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well, that's a turn up for the books, not really sure what to do. Maryz, Vicar, if you're about, your advice is welcome (and anyone else too, obviously!)

(59 Posts)
silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 13:31:58

I have just had a phone call from a relative. My brother has just turned up on his door step (he is the only family member to still be living in the same place as when said brother was last seen, nearly 14 years ago).

I don't really know how I feel, or what to think, or anyhting. Obviously I am happy that my brother is alive and well. It has been a worry, as he has what would these days be dx'd as HFA.

My history with him is long (well, durr!) and complex. He lies, steals, cheats, steals some more. the last time I saw him, he stayed with me, under duress I might add, as I had already had enough by that point. It was our mother's funeral. I advanced him moeny to travel to attend, I ran myslf ragged, days after mum had died (I was her carer, and was 22. My brother is older than me, but obviously does not function at his chronological age) organising him a suit, haircut (I paid), bought him a shirt etc. He stole from me again that night, and left in the early hours. I haven't seen him since - a mixture of circumstances (he didn't visit for while - too embarrassed I expect, and then I moved away)

I don't know what to do. How do I even begin to broach with him the fact that (if I do see him) I don't trust him, probably never will. That I won't want him in my house (he is unlikely to leave empty handed; how am I supposed to sk dh to put up with that?). How do I explain it to my children? they do know that in theory they have another uncle, and are young enough at the moment to accept that they haven't met him without question - 'he lives far away' has sufficed until now. If he does come here, he will behave as though none of it ever happened. it's all in the past, not to be spoken of. If I try to bring it up, he will deny it <voice of experience> - he can and will deny things even when caught redhanded.

If he hasn't changed (and why would he have done? he was late 20s last time I saw him, and hadn't done any changing then, despite a lot of trouble - both for him and the rest of his family), then I can't see how I can have a relationship with him. Harsh, yes. but I can't put myself through it again - when I was a student he jeopardised both my degree and my ambitions by stealing from me and from our mum (I had to bail her out, which I could ill afford as a student). I bailed him out time and again, and I can't do it anymore.

Oh, this is all 'me, me, me', isn't it? I know he cannot necessarily help himself. I know he needs help. But he won't accept that help - not least form me, his 'baby' sister hmm.

BUT, he is my brother. He might need help. He certainly was barely able to function independently when I last knew him. I can't not help, can I (if he even needs help, I dunno)

My relative has passed on my phone/email details, and possibly my address (don't know, I didn't ask - I was shock (and relieved) that my brother had turned up at all), and so at some point I will need to talk to him/see him.

I don't know what to do. I don't know how I feel. Anyone got any advice?

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 17:34:53

smile

I have gin, I just can't drink it - instant hangover when I'm feeding, unfortunately.

night out not looking likely for a bit - but just had a couple last week, so can't complain! might take you up on your offer of holiday date with too many children. although dd1 is in an anxious phase right now, so maybe not.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 17:37:25

x-post.

hey, I grew up in deadbeat town too smile and no, not everyone is a waste of space. of course not. But I know the pub he will walk into tonight, and I know the club he will end up in later - old habits die hard. and the inhabitants of said pub and club will not have changed any in the years since I escaped left.

yes, I want to save him from himself, and no I can't. right now, I don't even know whether I should try.

Well attached babies are always welcome on nights out with me, but yep, let's try and plan a holiday date.

MaryZeZJezuzIzntZombiedYet Tue 19-Mar-13 17:38:27

You know, a deadbeat, deadend town might suit him. If he can get somewhere to live there.

I suspect ds will always live here, getting a series of short-term jobs, moving on when he gets bored/falls out with the manager etc. But this is his home, he feels comfortable here, and I don't think he would be happy if he moved away.

How far away is deadbeat town? What about a drive up there one day with no kids, just to touch base and get a feel for where he is going?

UnChartered Tue 19-Mar-13 17:38:59

<wonders if it's the same deadbeat town grin >

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 17:42:36

lack of night out due to lack of babysitter, not attached baby grin

dh is on overtime overdrive, as he has an op booked for a few weeks time, and so needs to get everythign sorted before he is off work for a couple of months.

the trouble with deadbeat town is that all his old druggie, deadbeat frineds will still be there. and that is a recipe for disaster. of course, I am not kidding myself he has been clean for the last 14 years, but there is always the hope that in moving on he falls in with slightly nicer deadbeats <weak smile>

but he will be going around the same old places, with the same old people, ending up in the same old state.

deadbeat town is about 90 minutes away. so theoretically I could go sans kids and take a looksee. I try to avoid the place though - too many bad memories.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 17:43:19

historic seaside town, unchartered? serious drug and deprivation problem?

