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AIBU?

I don't want to join the biggest family gathering of the year...

43 replies

kiaraluna · 06/02/2024 11:26

I'm from an Asian family in Hong Kong, and like many Asian families, relationships are dysfunctional and toxic. Last Sunday, my father sent over two photos of my brother's tax department letters, one urging him to pay a HKD$55,000 tax (around $5,500 GBP) which was due last month, the other one was a subpoena requiring him to go to court for not filing tax in 2022. 
 
My father then called me, telling me how upset and worried he was that my brother seemed to get into big trouble. My brother was on vacation with his girlfriend in Japan, and my father opened his letters without his consent. He said that he thought something was wrong when he received two letters from the tax department in a row, which made him so upset and worried that he couldn't sleep for nights. And so, he "had no choice" but to open the letters to see what's going on - only to make himself even more upset and worried after knowing what's going on. 
 
He asked me to pay the tax for my brother immediately since he's still in Japan. These things happened before and I was thinking “not again please”… I tried to reason with my father and said that we should tell my brother and ask him to pay immediately because he can pay tax online, it’s not a problem that he’s in Japan now. But like always, he was just making up excuses not to confront my brother, and he seriously asked me not to let my brother know. He wanted to avoid any direct confrontation with my brother as he's extremely afraid of upsetting him. That's why he always turned to me for things like this. He’s not calling my elder sister because she's a mum now, and he thought she had more important things to do and worry about, while I don't.
 
He said that he didn't want to ruin my brother's vacation with this bad news (but obviously he thought it’s ok ruin my Sunday?), and so he insisted that I should help my brother pay the tax without telling him. He also has already assumed my brother didn't have the money (due to my brother’s previous debt records), and so he's actually asking me to absorb the debt while "knowing" my brother won't be able to pay me back. 
 
I couldn't find one reason why I should do that. I have the money, but I’m not paying even if it's only $50, because it's not my responsibility and my brother is a 35-year-old grown adult. Having to pay $5,500 tax also means he's making a decent income. But my father started to emotionally blackmail me by repeating how upset he was that he's not been eating and sleeping for days, he said he couldn't let his son go to jail and asked me what to do and if we need to hire a lawyer... he's asking all the questions that I couldn't possibly answer, because I had no idea what that subpoena was all about unless we asked my brother. And he said that as siblings I should help my brother no matter what (subtext: I should solve all the problems so that he doesn’t need to be upset and worried about anything anymore).
 
The fact is, 10 years ago my sister and I had helped my brother repay a huge sum of $30,000+ GBP bank loans and credit card debts, which he then slowly repaid to us over 5+ years. My father didn't know about it, because it would give him heart attack if we told him, and he would only panic and make things worse. After my brother repaid that debt, there were still a few more times when we found out he's in debt again (a much smaller amount of money fortunately). The reason we found out was because my father opened my brother's letters without his consent over and over again, even though we had told him a million times not to.
 
So, what my father was doing last Sunday, he had done a several times before. Every time, he just emotional blackmailed and guilt-tripped me into helping my brother. Then my brother would eventually know about it and get furious about us reading his bank letters and not trusting him. Even though at last he didn’t really need our help, every time it just created so much tension within my family. And the emotional dumping and blackmail from my father, the recounting of past traumatic experience (that $30,000 debt), and worrying about my brother getting into trouble again, were already big enough to drag me down emotionally.
 
So this time it's the same all over again. I went into shut down mode pretty soon and I didn't want to continue the conversation with my father, and so I asked him to hang up so that I could talk with my sister about this first. But then he lost his temper and yelled at me saying there's no need and no time to talk with my sister, and requested me to act immediately like it’s my fault or obligation. I was triggered and started yelling at him too, telling him that I would pay the tax (I actually won't, but I said that only because he wouldn't give up if I didn't) and he didn't have to do anything to make things worse.
 
I knew the only rational thing to do was to tell my brother and let him solve his problem on his own. But at that time, my father's emotional blackmail, shaming and guilt-tripping had consumed me and I couldn't function. I could only call my sister telling her what's going on, and I almost cried while talking to her. I think it's partly because I'm sort of a hypersensitive person, or what people called empath now. I tend to internalise people's emotions, and I easily feel responsible for everybody's problems. And this kind of things, especially when it’s coming from my parents, has always been very overwhelming to me because I don’t feel like I could say no. I take whatever they dump on me even though I know that they're not mine to carry.
 
