Is it worth trying to rescue this relationship or not?(29 Posts)
I've posted before about my dysfunctional/toxic family. My brother and I are now NC with our mother for very many reasons. It's a decision that won't ever be changed both because I don't want to change it and because the LA would have something to say if we resumed contact.
The relationship I'm posting about, is the one between myself and my brother.
In a nutshell, my brother was the Golden Child in our family and I was the Scapegoat and we fulfilled these roles well. My brother could do no wrong, I could do no right. As adults, we both struggle. I have internalised all the things that were said about me and I am very hard on myself at times. My brother is the opposite. He struggles with the idea of ever being in the wrong and holds other people to very high and exacting standards. But ones to which he doesn't hold himself. So it's very easy to fall short of his expectations, whilst he constantly lets other people down. And he gets very angry when people let him down. He's always angry; his family, his friends, colleagues, strangers, bankers, people who have credit, the unemployed, the rich, the poor, the government, his parents, baby boomers, children of baby boomers who are set to inherit... all make him angry.
We both have a fragile sense of self. I constantly feel 'not good enough' and probably have too low expectations of others because I don't feel I deserve more. He almost feels 'too good' (as he was brought up to believe) and he judges other people in terms of how highly they regard him. If that makes sense. So, if someone lets me down, I tend to let it go and think it's not worth making a fuss. If he perceives someone has let him down he becomes very angry - how dare they do that to him.
So, for example, when I discovered my exH's affair, just over 2 years ago, I turned to my brother for support because I had no one else. He didn't once ask me if I was ok, or how the children were, or offer to take them out or invite us round for dinner or anything. Instead, I listened to hours of him ranting on the phone about how my he'd been let down and abandoned by one of his best friends (my exH); how his wedding photos were now ruined because my ex was his best man; how his daughter (and any future children) would have lost out on the only uncle they could have ever had; how it had reminded him how he felt when our parents split up... in a nutshell, it was all about him and I listened to him rant, I offered platitudes, I reassured him, I 'supported' him, I hugged him in my kitchen when he cried for the teenage boy he was when our parents split... and not once did he ask how I was/we were.
So fast forward to now.
His daughter came to stay with us for the weekend at the end of the summer and I babysat. He came to pick his daughter up after the weekend. He was late. We all went out for dinner and he was rude. He was rude and boorish to his wife - e.g. their daughter is 2 and was fractious by the time we got out. He let her do all the 'looking after' of their daughter whilst she was trying to eat her own dinner and then, when he'd finished eating, he went to eat the food off his wife's plate. When she said she hadn't finished, he sneered that she needed to hurry up then because he didn't want to sit there all night now he'd finished eating, but didn't offer to help... You get the picture...
Anyway, he was rude to me after this, I was sick of it. My children were there, he hadn't thanked me for having his daughter, he was chauvinistic and rude and I, very quietly, asked him to stop being rude to me. My punishment/his response was to stand up in the pub (my local) and engage in a very public, but private, character assasination. Everything from my failed relationships, to my career, my friendships, my parenting was in the firing line. I could tell by his wife's increasingly warning tone as she told him to be quiet (which he ignored) that she knew the worst was yet to come - my brother has form for vitriolic diatribes that are seen through from start to finish so I'm guessing she'd heard it all before.
So I got the children, left the pub and haven't spoken to him since.
He has since tried getting in touch, but I've blocked him on my phone and all his emails go straight to my deleted folder unread. I thought he might realise, but his arrogance clearly knows no bounds! He emailed my son asking to skype him on Christmas Day. My son didn't want to. He doesn't like Skype and he doesn't like the way my brother speaks to me. But he doesn't want to lose contact. In the last 3 years he's seen his entire family fall apart - he's lost his grandad; grandad's widow; grandad's children; his grandma; his great grandma and his parents have split up. He doesn't want to lose his uncle too. So I feel I have to do something. But I don't know what. He replied to the email saying he didn't want to skype, but could they talk on the phone after christmas? and my brother hasn't replied - effectively stonewalling him (as predicted because he didn't get his own way). My son recognises this. But he doesn't want to lose his only other blood relative.
I don't know what to do.
I'm considering emailing his wife, but she is complicit in it in that she enables my brother, even though he is equally vile to her.
Just so sad and exhausted by it all. I've watched, and continue to watch, my whole family just falling apart around me and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it. I've cut out the rot, but it still isn't enough. My brother lacks any introspection so can't see that his reactions/responses might be flawed. It's the fault of other people, you know as in, "don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry".
I would just leave it for the moment and have a rest from it all.
Ignore unless he gets in touch in which case say that you are very tired of it all and want a space. Tell the children that you haven't done anything final- you just think a break would do you all good.
I think you actually haven't cut out all of the rot. Your brother forms part of it. I think that, in healing from abusive families, they all form part of the risk.
You know, after reading that back, I'm not quite sure myself...
