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My brother is going downhill

Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 7:41 pm
by Tarantula

I would really appreciate your support with this one because it's really upsetting me.

As some of you know, I come from a very dysfunctional childhood including sexual abuse by my father and profound abandonment. My brother (six years older), whilst not molested, was also treated very badly, beaten up by our father and put down on a frequent basis.

Over the years, we have stuck together and been each other's support. He is the only family I really have. When people ask me how I coped so well, my first answer is always 'my brother'.

But lately things haven't been going so well and today it all erupted, something which I realise now, has been brewing for some time.

I feel that he has sometimes been quite toxic towards me. I used to look up to him so much, and believe everything he said to be totally the case. I've spent, I'm gonna go with 100's of hours listening to him rant about how unfair the world is, how people are only out for themselves, how women are shallow and don't like him etc... and I think it's affected my worldview. As children, he got somewhat violent with me on at least one occasion, which I don't blame him for because he was a child too. But since being an adult he has also spat on me once when I opened my bedroom door too forcefully and stubbed his toe by accident, he has blamed me when our mum said she would commit suicide as a response to finding out I'd had sex with a boy for the first time when I was 15 (see? Dysfunctional.), and there was that time he screamed at me whilst his was driving and recklessly turned the steering wheel in opposite directions which made me think we were gonna crash.

I feel so sad as I recount these incidents, because I've always put him on a pedestal and sort of pushed away those memories... I guess I needed to believe he was the best older brother, 'cause I had no one else.

Lately, nothing like that has happened. But he is depressed. He runs a business but it isn't going well. I've tried talking to him, offering practical advice, consoling him, relating to him, listening, empathising, reassuring... nothing works. When he's in a good mood, he's the most wonderful, funny, endearing person... but so often these days he's just kinda indifferent about things. I've tried to motivate him but he does insist on being a victim. He's living in the past, and if I press the point even slightly, he can snap and get nasty. Next thing I know he's writing long, hurtful FB messages about my character and it's really hurting me.

I feel he's not really interested in my life. well, it's worse than that. I think he's envious.

Things are going fantastically well for me at the moment, by contrast, and I think it's causing tension. There's no way I can tell him about my day, my gym session, my course, my latest booking, the wonderful thing my BF just did for me, our next holiday plan... without him making a stark comparison. That's what I think is going on here.

So today he drops it on me - over FB, of course - that he feels distant towards me because I judge him all the time. Something in me snapped. I've tried SO hard, over the years, to be there for him, to be good. The last time we spoke on the phone, I'd just booked flights for him to come on holiday with us as a present. So, this time, I really did set a boundary down and, where I would normally go straight into reassurance mode (despite the cost to myself of doing so), this time I essentially told him, I won't be an emotional punch bag any more, this isn't about me, and he needs to watch his words.

He refuses to speak on the phone, only FB, and when I asked him to be specific about exactly what it is I've done wrong, he can't really say much except 'you're doing it right now' - that kind of self-defeating argument where there's simply no way out for me. Then he says there's no point to talk because 'you don't want to understand, you just want to win.'

Which drives me mad because that is the OPPOSITE of how I've tried to approach these onslaughts when they've occurred in the past. But this time, I really AM being more like what he's saying I am. I really am feeling like enough's enough. He knows very well how much these things upset me, how badly I need things to be resolved asap, but he's dragging it out and it feels deliberate. I even think he's perhaps trying to bring me down a peg or two. I think I've been too happy for his liking.

I am leaving the UK in a matter of weeks, to go and live abroad. I do feel that this has something to do with it. My brother repeated that he felt 'distant' towards me because of how I've apparently been towards him (whilst still taking the time to demonise me quite hurtfully), and when I try to stick up for myself (which, again, is new behaviour for me, I usually just endure it..), hits me with a 'is that supposed to make me less distant?'

He is literally dangling the prospect of abandonment over my head and it's very hurtful. Then he accused me of not giving a you-know-what. My mind has been reeling from these accusations all day.

At the same time, all the above incidents I mentioned at the start have been coming back into my awareness. And, actually, a part of me is also quite furious. The worst thing I have ever done to him is maliciously put water on his keyboard when I was 9. I haven't spat at him or screamed at him or made him feel guilty for having sex. I have also been quick to resolve things ASAP in the past, not only for myself, but for his sake as well, because I know how fragile he is.

I have always tried my darn best to be compassionate and aware. And I feel he's kind of used that. So last words from me were that I will not communicate any further over FB, he must speak to me on the phone as an adult ('so judgemental!'), and until then, he can stay distant.

I'm very hurt and this really isn't what I need just when I was getting excited for my move. Honestly PP, the longer he leaves it to resolve, the longer I'm gonna have to ask myself if I even want to be close to him anymore, after all these repeat incidents and everything that came before. As I get happier in my personal life, I am finding that people are acting weird/moving away, and others are moving in.

I had hoped so badly that my brother would be able to stay on my team, but now I hope I'm gonna become distant too. Genuinely distant, not just saying that to provoke a response from him, which is what I feel he's doing to me and it's cruel.

Re: My brother is going downhill

Posted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:48 pm
by David020549
T. Brother is a big boy now, let him sort his own problems out, let the efforts of emotional blackmail wash over your head, he probably does envy your present happiness. Other than sympathy there is nothing you could or should do, it happens all the time, siblings take different paths in life some have good fortune some don't.

But hey you have found your knight in shining armor, you have been swept off your feet and he is about to carry you off to his castle in some far off land. I'm sure all of PP wish you every happiness, also we would all like to hear where the castle is and will it have WIFI.

Re: My brother is going downhill

Posted: Wed May 10, 2017 2:02 pm
by Tarantula
Hi David, sorry for delayed response, thank you for taking the time to reply. I think that's a fair summary. I am responding now from aforementioned castle somewhere in the Alps benefitting from first class internet connection.

Re: My brother is going downhill

Posted: Wed May 10, 2017 8:45 pm
by David020549
Well done I figured it would be somewhere like that to tempt you, a Quantum leap l hope you are adapting to the new lifestyle.

Re: My brother is going downhill

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:49 am
by stephie2
Maybe there is an element of jealousy in there that your life is going well? Sometimes we all like to wallow in a bit of self pity.

As you posted you have always been there for each other and maybe he feels that when you move away you wont be there on hand for him. I think all you can do is write to him and let him know that you love him very much no matter what he thinks and that even from far away you can continue to be of some support for him. It may be that he is venting out at you to cover the fact that he will really miss you but is acting like he doesn't care.

Sometimes the abuse from years ago can stay with people and it may be that it has affected him in a way that is hindering him from not really being able to express how he feels.

Of course I could be completely wrong but it is just an option to look at.

Wishing you well on your new life though and hope to still see you on the forum :) let us know how it goes with your brother. It really is sad though, I know how much I love my big brother and when you are close it always hits you hard.