My sister and I then talked to my brother about it, and he quickly replied that it's not a big deal and that he had already paid the tax, which we couldn’t truly believe due to past history. But he’s in defense mode, and he asked me to tell father not to bother about it - which immediately sent me to an emotional breakdown… cos since when have I become the messenger between you two? Why can’t you two, father and son, talk to each other on difficult matters like grown adults? Would father stop worrying and stop all the emotional blackmailing just after I told him "not to bother about it"? He won't! He’s the way he is because he likes to bother and make a fuss about everything. He cannot be reasoned with. He would probably also blame and scold me for telling my brother. Why do I have to take the hit for everyone?
 
I told my siblings that I couldn't do this it anymore. I couldn't be the scapegoat who receives all the emotional blackmails from my father anymore. Hearing what I said, my brother became very angry about it, and immediately started sending messages on our family chat group. But before I even started to read what he's saying, my father's already calling me. He blamed me for telling my brother and for making my brother getting angry at him… For the first time in my life, I said, "I couldn't do this anymore," and hung up on my father. 
 
My brother said on the chat group that he's already paid the tax and asked my father not to bother me about his problems. He also said, "I'm already very upset because my dog just died, please don't be crazy and make a fuss about small matters!" My father then replied, "I'm also very upset these days, worrying that you're getting into trouble..." Reading these, I just felt so sick and I wondered - does feeling upset give you the license to do whatever you want, and be excused for whatever you do?
 
I’ve been going through IVF treatments for the past 6 months, still recovering from a recent miscarriage, enduring all the mental and physical pains on my own... I’ve been feeling upset and in pain for some times now, but does it mean that I have the license to hurt and traumatise other people? I'm not asking for help and support from my family whatsoever, because my husband and I prefer not to tell anyone about it. And to be honest, my family has never been a support system for me, I've been solving all my problems on my own since a very young age... I still put a smile on my face on family gatherings. I held back my tears when my mum tried to convince me to have a baby and asked me why I didn't try harder, just right after I had lost one... I didn't tell anyone how much I hurt. I try not to make anyone worry about me... But what do I get in return?
 
I finally told my siblings that I have recently had a miscarriage, but still, I won't make it my “license to kill” - I don't think that being upset is a reason to do whatever you want, make excuse for yourself, and to emotionally blackmail people to excuse your bad behaviour. Although they then seemed to resolve the matter, with my father saying that we should have open and honest discussion as a family about all matters from now on (though I doubt if he really can do it), I just don't feel like talking to any of them. I felt inexplicably hurt and traumatised... I had an emotional breakdown, bursting into tears for a few times that day... not knowing exactly why.
 
No matter how much I know about setting boundaries and all that psychological knowledge, I still felt enormously hurt even I know I had done nothing wrong to say no and step out of the family shitshow. I’m still very upset even though the problem has seemed to be solved, because while they seemed to have worked it out with just a few words, a few whatsapp messages, and then they acted like nothing had happened now, they don’t seem to understand how traumatic it’s for me to be the family scapegoat all these years. No apology, no nothing, no one asking if I was okay, just nothing. We're about to have a family gathering to celebrate Lunar New Year, which is the biggest and the most important days in a year to spend with family. I looked forward to it, but it makes me feel bad that I don't now…
 

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

137 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
3%
You are NOT being unreasonable
97%
lecreseut · 06/02/2024 14:20

The focus now is on your mental health and future IVF. If they ask for money, tell them you don't have any. Do not engage in conversation.

Your brother is your father's little emperor and he will never hold himself accountable for anything.

You have a choice. You can walk away and ignore your dad's rantings.

  1. Your brother won't go to jail. If he doesn't pay he will get a summons to go to court. He is asked why he didn't pay, when he will pay, and he will get a fine. If he doesn't pay again he might end up in jail who knows.


2.. Lots of banks offer personal tax loans. He can borrow 3 million Hong Kong dollars (300,000 pounds ) OR up to 28 times his salary...and the money is fast, it gets processed in a few days.

