider that its one of them that's in the wrong; they always back each other up so totally.

My SIL has behaved appallingly towards me, but my DB can't see it, even when he's witnessed it. It all gets twisted round so SIL is the victim and I'm the mad, aggressive one.

Contact now is minimal as we live some distance from each other, and there's rarely a reason to meet either of them.

DeckSwabber Thu 30-Jan-14 17:08:43

Awesome I imagine old family dynamics have everything to do with it. Its hard to see it when you are on the inside. However, no-one should tolerate their children being rude to a relative - that seems like very immature behaviour!

horsetowater Thu 30-Jan-14 17:43:02

I think you've let this get slightly out of hand. It all sounds very childish. You are embroiled in this because you are reacting. Their behaviour is despicable but you shouldn't rise to it. See it for what it is and smile and nod, knowingly. Learn from it. I think it is always better to behave coolly than to cut people off. I think for your dd it wouldn't be right to cut her off from her cousin.

It sounds as though your mother hasn't done a lot to get you to see eye to eye - has she? Sometimes mothers turn out to be the ones behind this kind of sibling rivalry.

winkywinkola Thu 30-Jan-14 19:47:57

Op, they behaved very badly. You refused to put up with it. Good for you.

I wouldn't worry about your dcs seeing their cousins. They sound like they'd be a terrible influence anyway.

There is no respect for you at all in that side of the family. I wouldn't put up with it.

Just don't bother with them anymore and stop trying to get your brother's approval. He does tv really sound worthy.

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