I suppose because I feel I owe it to my children to give it my best shot, rather than look like the crazy person who cut out their whole family! (well mother and brother. I'm amicable with my exH and my dad died. His widow doesn't want to know us, in part, because of my brother's behaviour. She also witnessed this many times over the years)
OP can I suggest you post on the *But we took you to stately homes" thread in "Relationships" for help and support. There are lots of people in your position there and they can and will give you a supportive ear to listen to and somewhere to write it all out. Those on it are and having been going through all sorts of toxic relationships with family members and it is a safe haven for you.
Oh God, just don't go there. I know your son has had huge losses, as have you, but don't go down this painful road.
Thank you Millli I've looked at the thread a few times, but I feel that I just wouldn't know where to start. We cut my mother out 2 years ago. That's nearly 40 years of stuff that started from when I was a baby. She was quite open about it.
As for my brother, I think along with assuming his role as the Golden Child, he's also continuing my role as Scapegoat. I'm never going to escape that whilst he's in my life.
No it isn't worth trying to save this relationship. You say you want to do it for your son, but he won't thank you in the end as he will be exposed to his Uncle's nasty, abusive behaviour. Your brother is best out of all your lives.
You haven't lost him. There is nothing to be gained by enabling him to bully you or your son. He has growing up to do (your DB more than your SS!) You're just waiting while he adjusts to your personal boundaries. Boundaries are a fantastic thing, it's lovely to be around people like you and your son who have them. Unless you're a controlling bully.
But there is no need to make decisions at this moment- just have a space- for several years if necessary before you even think about it.
You sound exhausted by it and are too close to be objective.
It's good that you've started this thread.
You've described your brothers behaviour, and everyone agrees that he is not a good person to have in your life.
Keep rereading your post and remind yourself that you don't need to feel an ounce of guilt regarding being NC with him.
I understand*Folkgirl*. I have been through this myself. It is hard to know where to start when telling someone your story. Thing is you don't have to prove anything to anyone. Lots of people will negate your feelings and tell you that family is everything and that you should try to keep the peace. You do not and they are not. What is important is that you know that it is not you.
I don't know how old your son is but maybe he needs protecting from this toxic relationship himself before he too suffers.
Your brother is exactly the kind of person you should be protecting your son from. The fact that he's a blood relative doesn't change this. Indeed if he wasn't would you even think twice about ditching him?
Why not spend the time and energy cultivating positive role models for your son instead?
Yes - I do have a suggestion. Leave him out of your life and never look back. There is nothing in what you said that makes me think you should try and keep this relationship for yourself or your child. He is bad news, what good could really come of it? None.
I suppose it's just hard because I now find myself completely alone. I have friends, and I have a couple of very good friends; the sort I could call on at 3 am if necessary. But I do feel a little bit like a balloon that's been let go and that floating away doesn't feel like freedom, it feels a bit scary. I do have friends, but I generally feel on the periphery of friendship groups rather than in the middle of them. That's ok, it doesn't bother me too much. I find it difficult to let people in to be honest. But I'm also single and whilst I find interpersonal relationships generally difficult, I find romantic ones virtually impossible, so I don't see this changing any time soon.
It's also hard for the children because it's almost like before me, the family didn't exist. They never ask to see my mother. My daughter was 5 when we went NC and my son didn't like her anyway
My dad died 6 months later. We've not been to the grave since the funeral (2 yrs ago), the children never talk about him, they don't miss him because he wasn't really interested in them once his 'new' children came along (same age as my daughter). There are no photos of my daughter with her grandad. There are no photos of me before 18 when I left home. There are no 'family' photos. Both of my parents' birthdays passed last year, as did the date of my dad's death, and I didn't even realise until after the fact.
My grandma died 4 years ago. The children both miss her and talk about her still. But I have nothing of her. My mother hasn't progressed or settled the Will. She's the executor and the main beneficiary and it suits her to delay it. So my children don't have any of the small trinkets or keepsakes that would keep her alive to them. or that she promised them before she died.
I'm just so frustrated by it all. My brother and I were supposed to be drawing a line under it all and moving forward after losing our parents to be the family we wanted our children to have and I feel like he is sabotaging it all. He is a bully. He is emotionally abusive. But really does subscribe to it being other people's fault that he gets angry. He won't accept any responsibility for it at all.
My son is nearly 16, though and I'm not sure, realistically that I can stop contact between them.
I think that if he does try getting in touch again, I will just have to tell him that I am very tired of it all and need a break from it, you're right. My original idea was to email his wife saying similar and suggesting that we continued a relationship of sorts for the sake of the children. But I don't know that would work.
