How do I make peace with my 51-year-old baby brother?
August 8, 2012 6:11 PM   Subscribe

How do I talk with my brother about shared childhood experiences, some of which he may be suffering over?

I’m 52. My brother is 51. A few weeks ago I was emailing him and our mother. Our mother, as is the wont of mothers everywhere, keyed off of something I said to recount an incident from our childhood, when we were around 10 and 9. My brother responded with a hint that he saw the incident in a different light and implied that our mother had, via her mishandling of the incident, enabled my bullying him. My mother responded that she hadn’t been aware of the bullying and that she didn’t see it that way. I politely asked to be left out of the conversation because my brother has a really bad temper and furthermore I had almost no recollection of the incident.

My brother responded to me individually with a withering e-mail, saying this was how it “always was” and very rudely requesting not to be included on any future “little emails” with Mom. I replied, “Wow. Whatever.” This prompted an incredibly abusive email in which he said I could honor his request or go fuck myself. I said I didn’t intend to respond to his abuse and said he could contact me when he calmed down. He ordered me not to contact him any more.

A few days later, he e-mailed me saying, well, we always get along *in person*, and we never fight *on the phone*, so don’t hesitate to contact him in those ways. He didn’t apologize for the abusive e-mails.

So we’re clear: I certainly was beastly to my brother when we were children. I picked fights with him and ambushed him and browbeat him and that kind of thing. I have apologized in the past for being horrible to him when we were children -- we had a very similar blowup about 20 years ago. At that time, I expressed sincere regret and requested forgiveness. Looking back on it, I realize I never actually got an acknowledgement of my regret, nor was there any expression of forgiveness from my brother. In fact, at that time, I got the same thing I got this time: a hasty recantation from my brother of any indication that this had anything to do with our childhoods, and that he wasn’t upset about any of that, it was just a momentary blowup over the *current* discussion. This strikes me as BS because he certainly dragged a lot of childhood crap into both of these blowups, with similar hints of a dark view of our childhood followed immediately by a massive explosion.

I respect that if someone is suffering from an experience, they should be able to ask for and expect help from the people who love them. I’m not trying to minimize my role in that. I told Mom, I don’t care if somebody has PTSD due to a year in ‘Nam or due to riding into a cobweb while bicycling on a trail -- they should be able to get help dealing with the experience so they can cope with the aftermath and maybe even put it behind them.

But my brother won’t seem to do that. I suspect he regards it as beneath his dignity or contrary to his inflated self-image to still be suffering after all this time from events of our childhood, hence the backtracking after he blows up over childhood incidents.

Despite the invitation to call or visit in-person, I haven’t contacted my brother since a brief conversation after he invited contact -- this was about 2 months ago. To be honest, my feelings are still hurt about the things he said (which he hasn’t apologized for), and his obvious denial about the lasting hurt of our shared childhood concerns me.

Am I overthinking this? Should I just accede to the limitations of the relationship as he’s set them and let him decide when and how to talk about this? What about 5 years from now when Mom or even I inadvertently trigger another explosion?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a reading of your post from another point of view.

So we’re clear: I certainly was beastly to my brother when we were children. I picked fights with him and ambushed him and browbeat him and that kind of thing.
You freely admit that there were aspects of your shared childhood that were abusive or at least very unpleasant for your brother.

I politely asked to be left out of the conversation
When he brought up an incident of the abuse/unpleasantness, your mom denied it and you declined to discuss it. This made him angry, which he expressed via email and ...

I replied, “Wow. Whatever.”
You were dismissive and condescending about his current anger. Potentially in a way that mirrored the childhood abuse/unpleasantness he recalls. He cut off contact in a very angry way but then reached out and said he was ok with some forms of contact. You haven't responded.

Looking back on it, I realize I never actually got an acknowledgement of my regret, nor was there any expression of forgiveness from my brother.
Why does he owe you any acknowledgement or forgiveness? Admitting wrong doesn't entitle you to these things. There's no quid pro quo for this stuff. And there's no timetable for getting over it.

