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Old 07-27-2009, 11:11 AM   #10
Sunshine's Mom
Turning the Heel
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Well, you know the old saying, "You can pick your friends but you can't pick your family" - and those couldn't be truer words.

My husband, and I, have stopped communication with one of his brothers. It was just too painful to have a wonderful, loving relationship one day and the next, he would be sending hateful emails and making horrendous phone calls to my husband telling him what an awful person he was and saying nasty things about me. Lots of other things too, but you get the idea.

My husband and I live the closest to his parents and are, therefore, their primary caretakers, although they are not yet at the stage where we have to be really hands-on. They still live about an hour away from us, but we talk everyday, sometimes more than that, and are there for them whenever they need us. DH's brother lives in another state, but is still within a bus or train ride if he cared to come home. He doesn't. In fact, he never answers the phone when his parents call him and never calls them back. He hasn't seen his parents in over 3 years. His dad has even had a stroke during that period. Yet, he insists that we don't take care of them and are horrible children. My husband is the youngest of 5 children. My in-laws have now lived through the deaths of 3 of them. My husband through the deaths of 2. You would think that surviving after the deaths of siblings and children that this brother would pull his family to him, yet he's exactly the opposite.

I must add, that he is sick yet he won't keep anyone informed of how he is doing. That rips our hearts out, but he's just so mean that we can't keep opening ourselves up only to be ripped to shreds for doing it. Of course, there are other things that have happened, but about 3 or 4 years ago now, we had a "last straw" incident and I told my husband that I was done trying. It's not that we don't love him and want the best for him, it's just that he's not someone who we would pick to be a friend and it's too hard to try to make a relationship that he is, obviously, not wanting. My husband agreed and we have not spoken to him other than for a few times over the last few years. I have to stress this....We love him, we just can't be friends with him. We do not want him to die alone in another state. Our hearts break that he keeps putting up a wall that is so unnecessary. But we can't keep doing this and getting crushed. DH's parents know how we feel and tell this to his brother when they speak with him, but he obviously doesn't care enough to try to mend fences. They agree with us and understand how we feel. Unfortunately, they, as the parents, don't have the luxury that we do to stop trying. Parents who love their children will always try. The ball is in his court now as far as we are concerned.

Monidew, we didn't call him one day and make the announcement that "We're not speaking with you anymore. It's too painful." We just didn't call or send emails or respond to emails that were hurtful. The funny thing was that we found that if it hadn't been for us sending him cards, or emails or calling him, he never initiated contact. It was ALWAYS us. There was really nothing to NOT respond to. Know what I mean? That was really telling. He knows we love him. I know he loves us. But, in this life there is not time to dwell on people who refuse to actively engage in a relationship. We're family. Not friends. We still struggle with choices, but overall, the major stress of the relationship has been done away with.

Sorry, this was long. I guess I'm saying that you might be able to keep the love by not confronting the removal of yourself from their lives, just do it and see if they notice. If they don't then your all set. If they do notice and ask about it, then tell them what you like, don't like, what you need and what you won't tolerate. Your boundaries are yours. Good luck. I know this is hard either way.
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