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Shattered, stately homes style(7 Posts)
Long story, I will keep it as short as I can, just need to get it down really.
DM aged 83 is very unwell (acute osteoporosis, extreme pain etc). For the last 3-4 wks we have been in and out of A&E, then she was in hospital for 8 days, discharged home last week. She is on huge amounts of morphine etc, and slighly off her head really. I am doing most of the day to day caring (getting her up and to bed, meals 3 x a day, making sure she takes right drugs, getting doc/district nurse organised etc). Not a prob, she lives a 2 min walk from us.
Throughout all this, DB and I have spoken to each other on phone 2-3 times a day, both of us very concerned, and his advice about questions to ask etc was invaluable. I always thought DB and I had a fantastic relationship, although DM drives us both mad at times (but in that shout, snap, laugh about it kind of way). DB's relationship with DF was appalling, I was the golden child. DF died nearly 18 years ago.
Anyway, DB and SIL came on thurs (200 mile drive) to stay a couple of nights to cheer DM up, look after her, give me a break etc. On fri morning I went round to say hello, keep on top of household stuff and so on. DB was in the most horrible mood - atmosphere appalling - and DM was a bit whingy about her pain (understandably). DB suddenly wnet off on of the most appalling rant - she was a selfish old bitch, she didnt have to take her meds but then she had to accept the pain, everyone trying their best etc, and then all this stuff about his awful childhood came spilling out, how she'd never helped him (she did, I would watch her trying to deflect DF's temper, she sent him money for years when he was poor, even stealing from the till at work). At one point I stood between her and him and shouted at him to stop, but it was like he wasnt really there behind his eyes.
So clearly he is very bitter; but what he did was so awful. I spoke to him a couple of hours later, told him I'd always idolised him and that now my idol had clay feet. SIL later said that this is his reaction to worry - he did the same to her when she was having chemo. FFS, what kind of person does that to their vulnerable wife or mother? SIL has been fantastic btw in terms of trying to help me and smooth things out.
Now we are at the stage where DM is devastated, thinks she's lost her child forever. I think I've lost my DB, or certainly the one I thought I had. I'm just trying to get my head around it all.
I can understand having a shit childhood and how that fucks you up, but he is nearly 60 and has worked in mental health for 35 years. I think he needs some help, but very much doubt he will take it - doctors child and all that.
Can anyone help me make sense of this?
Everyone is under a great deal of stress at the moment and my guess is that your brother is finding it hard to accept the reality of his mum being so ill. I'm guessing he hasn't seen her for a while?
The situation is eliciting an emotional response, but the 'wrong' emotions are coming up. I'd give him some space.
Great that you can talk to your SiL -if he was like that with her when she was sick and she's forgiven him she sounds like a saint.
Your brother and you need to talk further to each other. I can see why you reacted as you did but he does have a point and that needs to be heard by you as well. His feelings have likely been building for many years.
He feels that she did not help him and probably also blames her on many levels for staying with her H. He likely does feel bitterness because in his eyes she put her man before her children. Presumably your Mum stayed with her H and did not leave him. He could not care less that she tried to deflect her H's temper; in his eyes she failed as a mother to protect him from her H's mad outbursts and did not leave.
Your experience of childhood i.e being the golden child was very different from his own childhood. Although you were favoured it was a role also not without price and perhaps your brother needs to realise that as well. Both of you have not emerged unscathed from your childhoods.
I 'm sorry your DM is ill. It's very stressful and upsetting looking after family members when they used to be the ones looking after you! It sounds like you have a lot on your plate.
My mum occasionally tried to 'deflect' my step fathers temper too. She still failed as a parent as she kept us with him. The only way to protect us was to leave, and she didn't. OP, your DB is hurting and I would try not to judge too harshly. He should not have exploded the way he did, but he suffered at the hands of BOTH his parents (the persecutor and the enabler) and hasn't addressed it properly. It sounds like this behaviour is not typical for him, so he must be in real distress. Try to find some empathy and ask him how he feels about your DM, rather than only expressing your disappointment in his outburst.
I'm in no way excusing what he did. If he wants to address painful issues there are other ways of going about it, but I understand where it has all come from.
Your DM and dB will have to work things out for themselves. If a parent doesn't protect their child from bullying then one day there may be ramifications. Your DM may have done a lot for your dB in your eyes, but giving money does not erase or make up for the fact that your df treated him badly, and it certainly doesn't undo the damage.
Thank you all, I agree with everything you say. They have gone home now, but he and DM had a proper talk, he apologised for the explosion and is mortified. I left him a phone msg last night, just saying that I understood, and didnt want to fall out with him. I will talk to him sometime today I'm sure.
She never felt she could leave - back in 1961 there werent places to go, she had no money, she said DF would not have given her a penny, and she was pregnant with me. So she took the decision to stay with him, for better or worse. Better for DM, DF and me, but not better for DB. She feels so sorry for him, as do I, but I dont think he wants pity.
First of all, can I say how amazing you and your family are to be able to deal with this and move on. You sound very accepting of the flaws of your family members, and there is clearly a lot of love and understanding there. In so many families, an event like that would have led to no contact and all kinds of bitterness for years and years. I think your way of handling it is much healthier.
I think one really valuable thing is that you've clearly realised that because childhood was one way for you, it wasn't necessarily the same for your brother. I can't really underrate how important that is as an insight. It sounds as though your DM's illness has brought up a lot of pent-up hurt and aggravation from the past. Of course, that doesn't give him the right to yell and be a bastard at everyone - but it helps to understand why he might be feeling a great deal of very conflicting emotion right now.
On top of that, it sounds as though your brother may have some really big issues with mortality and illness, given that he also behaved in a similar way to SIL during chemo. I wonder if you might be able to be a compassionate and understanding voice here, perhaps suggesting very gently that he gets some counselling for what is clearly a very difficult set of issues for him.
I hope that your DM feels more at peace now that some early form of reconciliation has been brokered. It must have been horrible for her to go through that at this time, when her defences are lowered by pain and illness. It absolutely mustn't happen again!
thanks struggling, that is a really nice post. DB was a pyschiatric nurse for 35 years and apparently an outstanding counsellor himself "best practitioner ever worked with" type acolades. but I suspect accessing something for himself is a mountain he doesnt want to climb. spoke to him a couple of times yesterday, just about practicalities, but its ok.
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