I don’t care if somebody has PTSD due to a year in ‘Nam or due to riding into a cobweb while bicycling on a trail
It sounds like you think your brother's reaction (being traumatised) to the abuse/unpleasantness is an overreaction - you compare it to riding into a cobweb (since you obviously don't think your childhood was like spending a year in 'Nam). But you don't get to choose his response. As a matter of fact, he didn't get to choose his response. Do you think he would be feeling like this if he had a choice?

they should be able to get help dealing with the experience so they can cope with the aftermath and maybe even put it behind them
Again, this is your expectation, but actually it's entirely reasonable that when you suffer trauma at the hands of someone you love, you don't seek that person's help in dealing with the aftermath. Dealing with an abuser's defensiveness / dismissiveness / denial / anger can trigger the same feelings of helplessness and pain that you are trying to get rid of.

I suspect he regards it as beneath his dignity or contrary to his inflated self-image
Or it is incredibly painful and difficult for him and he doesn't understand why after all these years he still reacts so violently when he thinks about these events. When he's not triggered, he's probably trying to be adult and manage his relationships while avoiding the outbursts that cause him so much pain and confusion and shame and embarrassment. Nobody wants to be that person.

his obvious denial about the lasting hurt of our shared childhood concerns me.
Maybe there is more than one person who is in denial here.

Should I just accede to the limitations of the relationship as he’s set them and let him decide when and how to talk about this?

What about 5 years from now when Mom or even I inadvertently trigger another explosion?
Try recognizing that the explosion happened because he is still hurting about things that happened a long time ago, and apologizing again. Don't dismiss his pain or be angry at him, or ridicule him for bringing it up. You love your brother - be kind to him. You've already acknowledged that you caused him pain - that doesn't make it go away. Neither does continuing to acknowledge it increase the burden on you. "I know. I'm really sorry. I wish I could go back and change that." Ask him what triggered the outburst. Don't do it again.

I really hope for both your sakes that you guys can work this out.
posted by yogalemon at 7:02 PM on August 8, 2012 [64 favorites]

Your brother is 51 years old, you can't make him deal with things he doesn't want to deal with. You were a child, your mother was the adult in the situation, if he is carrying the grudge for over 40 years then yes he needs help but you are probably not the person to be offering it. Calling his not asking for help the fault of his over inflated ego and then wondering why he isn't asking for help from you, makes me think you are probably not the person to be offering him the help. You can't make him forgive you, face what he doesn't want to face or be anyone other than he is, any more than you can go back in time and fix the damage that was done to him.

Honestly I think you should just accede to the limitations he's offered, really it's only to avoid him via email, which really isn't that big a deal. If you want to help him then make the first move and call him, talk about nothing in particular but the phone call in itself is an olive branch, if he picks it up or not is up to him. By carrying on in the childish games of I'm not talking to you if you're not talking to me, you are reinforcing the dynamic that caused the problem in the first place. Reach out to him as one grown up to another, filter all your reactions through the idea that you are now a grown up and you don't have to react in the ways you have since you were kids, just because your "inner child" gets its feelings hurt doesn't mean you have to both snap and snarl at each other like hurt children, fighting to get in the last word. It might take him a while to realise things have changed but you can have an adult relationship with your brother if you want to.

Of course it depends just how much history there is between both of you and it may well just be easier and less painful for both of you to avoid each other.
posted by wwax at 7:03 PM on August 8, 2012

When you describe your brother's behavior, I think you may be confusing "abusive" with "angry". In addition, your descriptions of your own behavior include many rude dismissals of his feelings and requests.

