PLS assuage my guilt about refusing to beat my head on a cold shoulde
January 19, 2013 6:01 PM Subscribe
My brother assumed the worst about why I didn't attend a family event out of town. He wouldn't return my calls or texts to just talk about it. Other members of the family insist I should keep trying to 'get through'. I feel like I never deserved his anger and I don't deserve his further disdain. Help me stop torturing myself about it.
posted by Tandem Affinity to Human Relations (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My brother has always kept his gf/wife and her extended family separate from his 'original' family (he had told me he did so deliberately because he was uncomfortable about the idea of our parents meeting hers....I told him he was being ridiculous, but I didn't make a big deal about it and we have never really been close and I just didn't really care). He has repeatedly let me know that I will be invited to something, and I never hear anything about it and then I hear the event has happened and he just decided not to have any of our family there. He and his gf missed events associated with my wedding (i.e., he was supposed to be an usher but was nowhere to be found when the time came). I have just let all this slide all the time - it was obvious he had other things going on, and I just didn't really 'need' him. I also became pretty disillusioned about the possibility that we might get closer as we got older. It seemed to me that we had a nice, non-committal acquaintance, and I resigned myself to that.
He has undergone a change since his first child, calling me more often and getting our parents to meet his wife's, etc. It was a little strange so suddenly, but I just rolled with it and enjoyed the extra interaction. Oddly, a few months ago, he announced to me that he expects me and other out-of-town family members to visit him from now on, since there will be no traveling with a kid. (Odd because he hasn't visited in me in years...are we visiting now???)
Then a few months ago, I turned down a recent invitation from my brother's in-laws (in a polite way, rsvp'ing and sending a gift) and thought no more about it; it was an out-of-town event for me and I couldn't travel at the time. My brother got really angry and assumed the worst as to why I couldn't make it (he sent me angry text msgs and sent emails to my mom and aunt saying horrible things about me). I tried to talk to him about it after the fact -- we live a day's drive from each other, so I called him twice and texted him -- he never replied*. I never got a thank you or even an acknowledgment that my gift had arrived (except from Fedex).
This was upsetting, but I realized that I was more upset to think that my mom and aunt thought badly of me, that they too misunderstood what had happened (because they would have had no information from me). Well, they did think badly until I told them what I had actually done and then I felt like they were just trying to be neutral about it. It was hurtful to me that they had believed my brother at all; it still really boils me up that no one reacted like, "Why would she do that? Are you sure you're understanding what really happened? Let's get her on the phone and I'm sure there's a good explanation for all this." Nope, they had just 'stayed out of it' according to them. They said I 'should' have called my brother personally beforehand to let him I couldn't go (even though they agree that this type of consideration would a) not have been necessary in the past and b) would never have been proffered by my brother). Both my mom and my aunt had been comforting overall when I talked to them, but later I have gotten emails asking if I've tried calling him again. Their argument is that I will miss out on my new nephew (whose arrival no one told me about; I found out on Facebook like their 20000 closest friends); I am not swayed by the nephew argument and I feel like mom and aunt also think badly of me for this too.
Can I just stop trying to fix this? In the first place, I never did anything 'wrong'. Unfortunate circumstances kept me away from the shindig I turned down. And he has been nothing but shitty to me since it happened. I honestly think I should avoid talking to him for a looong time because I am so angry now myself. But these little naggings from my mom and aunt keep me from just putting it all to bed, and it makes me feel alone and unloved that they're not supportive. I'd angrily tell them off about it, but I know then I will just feel even worse.
*In the past, he has refused to return calls from my parents when they bother him (and he says he deliberately leaves his voicemail box full so that he can honestly say he doesn't get messages. So I don't think that his not returning my calls is an oversight or a mishap. He also purposely doesn't have an email address or any kind of social networking, so that he can also honestly say he doesn't get those kind of messages.)