I know.... I am from Hong Kong.

Ignore them..you will not get thanked for sacrificing your money to help your brother. He is not your problem. It is easy to borrow $50,000 *5 thousand pounds )

https://www.hsbc.com.hk/loans/products/personal-tax/

https://www.moneyhero.com.hk/en/personal-loan/tax-loan

and Kung Hey Fat Choy ! Have a lovely new year. You don't have to deal with your brother's crap.

HSBC Personal Tax Loan in Hong Kong 2023 / 2024 - HSBC HK

Apply online for a Personal Tax Loan to cover your needs for the 2023/2024 tax season. Get approved for a low-interest tax loan quickly and withdraw cash right away.

https://www.hsbc.com.hk/loans/products/personal-tax/

Nots453 · 06/02/2024 14:23

Sorry I couldn't read this as your post was far too long.

SuperSange · 06/02/2024 14:28

Nots453 · 06/02/2024 14:23

Sorry I couldn't read this as your post was far too long.

And yet you felt that qualified you to post. Why not just scroll by? Idiot. OP, that sounds horrific and you'd be well as into step right back. Even for the miscarriage comments alone. 💐

FooFighter99 · 06/02/2024 14:51

Please put yourself first @kiaraluna your health and mental wellbeing far outweigh your brother and father's issues and their inability to sort themselves out!

You are NOT responsible for your brother's actions (or lack thereof) and should NOT be paying his debts for him, as he obviously doesn't learn from his mistakes....!!

Stand up for yourself and leave them to their own devices

Whatifitallgoesright · 06/02/2024 14:51

Nots453 · 06/02/2024 14:23

Sorry I couldn't read this as your post was far too long.

That's a completely subjective view. We have absolutely no interest in your capacity for concentrating. Just scroll on by to something more within your limitations and leave other posters to respond to the OP's problems.

kiaraluna · 06/02/2024 17:41

lecreseut · 06/02/2024 14:20

The focus now is on your mental health and future IVF. If they ask for money, tell them you don't have any. Do not engage in conversation.

Your brother is your father's little emperor and he will never hold himself accountable for anything.

You have a choice. You can walk away and ignore your dad's rantings.

  1. Your brother won't go to jail. If he doesn't pay he will get a summons to go to court. He is asked why he didn't pay, when he will pay, and he will get a fine. If he doesn't pay again he might end up in jail who knows.


2.. Lots of banks offer personal tax loans. He can borrow 3 million Hong Kong dollars (300,000 pounds ) OR up to 28 times his salary...and the money is fast, it gets processed in a few days.

I know.... I am from Hong Kong.

Ignore them..you will not get thanked for sacrificing your money to help your brother. He is not your problem. It is easy to borrow $50,000 *5 thousand pounds )

https://www.hsbc.com.hk/loans/products/personal-tax/

https://www.moneyhero.com.hk/en/personal-loan/tax-loan

and Kung Hey Fat Choy ! Have a lovely new year. You don't have to deal with your brother's crap.

Hi my fellow HKer! Thank you for your comment. I've been trying my very best to maintain my mental health cos I know it's important for my coming IVF treatments. But of course it's not that easy after the miscarriage. From the outside I look just fine but I know I'm still very fragile - so when things like this happen, I'd just break, cos it's just too heavy for me to carry given my current status.

The relationship between my father and my brother has always been this twisted and toxic. There were times when they fought so much, swore at each other... with my father always threatened to kill himself because he thought he's not respected in the family (it made me cry a lot back then, but now I know he's just emotionally blackmailing everyone cos he's not going to do it anyway). My brother ended up moving out to avoid conflicts, but that's when he started to have all those financial problems.

Both of them are like a ticking bomb, you don't know when my brother would get into trouble so big that we would have to give up everything to save him, and when my father would do all the crazy things and make everyone extremely miserable with his irrational behaviour. Since my brother moved out, my father started to "rotate around him", if you know what I mean, because he kinda felt like he's losing his son, and so he started to become very afraid of upsetting him. That's when he started to turn to my sister and I for help in whatever problem my brother has, and he would act crazy if we don't do what he wants us to do for my brother. I'm very tired of this. Sometimes I really want to ignore him completely, but the fact that he's already in his 80s... I just don't know if I'd regret not treasuring the remaining time I have with him...

