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well, that's a turn up for the books, not really sure what to do. Maryz, Vicar, if you're about, your advice is welcome (and anyone else too, obviously!)

(59 Posts)
silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 13:31:58

I have just had a phone call from a relative. My brother has just turned up on his door step (he is the only family member to still be living in the same place as when said brother was last seen, nearly 14 years ago).

I don't really know how I feel, or what to think, or anyhting. Obviously I am happy that my brother is alive and well. It has been a worry, as he has what would these days be dx'd as HFA.

My history with him is long (well, durr!) and complex. He lies, steals, cheats, steals some more. the last time I saw him, he stayed with me, under duress I might add, as I had already had enough by that point. It was our mother's funeral. I advanced him moeny to travel to attend, I ran myslf ragged, days after mum had died (I was her carer, and was 22. My brother is older than me, but obviously does not function at his chronological age) organising him a suit, haircut (I paid), bought him a shirt etc. He stole from me again that night, and left in the early hours. I haven't seen him since - a mixture of circumstances (he didn't visit for while - too embarrassed I expect, and then I moved away)

I don't know what to do. How do I even begin to broach with him the fact that (if I do see him) I don't trust him, probably never will. That I won't want him in my house (he is unlikely to leave empty handed; how am I supposed to sk dh to put up with that?). How do I explain it to my children? they do know that in theory they have another uncle, and are young enough at the moment to accept that they haven't met him without question - 'he lives far away' has sufficed until now. If he does come here, he will behave as though none of it ever happened. it's all in the past, not to be spoken of. If I try to bring it up, he will deny it <voice of experience> - he can and will deny things even when caught redhanded.

If he hasn't changed (and why would he have done? he was late 20s last time I saw him, and hadn't done any changing then, despite a lot of trouble - both for him and the rest of his family), then I can't see how I can have a relationship with him. Harsh, yes. but I can't put myself through it again - when I was a student he jeopardised both my degree and my ambitions by stealing from me and from our mum (I had to bail her out, which I could ill afford as a student). I bailed him out time and again, and I can't do it anymore.

Oh, this is all 'me, me, me', isn't it? I know he cannot necessarily help himself. I know he needs help. But he won't accept that help - not least form me, his 'baby' sister hmm.

BUT, he is my brother. He might need help. He certainly was barely able to function independently when I last knew him. I can't not help, can I (if he even needs help, I dunno)

My relative has passed on my phone/email details, and possibly my address (don't know, I didn't ask - I was shock (and relieved) that my brother had turned up at all), and so at some point I will need to talk to him/see him.

I don't know what to do. I don't know how I feel. Anyone got any advice?

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 13:54:57

Ok, I have just picked up my phone after changing ds' nappy, and there is a missed call from my brother.

I can't even listen to the voicemail. I don't want to.

This is ridiculous, isn't it? I'm being pathetic.

zzzzz Tue 19-Mar-13 13:59:19

Make tea/coffee. Listen to message. Phone Dh. Knowing will be better than waiting.

Honk honk honk

UnChartered Tue 19-Mar-13 14:04:01

hi silver

wow, what a shock for you <queen of understatements crown is mine>

i think i want you to listen to the voicemail, but when you have time to do it sitting down, in a quiet room with time to process what is said, but after you have written yourself a set of ground rules that you make a promise to yourself that you will stick to.


do you want him to come to your house? y/n, and how to give that answer

do you have anything to offer him (financial? material?) y/n and how to give that answer

do want him to apologise?

and so on

but here have a big {{{{{hug}}}}}} and mug of something very hot sweet and strong

MareeyaDolores Tue 19-Mar-13 14:09:30

You don't have to have him in your house, you don't have to give him money, you don't have to jeopardise your already full-on family life, (although not listening to this message might be perhaps taking it a bit far...)

MareeyaDolores Tue 19-Mar-13 14:18:52

In fact, the more rock-solid your boundaries, the better. Rules about stuff can replace the difficult chats you'll otherwise need, as its unlikely you 'talking' about past shocking behaviour episodes will bear any useful fruit....

though perhaps one day you might find he finally realises his mistakes by himself <Mareeya pictures prodigal brother pitching up at 85y old silverfrog's nursing home with flowers>

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 14:23:26

thanks everyone <weak smile>

still haven't listened to the message <pathetic> if I do, it all becomes real, iyswim?

no point phoning dh, I know what he will say. we talked about it a long time ago (dh hasn't even met him). and I understand why he takes the stance he does (doesn't want him in the house etc), I resent the fact that we even have to discuss it.

I don't really know what I want - an apology would never happen. in his head, he was in the right as his need (from his pov, obvs) was greater etc etc. not worth going there. ever.