If your brother gets angry at you in the future, you might consider simply listening, apologizing, and demonstrating respect for his boundaries (aka, "the limitations of the relationship as he's set them"). If he only expresses anger at you once every 20 years, that's pretty unusual, and a bit of a red flag that he still doesn't trust you enough to do so. If you'd like to earn back your brother's trust (and it will take lots of time), you can try listening to his anger and respecting his feelings when he does express them, and not pressuring him to express his feelings when he doesn't want to. Even then, it's still his choice if and when to share his feelings with you. By respecting his choice whether or not he chooses to trust you, you will be building a foundation for a more solid relationship if and when he ever decides he wants to take you up on it. You cannot force him to trust you, and you certainly cannot force him to not be angry. You can only control your own actions, not your brother's.

If you feel upset and hurt by your brother's anger, perhaps you can seek out help from a therapist or someone else not directly involved in the situation.
posted by ourobouros at 7:07 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

In a discussion about Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, a rabbi once told me that if you have wronged someone, you owe them at least 3 sincere apologies. It seems to me that you have only offered your brother one.
posted by bq at 7:12 PM on August 8, 2012 [22 favorites]

What yogalemon said. As the only kid of 4 who was abused by one parent, nothing would hurt me more than to bring it up and have a family member who was present effectively deny my experience by saying they don't remember it like that, and then the person who created the bad experience further denying my experience by removing themselves from the conversation.
Please understand this: every time you ignore, deflect, or turn away from him when he brings these things up, you are telling him that either you don't believe in his experiences or they - meaning HE - don't matter enough to care about.
This kind of response is pretty much why he's still hurting. You and your mom shut him down every time. He still hurts because no one's really, fully, honestly agreed that he has these wounds. I'm guessing that your conversation and apology all those years ago was probably full of deflections and equivocations and trivializing of his experience. Like yogalemon said, "Oh, I'm sorry if you FELT hurt." That doesn't cut it. That's a denial of someone's experience because you're making it clear that you think there's no real problem, just something in their head.

In short, you were an ass in that email.

I'd suggest an apology specifically for tuning him out on the subject, and a personal goal to learn how to engage with him when these things come up. If you can honestly accept his experience without deflection, without trivializing it, that will go a long way towards helping him let go of it.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:16 PM on August 8, 2012 [9 favorites]

[I am sorry if this is pushing buttons for you but please be constructive and don't answer if you can't. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:36 PM on August 8, 2012

Personally, I don't believe in apologies - I believe in atonement. Words are cheap. If you're unwilling to experience the full measure of pain that you caused your brother (or even the lesser pain of accepting his justified anger) then you haven't atoned for anything - all you're doing is mouthing platitudes as if they were a get-out-of-jail-free card.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:37 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Looking back on it, I realize I never actually got an acknowledgement of my regret, nor was there any expression of forgiveness from my brother

If you treat apologies like a tit-for-tat ("I say I'm sorry, you have to forgive me"), then all they are is just more bullying. Forgiveness is a gift.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 7:40 PM on August 8, 2012 [18 favorites]

Ugh man, family.
Here is the deal and I say this as someone who will total lay out her case for why her older brother was/is a total dick to her (while he would lay out his own case that I obvs find lacking about me being a dick). The only way to get along with each other and not rip open/pour salt onto old wounds is to drop that shit immediately. Do not talk about the sensitive this cuts to my core when you don't agree with me shit. Even if get along=able to be in the same room without throwing things. Because it seems like you want to be able to all be in the same room. Family, much like people, disappoint. They don't acknowledge stuff that feels super integral to you as a person. They might even view the past very differently from you. And they might even not be evil deniers for doing it. That is the messy tough thing about it. If you don't want to be able to be in the same room with them then by all means go ahead and get all of your ish out there and see what happens and insist on working towards the truth as you see it.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:00 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

But my brother won’t seem to do that. I suspect he regards it as beneath his dignity or contrary to his inflated self-image to still be suffering after all this time from events of our childhood, hence the backtracking after he blows up over childhood incidents.

You asked for forgiveness 20 years ago but still refuse to acknowledge and honor his memories when they come up. How can he trust you enough to ask for help?
posted by liketitanic at 8:43 PM on August 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anon:
Hey there. In some ways, I am your younger brother, though I am not 51. I think you are ascribing a level of control and motivation to your brother that he may not have. Perhaps my own experience may give you some perspective. This is not to say you are analogous to my own older brother.

