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Unstable brother, elderly mother and cutting ties

79 replies

Harmonyrays · 25/09/2022 05:43

AIBU to go NC with my brother?

My brother is nearing early 40's has adhd, aspergers and a long history of mental health problems (psychosis at one stage)This is life long from severe anxiety in childhood to The psychosis aged 18. He does not work, has no friends and has been extremely violent and aggressive in the past. Smashing doors in the house screaming and shouting, threats to kills BIL in front if his kids. Really awful behaviour but we have always put this down to episodes of being unwell. He's had medication inpatient stays etc. Now he's adamant he's coming off medication and wants nothing to do with mental health team GP etc.

He live with my elderly mother who tolerates all behaviour. He will keep her up for hours lamenting his life's sorrow. All the bad stuff that's happened to him, how people treat etc. He will also have rages where she is on egg shells around him. His behaviour has.meant family do like to visit. Myself included. I have 2 young DC who I take with me evey visit because they love their grandma and vice versa. However this.has meant they have witnessed a few of his rages. I get them.out as quick as I can and away at the time but I know its affected them. That's the background.

So He stopped talking to me about 4 months ago as he decided he couldn't trust me that I was up to.something eetc. I Wasn't its paranoia. This was hard for he would.always contact me (not necessarily in a good way, but if he was upset or needed to talk rant etc) I did not enjoy these calls and they often left me very upset, took me away from my work or kids but I thought it was helpful in that he would at least leave my mum alone and give her peace. Not so it turns out as I would often hear he had been going on about the same thing with her for hours. I was very unwell last year myself entally because of him and his behaviour. I developed an eating disorder and was severely depressed because if him. No one in my family knows this but i ended up in therapy. So when i got my head around him not talking to me and began feel better he suddenly decided to start talking to me last night, in front of the kids. He ended up starting to accuse me again of not being able to trust me etc which the kids were hearing so I immediately said to the kids lets go and get in the car and go home. We live over 2.hours.away and it was about 8pm. Kids were crying they didn't want to leave but I could see where it was going. Anyway when they were in the car I had it out with him. He and mum then said not to go. He'd be quiet and to stay. upset and had spent the day basically.telling me how she doesn't want to be alive anymore, what she wants for her funeral and it absolutely heart so I stayed for her
I'm crying now because.she is so broken emotionally and physically right now and this upset between me.and helping
It feels like.she is in her finally months/years and is just sad with life. We lost my dad a few years ago and she's never really got over that. I promised him I'd take care of them both. But I can't. He won't let me help and mum is in a codependant relationship with him.

What do I do? Need to be there for my mum.bit can't without having some interaction with my brother who is unwell mentally at times and generally a very difficult personality. I feel so torn and lost with it.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

85 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
Schoolchoicesucks · 25/09/2022 09:46

Do you have a relationship with your sisters outside of the one with your mum/DB? Did you say one dsis lives close by your mum?

Could you stay with your Dsis and visit your mum for lunches?

I think making clear to her that you won't have your children around your brother is the only option. If she chooses your brother then that is her choice and you will have to find a way to make peace with that. You can still talk to her by phone and leave open the possibility of seeing her away from the house.

If he is controlling her and refusing to allow her to see you and your children, that is a matter for police and/or social services.

I don't think you can continue to expose your children to this, no matter how much they enjoy seeing granny. They can talk to her, write to her, send photos to her.

Greengagesnfennel · 25/09/2022 10:29

It sounds so hard I feel for you. I have no experience of this so can't be helpful on what to do, but i do want to add perspective on it being a black and white contact thing.

You talk about cutting ties but your children can still have a close relationship with a grandparent without seeing them in their house. We as many others have moved around a lot for work. With grandparents far away the kids skype, show pictures they've drawn, write etc and grandparents send things. You can still see you mum on trips out as you have said.

You seem to have built up this 'going into the house' into as a massive symbolic thing where it equates to 'real love'. It's not. It's just a small practicality around where you see her and don't let it become a narrative of a BIG DEAL that you don't go in. Just a quick - sorry mum traffic's going be a nightmare and head off. Don't feel guilty if it keeps things in control.

