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My brother, and how to deal with him

(17 Posts)
Bennifer Mon 24-Oct-11 09:38:12

I'll try to keep this short but I would appreciate your help on how to deal with my brother. I understand that this story could be written from his perspective, and I can only give my side of the story.

My brother is two years older than me (he’s 33) and I think needs help. He's eaten up with so much anger and envy that he can't seem to function. He hates me and it's like every piece of happiness is zero-sum between us. Other than his partner, he has no friends.

I think this stems from me having been a fairly academic child who did well at school, and I think at the same time, he may have been a little small, and maybe picked upon, where he lost confidence.

This weekend, I saw him at my mum and dad’s house, and I’ve been very lucky and was away for three weeks in Asia. He didn’t ask me a thing about it. I’m also, after years of renting buying my first flat, and he hates it. He still rents, and is probably not very good with his money. When I did mention my flat, he would angrily say things like “they don’t care about people like me anymore”. A few years ago, he moved towns with his job, and refers to it angrily as the “evacuation”. My parents asked us to go down the shop to get some pasties for lunch, and in a 5 minute drive, he must have shouted and got annoyed at other drivers around 5 or 6 times. I could give anecdotes that stem back over the years of his temper tantrums, but they would probably become very long-winded.

He seems deeply unhappy. He’s been with his partner for 12 years, and engaged for about the last 8. They don’t seem to be very happy together. They’ve had one holiday together. They’ve both become obese in recent years (not on its own a bad thing, but I think it reflects something of a wider picture). His only topics of conversation are about his work in a way that no-one else can understand “we were updating the EMU and then operating on DU-OS and then had a big deadline with the FYR” and sport. He must support around 6 or 7 sports teams and has a season ticket with one rugby club, but if they’re away he’ll go to another rugby club to see a team, or to a football game. In summer, he goes most weeks to speedway, will go to a big UK final once a year (£80 a ticket) and will go up a to a few premiership football games a year. All his clothes are sports tops in some form or the other. All well and good, but he must spend around £3000 to £4000 a year on sport, and he doesn’t earn that much.

His only other topic of conversation is how to whole world is against him. We daren’t ask him anything personal for fear of upsetting him and we as a family have let him get away with treating us terribly. Only last month he rang my mum and was shouting down the phone at him because he was struggling to get a prescription from the doctor’s.

My mum and dad, who I’m very close to want to have a close relationship with him, but he shows no affection, he doesn’t talk naturally about anything, he doesn’t ask them about their life at all. After this weekend, they were so upset at how things have turned out.

So, coming to the crux. Should we try and keep a relationship with him? Can we even try and help him? Should we just have nothing to do with him?

CAZ46 Mon 24-Oct-11 09:46:26

Hi reading your message made me feel very sad for you. Families are not easy and it sounds like your brother is in need of some help. In some ways I can see myself in him, how I used to be. Difficult childhool and angry I was, blaming everyone for my hurt. Has anyone mentioned some form of counselling to him cos thats what I did eventually and after time I laid things to rest and now have a better life. Be supportive as best you can but you need to be boundaried as well. Only he can help himself.

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Mon 24-Oct-11 09:50:48

Can we even try and help him?

No, not really. Only he can help himself, and only if he wants to. It's sad, when you care for a person and want to help them, but he will only be able to accept the help that he seeks for himself, if he ever does. The only thing you can do is be there for him, if you still want to.

We daren’t ask him anything personal for fear of upsetting him and we as a family have let him get away with treating us terribly.

You're doing yourself a disservice right there. You do not deserve this treatment. However much you care for your brother, you can't let your own needs be trampled on like this. In fact, you would be respecting both yourself and your brother more if you stated that his behaviour is unacceptable to you next time he treats you badly. Walking on eggshells like you and your parents are doing now is only serving to let you get trampled on, and allowing him to continue thinking he can act like a trantrumming toddler and get away with it. Demand that he acts like the adult he is. And if he won't, then decide which is the only acceptable thing for you to do (think of your own needs first, not his). Either:

- keep a relationship with him, where you pull him up on his behaviour whenever it eats into your comfort zone, or

- end the relationship, having accepted that he can't or won't change, and that the relationship is too damaging to you to continue with.

