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View Full Version : OT-How do I deal with my brother? UPDATE & THANKS!


msoebel
05-01-2007, 11:42 AM
Sorry...horribly off topic, but I was wondering how everyone here deals with "energy suckers" in their real lives?

My little brother has never had a lot of expectations placed on him, and has always pretty much gotten whatever he wanted. It was never stressed to him that there is joy in giving...he used to buy himself Christmas presents when he was a kid, rather than buy gifts for the whole family.

Now, he is 24 years old. He dropped out of college after one semester. He just got a job in November...after being unemployed for almost 4 years (not because he couldn't find a job...he didn't want a job :roll: ). He has always lived with my parents. He hasn't had to pay for anything...not his car, not his food, not his clothes...not even his videogames.

And now, his fiancee had a big fight with her parents (they don't want her to marry him, imagine! :shock: ) and is also living with my parents. They are getting married in July...with no plans on moving out.

His fiancee has been crying to my mom because she is so upset that her parents don't want to have anything to do with her wedding. She is having a really hard time.

My idiot brother doesn't get it and says she is crying because "she is stressed out about exams". I asked him if it would be okay with him if I asked her to go out one afternoon and have a "girls" day. He wrote back and said that was a stupid idea. That the only way she was going to go out with me is if I invited him too.

I said I just thought it might be nice for her because she was sad and she could use some girl time.

He informed me that I don't have any idea what I am talking about. That he hates me. That he has never wanted to have a relationship with me and that hasn't changed just because he is getting married. We will see each other at Christmas and that is it...don't bother trying to talk to him other than that. He's not interested.

Now mind you...he lives at my mom's house. So he IS going to see me occasionally. She only lives 20 miles away. Also, his wedding is in July, and I was supposed to decorate the site for him (and I am sure he still expects me to...I will not be doing that.)

He wants nothing to do with our family unless we can do something for him. Even though he lives with my parents, he and his fiancee spend all of their time in his room...even taking meals in there.

I am tired of putting up with his selfish crap.

How do you deal with people like this in your life? As knitters, most of you are pretty "zen"...so how do deal with all of this negativity and hatred?

Misty

HamburgKnitter
05-01-2007, 11:54 AM
Also, his wedding is in July, and I was supposed to decorate the site for him (and I am sure he still expects me to...I will not be doing that.)
I am tired of putting up with his selfish crap.
Misty

I'd say you're doing it exactly right! Don't give in to his selfishness. Any relationship is a two-way street, but he obviously thinks he can treat you like crap and you'll still help him out at his wedding.

And if I was in your shoes I would go ahead and invite his fiancee out for a girl's day out. After all, there's no reason that he has to give his "permission" for her to go out with you. Maybe he's worried that the two of you will talk about him if he's not around?

Sorry you have to go through this. Like they say: you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family.

Abbily
05-01-2007, 11:59 AM
WOW, what a difficult situation this must be for you! I wish I had some really fabulous advice for you. In my (limited) experience, the only thing I can say is that you can't change him or his outlook toward you, toward life, etc. The best you can do is limit his negative impact on your life. I can't imagine how hard that would be considering he's your brother, and considering your own parents are facilitating his behavior. I would not cut him off, but quit trying to help him. See him at family gatherings, but say 'No' when someone wants/expects you to do things for him. Otherwise, leave the ball in his court as far as any relationship he decides he wants with you. Come up with a short, sweet reply for when he, or anyone else, asks you "why", and stick with that. And remember that just because *he* thinks he's entitled to have the world handed to him, that doesn't make it *your* problem.

Good luck!!

msoebel
05-01-2007, 12:04 PM
Yeah...and I would still invite her out...but she is 20 years old and seems to do everything he tells her to. He told me that he asked her and "they" decided that she wouldn't go out with me unless he went to.

My mom actually asked me to plan this afternoon out thing, because this poor girl has been crying to her everyday (she attends college in my town, but doesn't drive, so my mom drives her 45 every morning - one way- to school). Mom has been feeling really badly for her, and thought it might be fun for her to get out and do something.

Ugh. I am not going to tell my mom about this right now...today is her birthday.