And actually, I think my brother knows very well about how to borrow money from banks, that's kinda how he owed that HK$300,000 ten years ago. He borrowed money from different banks, and he paid only minimum payments for his credit cards, but never managed to repay them and the interests piled up. Before he seek help from my sister and I, he actually thought that taking the last bit of money he had to Macau was a solution... that's how crazy things were. And he had a very bad credit score that he couldn't borrow from banks anymore. I know he has changed, and he's actually making more money than me now, but what happened in the past really left a scar. I don't think borrowing money from the bank would be a good option for him to handle his financial problems cos he may just end up with a bigger debt. Of course I'm not saying I'd use my money to help him, especially when I'm not that financially abundant myself. I think I'll just let him go bankrupt if he's really in debt again - hopefully not, since he really have paid the tax immediately after we told him, perhaps he simply forgot to pay, and it's just my father making a mountain out of a molehill, just like always...

OP posts:
kiaraluna · 06/02/2024 17:48

@SuperSange @Whatifitallgoesright Thank you both of you. I know there would be comments like that. I'm prepared for this since I know I really wrote too much... I don't know how to be precise when there's so much going on and so many feelings that I can't articulate very well... So, thank you for standing on my side and for reading❤

OP posts:
CeciliaMars · 06/02/2024 17:56

I really do sympathise with you but I think you need to shut this down so much earlier. Make it clear from the start that you will not be lending any money to your adult brother and nor will you be passing on any messages. Then stand your ground.
Best of luck with the IVF xx

kiaraluna · 06/02/2024 17:58

FooFighter99 · 06/02/2024 14:51

Please put yourself first @kiaraluna your health and mental wellbeing far outweigh your brother and father's issues and their inability to sort themselves out!

You are NOT responsible for your brother's actions (or lack thereof) and should NOT be paying his debts for him, as he obviously doesn't learn from his mistakes....!!

Stand up for yourself and leave them to their own devices

Thank you. I know my wellbeing is far more important now. When happened on Sunday has already messed up the healthy routine I'm trying to maintain... I couldn't eat and sleep well for days now.. Luckily I haven't had my IVF implantation yet. I jokingly told my husband that if I had my implantation last month, what my father did would probably kill his grandchild. Really, he's a ticking bomb and he's setting people on fire with his immature behaviour.

OP posts:
Fionaville · 06/02/2024 17:58

Step away from them. Go to the family function, but try to distance yourself from these matters. Think of yourself as a distant cousin. You're there for the family love, but you aren't involved in the dramas. You definitely shouldn't be getting calls for money.

ReinNotReignItIn · 06/02/2024 18:03

Nots453 · 06/02/2024 14:23

Sorry I couldn't read this as your post was far too long.

Or you are unable to read passages of text 🤷🏼‍♀️

Ponderingwindow · 06/02/2024 18:14

Your brother has enough money to go on vacation. He has the ability to arrange travel. He clearly has the ability to manage his mail coming to his own address and making sure his bills are paid on time.

I have a father who just wants to steamroll through my life and control everything. Sometimes you just have to refuse to pick up the phone or even to read the messages.

I would do something nice with your husband for the holiday. You don’t need the stress. Maybe a small trip? Use it as an excuse to skip the family drama.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers · 06/02/2024 20:26

ReinNotReignItIn · 06/02/2024 18:03

Or you are unable to read passages of text 🤷🏼‍♀️

Exactly. Re the person who you replied to:
Why come on to say that? Clearly OP's problem is a long one. Keep your lack of patience and/or comprehension to yourself!

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers · 06/02/2024 20:30

I say this as an Asian (albeit different region)- I get that your dad is worried but he seems to think that daughters are somehow able to handle whatever anyone dishes out, and sons must be protected.
If he had wanted you to pay because of expediency, why would he then want you to keep it a secret??
Because nothing must disturb the Man Child.
I would try and become more emotionally self sufficient so that this sort of behaviour loses the ability to hurt you, and you can brush it off and drop the shutters the next time shit starts to kick off.
He should be concerned about the wellbeing of all his children, not just the son, and the daughter who's pregnant.

