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counselling to repair relationship with brother?(30 Posts)
My relationship with my brother has been very difficult for the best part of 10 years, we have contact, fall out and then have no contact, then one of us (usually me) initiates contact and off it goes again.
I am really tired of this and the drain it brings to my energy and my life. Experience has shown me that he is a bit of a narc, unable to deal with relationships where he's not the boss, and can be vindictive and passive aggressive. But he's still my brother. The past 10 years have been about me refusing to have a relationship entirely on his terms but demanding respect for the differences between us and asserting myself as an equal to him (this he can't bear). I feel sorry for him because I know his relationship style comes from fear but at the same time I am sick of him and exasperated by the relationship. He blows hot and cold as an uncle too which I want to protect my children from, although when he's nice he's great and they do love him. Anyway, the latest is he is sorry for the most recent blow-up where he didn't want me to call him when he babysat and thought I was checking up on him when actually I was just calling to see how they were all getting on. So there was the usual argument which he blew out of all proportion and refused to talk to me (ironic!) for months which actually came as somewhat a relief. So why am I posting? Because the latest is he wants me and him to attend therapy together for 6 weeks to try to get to the bottom of things and move forward. I am torn, part of me thinks he is incapable of a healthy relationship and can't be bothered to indulge it and the other part of me wants peace and after all, he is my brother. What to do wise mumsnetters?
My personal view is that children are for life, parents get a bit of leeway, but siblings and extended family are entirely optional. Someone who you are describing as alternately bossy, unbothered, vindictive, unreasonable etc, I'm afraid, would see therapy sessions as an opportunity to impose his view as right and prove that you were in the wrong rather than getting to the bottom of anything. If you decide to engage in the process, therefore, go in with your eyes wide open and feel free to disengage at the first hint of old tricks.
I'm a bit worried it's another tactic to drag me further into his drama, that or his son is getting married and he doesn't want any bad feeling there on the day because it will show him up. Do people really have counseling with family members they don't live with?
Oh and thanks cognito, you always give excellent advice
Agree with cogito. Just keep him at arm's length if he's a tit. If starts with the histrionics, walk away.
"Do people really have counseling with family members they don't live with?"
I'm sure they do but it's the first time I've heard of it in this context. Family therapy is more usual, I would have thought, where there has been some shared trauma... bereavement, abuse, addiction.... that is causing lives to be ruined. As far as I can see here, your life and his life function quite well as long as you keep him at arms' length. If his son is getting married does this make you both middle-aged adults? I don't suppose you're intending to cause a big scene on the happy day are you?
I stand by my first assessment which is that he sees you as some kind of 'unfinished business' and wants the back-up of a therapist to say he's right and you're wrong. Even if his intentions are wholly genuine, innocent and he's on some voyage of self-discovery, I don't think you owe him anything.
Are you the only person he falls out with, or does he have a history of failed relationships? If the latter then it's him, love, not you.
Watching with interest as I am in a similar situation.I am happy keeping him at arms length but other members of the family are pushing us to resolve things.
DO NOT go into therapy with this man. Bad, bad idea!!!. Its like entering the lion's den and you are dinner. Narcissists as well can manipulate therapists and it will be run entirely on his agenda (i.e blame you!) rather than anyone else's. Also such people do really badly at therapy because they think they know more than the therapist.
It is not possible to have any sort of relationship with someone who is even a "bit of a narcissist". My guess is he is actually a full blown narcissist.
Such people are not nice at all and simply see others as inanimate objects to use and discard as they see fit. You have already seen that with your children and no they do not love him (you would like to think that they do but they do not). He has made the terrible choice not to love.
Why do you feel the need to keep trying re him, are you still hoping that he will have some epiphany and say, "I'm so sorry that I have treated you like crap for all these years?". Its not going to happen. Narcissists too are true masters of, "come closer so I can slap you again".
Fear does not come into it re narcissists; its their self loathing that holds no bounds.
It is NOT your fault he is this way, stop trying to save him here. You can only help your own self by disengaging from him altogether.