UnChartered Tue 19-Mar-13 18:14:37

not the same place, but i think i know where you mean

i'm in one of the top ten 'crappiest towns to live' - highest stats of heart disease outside of scotland, even our MP left half way through her stint (DH says i chased her out of town grin )

those articles suck the life out don't they

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 18:17:24

yes, those type of articles don't help.

my old town was the 'most deprived town in Europe' at one point... <sigh> gosh, just used ot make me skip to work each day, knowing that hmm

lougle Tue 19-Mar-13 18:58:02

Silverfrog, I can relate sad I don't post about family - the fall out would be huge if my posts were seen and I'm not in the habit of being 'incognito'.

However, your posts resonate with me hugely, except that I still live in the village I was raised in, as does my sibling. My other sibling moved some miles away as soon as they were able and has managed to stay out of the dramas.

I often say to myself that the only reason I tolerate the situation because of my love for my parents and that once they are no longer with me (a thought I dread), I would distance myself.

The reality is, I'm not sure I would be able to.

There's that phrase, isn't there "I'd do less time for murder." It feels like that sometimes.

MareeyaDolores Tue 19-Mar-13 19:01:02

Away for 14 years, HFA, drugs, but alive and well, no current services.

Suggests prison to me (hopefully recent, <fingers crossed>). Which would be brilliant, as it means you can call people like probation, drug action team, social sevices (probably no help but sometimes saying vulnerable adult needs safeguarding case conference helps) and perhaps the police and mental health do a mentally disordered offenders liason scheme.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 19:18:47

he has popped up twice in the intervening times - let me think. both times at same relative's house, as only point of contact.

first time was 2 days before I got married, so 12 years ago. 2 years would be about right amount of time to stay away following his theft - enough time for me to cool off, enough time to be able to say 'oh, that's in the past', enough time to be in more trouble hmm

anyway, relative told him of impending wedding, and we even sent an invite (against better judgement, and in fairly sure knowledge that he wouldn't turn up as the address he gave was only a temporary one). he had my phone number, and didn't call - can only assume he had to leave town smart-ish for some reason.

second time was 4 years after that, so 8 years ago now. that time was more unfortunate. he did call that time (on landline, had got number from relative). we were away on holiday, and he left a message on the answerphone: "hello, silverfrog, it's XXXX. call me back" but crucially didn't leave his number (typical mistake for bro to make, tbh. it wouldn't occur to him that he had made a mistake, either, and so has probably spent the last 8 years thinking I didn't call him back, iyswim). by the time we got back from holiday, there had been other calls on the landline, so 1471 didn't work. I tried the mobile number I had had, but it was no longer in use.

dh and I rowed about it then, as he didn't want me to get involved. this despite some relatives needing a lot of input on his side hmm, with some very similar issues hmm hmm

so. I am left with a brother who probably needs help. a dh who will refuse to get involved. a situation I know very well, which will probably not end nicely, and no good way out of it.

yes, lougle, you certainly do get less time for murder.

professional involvement would be good, Mareeya, but seems to be lacking. last time he was caught for anythign (to my knowledge) he was a minor, and got a first offence caution. he seems to have reserved his thieving for family since then hmm. maybe he has been in prison. if so, I doubt he will have been helped any. he is a typical 'slip through the cracks' person - bright enough to wangle out of help and get signed off, as he hates admitting his faults and won't want to work through them.

lougle Tue 19-Mar-13 19:25:06

There's absolutely no insight here, either, Silver. Just an endless 'groundhog day' cycle of behaviours. Rinse and repeat. Absolutely charming on the surface, but underneath....as I say, groundhog day.

ouryve Tue 19-Mar-13 19:25:08

He's your brother, but you don't have to put yourse;lf in a vulnerable position for him. Meet on neutral territory, over coffee. Make him earn your trust if he wants it. It's not something he should automatically be granted just because you share parents.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 19:35:19

yes, the rinse and repeat gets wearing, doesn't it?

it is so tempting to jsut stay away and clear. btu I don't think I can. which means I need to think it through.

my life now is so very far removed from what it was then. in blunt terms, there is a hell of a lot more material stuff around to go missing... I can't keep it all locked away (and that doesn't work anyway). I have no idea if he knows where I live or not, but it wouldn't be that hard to find me.