PrincessOfPreschool · 06/02/2024 20:54

CeciliaMars · 06/02/2024 17:56

I really do sympathise with you but I think you need to shut this down so much earlier. Make it clear from the start that you will not be lending any money to your adult brother and nor will you be passing on any messages. Then stand your ground.
Best of luck with the IVF xx

This is good advice. Next time there are any phonecalls you can prepare some set words which you memorise, for example:
"I am not getting involved in this, it is not my problem."
"My brother is as much of an adult as me so please treat him as one."
"I will not be able to pass on that message, you will need to pass it on yourself."
"I will not be able to sort this out as I need to take care of myself right now."

Etc. Maybe you could write them in a book when you are feeling strong. And read them every so often.

Maybe some of them are just for you to help yourself be firm, and some which you are prepared to say to your family.

I hope you can get pregnant soon but maybe take a break whilst you distance from your family and can be more relaxed.

kiaraluna · 07/02/2024 04:31

CeciliaMars · 06/02/2024 17:56

I really do sympathise with you but I think you need to shut this down so much earlier. Make it clear from the start that you will not be lending any money to your adult brother and nor will you be passing on any messages. Then stand your ground.
Best of luck with the IVF xx

I actually did tell my father that I'm not going to pay my brother's debts, and try to make him understand that my brother's a grown adult and should take responsibility for his own problems, every time when he turned to me and requested me to solve my brother's problems. I tried reasoning with him calmly, sometimes I raised my voice, assertively expressed my point and kind of "lectured" him that it's very wrong parenting that he's exhibiting. But he never listens. He would said he "understood" - BUT, you should just help your brother anyway, because you are the older sister. He would use all the manipulation tactics - throwing all his emotions, tantrum... at me. Blaming and shaming me for not helping, all the guilt-tripping...

I tried to reason with him and teach him every time. But then next time, it's the same all over again. I know many people can just stay unbothered and not taking anything he says and does seriously. There're people who have high enough EQ to not argue or engage, just let him dump all the emotional garbage and then throw them right away. But I can't. I wish I could. I cannot simply unheard and unfelt everything after what he said to me and forced on me.

I know this time it's a bit different because I finally told my siblings how bad I've been feeling to be the scapegoat every time, and that this time it's my brother who directly confronted my father and requested him not to do that again. Maybe one word from my brother is better than a thousand words from me. Maybe he would finally really listen and change. Who knows. But now I just have this feeling that I would feel sick seeing my father, or just thinking of him. But the Lunar New Year is coming. I don't know if I could still force a smile on the coming family gathering. It gives me anxiety just thinking about it.

OP posts:
GreekGod · 07/02/2024 04:58

Don’t go and check out the stately homes thread on MN

https://www.mumsnet.com/talk/relationships/4991681-january-2024-well-we-took-you-to-stately-homes

kiaraluna · 07/02/2024 05:22

PrincessOfPreschool · 06/02/2024 20:54

This is good advice. Next time there are any phonecalls you can prepare some set words which you memorise, for example:
"I am not getting involved in this, it is not my problem."
"My brother is as much of an adult as me so please treat him as one."
"I will not be able to pass on that message, you will need to pass it on yourself."
"I will not be able to sort this out as I need to take care of myself right now."

Etc. Maybe you could write them in a book when you are feeling strong. And read them every so often.

Maybe some of them are just for you to help yourself be firm, and some which you are prepared to say to your family.

I hope you can get pregnant soon but maybe take a break whilst you distance from your family and can be more relaxed.

Thank you for giving me these example of words that I can say next time. In my previous reply I mentioned that I did try to tell my father that it's not my responsibility to solve my brother's problem because he's an adult who should be responsible for his own life. But after reading your examples, I know I wasn't doing enough.

I did say something like your second example. But for the others, I tried to convey certain meanings but not as clear and assertive as what you've put in words. Maybe that's the reason why I got stuck there. Because when I speak, I have layers of filters to prevent stirring up people's emotions and avoid conflicts. It's like I can imagine if I said "it's not my problem", "you will need to pass it on yourself" to my father, he would react very badly. Believe me, you will be traumatised if you see how he's like when he throws a tantrum and says all the horrible things to threaten you into doing things his way... I really have to walk on eggshell around him all the time. I know it's this fear that hinder me from saying no to him, and I guess he actually knows that too. He's been using this tactic to get everybody doing things his way, and my family has been tolerating him for years, decades...