Rainbowdrop22 · 25/09/2022 10:59

OP, I think your mum is prioritizing your brother over the rest of you and using emotional blackmail on you all. I’m not saying she’s awful - clearly she is in a horrible situation - but she’s putting a lot on you to maintain it as it is.

it’s not fair to be sharing with you about wanting to die and about her funeral. It’s not good that she doesn’t understand why your sister doesn’t bring her kids round. She’s not considering you, or your children. It’s worrying to me that she’s prepared to let you and you children, your siblings and their children be damaged by this situation.

She can stay in this situation if she chooses but it’s not fair to use you to prop up that decision.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m being horrible about your mother but, honestly, she has made her decision when it comes to dealing with your brother and you have the right to decide how you deal with it for your sanity and your kids safety. She’s obviously very blinkered, and I understand that.

My brother was an addict. I loved him dearly but I couldn’t be around him when he was using. I had boundaries, as did the rest of my family and that left my mum dealing with him, giving him money, rescuing him etc etc. She was angry with us, and felt like we weren’t supporting her. It was really, really hard. She said she understood why I was angry at my brother, but why couldn’t I help her? She was desperate, and I know how horrible it feels, to feel like you’re letting your mum down. She sees that you have a nice life and your brother has nothing, so why can’t you help? She was constantly looking at the short-term, how to deal with the latest crisis and not how this was becoming years of unchanging shit.

its a situation that is not going to change :(

Fraaahnces · 25/09/2022 11:12

Your mum is reeling you back into the same drama with these sob stories. While that may be exactly how she feels, she is not acknowledging that she has chosen this life for herself and she has refused to force your brother to help himself.

mamabear715 · 25/09/2022 11:55

@Harmonyrays Just sending hugs as I can't better any of the advice you've had. What an awful situation for everyone concerned. xx

Motnight · 25/09/2022 11:59

Your mum is putting her son first. You need to protect yourself and your kids. Everything else will fall into place.

FirstnameSuesecondnamePerb · 25/09/2022 12:22

Get your mum her own place away from him is the alternative.

ImaDanishPastry · 25/09/2022 12:43

Could you offer for your mum to stay with you for a weekend every month or so? You or husband can perhaps collect and return her home?

Most mothers would rather live with their I'll child. It isn't code pendency or trauma bonding as such - it is a mother doing what most mothers would do and she clearly needs support with this.

Instead of lying there listening to her cry in the night, could you have gone and laid down next to her? I'm not criticising whatsoever, I'm just think of ways to help your mum as she is unable to help herself. It sounds like your mum needs patience, love and support.

I hope you can find a way to help her as well as yourself.

ImaDanishPastry · 25/09/2022 12:45

Most mothers would rather live with their I'll child. It isn't code pendency

That should read ill and codependency, sorry (using speech to text)

SequinsandStilettos · 25/09/2022 13:19

Oof. This was hard to read OP.
Your Mum has made the decisions she has made, not to give up on her son.
In so doing, she has created a situation whereby her other children may feel they are second priority or that they are expected to kowtow to their neurodiverse sibling's demands/needs.
You are not your brother's keeper or carer.
Your Mum has to understand that her actions will have consequences after her death and that, before that time, if she wants to spend any quality time with her other relatives - then she needs to put them, and herself, first on occasion.
She also needs systems in place for her to have time away from that environment and the ability to make contact away from your brother.
Given the lack of support from mental health services due to your brother's refudal to engage, this means she has to create her own spaces. A different room with a whatsapp conversation, away from your brother and only venting about him for a certain time period. A daily walk or, if not possible, a support group or hobby off site.
Just because he will not access outside help does not mean that she is not entitled to any. I'd look into what she can afford and what she is eligible for.
Finally, all and any visits, are for her only and are, away from her son.
What form these would take and how they are organised/enabled, is for her and her visitor to sort. It is doable, provided your brother is not so unstable he cannot be left for a couple of hours. If the latter, then social services would be needed in any case. She will not always be there as a carer, punchbag or codependent.