I just don't understand how he could be so bitter and nasty. My sister and I aren't like that at all.

Misty

Abbily
05-01-2007, 12:08 PM
Wow, your mom drives her 45 min each way to school?! Sounds to me like this girl is just like your brother- so there's probably no way to make her see that his behavior is wrong. I don't know how it happens either (my DH has 3 sibs, and 2 of them sound just like your brother!) but I think you need to separate yourself from their bad behavior. Tell your mom that if she wants to cater to them, that's her decision, but that you choose not to. She may not see that she's letting them act like children, but again, you can't control that. UGH it's so hard to know how to deal with something like this when you know it might put a crimp in the whole family- but honestly you can't let them keep treating you like crap just to 'keep the peace'.

marykz
05-01-2007, 12:14 PM
Oh my. lots of hugs for you.

your brother sounds just like my husband's younger brother.

my in-laws eventually cut off all contact with him, and actually cut him out of their will b/c things got so bad. He shares many of the same attitudes as your brother.

you do not need to cater to him, or feel like you have to do what he wants just because he's family. You will visit your parents, and have a lovely time. he can always go to another room. (or move out- ha!)

you can be polite, without subjecting yourself to all the emotional pain. You take the higher road, and behave properly. You will have nothing to regret later. But you don't have to give him any power over you- he's acting out and being a jerk. Whatever he says isn't *really* about you- it is about him.

Don't get into an extended dialogue about whatever it is you supposedly did to him. don't be reduced to his level. Don't try to convince him you are right and he's being mean. You won't change his attitude, you'll never make him happy and it will only make you feel worse. "I'm sorry you feel that way. " was an often used phrase for us.

Its hard to let it roll off your back. but you have to to preserve yourself. Our situation has caused a LOT of grief, lost sleep, migraines etc. But, now that contact has been cut off, things are much calmer. The negative energy can be just awful.

I feel sorry and worried for the girlfriend/fiancee. Be careful if you do pursue trying to help her- you do not want to be put in the middle, or inadvertently cause more problems. especially if he is so actively hostile.

pm me if you want to talk more- I know how hard this can be and I'll be thinking about you- Mary Z

GinnyG
05-01-2007, 12:16 PM
You can't control your borther's behavior, or anyones for that matter. You only have control over your response to it. I say ignore the brother, invite his girlfriend out for the afternoon. It's up to her to accept or decline.

Be consistent in your response to his childish behavior as well as your response to the rest of your family and eventually they will get the message that you aren't buying into the dysfunction.

Stiney
05-01-2007, 12:26 PM
A) You don't need his permission to talk to/see his fiancee. Neither of you is his property, so he can't control that. I think it's very nice of you to do that for her (assuming you still want to.)

B) He doesn't want contact with you, fine. But that doesn't mean you have to isolate the fiancee. You can have a relationship with her, if you and she choose, that excludes him.

auburnchick
05-01-2007, 12:41 PM
First off, :hug: :hug: :hug:

Now, keep in mind that I'm currently in the throes of hard discipline with my daughter (remember the "Getting Tough with a Teenager" thread??), so this is going to come across as "to-the-point."

I have to commend you for reaching out to your future sil. She is really, really going to need you if she proceeds with this marriage.

I am concerned with the hold that your brother seems to have on her. Yes, she's young and very impressionable right now. It almost sounds like a form of abuse...the way he's controlling her. This could escalate in the future...

Since when do you need "permission" to take her out for lunch? The girl is not living at home and does not have to answer to anyone. I know she doesn't want to make waves with your brother, but if she doesn't develop a backbone now, can you imagine what it's going to be like later on??

Now, your parents mean well, I'm sure. But, as I'm sure you know, they've enabled your brother all of these years. I think it's wonderfully generous of them to welcome soon-to-be dil into their home. I'm shocked that your mom is driving her to school, though. It sounds like she's trying to fill in the role of mother. Is public transportation available? What about setting up a car pool? I used to drive 45 minutes to college and met friends who met up with me about half-way.

Wow, Wow, Wow!

Here's what I think you need to do. Keep reaching out to your brother's girl. Keep your commitment to decorate for the wedding. Do it for her and your parents. Who knows, you may later win over your brother by such a kindness (so don't throw it in his face when you're mad at him).