I've been educating myself in recent years and learned to identify manipulation tactics people use on me, and I'm learning to set boundaries. I'd say I've improved a lot in dealing with friendships and work relationship, but with family... that's my soft spot. But I begin to feel very sickening when I realised my father likes to pity-bait for attention and guilt trip you into doing what he wants you to do. Like how he kept telling me how upset and depressed he was, how he couldn't eat and sleep for days... crying like a little baby, to make me feel obligated to do what he wanted and solve problems for him, exactly because he knew I cared about him. He's taking advantage of my compassion and love for him. And he's never really taking responsibility for his own life/decisions/emotions... because he thinks you're responsible for making he happy when he's upset, while he's always upset for things that are not real - those are all problems that he creates with his wild imagination and extreme pessimism.

So it's true that if I don't speak in a clear and assertive manner, I give him space and opportunities to cross my boundaries, as he doesn't really see there're any or think there should be any. I have to give him BIG NOs without any room for bargaining, and hang up on him without feeling bad or guilty.

And thank you and I do hope I would get pregnant soon. One of the reasons I feel upset now is that I know these family dramas have hugely affected my mood and kind of wasted all the hard work I've put into preparing for my coming treatments. To always stay positive and relaxed and healthy both mentally and physical is a hard work enough even without these family dramas... I really need a break...

OP posts:
Newchapterbeckons · 07/02/2024 07:54

I wouldn’t go to the family event. I would state the IVF is taking such a toll you need to stay at home.

Your father may well react badly to your boundaries. Maybe you should consider why that matters? It’s not your job to protect your father from being displeased. It’s your job to take care of yourself.

Get done counselling family issues and ivf are very tricky. Get some support op.

Step back from your family for a while, focus on your own well being. Maybe a holiday instead?

Newchapterbeckons · 07/02/2024 07:59

When your Dad tantrums this would help

’We can talk again when you have calmed down’

’I am comfortable with my decision’

’Thank you for sharing your displeasure but I won’t be changing my mind’

’ I am an adult now Dad, I can say no’

’Call me back when you have had time to reflect on my decision’

sesquipedalian · 07/02/2024 08:15

“you will be traumatised if you see how he's like when he throws a tantrum and says all the horrible things to threaten you into doing things his way... I really have to walk on eggshell around him all the time. “

If these conversations always take place on the phone, then you have the option of saying to your father that you have said that you are sorry but you’re not going to pay your brother’s debts and as you don’t want to get into an argument, you’re going to hang up the phone. Then hang up, and don’t answer again until at least the next day. If he goes off on one the next time he calls, hang up and send a text saying that you really don’t want to argue with him, but your brother’s affairs are none of your business. As for the family visit, I’d arrange to be away with your husband somewhere, and visit later in the year when things are less fraught. There’s no point going home when “it gives you anxiety just thinking about it.” I know you will feel guilty not going, but perhaps if you don’t, your father will realise you’re not just a puppet to be manipulated.

lecreseut · 07/02/2024 08:32

She can't NOT go to the event. You have to understand Chinese New Year

lecreseut · 07/02/2024 08:51

OP, if the subject of money comes up, just shut it down and say " Brother says he has paid his tax bill already. Why are we talking about this?"

If you get the emotional drama from your parents, it is time to tell them..
"Mum, Dad. I have looked after my brother. I did help him out financially x years ago when I lent him a huge sum of money . He has to sort himself out. You don't want him to rely on me when he is 60 !"

lecreseut · 07/02/2024 08:53

And yes, please get counselling.
You are at a juncture in your life unable to move forward.
The past is done. Your parents and brother aren't going to change. But you can change how you react to them.

Exasperateddonut · 07/02/2024 08:56

Would it be terrible if you started showing covid type symptoms just prior? I apologise but don’t know the implications in HK.

Your tale is the one on many Asians and the reason several of my female friends now live in the U.K. rather than HK… the only way was to physically distance themselves and start a new life.

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