How to deal with jealousy and loathing; Sibling edition.
September 27, 2013 1:38 PM Subscribe
Can you give me some tips how to deal with an increasingly antagonistic brother? I'm a pretty soft-hearted slow-minded wuss who can't keep up with his clever snarky retorts or find a diplomatic way to rise above them and still resolve the issues which we are unfortunately linked together to. How, in preparation for a future when I will have to face up to him, can I learn to be stronger and ignore or deal with his attitude? Long winded whine inside.
posted by Brecha to human relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know you're not my psychiatrist. But perhaps you are like me and have been in a similar situation.
I can't quite believe I've got to middle age and still haven't found a reasonable solution to this problem.
My brother is three years older than I. We have never been close; I was the goofy little sis who looked up to him and got nothing but coldness and nastiness back. Anything I've done he has treated with disdain (getting married, moving to a different location, that sort of usual mundane thing).
So, into adulthood we've never much stayed in touch, and our paths cross only when they really have to, probably every five years at some sort of parental anniversary. And still he can't find just a little civility towards me. He can shoot me down in flames with a single comment - even in the limo following our father's coffin last year, in the company of our mother, his grown up kids and my husband; a snarky belittling remark which drove me to tears at a time when I really needed to be strong.
He has been an alcoholic for thirty years, and will not accept the fact or help from family or groups. He acts like a hard case, very stony faced and aloof with everyone except for a small clique of like-minded souls who he spends all his time and money with down at his local bar.
The worst thing is that he is fleecing our 83 year old mother for anything he can get. I found out about this last year when I stayed with her during my father's last days, the funeral and for a few weeks afterwards. My brother would lay on sob stories regarding poverty or fines to be paid or the car needing to be fixed and would extract a tidy sum quite regularly (and then spend the money down the bar. He does actually have a good job...). I think my mother has wisened up to the bull he has been feeding her, but finds it hard to say no. I want to protect her from him, but my presence in itself enrages my brother - I think he is terrified that I'm out to cut him out of our mother's life/the estate/his rightful inheritance or whatever - which is not the case at all.
I should add that my brother's loathing of me was extended somewhat to our parents too, although he turns on the charm for my mother until he gets what he wants. In return for the money, he gives her nothing. He lives 10 miles away and visits infrequently (perhaps 4-5 times a year) to get this money. He phones her every few weeks. He does not buy her anything for her birthday or Christmas. He did not come to see our father on his death bed, but managed to turn up the day after he died and get a chunk of money from our mother.
Its making me sick to see him treating her like this but I feel powerless to do anything about it. The mere mention of anything to do with me sends him into a fit of rage. (We've given up trying to understand why he hates me so much - I asked him many times but he's not giving anything up. I just seem to be a jealousy inducing, loathsome creature in his life. He has always disliked and I have learned to live with it. Its fine, but his cruddy attitude can wind me up very quickly and I find it hard to not get upset.). In the past I might have spoken my mind, told him what I thought of him but quickly learnt that this got me nowhere - in fact he stores up comments and incidents to throw back at me years and years later, so it seems pointless to try to make him see what an a*****e he is being. I think he knows, but just doesn't care. It seems futile to try to reason with him. He is in his own little selfish world and no one can or will burst that bubble.
So how do I cope with him in the years to come? Within the next year or so I will be moving back to my mother's to look after her during her last years. (I'm currently in a different country, several thousand miles away, and although still spry, her health is now deteriorating). This will bring me right in between my brother and his plans to squeeze every last penny out of our mother, so he will be even unhappier with me. At some point we will have to divide the estate and ohhh boy.... this fills me with dread. There is no one else close in the family to provide neutral territory but even if there was, I'd like to be able to handle this (and him) myself.
How do I become more confident with dealing with him? Do I need to talk to someone? Is there books on this stuff?
TL;DR: My brother is a selfish, alcoholic bully. How can I grow a backbone to deal with him?