My brother abused me when I was an older child and teenager. After hating him with the kind of dead-eyed hate that only the very scarred can have for years (like, "I wish you were actually dead" kind of hate), I finally was able to analyse where those feelings were coming from, that they weren't from the trivial things that sparked them, and that what had happened to me, yes, was abuse. Whether I brought it on myself or not, whether it was not as bad as something out of Law and Order or not. Whether I had times of happiness in those years or not. This was very hard for me to do.

FYI, my brother would, if confronted with this fact, vehemently deny that his behaviours were abuse. I know this because he sometimes alludes to that time and those incidents with an air of casual nostalgia, that it was good for me, that he had to do it so I'd understand, that it was a normal part of brother relationships etc. In his eyes, what went on was trivial rough-housing and he would be offended if not outraged if I brought up that it was anything else.

Obviously, this was enabled by the parent I was living with at the time, who chose to turn a blind eye because it was something darker, more ambiguous and infinitely more problematic. Another thing they didn't need in a very busy life. This parent would also - as they did at the time - deny the scope and prevalence of what happened to me. Understandable in many ways, as I imagine the guilt would be quite profound. Both of these attitudes contributed to my difficulty in understanding what happened me, trying to deal with it constructively, and my feelings about discussing it with any other family member.

OP, I am in my thirties, not my fifties, but I still struggle to control my feelings about my brother and my abuse frequently. Whilst I refuse to let it define me and don't want to be one of those people dragging their pasts around with them, at the same time it has - indelibly - defined who I am. And it is constantly brought up by interactions with my brother, or discussions about him with other family members. None of them understand the pain inside me because of these events, and only one even made the effort. It's very difficult, carrying this thing inside me, unable to talk about it with the people who could - who should - understand, and talking about it with strangers is hopeless; they can't understand. It's a special club, this one.

The result of this, is that I still have a very see-sawing relationship with my brother, and I can't even tell him why. Frankly, I would prefer just not to see or think about him in any way at all. Every interaction with him leaves me feeling, in no particular order: sad, angry, guilty, in denial, hate-filled, immature and... little. For days afterwards. Even our most innocuous conversations (as they all are, really) perturb me, and I will frequently have bad dreams that night. I can't tell my family about it, and I don't want to burden my partner, and I don't think she would understand any more than she currently does anyway.

The guilt I feel from inside and outside myself to at least present the facade of a normalised relationship is very unpleasant. I know my brother now is not that person that did those things. That even the person who did those things didn't think that was what they were doing at the time. That the abuse was born from his own neuroses, frustrations, and unhappiness.

And yet here I am. Those things happened. They happened to me. I am scarred by that - where is my justice? Where is my recourse? My peace? I have none of that. It has to come from within, and OP it's been years, and every time I think I'm over it, I'm not. I wish I was. I wish it never happened. I wish I could talk with my brother in the gruff, manly way he likes and share in his mythology about our childhood. I don't want any of this.

It is a well of sadness inside me that is ever-running; the best I can do is try to channel the overflow productively.

When your brother says, "Fuck you!" He is saying it to the person who did those things to him. It's not fair, but what happened to the child driving that sentiment was not fair ,either. You are the closest thing he has to the person that did those things to him, and when you enable or enact behaviours that are more closely linked to what happened, that semblance grows clearer, and - with the means he has available at a fifty years old - he is trying to prevent becoming that child, that victim again, and saying what he wished he said and did at the time. Don't overly blame yourself for this, but please, don't blame him. He is hurting and fighting feelings of invalidation and fear and guilt as well - I feel very guilty for what happened to me, the things I did to "deserve" it.

He, like me, probably struggles to control how he feels and acts around you. Like me, his emotions and reactions are probably inconsistent, even contradictory at times. Like me, he probably struggles to articulate how he feels, and that even the act of doing so clashes with how he (a man, a father? a fifty year old, an adult) thinks he should be acting (as you, too, obviously think from your question). Struggles to accept his own feelings in other words.