I just feel like I turn 40 next year and, despite my efforts,my life is shit. My family has fallen apart and I don't even have one anymore. My career was affected by a combination of my dad's poor health; managing the difficulties my mother's toxic behaviour created; the impact of the messages I got growing up that I hadn't yet challenged; and staying in a shit marriage for longer than I should have because I was so exhausted by everything else that I didn't have the capacity to deal with that. I now feel trapped in a dead end. I have the potential to do so much more: a first class degree, a professional qualification in a field I don't want to re enter, but would like to use it as a stepping stone to something better/related, but don't know where to even start. I'm not depressed. In fact, I feel better than I have done for years. It's just that now I can see it all so clearly. I just feel so sad that I haven't succeeded in any area of my life at all. I just wish I'd said, "no more" 10 years ago.
Your life isn't shit
You are young and healthy .
You are well educated and qualified .
You have friends who you coudl call for help at 3 am .
Your kids are teens and they sound reasonably ok -are they decent kids , going to school , choosing decent friends,reasonably sorted ?
You have survived a crap upbringing and a lot of loss and bereavement ,and a broken marriage , so you are clearly stong and resourceful .
You need to put all your family crap behind you and get on with your life. It begins at 40 Dontcha know? You are in your prime !
Honestly , you need to walk away from your toxic family, for as long as it takes . Get counselling , read a book, join the stately homes thread
And and for your kids not having a " past " -they DONT CARE, they are teenagers , they only care about themselves , their mates and their spots /hair/music/studies/sports . They are focussed on the present and the future -as you should be .
Ha, thanks for that Kristingle
Yes, you do have a point. One child is in teens. He's doing OK at school, and he has some lovely friends. I don't know them, because I struggle with having people in the house, but he is great. He has a couple of hobbies.
I suppose it's just with the New Year looming... Someone I know commented at the weekend on how much more confident I am than I was she met me 5 years ago. I am. I'm like a different person. Every year I'm better. But there are certain areas where I'm still anchored to the crap.
It's just that a lot of my friends are so much more successful and whilst I don't feel inferior to them, they are more professionally/intellectually challenged and satisfied than I am and I feel that they have a real impact on the world. Where as I don't. And It isn't going to be easily changed.
You would be surprised at what outwardly successful people can feel underneath.
I would just be kind to yourself- not even think about it for a year - just take a break and tell him you are having a space.
I went nc with my father about 12 years ago ( he died 10 years ago)
I also went nc with my brother 2 years ago when I realised how like our father he was. I suppose I was slightly reluctant to do it twice as I wondered if given I was nc with 2 family members maybe the issue was me??
However, I realised it wasn't me and even if it was I was still happier without these people in my life - and maybe having done it once it was easier to do it again.
Luckily I do still have family I see and my DH family are lovely too but I wouldn't have stayed in contact with toxic people just because they were all I had. No family is better than vile people who just make you feel shit about yourself.
Even if you don't feel you can take a break from your brother for your own sake please don't expose your children to him.
You sound like a smart and thoughtful person.
Stop pouring your precious energy into your toxic family and a past you can't change. Use it to rebuild your career .
Let your kids have a friend or two round -it's important to them .im an introvert too so I unedsrtand why it's hard, but you need to do it . Hide in your bedroom for most of the time if you need to ,you don't need to hang around playing hostess . They can put on a pizza and pour coke themselves
Your crap family have made you feel like a failure because your life isn't " perfect " . Well no ones is .
If you have health and education, a safe roof over your head , enough money to get by and happy well balanced kids- you are doing very well for yourself . It's not easy being a single parent , Especially with no family support .
Now bloody get out there and go for it in 2015. No it won't be easy , but it's perfectly possible . You have handled worst in the past.
Well, I know some of the things a couple of my friends are going through, and no, they certainly don't have it all sorted. I suppose it just feels that they are at least sorted in some areas of their lives.
I'm a real anomaly in my group. One of the youngest (friends from 32 to 70+), I rent because of my exhusband's refusal to buy a house even though we could have afforded to, and I'm the only one in this position (should have left then); my career has stalled, halted and veered down a tiny side alley to the bins and the big gate that is locked and too high for me to climb over at the moment; my marriage failed and now this. I think the thing with my brother is just the icing on the cake. I thought I could 'save' that and we'd be the nice family we should be going forward.
But I can't even think, "well I sacrificed my career, but my marriage is great" or "well my marriage failed but I'm financially independent" or "well I rent, but my career is great and it gives me the freedom to travel". I just feel like I've failed at all the main areas of my life. Family; relationships; career; house... And then I just wonder who would want me, going forward, because if all the people I meet are successful in some aspect of their life, who's going to want someone who isn't successful in any?
I'm just feeling very frustrated at the moment that, despite overcoming a huge pile of shit, all I've done is realise that there's an even bigger pile of it when I got to the other side. I just don't feel like I've succeeded in any area at all. I'm not even a great parent because, although I do my best, I'm only one person and I know that over Christmas, all my friends have been away to stay with family, or out with family, or grandma's had the children whilst mum did the post Christmas clean and dad took the children out for the day... and I'm up to my ears in all of it all the time and I feel I'm letting the children down too.
Join the discussion
Please login first.