What do the other members of the family think op? Does he have any problems with them? Do you feel any pressure from them?
He sounds just like my sister, who I have no contact with. What he does is a form of abuse. I wouldn't recommend councelling, he'd manipulate the situation so you would end up looking like the bad guy.
Thank you so much for your replies. I wouldn't dream of doing anything to ruin the wedding but I think he would worry about having an unresolved relationship there, doesn't show him in a good light does it. Other family members know him to be cruel and a bit of a bully but also stick up for him because he can be very charming (if you're doing what he wants). His wife, who always seemed ok to me before they married, has had a major nervous breakdown a few years ago and he has even ridiculed some of her symptoms at dinner parties when she was out of the room which I found particularly vile, she is a lovely woman. He works in social services with families!! So I worry he would use his work knowledge to turn things around in therapy. It's not sounding good is it?
It sounds like a total set-up to me.
I think he knows how much I hate conflict but think he might just be a bit of a bastard the more I think about it
I agree. In my case I don't want to put myself through it because im being pushed or because I just ought too. I believe you have to really want a resolution yourself. My mum is heartbroken as she craves huge family occasions where everyone is all over each other. Id be civil to mine if we attended the same function but that's about it. Sounds like you have it under control. Do you live close?
He lives pretty close but at the moment we see each other rarely. I want a resolution to the situation but not necessarily a resolution with him if that makes sense, I'm not sure there ever can be. Our family are dysfunctional anyway so not much pressure from there to resolve, but pressure on me to maintain this relationship even when he treats me badly, like I said, dysfunctional! Sorry to hear you're in a similar situation. What do you think you can do to make things better for you?
This is where my situation is different as I live miles away from mine. I totally get what you mean about a resolution. That's exactly how I feel. I'm not sure what would make things better. My brother had counselling before for relationship issues and I think they made him worse and I'd like everyone to see that too I suppose. And for my mum to accept she has a dysfunctional family which she refuses to do.
As I said at the outset, siblings are optional. The best resolution to this situation is probably going to be distance. You're really under no obligation to be around him just because you happen to share a few strands of DNA.
"I want a resolution to the situation but not necessarily a resolution with him if that makes sense"
Yes it does make sense but you are dealing with someone who will never, ever play fairly or by the "rules" governing "normal familial relations. Therefore a resolution to the situation is not achievable. All you can do with narcissists is keep your distance both physically and emotionally. He will hurt you again if you allow him back into your life in any way, shape or form.
Who is putting pressure on you to maintain this relationship with your narc brother?. Ignore them as well.
I think that counselling is more likely to be helpful for him if he goes on his own and tackles his own issues head on.
Otherwise its just bringing old sibling rivalry to the fore and as others have said the only possible reason for wanting to do that is to 'win', once and for all.
Yes NMFP, I think that's it, I think he wants an external judge
He likely does but narcissists are very good at manipulating such sessions to meet their own agenda.
Narcissists are usually not good therapy candidates. They try and discredit or one up the therapist and blame all their problems on other people. If the counsellor doesn’t say what the narcissist wants to hear, they usually discontinue counselling. If change doesn’t happen quickly, they usually don’t have patience for the process and decide counselling can’t help them. Many of them come in wanting a “quick fix” for their distress or an easy solution for the problem they have. If the counsellor can’t do what they want, they give up and disappear.
He did have therapy a while back and told me that his therapist said his attacks on her were relentless and she felt persecuted. He thought she didn't have his best interests at heart and often thought she was doing things to freak him out or catch him out like moving things in th room from week to week. He was also sure she was under qualified but she was a lead expert in her field (would bloody have to be!).
He does sound like an absolute nightmare if you don't mind me saying. It doesn't sound like any therapy he's had has helped him at all so I'm not sure why hed think it would help you. This thread has made me even more certain that in my situation distance is the answer and just accepting we're different people.so I will not be going down that route.If he wants to carry on thinking he was right and that the bullying was acceptable behaviour I can't be bothered to argue. Neither of us have children though (yet) I suppose it changes things with the relationship your children might have with their uncle.
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