Show him some compassion. Be the brother you weren't then. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 8:57 PM on August 8, 2012 [50 favorites]

they should be able to get help dealing with the experience so they can cope with the aftermath and maybe even put it behind them

This isn't, in my experience, how trauma works out. People don't generally "put it behind them". They learn how to control themselves in the hear-and-now, how to avoid topics or triggering situations, how to surround themselves with people who don't provoke pain, etc.

It sounds to me like your brother wants you to, at most, fit into his self-control regimen here, not poke at parts he knows will make him lose his cool. He's an adult (not a "baby brother") and has the right to set terms of interaction. So if you respect him, that's the best thing you can do for him. You're hurt over something he said two months ago; he's hurt from his entire childhood, 40 years ago. You probably won't get his forgiveness for things that have been haunting him for 40 years. You might get his willingness to deal with you on certain terms, or not at all. That's the sort of truce a lot of people wind up at, with their adult families.
posted by ead at 9:41 PM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

The person who inflicts abuse always thinks it's not such a big deal. It's the nature of the thing. Person A can punch Person B in about four seconds, but Person B might have a black eye for a week. It's just a different experience. I'd view with skepticism any thoughts about this not being a big deal.

What most struck me upon reading this is that you seem to have a number of feelings about this that are not expressed. You mentioned feeling hurt about the email, but when it comes to your childhood, you primarily talk about your brother -- what he seems to be feeling, how he should be dealing with this, and his failure to do so (due to him being denial, or it being below his dignity or contrary to his inflated self-image). But as someone pointed out, if you admit you did wrong, then why can't you just freely admit it whenever it comes up? What's the big deal about it? Why didn't you want to stay in an email chain where you hear about how he sees the situation? It seems to me that there is more here and that this is something you're avoiding -- maybe because you feel guilty, or maybe because you're avoiding something else associated with all of this. Making peace with him may well require you to also, internally, make peace with any such things that you may be avoiding.

In any case, you do now need to show respect for him and his boundaries. Your ideas about how he should be getting over this are theoretical and irrelevant because you're not him. Cease from judging him. Focus on your own stuff.
posted by salvia at 11:20 PM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

Consider this: how would you feel if someone said it was "beneath [your] dignity or contrary to [your] inflated self-image to still be suffering ... from [recent] events"? Take those hurt feelings you have right now, and imagine spending the next 40 years with them. It sucks, eh? I realise that you didn't actually say that to your brother, but if that's the attitude that you have when dealing with him about this, I can see how it would put his back up.

Your brother is hurting. He's entitled to set whatever boundaries he wants to to protect himself. He doesn't have the right to be abusive to you, of course, but he does have the right to ask that you only contact him in certain ways. He also has the right to carry the pain and anger that he's feeling around with him for the rest of his life, whether you like that idea or not.

You can't force someone to do something simply because it would be more pleasant for you if they did. The consequences of abusing your brother won't go away because they're inconvenient for you. Your brother has to make his own choices about how, when or if he decides to "get over" the way you treated him.
posted by Solomon at 2:39 AM on August 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

I would suggest that the three of you go to a couple of sessions with a family counselor.

Everyone has their own view of what happened, and a disinterested, compassionate third party can help everyone sort out his/her feelings and provide strategies for dealing with it.

Just because you were young when it happened does not mean that it wasn't bullying and abuse. These events and experiences can color someone's entire life. You both got to middle age and never resolved this.

Everyone must decide how they want to proceed. Your brother may decide that he can't heal from the experience and he may not want to have contact with you, or as he's done, he would prefer to have contact with you in ways that he is comfortable with.

It may feel horrible to know that you were the instrument of your brother's torment, and it's very hard to come to terms with the fact that you deeply hurt someone that you love, but there it is. In his view, that's exactly who you are.

