Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

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)

weirdthing Wed 29-Jan-14 22:22:25

Jesus! Walk away - you are being bullied by them! Hugs to you, they sound hideous xxxxxxx

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 22:25:36

thank you so much for replying. I have spoken to a few friends about this and they all think so too. Last night I received a text from my brother asking for my address. I ignored it and asked my mum not to pass it on (I moved about a month ago) because I'm terrified I will receive an abusive letter. It may not be that but I just don't feel I can risk it.

Walkacrossthesand Wed 29-Jan-14 22:27:08

Rather than 'keeping on trying' to get them to like you, have you ever stood up for yourself there and then - reprimanded your 'D'N on the spot for being rude ('hissy fit', 'be quiet') rather than ignore and then seethe or have it escalate into a row with SIL... You may find that a sharp word back, stops them in their tracks - or it may be that you simply have to accept that you don't get on, and keep contact to a minimum.

Mintyy Wed 29-Jan-14 22:27:28

Probably best to leave it if having a relationship with your brother and his family is causing you this much angst.

He doesn't have to like you (and vice versa) so if this was the straw that broke the camel's back for you, then why not just detatch?

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for him to contact you if you aren't the one making the effort.

Inertia Wed 29-Jan-14 22:28:20

YANBU- much better to spend time with people who are kind to you and to each other.

Clutterbugsmum Wed 29-Jan-14 22:28:53

Ignore, send it bacj return to sender unopened. If your mum gives him your address then limit contact with her as well.

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 22:29:21

I did speak back to my niece on the occasions she was rude, it seems to me that my brother and his wife have now passed their behaviour onto their child. I have decided to keep contact to an absolute minimum and to ask my partner to be there if it is unavoidable.

DeckSwabber Wed 29-Jan-14 22:29:30

is he older or younger? any other siblings?

Dromedary Wed 29-Jan-14 22:30:05

That's nasty. But is it worth upsetting your mother over this? A compromise option would be just to see very very little of your brother and his family. Stop corresponding with them unnecessarily (eg don't bother with birthday presents), and try to stay with your mother when they are not there. This way you will avoid the unpleasantness of dealing with them, but at the same time if eg your mother is ill and you want to visit or to talk to your brother about paying for a care home, or whatever, or you want to see her on her birthday or whatever, you won't have the difficulty of running into the brother you have cut off. You won't have cut him off, just acknowledged a bit more openly that your 2 families have little in common and prefer to spend their time with people they do have something in common with.

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 22:31:10

We have a few legal matters to sort out as my poor dad died recently but other than that there is nothing (other than this argument) that needs to be put in a letter. If it is legal stuff it can be sent to my mums.

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 22:32:30

Yes, Dromedary that is exactly what I intend to do - see my mother when they aren't there apart from when it is unavoidable and on those occasions ask my partner to be there too.

Lozislovely Wed 29-Jan-14 22:33:54

I have no contact with my brother or my father and made it my choice to enable me to have a happier life.

Some people have said to me 'but you only have one family','blood is thicker than water' etc etc, and whilst that is true, I can hand on heart say that I would not regret my decision under any circumstances and that is my right alone.

Do what makes you happy.

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 22:34:18

He is 2 years younger than me. He has a very successful business which he talks incessantly about. I have a mediocre job but one I am very happy in. We have another brother who we all get on with and I've decided not to mention it to him as I don't want to drag him into it.

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 22:39:44

Incidentally, I have blocked their numbers on my mobile and email. I'm sure they will realise this and think I'm being pathetic but I just can't face them contacting me again.

They sound hideous sad.

You have to do what is right for YOU. And if that means minimal/no contact then so be it. Life is too short to waste it with vile people - even if they are related

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 22:45:33

Thank you for saying it's not me, I have been made to feel like nothing I have to say is worth listening to for so many years by them.

livingzuid Wed 29-Jan-14 22:53:09

That blood is thicker than water stuff is bollocks. These people are toxic to you. It's very hard but sometimes you have to acknowledge that you're never going to measure up or you will just be their whipping boy forever. Do you want your dd to witness you being spoken to like that?

Great on blocking their email and phone. Don't get drawn in. There is much to be said for dignified silence. Whether you tried to stand up to them or not would not make any difference they would just find another way to abuse you. Just be civil in your mums company to avoid her distress. And you could say that as well. For the sake of your mum when you are there you want to keep things polite but aside from that there will be no contact.

Be proud of your achievements, don't belittle yourself and judge yourself by what your brother has done. Money is not everything. Few people love what they do so you are lucky and it would be a point of envy for many smile sorry you are having to go through this.

Walkacrossthesand Wed 29-Jan-14 23:05:27

Ok - then it's time, time to put up your invisible force field and keep them out, you don't deserve to be treated and spoken to like that and if that's all they can offer then they lose the privilege of discourse with you. I bet it will be a relief really, won't it?

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 23:08:54

I put this thread in AIBU as well. 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'. Although I was an emotional child, I'm in my 40's now and have done nothing but take their belittling behaviour. I get on very well with my mother (and haven't mentioned it since) but was very hurt that that was her take on it.

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 23:16:18

My brother even said to me 'I think you should apologise to SIL' the next day! I said I hope I never have to see her again.

Mellowandfruitful Wed 29-Jan-14 23:25:01

What? You are definitely being bullied here and your mother is playing a part too which is really disappointing and hurtful. Do you think you could raise that with her? Nothing you have described here justifies 'standing up to' (i.e. being nasty to) you.

Has this favouring of your nasty brother been a pattern with her before? If so, I would think about reducing your contact with her too if she won't see how hurtful that is. You really could do with raising it with her.

I'm going to recommend some books (have done this before on similar threads) I think you'd find helpful:
Anne Dickson – A Woman in Your Own Right: Assertiveness and You
And also by Anne Dickson - Difficult Conversations (this covers all manner of things, including really difficult stuff with your boss, telling a partner you aren’t happy in the bedroom, really tricky situations)
Manuel J Smith - When I Say No, I Feel Guilty (this includes the ‘broken record’ technique, though you can also google to get info on this – it’s a very good book overall for those who have a tendency to feel selfish over enforcing boundaries)

As for the incident itself, they were way out of line. I would have told any 12yo of mine that they do not speak to adults like that, so expecting you to apologise is ridiculous. Absolutely agree that no further contact with your brother and his rude and bullying family is the best way to go. I would try and speak to your mother - read some of the books above to help you with preparing what you want to say. But be in no doubt, you are being bullied and belittled here and you don't have to take that, from family or anyone.

wantanewname Wed 29-Jan-14 23:29:45

thank you MellowandFruitful, I won't speak to my mother. I've always been close to her but she is now widowed and not very well. I'm just going to cut (or drastically cut down) contact with my brother and his family. It's a shame for my DD who is very close to their younger DD but I can't see another way. Maybe one day when they've realised I've done this they might change, who knows?

ddubsgirl Wed 29-Jan-14 23:56:38

op I did reply to this thread on aibu I have 2 brothets and have nothing to do with them I have moved and nnot passed on addy or new numbers I tried and tried but got to the point where I cant be bothered anymore they Haven't been there for me for years and yes it hurts they are only family I have left as both parents have died but you cant make family be something its not

BlackeyedSusan Thu 30-Jan-14 01:07:03

they were definitely rude, it is not you. it is perfectly ok to speak to your child.

stop trrying to get his love/closeness. they are not worth it and you need to protect and value yourself. (sorry that sounds bossy and rude... )

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.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now