I have none of my mum's jewellery as he stole it all when he was a teenager. he left me to go to university without a penny as he nicked my birthday cash and wages the week before I went (grant cheque was late), and cooly declared it was all in my head when I confronted him about it.

I want bastarding autism/empathy deficits to have never entered my life. I don't want to have to deal with this. I want us to have at least one living parent so that there woudl be someone else to handle this. I want my other brother to help out (he won't - how come I am the only one who ended up with the 'mug' gene hmm?). I don't want ot have to be the responsible one, the mature one, the one who sorts it all out, yet again.

I want ot ignore the whole situation, as I have been able to do for the last umpteen years. I want to be able to put it all back in that box in the corner of my mind.

but I can't.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 14:26:09

I don't want to have to talk it thorugh with dh as I know we will end up arguing about it.

he is my brother. he probably needs me (can't see why else he has turned up after 14 years) - or at least, he needs someone

but dh won't see it like that. I kn w he won't. and I hate the fact that this will have us rowing.

UnChartered Tue 19-Mar-13 14:29:41

silver, what about your needs?

do you need him in your life?

he might need someone, but that person doesn't have to be you

topsyandturvy Tue 19-Mar-13 14:32:22

You know youre going to have to listen to the message dont you? Maybe the sooner you do it the sooner you can move on. There is still a chance that he has changed fundamentally and that he is now ready to meet family again.
Best wishes

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 14:32:49

I thnk that is the crux of it, unchartered.

I don't need this.

but I can't leave him without anyone, can I? not knowing that he has difficulties <understatement>

there is no one else in the family who will help - no parents. older brother won't be interested, for the same reasons as me, but will not feel guilty over it.

aunts/uncles are a different generation, and think all he needed as a child was a good clip round the ear hmm - can't seem them helping now, and not exactly their problem is he?

so who else does he have? what kind of a person am I if I don't help? (assuming he needs it, but going on past experience...)

UnChartered Tue 19-Mar-13 14:34:46

you don't need this, and he must have some other source of support, having been absent for 14 years...

TotallyBursar Tue 19-Mar-13 14:54:00

You don't have to be that person.
He has been away for over a decade. He has lived all that time without you.
You are allowed to not deal with this without guilt.
We all reach a point in our lives when we trade in our white horse, the price for this is often highest in our own minds.

I am not dismissing how you feel or trying to say it isn't valid. I have been in a similar position. But you have been conditioned to be the carer, the solver, the one that carries the whole burden.
You don't have to live by the rules someone else made for you.

What kind of person would you be if you didn't help? You would be the person making the choice to put the needs of their family above the needs of one. In the same way houses can be a money pit, some people can be an emotional pit. What happens when you are left empty, husband resentful, dc unsettled or stolen from & your brother wanders back off into the sunset?

I am not issuing an edict but if you go ahead with this Pandora's box it must be a true, boundaried, choice.
You are as important as him and you have greater responsibilities. Please be kind to yourself & don't use the past as a stick to beat yourself with.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 19-Mar-13 15:01:25

Blimey silver, our lives co-incide again.

I'm sorry I have no answers except to say that if one of his parents were alive now they would be caught up in his justfications and make-believe world, lying for him, haemoraging money, retrieving their childhood memories from pawn shops and smoking 60 a day.

In the eyes of the law and himself he is responsible for his actions. What you might understand about his help needs, he is unlikely to agree with and you just can't make a grown man do what you want him to do, even if for his own good.

He's survived thus far without you.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 15:10:09

Thank you every

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 19-Mar-13 15:13:07

You need to listen to the phone call, then decide if you want to see him.
If you do, meet somewhere else other than your house, somewhere neutral where you will both feel comfortable. You may find that he has a life that enables him to live independently of others, you may at least discover what he's been up to the last 14 years.
He is an adult, he has managed for 14 years and you are not his keeper.
If you choose not to meet him and lay down some clear boundaries,, then he may turn up on your doorstep anyway and you will be less in control of the situation.
You cannot have him in your home or closely involved in your life until you know what you are dealing with.

MaryZeZJezuzIzntZombiedYet Tue 19-Mar-13 15:16:09

I have just seen this, and really empathise with you.

But, first, listen to the message. He might have matured a lot in 14 years. He might not be the homeless, jobless waif you imagine. My brother (almost certain undiagnosed AS) has done very well, despite a very rocky road at 19.

ds runs away like that if he has done something awful. When he was younger there were many times he would steal or whatever, and then leave, pretending that if he didn't have to face us it wouldn't have happened.

Where is he now? What did the relative say about him, and could they put him up for a couple of nights.

I think you are going to have to see him. But you need to make it clear from the start that you will not see him in your house, and that you want to see him with another adult (maybe the relative) first.