Only you can know which of these is the right one for you. Again, I stress, choose the best thing for you, not for your brother. You are only responsible for yourself (and any DC), in the same way that he is the only person responsible for his own behaviour and life choices.

ionysis Mon 24-Oct-11 09:55:35

My husband's half brother is like this. He has kidney disease which is hereditary. He has decided to balme everyone and everything for dealing him such a sh*t hand in life and resents his sister hugely because hse does not suffer from the disease ("why me and not you"). he is negative about everything and has a perpetual victim mentality. His wife left him and of course that was not in any way his fault just another example of how everyone is out to get him... Ditto losing his job, having a poor relationship with his kids etc... Some people just refuse to accept any accountability for themselves and thei lives. Its sad for us but sadder to be them.

My husband simply has nothing to do with the guy anymore. Why would you want that kind of negativity in your life?

Teetik Mon 24-Oct-11 10:01:40

Oh I do sympathise/empathise. My brother hates me too. I was the academic one, left home first, have not had a rocky ride. Mine is incapable of seeing that his high-risk, often illegal behaviour, is the reason for his lack of wealth and stability. Yours sounds similar in that he can't connect a and b (a- he spends his money unwisely, so b- he is financially not where he wants to be).

I find the sense of entitlement is the worst thing to deal with, because I don't have it and I've just worked at my life to get it where it is now. (I don't live a rich, exciting lifestyle, I'm just comfortable and settled!) For every 'the world is against me' story I can point out almost exactly where he's gone wrong*, but he'd just get angry and eventually threatening if I did that. So I just take it. We see each other for about 2 days every three or four years.

I don't know what to advise but I know that my brother and I both feel we don't really want much contact, so that's ok. If you just let things lapse, would he feel anything? Would he contact you? If he dislikes you and you him, it's ok not to make the effort. Family is a great thing when it works and a horrific mess when it doesn't, it's ok to not torture yourselves with it.

*it's usually something as simple as: if you hadn't broken the law that time, then you wouldn't have got fined, and would therefore have more money...I'm not a particularly judgemental sort of person!

Bennifer Mon 24-Oct-11 10:48:36

Thanks for all your thought and comments.

teetik, I agree with your comment on the sense of entitlement, and the complete and utter disconnect between his actions and the consequences. Nothing is his fault, it's a big conspiracy against him.

I think someone should speak to him about counselling though not me, perhaps my dad would be better placed as he tends to shout at me and my mum more than anyone.

I also agree with the comments from itsme and caz about the need to set boundaries. The last time I saw him was also at my parents and they'd gone out. He'd parked his car on the drive and asked me to keep an eye out as he knew he'd have to move his car. I saw a honda civic come around the corner (their car) and I told him. He ran out, and it turns out it wasn't their civic (they're not uncommon cars) and he came back in screaming at me. I was a f**king idiot, f**king useless. And I just took it and said nothing. This behaviour is completely unacceptable.

The difficulty is in not seeing him. It'll be christmas soon, and no doubt we will have to see him at some point.

Teetik Mon 24-Oct-11 11:03:25

Yes the abusive shouting sounds very familiar. sad
TBH we have had problems with my brother from a very early age. I felt for a long time that my parents were simply not able to teach him the consequences of his behaviour so he pushed and pushed until he became an abusive person. However now I'm a parent and I know it's not so easy to explain things like this.
Occasionally I read about people who fit my brother's description - most often on the relationship threads here, where a man is emotionally abusing a woman. The descriptions are uncannily similar. I keep thinking back to the games we used to play as children - we had a lot of fun sometimes - and wondering how the cheeky kid with the toothy grin turned into someone I am physically scared of. sad

How would your parents feel if you shared your concerns with them? I have been up front with my parents, partly because we argued for many years about him. (I would hear some story about him, and feel it was their responsibility to stand up to (say) a 20-yr-old who was fleecing them and abusing them for it too, and wasn't shy to say so. Then I realised it was probably something 'in him' so I apologised for blaming them.) They are sad but they accept that inviting us at the same time isn't going to work, and also that I don't want my children having a relationship with him so not to allow that if they're staying and he visits.