Have you talked to your mom about your brother's dependence? Maybe y'all can help each other take a stand against his door-mat treatment.

I'll pray for your family.

Inis
05-01-2007, 12:50 PM
I believe that avoiding toxic people is crucial to mental health -- even if those toxic people are family.

You probably wouldn't accomplish anything by talking to this girl anyway -- other than making your brother angry and/or interfering with their relationship.

Personally, I would be civil when having to be around him and her, but otherwise leave it alone.

Certainly there are people who WANT to be around you, why force those who don't?

Sara
05-01-2007, 01:06 PM
I'm with Marykz. She said it beautifully.


The other thing: It sounds like your parents have some major issues. Were I you, I would ask your mother not to put you in the middle of their drama. It's really unfair, because the situation will never change until your parents stand up to your brother.


Hugs! :hug: :hug: :hug:

KnittingNat
05-01-2007, 01:57 PM
I believe that avoiding toxic people is crucial to mental health -- even if those toxic people are family.

What is true is true - people who make you feel bad, shouldn't be in your life. I would try to avoid the guy and not to try to get closer or help. You'll be only getting slaps in your face one time after another.

And i also agree with Auburnchick about the abuse part. I think this girl is making a huge mistake. Are we in Iran or something that she needs to ask permission from her fiance to go out with you? And it doesn't sound too right the way she does everything he tells her too.

In my humble opinion - your parents are the main problem here. They pampered the boy and paid for everything in his life and if he feels free to bring a girl to live with him at your parents' house and doesn't plan to move out - it's up to your parents to make the move. If he's grown up enough to get married - he's grown up to move out. And if his girlfriend is naive enough to believe he's Mr. Right - then it's her problem and you can't solve it. The minute you take her out to a "girl day", you'll feel you need to save her from this marriage...

good luck anyway and hang on there...

Lucy Fan
05-01-2007, 02:02 PM
I'm with MaryZ as well. I'm sorry that your parents support his behavior. I know you want to help your mother but it's just not fair to ask you to get in the middle. If you want to help then ask the girl yourself. If she turns you down, well then that's on her. But I would be careful if you go down that route. Emotionally that will only get you in deeper and I imagine the best thing for you would be to stay out of it. :hug:

syndactylus
05-01-2007, 02:46 PM
I would try to make plans with your SIL's parents to "kidnap" her and talk some sense into her.
And then if that didn't work probably just give up until she asks for something.
But I definitely don't think trying would be a waste of time.

CarmenIbanez
05-01-2007, 03:00 PM
Stay as far away from this whole thing as you can. You do not have the responsibility of trying to save this girl, or your parents. Trust me, no matter what happens it will all end up being your fault. You need to take care of people who want to be taken care of and will appreciate it. :hug:

PaperGirl
05-01-2007, 03:42 PM
Im thinking that you need to invite your future SIL out, if not to get her some breathing room, but maybe to let her know that not ALL finaces treat their intendeds like that.

Psssh....when I HAVE a chance to go out, w/o DH, he practically shoos me out the door. And I do the same. Asking permission NOW before they are even married is a HUGE red flag for me.

Just reading what you said about your brother, and his inability to actually DO anything, and take care of himself, but expecting his fiancee to be around for him bothers me.

I seriously hope that you dont let his crappy attitude hurt you, and that you can help your SIL.

brownishcoat
05-01-2007, 04:31 PM
Stay as far away from this whole thing as you can. You do not have the responsibility of trying to save this girl, or your parents. Trust me, no matter what happens it will all end up being your fault. You need to take care of people who want to be taken care of and will appreciate it. :hug:

Yes, yes, yes!!!

And what Sara said about your parents needing to stand up to the brother. If they start doing that, you can back them up, but it doesn't sound like things are headed in that direction at this time.