Lock away any valuables you have in case he turns up unannounced. And don't be afraid to call the police if you feel in any way uncomfortable. He has managed without you for 14 years - he doesn't need you in the way a child might. He might need help from someone, and you can assist him to get that help, but you mustn't give him more than you can afford (emotionally) to give.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 15:18:08

Grr phone!

Thanks everyone. Am no closer to knowing what to do.

Yes, it's a Pandora's box - problem is, it's a complete one, with hope and all. Hope that it will be different. That I can have my brother - the one who is loyal, and funny, and good at making up games and stories. The one who would go to the greatest of lengths for his family.

He is barely literate. Has no qualifications. Hadn't managed to hold down a job for more than 2 months when I last knew him, and I can't see that this will have changed. He has survived this far, yes. But probably barely, by falling in with people who he thinks are his friends, but who will be taking advantage. He will have no o e to be his best and only advocate. He can't read forms, let alone fill them in. I expect he has drifted from one group to another over the last 14 years - he is certainly on the opposite side of the country from his last known position.

It doesn't make any of what he does right, but he probably doesn't have anyone else who cares. I know he won't let me help him, but I can't bear the thought of him being all alone, and in his honest soul searching moments lonely and confused. That might be my child one day.

Yes, he would be an emotional leech. No, I do t really have room for that. But it isn't entirely his fault that he cannot cope.

bochead Tue 19-Mar-13 15:19:18

You can set out in your own mind what your boundaries are and then help him within those parameters.

eg I don't want him in my home

But I love him & he's potless and homeless

Hunt down the details of the local housing/benefit offices and a travel lodge/B&B
Find out name of Social Worker who deals with adults that have his care needs.

Call the above when he shows up, attend appointments with him, but do not allow him across the threshold of your on home.

These boundaries are the NEW rules whatever happened in the past. Do not dwell, on 14 years ago, concentrate on the here and now, so that he gets the message that whatever emotional triggers used to apply, to get away with murder are no longer applicable. ASD is all about "rules" use it to your advantage.

Lots of thinking for you to do methinks. It's rhino hide timewink

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 19-Mar-13 15:22:36

And remember to post here every time you feel The Guilt beginning to stack up, so we can point out that it isn't logical. smile

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 15:22:50

Lots of x-posts. Am on phone, on school run. Am reading and thinking.

Thank you all.

auntevil Tue 19-Mar-13 17:09:09

It's a tough call silverfrog, but the way I see it is yes, you have responsibilities - to your DCs.
Your DB, as was said above, has lived 14 years without needing your help. If he has had help, it was from someone else. So where are they now?
Listen to the message and ask yourself if renewing the relationship without firm boundaries will benefit you or your DCs.
Do not get hung up on what families 'should' do. Life doesn't work that way.

silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 17:23:23


I have listened to the message.

he sounds not a day older smile

he sounded as though he is coping ok - a little shocked, but he had just learned he is an uncle 5 times over! I guess he hadn't really thought htrough the significance of the years passing...

it all sounds ok on the surface, but the unfortunate part is <message was a little blurred here, so may have got hold of wrong end of stick, but sadly unlikely> that he said he was back in deadbeat town, driftersville (where we grew up) and would be staying there for the time being. this is probably the worst news possible. the town is seriously bad news - the type where people never leave, they just drift on and on. it's a running joke amongst most inhabitants. it is jobless waif central. I hope he doesn't stay there too long.

I still don't know what to do. he sounded so ok on the phone that it would be easy to be sucked in. but it is unlikely that he has changed that much really - he was late 20s when I last saw him, not a teenager yet to mature. He is mid 40s now <wistful sigh at how time has marched on - where have the children we were gone?! I just want ot go back to playing in the sun and arguing over where my pocket money had gone - stakes are higher now of course>

have jsut had meeting with school re: dd2 as well. her teacher is seeing what we are seeing (huge deficit between capabilities and actual output; tendency to perfectionism possibly getting int he way of things; structure and routine to be adhered to at all times; comfort zones very much her thing) but is reluctant to do anything about it other than open a file. not really much help.

I just want ot say "sod it all" and drink lots of gin.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 19-Mar-13 17:28:54

Can you get a night out? Come to my house. I have gin. Or a holiday date with too many children if you prefer.?

UnChartered Tue 19-Mar-13 17:34:15

as a life-long inhabitant of a deadbeat town, can say honestly say we're not all a complete waste of space wink but i get what you mean

you want to rescue him from himself, but if you do that it would be position for life.

you already have a job, your no1 commitment is to your own family, they need you, the whole of you.
you cannot parent your brother.

<passes gin over>

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