I don't want or need this, but I do keep thinking that I would hate it if all family washed thier hands of my children after I'm gone - at least 2 of them are likely to need some input long into adulthood, and however difficult they get, I would hate for them to be left to fend for themselves when they clearly cannot cope all too well.

different, i know, but not really that different.

lougle Tue 19-Mar-13 19:38:33

I know, Silver. I have the added complication of niece/nephew to consider. I can't cut contact, for their sake.

bochead Tue 19-Mar-13 19:57:15

Just reread my original rushed post as it was school pick up time. I didn't mean to come across as quite so blunt and possibly uncaring. It came from some very bitter personal experiences & this is a public forum. Basically there's a path I don't want my adult DS to go down, and sometimes in order to ensure that doesn't happen I have to make some very harsh emotionally distressing choices. You really are caught between a rock and a hard place & I feel for you.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 20:35:47

It didn't seem harsh and uncaring to me boc, just full of good advice (as is the rest of the thread. Thank you all for not flaming me for being so egocentric)

Am still pondering. Bro has tried to call again - I am not actually avoiding his calls, but my phone is on silent usually, and I was yet again wrangling with one child or another... Anyway, upshot is I will need to speak to him at some point, so need to do my thinking fast.

MaryZeZJezuzIzntZombiedYet Tue 19-Mar-13 20:40:42

Can I make a suggestion - one which I am continually making on the teenagers board but which probably applies to siblings as well.

Detach. Don't get involved emotionally - even if you do decide to physically get involved by going to visit, for example, you don't have to let it into your head. It's taken me years of counselling to realise this.

I used to worry a lot. I used to go through the "what if's" which was terrible, because I used to live in my head all the possible scenarios. From him dying, to him killing someone and everything in between. I lay awake at night and worried. Every morning I would feel sick about what he might be doing. If he was here I was waiting for someone to call, if he was out I was waiting for the phone.

And you know, it was an awful waste of time and emotional energy. Because, when I finally got my head around it there were two possibilities. Firstly he was dead in a ditch, in which case worrying wouldn't help. Secondly, he wasn't dead in a ditch, in which case someone would phone me and I could deal with where he was (police station, other side of country, hospital, whatever).

You need to learn to do this now you know he is alive.

So, make a decision whether to go and see him or not. Make a decision how much money/time you are prepared to give him. Tell your dh what you have decided to do and write it down.

And when you have met him, do only what you have decided.

And when you aren't with him, learn to block him out of your mind.

I can now do this - I can lie in bed and play the alphabet game, or count backwards from 1,000, or recite old poetry to make sure I'm not lying awake worrying.

He is your brother; of course you are concerned. I think you should go to see him, and then return to your own life. Keep the two completely separate, especially in your head.

And remember - he is not a child. One day your children will not be children either. It is the hardest thing as a parent to launch a child who isn't able for the real world, but it has to be done. And it will be harder for them than for the average person, but they will survive.

I know that one day ds will leave home. And it will go tits up and he will come back again. And again. And again. And one day I will no longer be there, but I wouldn't expect dd to put her life on hold for him. That would be unfair, and counter-productive.

Detach. Be nice to yourself.

MaryZeZJezuzIzntZombiedYet Tue 19-Mar-13 20:42:51

I'm sorry, that was a hell of a lecture.

Sorry for rambling.

Silverfrog,

re this part of your comment:-
"yes, I want to save him from himself, and no I can't. right now, I don't even know whether I should try".

No, don't try. It will come back to haunt you if you do. Enabling only gives you a false sense of control. You have stated in your initial post that he won't accept help and he could well end up taking advantage of you and hurting you again.

He has managed without you for at least the last decade; he is not completely helpless.

All of that does sound pretty harsh and it is but you need to wind in any rescuer or saviour type stuff you may have going on with him and look at this with detachment. Why contact you now (there are reasons for this) and why did your relative see it fit to pass on your details to him?.

MaryZeZJezuzIzntZombiedYet Tue 19-Mar-13 21:13:23

Yes, exactly Attila.

If you think about it, you can't take him in, make him part of your family, solve all his problems and look after him forever.

