Is there anything I can do to help my brother who seems to be in arrested development? He seems lost in life (mid 30's still lives with my parents, no real job), and while he has a lot of strengths, can be is a difficult personality to be around..it breaks my heart to see his life slipping away, and I wish I could help him.
posted by anonymous to human relations (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My brother, who lives across country, just left our house. We have a strange relationship, he often gets along really well with strangers, but terribly with his family. This visit was remarkably pleasant. Usually when I see him, there are a lot of fights, he will almost always contradict what you just said....whether or not he knows anything about the subject. (Case in point, last time I saw him, I got nervous about something my toddler was chewing on and my brother assured me there was no way my son could choke on that, even though he has no children and is rarely around children.)
It's always like that, things are never ....perfect....and he has to spell it out. We took him out for dinner, the meal was great, but then he chewed the server out for the presentation of the food (which was standard fancy restaurant meat on top of veggies type presentation). He went as guest to the gym and spoke to the manager about something he saw someone else doing, had to deal with an idiot at the store, blah, blah, blah. As he traveled through the county he left a string of negative interactions behind him. But then one woman told me 'how incredibly nice he was', so he's got some good parts, but there this weird insistence on picking things (and people) apart.
He's in his mid 30's and has lived with my parents since a relationship turned abusive (on him) about 8 years ago. He seems to have no embarrassment about living there, or any desire to strike out on his own. I know things are tough out there but most adults I know really want to live on their own, have a plan,etc. and he doesn't ever express that. His attitude is why have a mortgage or rent when I can live rent free? He's critical of other people's financial decisions, etc. but he'll drop hundreds of dollars on entertainment and health foods/supplements, etc. and not see the irony that that the only reason he has any money is because of the generosity of my parents. Due to his unbelievable people skills when he chooses to turn them on, he gets offered jobs out of the blue, and almost invariably turns them down b/c they would be too big a commitment, instead of maybe a first step towards independence. Breaks up with women because they want too much of his attention, but then told me in passing today he'd love to have a wife. It's like he thinks he can just go from 0(current life) to 60(job, family, etc.) without the effort of all the steps it takes to reach those goals. Maybe a fear of failure thing? I feel like having any commitments might help him get his act together.
My parents seem to have given up, which is sad to see, but also makes me angry, because not only is he taking advantage of them, I've seen him flagrantly disrespect their home rules, not doing things they asked of him, smoking in his room and then claiming it's incense (cigs and possibly pot). I also see it undermining their relationship with him, as they grow increasingly frustrated with him.
Someone suggested to me that he might be mentally ill, and I think maybe he's narcissistic, he fits a lot of the symptoms...I know that deep down he's a very fragile, sensitive person. I used to try and encourage him, offer him advice from my own experiences (I'm several years older), but I know few of us appreciate unsolicited advice. On this visit I worked really hard to just bite my tongue when he said ridiculous things. That kept the peace, but at the expense of having any sort of an authentic relationship.
I love him (even if I don't always like or understand him) and I would like for him to be happy/fulfilled, which I think deep down he really isn't. I've encouraged my parents to charge him rent, offer to pay for therapy(he'd probably blow up if he knew I suggested that), help him make up a timeline of getting a job, etc. to no avail. Any suggestions - things I can do or say to him or my parents? Or do I just have to ride it out on the sidelines and hope he figures it out for himself.