Hugs to you! :hug: :hug: :hug:

five_six
05-01-2007, 06:43 PM
I, 110% agree with Carmen, stay as far away from this as possible. You have a beautiful heart, and wonderful intentions, but I really think that by trying to help this girl, you will be harming yourself more in the future. For whatever reason, she is in love with him, not you, and whatever you try to acheive on a girls day out, will only rock the boat more. She, naturally, will go home and tell her 'dearest' everything about it, but from her view, and I doubt your brother will be interested in anything you have to say, when it comes time to tell your side, which I don't think you'll even get the chance to do.

This will all come crashing down on your head, and she will only side with your brother, and embellish the story, to bond them closer together and alienate you more - whether she likes you or not, this is just human nature, and something you will not be able to avoid. She needs to get to the point of reaching out for help herself, or the help will be unwarrented and seen as interfering. She may seem like she is reaching out by talking to your mother, but I think she is just a 'sympathy junkie' and if she really had any problems here (and a backbone), she would make some major changes all by her little self.

I feel for you, I really do, but for your own sanity, focus on your life, not theirs. Maybe you need to meet with your mum elsewhere for the time being, so that you can completely distance yourself from this. I'm sure she would understand, and she still wants to see her daughter, so she will comply. :hug:

roseybee
05-01-2007, 07:00 PM
You are not going to be able to change anybody. All you can do is change how you react to the situation and your feelings.
Here is some advice that a friend who is a guidance couselor suggested to me once: imagine that your brain/mind is a room and your eyes are windows. You can see out but nobody can get in. Close your eyes and imagine your mind/room as peaceful as you can (it'll probably involve a big compfy chair and lots of yarn). Then, while dealing with your brother or any other difficult situation, imagine sitting in that chair with your knitting (or whatever is in your room) and looking out at the situation but not letting it into your head.
I have had problems with family a lot over the years and always tried not to let it bother me and yet always seemed to get bitter and worked up just thinking about it, much less experiencing it. After this advice was given to me, I find I can be a lot more at peace (and zen-like) while dealing with my family.

ecb
05-01-2007, 07:41 PM
I am so sorry you are stuck in this
dealing with that co-dependent crap sucks
my Xh demanded i go to Alanon to deal with any codependency issues i might have, even though he was clean and sober (at the time)
one thing I learned was that no one gets help unless they want it
all you can do is let her know the help is out there

Your brother is displaying a lot of the control issues I delt with in my marriage to him (even when he was clean and sober)
that Social Isolation is a BIG thing in abusive relationships,
Just be there, at some event that you both are at (not the weadding) just mention that if she needs to talk, to feel free
then LET IT GO
Do not wait for her to come to you, do not expect it on any specific time line, just leave the info out there, and almost forget about it. If, When she does come to you, just listen. Be as non jugmental as you can, and if you need to give advice, just keep it simple I do not have any accurate examples right now, but they do come to mind when I am talking to freinds I have who ARE heavily co-dependant.
it took me YEARS for me to get to the point I could say "Bugger off Mark" and leave (I actively chose NOT to use the F word, but a more humorous one instead)
but once I did (a few times) my life got a lot better

Good luck with your Future SiL (maybe, hopefully not by her own choice)
Remember, neither you nor She can fix him

ecb

Nobones
05-02-2007, 08:10 AM
I believe that avoiding toxic people is crucial to mental health -- even if those toxic people are family.

This is so true. I haven't spoken to my mother for 5 years, sister for nearly 2 years. My sister is a selfish person, much like your brother. She had to have her own way. My mother made her this person. My Mum and Dad divorced when I was 11. When I was 23 she said she could never love me because I reminded her too much of my Dad. She also confessed it wasn't my Dad who had the affiar, as I was told, but her and my sister was the result of that affair. I haven't spoke to my mother since. I'm a much better person without her in my life. She drained the energy out me like your brother is doing to you. At the end of the day, would you miss your brother not being in your life? If yes then you do what you can to get along. If no get outter there.

:hug: Thinking of you.

auburnchick
05-02-2007, 08:21 AM
You know, I can't help but be concerned that shutting yourself off completely would remove any chance for reconciliation. I think you should leave the door open. You never know when the light bulb will go on for someone. And you would miss out on so many blessings if that happened.

I think it's wise to protect yourself, so don't let yourself become a doormat. However, I think that keeping the lines of communication open may, ultimately, provide the example for the rest of your family.