SequinsandStilettos · 25/09/2022 13:21


SequinsandStilettos · 25/09/2022 13:42

And I see both sides. You are only as happy as your unhappiest child. Mental health services are overwhelmed, understaffed and undercut.

However, as long as the set up is what it is, your brother will struggle after your Mum's death. Plans do need to be drawn up as to what he can do for himself, what he can access and what help he would need, as none of his siblings can provide that after she is no longer with him.
She is doing him no favours in the long term.

YeOldeTrout · 25/09/2022 13:46

It's extremely reasonable to put your own sanity first. If you can't go NC for your own sake, you can do it for your children (they need you to be sane). This should be easy for you to see as logical. You already believe the relationship with him sent you over the edge.

You are NOT responsible for fixing these people.

You could report your brother for elder abuse but I wouldn't be hopeful that would lead to good outcome.

i had my own set of crazy relatives to deal with. I couldn't have much to do with them & keep myself sane.

nokitchen · 25/09/2022 15:20

Only your mum will be able to change her life and the way she lives with your brother. My own brother is autistic and has LDs. He can be very controlling and dominating and as a 6ft man he is intimidating. Mum had him live with her all her life (she died in her nineties this yr). She let him control her life, they only watched what he wanted on tv, she wasn't allowed to play her piano if he was in the house because he would scream at her etc. I did take my kids to see her when they were growing up, and I wish I hadn't. They were afraid of him and he bullied and frightened them.

Because mum was so nice and placid I felt sorry for her situation, but she would defend anything he did or said saying 'he's my little boy'. I used to take her out shopping twice a week, or to a garden centre or somewhere nice for lunch, but realised that she was manipulating me to take him with us, and we would always end up going somewhere he wanted to go and he always had to come with us. This was all mum's doing.

When her Alzheimer's got worse in her late eighties she became scared of him, but still wouldn't consider him moving out. She died thinking that I would move in and 'become his mum'. A very sad situation, but one of mum's making.

Porcupineintherough · 25/09/2022 16:18

@nokitchen don't answer if you'd rather not but I was wondering what happened to your brother after your mum's death?

nokitchen · 25/09/2022 17:44

Very happy to discuss it. She died with him in the house. He kicked off at the undertakers coming to remove her as it was disturbing his sleep!

Social services sprang into action the next morning and put into place him staying with a local carer overnight. He was there for one night and was sent back home with piecemeal care. To be fair his social worker was excellent and knew he needed to be found somewhere he could be looked after and that if he was left too long he would either hurt himself or burn the place down (history of setting fires).

After a month of struggling through he was found on the floor having had a stroke. Taken to hospital and stayed there for 6 long weeks before a place in a Mencap care home was found for him. He's been there ever since and is honestly a different person. He loves it. He has support, friends and structure.

Porcupineintherough · 25/09/2022 18:14

I'm so pleased it worked out for him. What a pity it took your mum's death to precipitate that.

nokitchen · 25/09/2022 18:21

It was a shame. Social services had tried over the years to help, but mum undid their every effort. The family lived with a cloud over us dreading her death. It's such a relief to not worry about them anymore. Mencap are absolutely wonderful.

Harmonyrays · 25/09/2022 19:26

Thank you all for your replies, thoughts, observations and shared experiences. Its been very helpful.

I don't mum is being deliberately manipulative. She has a heart of gold and would give her last breath to a loved one needing it. She knows how challenging he is. She has told him my sister and I have our own lives and to focus on them. It's when a crisis arises that it all blows up.

I'm back home now, I haven't made any announcements but will take time to reflect on what's happened and try to speak with mum about planning for the future over the coming months. It's so hard but I see we are not alone in this kind of situation. I just don't want regrets about what I do or don't do so I need to think...a lot.

I was so distraught last night an this morning and MM you truly helped me. I realise I was freaked out thinking I have gone back to square one but now I'm.home in my own space I can see I am.stronger than I give vreit. It was shock but a reality check that I need to be boundaried and not let that slip.

OP posts:
madasawethen · 26/09/2022 02:12

"I can't judge because I haven't walked in your shoes. I see it differently because you haven't walked in mine. If I get myself killed caring for my son that is my right and choice to make, and at points that has been I risk I have had to run. Needless to say DD16 sees this differently and she isn't any more wrong than I am right. I appreciate people trying to make my situation safe (and thankfully currently it is), I wouldn't appreciate someone forcefully removing my ability to care. But i am only one person and not everyone agrees with that and thats ok."

How does your DD16 see the situation?

Kitkatcatflap · 26/09/2022 02:58

Having read nokitchen's posts can you not try a different approach with your mum?

Talk to your sisters if possible, to get them on side. If all three of you say 'no' visiting whilst he is there - it is her choice to love with him but it's no place for children. Tell her you will not be taking on his care when she is gone. Insist that FOR HIS SAKE she needs to put plans into action now - so he has a place to live, people to look in on him etc. Appeal to her sense of planning for his future, not giving up on him.

You could also show her the thread. Some of the posts are unbelievably sad.

Just out of interest, what happened to him whilst your mother was in hospital?

Good luck OP

Harmonyrays · 26/09/2022 03:26

@Kitkatcatflap when mum was in hospital he was so good. He took her, stayed until she was seen and even tried to help her when she was back home around the house. They have been.working alot on household stuff e.g. washing machine, cleaning tidying etc and he grasped some.of it pretty well.

He is so full of remorse when the episodes pass which is what makes it so hard to say no full stop. He's been so depressed over his out of control episodes in the past and we know he genuinely wants relationships with us as family, he is just sometimes very poor at managing this when he's unwell or stressed. The combination of anxiety, paranoia adhd and aspergers is an absolute killer and this is why we all feel for him and do not want to give up on him. He did not ask for this and is trying to cope with a really challenging set of diagnoses. It's hellish seeing the anguish he's in because he's always battling with trying to be a good person. He tells me this. I was just so overwhelmed by stuff in my own life, trying to take care of mum etc that it just feels easier to give up and walk away but as some pp have said the most vulnerable in our society have very little and i think how we treat them is important.

OP posts:

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LadyEloise1 · 26/09/2022 08:43

He suffers remorse afterwards, you write. What if the next time you go to visit your Mum with your dc and he becomes violent and injures or kills one or some/all of you?
What use is his remorse then ?

Perhaps I have read of / seen too many distressing articles where a family member, mentally unwell and violent has attacked and sometimes killed those who cared for and cared about them.

It is a really difficult situation for you @Harmonyrays to be in. But I wouldn't put my children at risk. It's your mother's choice to stay or let him stay. Actions have consequences. Her choice means she doesn't get to see her dgc.

Georgeandzippyzoo · 26/09/2022 09:01

Fraaahnces · 25/09/2022 07:36

Has it not occurred to you that that entire conversation about burial, etc, was hugely manipulative? I suspect she knows exactly how to push your guilt buttons. Stop playing HER game too… Tell her that you are not up to having a conversation like that, but it would be very smart for her to get a solicitor and get them to put it all in her will.

I would use HER conversation and bring it round to what will happen to your brother when she does go! Things need to be in place BEFORE DM is not there and I would use that to push the situation. I would insist that SS are brought in now to, at the very least, give advice on what needs to happen.

ArseInTheCoOpWindow · 26/09/2022 09:12

I was in a similar situation for years. Had a very violent unstable sister.

At about the age of 28 or so l broke contact. It was ruining my mental health. Dm continued to say there was nothing wrong with her, and refused to accept she was ill, even though she frequently attacked dm.

At this point, l washed my hands of it. I continued to see DM but not when ds was there.

The whole thing was horrible.

Ds was eventually sectioned and put in a home.

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