So, if you give him too much of you, you will eventually have to take it away, thus undoing any temporary good you may have done.

Ultimately he has to stand on his own two feet, no matter how difficult that is to watch.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 21:48:22

Iknow you're both right.

and I don't think I meant 'I don't know whether I shoudl try' in my earlier post - more "I don't know whether I want to try" - small difference, but an important one.

I know I can't change him. I know I can't solve everythign for him. But he is someone who has been repeatedly let down, throughout his life. he hasn't helped himself, no. but then my dd hasn't all the time either, and I wouldn't abandon her.

I know, I know the stuff about detaching. but it really isn't that simple. I can do the everyday stuff - I haven't been worrying myself sick for the last umpteen years. I can stuff it all in a box quite happily, and get on with my daily life.

But I don'tthink I can leave him to his own devices. He really cannot cope with day to day life - he functions well enough (seemingly) to not be entitled to any help, but he can barely read, fgs. he can't fill in a simple form, can't do most stuff that is essential for anything other than barely scraping by. I expect he has survived over the years by a mixture of (potentially) prison (not that far-fetched) and working cash in hand. he certainly couldn't work out anythign official when I last knew him - and again, he was in his late 20s then, not a older child/late teen.

I can't see that he will have had any help of any use over the last 14 years. we all know how hard it is to get decent help, and he hasn't had anyone properly on his side, in all likelihood.

I understand the stuff about letting him stand on his own two feet - I am absolutely not talking about swooping in and taking over. he wouldn't lt me anyway, as I am his little sister. but if he is trying to make a go of it, then he is going to need help. someone to help with job applications. someone to help with bank accounts, or council tax, or phone bills/contracts - the everyday stuff that he actually cannot understand. I don't know that I can really do the walking away thing.

letting it slide all the while he was 'unfindable' (not that I really looked that hard) was one thing. but he has turned up - yes, why? is a very pertinent question. it is usually because he is in trouble - it always used ot be when we lived in the same town. relative gave him my details because they are hardly a state secret. relative is elderly, and probably doesn't know the half of it - both the extent of his crimes, and the extent of his difficulties. on the faceof it, it is just my bro, turnng up like he does, being a bit vague and having forgotten/lost my details. what else would relative do? I don't have a problem with my details being passed on, as such. I jsut have a problem figuring out what I should/can/will do.

dh will tell me to detach too. that it isn't my problem. I can't tell him the same, in his situation, because it is his (adult) daughter - but he will tell me this all the same. sauce for the goose/gander, anyone?

I do understand what you are saying, maryz, re: not expecting your dd to look after your ds after you are gone. my mother didn't expect it of me, either. but she is gone now, and now the picture is very different. she didn't ask/tell/expect me to look out for him. but he is my brother. if I don't, who will?

MaryZeZJezuzIzntZombiedYet Tue 19-Mar-13 22:00:59

I know, I do understand.

And I wouldn't be at all surprised if in 20 years time dd is doing the same.

But do realise that you can't fix it all, no matter how hard you try. And if he is like ds he will resent you trying (and resent it even more if he needs it, if that makes sense).

I would suggest trying to get a day to go and see him.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 22:11:40

oh yes, absolutely re: the resentment. but then I don't think I'd like it if all my life I'd been outstripped by my (originally, when it firs thappened, and sometimes, emotionally, it can be hard to move on form there) baby sibling, less than half my age...

he has really struggled, for all his life. and life has not alwyas been kind to him either (nor any of us, I know, but he has faced more shit than I have, and my life has hardly been rosy!)

I htink the biggest worry I have is that he is going to want more of me than I can give - previously it would have been a theoretical problem, as I would have ended up doing far more than I wanted to. but now, I don't have the headspace for it, I have enough to deal with with dd1, and dd2 about to undergo assessment, and watching ds for developmental issues, etc. and dh about to have a major op, and a house falling down around our ears, and trying to find time in all that to actually do somehting for me (OU course), which is already pushed too far down the list of stuff to do.

but then, I am capable of all that (just about). I get by, and while life is not Hollywood-happy, it is good. I can only guess at his frustration, and confusion, and rage - at himself, at the world, and so on. And it still comes back to the fact that he probably doesn't have anyone else, otherwise why travel half the country to turn up on a doorstep in th hope that a relative still lives there, to try to find your sister who you haven't seen for 14 years?

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