I have had a strained relationship with my mother for years. The final straw was my reconciliation with my father, from whom she was divorced when I was a young child. She prevented my sister and me from seeing him when we were growing up, but after I had my son, my father and I were able to reconcile. She always resented that, and it led to further distance. However, I never completely cut off communication. It's not to say that we have the perfect relationship now. We only speak every few months, even though we only live a few hours away from each other. But I just could not live with myself if I didn't leave open the chance that things could be "normal" (if there's any such thing).

A counselor once told me that I needed to accept the fact that I could not change her. I could only change my reactions to her. This has helped me many times over the years.

Good luck!!! :muah: :hug:

msoebel
05-02-2007, 11:18 AM
Wow :shock: ...I couldn't get to a computer yesterday afternoon, so I am just reading this now.

Thank you all for your support, encouragement and wisdom :heart: .

I think my mom talks to me about this situation because I have a degree in counseling...and I do a lot of mediation in my job. But when it comes to your own family and your own relationships...well, I think I can be too close to the situation to actually see it. Just reading what you all have to say was enough of an eye opener for me, and I feel so much better!

I agree with you all that my parents helped to create who my brother is today. They raised him to be a brat, and what was cute at 4 years old, isn't cute at 24 years old. He has lived up to their non-expectations. They decided early on that he wasn't as driven as my sister or me, and they didn't expect him to get good grades, go to college or even hold a job. And hey...he did exactly what they expected him to do.

And I also agree that his relationship with his fiancee is borderline abusive now...and will only get worse without help. Which neither of them is seeking now.

I don't blame her. She is the youngest of 4 kids. She was a "surprise" for her parents when her next youngest sister was 18 years old...she has nieces and nephews who are older than she is. Her father is an alcoholic and her grandmother lives with her parents because she has alzheimers. Her mother is very controlling and domineering...in part, I am sure because this girl has been her lifeline for quite awhile and she doesn't want to be left alone.

Her last boyfriend was abusive.

I wanted to take her out for an afternoon, not to counsel her or to talk her out of her relationship with my brother, or to talk to her about her mom...but because it would be nice for her to have a break. To have some fun.

I don't think it's going to happen.

Yesterday was a hard day for me...he sent that email to my work email account...so I opened it up in my office. I had to go into a back room because I think it's really unprofessional to let co workers see you cry :oops: .

But, now, I have persepective. I am not going to pursue a relationship with my brother, but if he seeks one, I will be here. I am not going to be at his beck and call. I am not going to do whatever he demands. If he can be civil and act like an adult, I will be happy to help him. If he expects to have all of the priveleges of being treated like a family member, he will need to act like a family member.

As for his bride...I will continue to be nice to her, to talk to her and be friendly when I see her. I have no illusions of "saving" her...because she is an adult and she is choosing to be with him. She sees how he treats my parents...so she isn't completely in the dark. I think she thinks that he would never treat HER that way...so yes, she is very naive.

Honestly, I don't know why I was so hurt by this...or why I expected anything more from him. I guess that because he is my baby brother, I keep waiting for him to act like a human being. But in all honesty...there hasn't been anything in our history to indicate that is going to happen :pout: .

Thank you all again for your input and thoughts. I really appreciate it :grphug: .

Misty

Stiney
05-02-2007, 03:18 PM
:hug:

We've got a rough relationship with my brother. My mom's done tons for him and made all kinds of sacrifices for him, but all he can see is what she didn't do/should have done and her faults. He also never takes responsibility for anything, and everything is always someone else's fault. He lies like a rug, and then gets mad when people don't believe what he says.

He's dropped out of two colleges in the last 6 months, and is now living in Baltimore, working at Circuit City and living in his friend's basement. He seems happy, and he is actually civil on the phone. My mom won't stick to her guns when she says she's not going to help him (which on the one hand, she wants to help him as much as she can because he is her son, but still) and has sent him a couple of gift cards and some pots and pans (they had one pot and one pan in their house) and he actually calls and says thank you now.

We all get along much better when he isn't home, which is sad to say, but true. I've never had a good relationship with him, and even when we are "getting along" we are still arguing, because I come from an argumentative family. :teehee: