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Feeling helpless watching my alcoholic brother destroy his life and his girlfriend's

(18 Posts)
Imaffronted Mon 15-Dec-14 11:57:50

Not sure where to start here.
My father was a violent alcoholic who died nearly 6 years ago. My brother is also an alcoholic and was living in a homeless shelter for part of the summer.
He reconciled with his girlfriend a couple of months ago and they have a gorgeous baby together. She is trying to sort herself out as has had a lot of depression etc. Her son lives with his dad after my brother previously turned up at the school drunk (this is why they split up and he eventually landed in the hostel).
I have been in contact trying to support them but it is obvious that my brother is also violent towards her and it feels like history repeating itself. She is trying to hold it together but I can see it's like a pressure cooker there- he is doing the cycle of remorse and trying hard and she thinks it's okay for a bit. Until it really isn't again and he kicks off.
She needs to get him out of the house and I am trying to be there for her but I don't live nearby and can only contact her via facebook messenger. I've already had to call the police about some really worrying messages from her that stopped abruptly- I honestly thought he could have seriously hurt her. He realized it was me and doesn't want to speak to me any more, which on the one hand I think okay bollocks to you but on the other hand feel desperately sad about it as I was the last link he has to the family (my mum can't cope with the drinking and the many incidents we've had with him). He has completely untethered himself from normal life and I feel the only way can be down unless he has a massive epiphany.
I am so worried about his girlfriend and my niece and am not sure what the best thing to do is. I feel like I'm watching a car crash in slow motion but feel totally powerless to stop it.
Sorry, I know that's a garbled mess. There is so much more but I'm trying to summarize shitsville into something vaguely reasonable to read!

TantricShift Mon 15-Dec-14 12:44:47

I'm afraid you are watching a car crash in slow motion and you are right, you are powerless. I grew up with an alcoholic and later became one myself so know all the things you are talking about. It is a dreadful situation for all concerned and as you said only an epiphany can save your brother.

On a more positive note there are things that you can do that will help you deal with the situation. Alanon helps support family members and friends of alcoholics and helps them learn to detatch with love from the alcoholic. This does not mean abandoning them to their fate, moreover it means accepting all of the above, no longer enabling them and taking care of ourselves in order to be there for us and those who really need us. The alcoholic is locked in a prison of their own making and you do not have the key to let them out.

Focus your energy on helping his girlfriend and your niece to get to a better place. If social services need to be brought in then so be it. Your niece needs protection from violence. But don't expect miracles there either. Partners of alcoholics often stay with them in awful situations for a variety of reasons, you are powerless over that too.

The main thing is that you get help to look after yourself and learn how to love the alcoholic while letting them find their own way through the illness. It is hard but once you realise that you cannot change the situation you will find yourself in a better place with it. Take care

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 15-Dec-14 12:53:32

Alcoholism can sometimes be learnt so was not all that surprised to read that his father was himself an alcoholic.

Are Social Services aware of your brother and his girlfriend?.

The 3cs re alcoholism:-
You did not cause this
You cannot control this
You cannot cure this

You cannot help either of them ultimately but you can help your own self here by talking to Al-anon; they are very good at dealing with family members of alcoholics. In order to help them, you have to help you first.

Imaffronted Mon 15-Dec-14 13:29:38

Thank you for the responses. I have considered Al-anon but have chickened out. It's hard acknowledging how much it gets to me. I love him even though I hate what he's doing. The thing is I know he hates himself most of all- he has become a version of the person we both feared when we were growing up and I am certain there will be times when he knows this.
I am not sure re social services. I like his girlfriend but am not sure how reliable a witness she is as the details around her son are very hazy- fine of course, she can tells me what she's comfortable with- but I don't know the full extent of it. I guess she's scared the baby could be taken away with her history but from what I can garner they are being very supportive. Thank you so much for the words of support it really is a help

Hatespiders Mon 15-Dec-14 16:45:47

Whether or not his girlfriend is 'scared the baby could be taken away...' the first priority is the safety and welfare of the child. If it's a violent situation, then the authorities need to be made aware. If it were me, I'd inform social services myself and be sure they were involved and keeping an eye on things.

This is all so difficult and sad for you op. You obviously love your db very much, and you both suffered together as children under your father's alcoholism. But given the nature of the addiction, you can only be supportive while not being dragged down by the crises which occur. He must seek help of his own volition, and no-one can do this for him.

EhricJinglingHisBallsOnHigh Mon 15-Dec-14 18:18:25

If you are concerned about the baby please call social services. If the baby is living with a violent alcoholic she is absolutely at risk of serious harm so please do it.

Topseyt Mon 15-Dec-14 18:48:49

Just a bit unclear here. Does the girlfriend have an older son from a previous relationship (who no longer lives with her due to your brother being drunk at the school) and also a baby who was fathered by your brother and lives with them?

If so then the baby could be at serious risk of harm or neglect as others have said and you may need to act by informing authorities such as social services (I think it can be done anonymously).

My BIL was a similar sort of character to your brother. It has cost him many things - his marriage, contact with their child, his home, many jobs etc. etc.

Hard as it is to watch, you cannot control any of this, just observe from a distance and be alert to the idea of danger to the baby. If your brother does not want to admit he has a problem and seek help then nobody else can do anything for him. It has to come from him, I'm afraid. I think the analogy of watching a car crash in slow motion is pretty accurate.

Sad, but that is how it is. I can understand your anxiety, but really can only let you know that you are certainly not alone.

Imaffronted Mon 15-Dec-14 19:32:01

Topsey yes, that's the situation. There has been an update- he called my grandmother and asked if he could go there as his now ex -g has thrown him out. Which is a big, big relief for her and the baby but now nobody knows where he is. I've told my grandmother not to let him in and call the police if he turns up as he was asking for money and being abusive on the phone. So I suppose this will be another round of waiting to hear what happens next, filing for missing persons etc.
It seems strange that all of this has happened now- I posted on here as I had such a horrible dream about them and the baby last night it woke me up and my mind has been whirring ever since. I know it sounds a bit woo but since childhood I've always seemed to have a 6th sense for when things are going to kick off- although it's probably my brain just connecting all the many warning signs.
Will try and call ex -g again although no response earlier.
Cold on the streets tonight but I know I can't do anything about it. What a waste.

Hatespiders Mon 15-Dec-14 20:16:40

I don't want to sound alarmist, and I'm usually quite a calm sensible old body, but I'm a bit concerned about his ex gf and the baby. If your db has vanished and nobody knows where he is, she threw him out (presumably after a big row) and now you can't seem to contact her, can you be sure she's ok?

Imaffronted Mon 15-Dec-14 21:54:33

Another update- managed to track down her sister via fb who confirmed ex-g and baby are okay although he smashed the house up. Relieved but so angry that he is such a shit.
Thank you so much

Imaffronted Mon 15-Dec-14 21:56:57

... For all the advice and experiences shared here I really appreciate it. I feel like I want to put it back in its box but at the same time know we're all waiting for the next 'thing'- I hope for the best but expect the worst :-(

EhricJinglingHisBallsOnHigh Tue 16-Dec-14 05:53:43

Well done for looking out for them - now please phone social services. The X won't be able to keep the baby safe without support. It's the only thing to do.

Somethingtodo Tue 16-Dec-14 09:53:15

You are doing a great job Ima - you know that you cant control or cure your brother -- but you are looking out for more of his victims - baby and ex-gf and your grandmother.

Keep close to ex-gf sister as if she respects you and is rational you can work together to support the child.

You do need to call SS or Police or WA - as if he smashed up the house - he could have smashed up them. You can call anonymously - say you were a neighbour and heard it all....so you will not be blamed.

They need a restraining order on him.

I think that with this info SS/Police etc will focus on him as the issue - this might be his epithany. There needs to be consequences to this.

Dont chicken out of al-anon -- you have taken on a lot - al-alon will help you cope and be able to do the very best for everyone in this sorry situation.

Somethingtodo Tue 16-Dec-14 09:55:02

lots on their website - if F2F is too much at this time www.al-anonuk.org.uk/

Fanfeckintastic Tue 16-Dec-14 09:57:42

You sound like a lovely sister.

Somethingtodo Tue 16-Dec-14 09:59:24

al-anon Confidential Helpline 020 7403 0888

Topseyt Tue 16-Dec-14 13:21:22

It all sounds horribly familiar, affronted!! We have been there too, telling people to call the police and take care of their own safety if XX turns up.

Really, you are always just waiting for the next incident as you say, and these people tend to be a disaster looking for a place to strike.

If you are having to become involved, do take care of your own safety. Al-Anon sounds like a good idea.

muddylettuce Tue 16-Dec-14 16:55:47

Gosh I could have written your thread title a year and a half ago. My brother is an alcoholic and has mental health issues. He hasn't been violent to his girlfriend as far as I know. A series of events that adversely affected him caused him to wake up to the fact he has a problem. Note: alcoholism is a very selfish illness, it didn't matter how much we wailed at him that he was upsetting his family, child and girlfriend, only when he lost his job and flat did he take steps. Admittedly these steps were several attempts to his life but they did at least get him the attention he needed to gain support from the relative authorities. He requires and still does, a lot of support.
I would encourage his girlfriend to use the police for support and women's aid. I think she needs to leave. Your brother needs to wake up and realise his problem. Unfortunately you cannot control this. If you need support I know my mother gained a lot from alcoholics anonymous, in terms of understanding the illness and how she can help him and herself. Good luck. X

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