Bennifer Mon 24-Oct-11 11:13:55

Teetik, my parents feel exactly the same - my mum has experienced the shouting and they can hear his anger when anything he dislikes is brought up. As much as they don't like him (my mum was so upset admitting this weekend to me) they don't want to lose him and never see him again. If his partner were to leave him, he would be completely on his own as he has no friends.

Teetik Mon 24-Oct-11 11:24:36

Ah, mine is the opposite there, he has lots of friends and girlfriends: he's the archetypal lying charming bastard. It usually takes him 24 hours to turn on me (when he pushes too far and then 'I can't take a joke' and it escalates into abuse...) but before that he's a great laugh.

I suppose one way is to simply treat him as an exceptionally difficult person. Talk about what interests him (the sport?), talk to his girlfriend otherwise, talk amongst yourselves and ignore his rants.

I mean, he IS a grown-up, can he manage that do you think? Are there any reasonable strategies that do work?

Bennifer Mon 24-Oct-11 11:36:39

They do sound quite different. That strategy is roughly the strategy we've followed (talk about sport and ignore his rants), but that doesn't seem to work. I will chat a little more to my parents and maybe encourage, perhaps through his girlfriend, to ask for some help.

Teetik Mon 24-Oct-11 11:40:18

Good luck with it, I hope they can get through to him a little.
If nothing else, it's heartbreaking seeing someone 'close' be such an unhappy person. Sometimes I feel a bit of 'survivor guilt' or something similar - how come I get to be all right and he's SO messed up? But I look back in our family tree and I can see it's possibly a hereditary thing and I've dodged that particular brain chemistry.
Hope Christmas is ok.

Bennifer Mon 24-Oct-11 11:43:46

thanks for your help

HansieMom Mon 24-Oct-11 15:32:58

It would be interesting to know how the girlfriend feels about him. He is such a charmer!

Bennifer Mon 24-Oct-11 16:16:47

I truly don't know how she copes with it - but she is isolated too. She doesn't have friends and any family (apart from one uncle) that I know about. I've suspected on occasions that she may be having an affair.

He told a story recently about his partner, who works in a shop, having to stay late to paint the shop until 1 in the morning. However, she managed to get a lift from work to a train station about ten miles from where they live, and so he drove off to pick her up. It seems an unlikely story, but could I blame her if she were having an affair?

ImperialBlether Mon 24-Oct-11 17:12:01

She's probably on here!

Your poor parents and poor you, too.

How near do they live to you both? Do you live near your brother?

Does he tell them he's coming round or does he just call in? When he phones and he's shouting, your mum should make her own mobile/house phone ring and make an excuse to get off. Is there any way they can get away at weekends, if that's when he's round there the most?

HerScaryness Mon 24-Oct-11 23:35:45

Your brother is abusive.

don't put up with it.

Christmas or no christmas. Stop allowing him to treat you like this.

He sounds a complete DRAIN.

he is making his own life like this and won't be happy until he has made everyone around him more miserable than he is.

what he needs is not more placating, he needs a bloody good talking to.

If he shouts, he is CHOOSING to shout and you can CHOOSE to leave the room.

Seriously, don't stand for it. You and your parents deserve better than this.

CAZ46 Tue 25-Oct-11 08:07:17

Totally agree with the others, it is emotional abuse and should be stopped. For some time I kept away from my family - I now spend limited amounts of time with them when I want to and feel strong enough to cope with them. The relationship is so much better than it was but will never be what I want it to be so have accepted thats the way it is. But I would not tolerate the abuse and I stood up to them. You are an adult and he is behaving like a child.

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