See if he would be willing to go to therapy with you and your mom. Hopefully you can all find a way of dealing with this in a way that will result in better understanding and some sort of resolution.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:31 AM on August 9, 2012

It sounds like your brother finally feels capable of acting on his own agency and your response to that retaliation against you was to belittle him and diminish the validity of his emotions and his actions towards you. That, to me, is another type of bullying, which suggests you've never really moved beyond the behaviors you displayed as a child, nor do you genuinely regret the abuse you inflicted upon your brother. I don't think you necessarily deserve an acknowledgment of whatever regret or sadness you have about it all, mostly because it sounds like such an acknowledgement is for your own peace of mind, evidence that you really weren't such a horrible sibling or person when, to your brother and outside viewers, your actions were inexcusable.

Your actions and thought patterns at present do not reveal genuine caring about your brother's needs or emotional well-being, and to me, you sound offended and upset over the fact that your brother is telling you that the power dynamic that exists between the two of you is NOT OKAY, which is his right and his prerogative. Now you're almos trying to bully him again into behaving in ways that suit you -- and that's not how this stuff works. You're the one in the wrong here based on what I've read in your post, and I think that if you really start to examine your motivations here from that standpoint, you may be able to do right by your brother in ways you weren't able or willing to when you were both children.
posted by Hello Darling at 6:57 AM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anon:

Thank you.

To the poster:

I believe I understand where you're coming from -- in my family dynamics, I am more you than your brother (unlike, perhaps, the rest of the commenters here). I dread the day my sister (with whom I am now, thankfully, close) brings up the abuses I heaped on her in the past because I'm not sure I am brave enough to apologize (rather than just responding with more bullying and condescension).

I get that you want to be all, "look I apologized what more do you want?!" because that's what I'd do too. But I think you have to show real repentance, here, if you want to be able to spend time with bro. When he has "another explosion" try to NOT roll your eyes and go "wow, really?". You're gaslighting him when you do that, you know? Forcing him to either leave the conversation with some dignity or worse, pretend that he isn't hurting. Rather than "wow, really" try, "I'm sorry that it hurt you -- I guess I forgot about that." And let it go. Be the bigger man/woman now, the person that you couldn't be when you were a child.

And he's backtracking because he wants to have a relationship with you and you consider it beneath your dignity to keep apologizing (as I would). So he's taking it upon himself to pretend it's ok.

It's tough. I get it. You're ashamed of how you were when you were child and you're trying to forget it. But he can't. Suffer a bit for him now.
posted by AmandaA at 6:58 AM on August 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

[Constructive answers folk, thanks]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:13 AM on August 9, 2012

I certainly was beastly to my brother when we were children.

Have you explicitly said this to him in an unqualified way?

I'm in more of your position and AmandaA's - I was an older sibling. Youngest Sibling and I have talked about it and I have pointedly said that the way I and his other siblings treated him was unconscionable and that anyone treated that way would be really messed up by it. It seemed meaningful to him that I acknowledged this and he expressed resentment that he couldn't get such a simple straightforward acknowledgement from our other siblings or our parents; he feels that his pain and misery and helplessness in that time has always been dismissed by everyone else.

It hasn't really fixed anything but it seems like a good first step and it seems to have made for more trust between us than between him and the other members of our family. I think you should let go of any interest on your part in your brother putting this behind him - it will be difficult to believe that it's genuinely for his sake you have such a desire - and just live with the reality of this being a defining aspect of his life the same way he has had to.
posted by XMLicious at 7:43 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

You're getting a lot of good insight here. Especially from the anonymous poster above.

Really, though, you've asked what to do now. You can't fix the damage inflicted on your brother by his childhood or your bullying. Processing it with you is not a therapeutic answer for him. You can respect his wishes by not discussing personal issues over emails with him and your mother. That's obviously a trigger for him and he has a right to request not to be involved in future interactions like that. You can also respect him by not discussing his private emotional issues with your mother at all.

It sounds to me like the recent trigger was your mother's denial of the nature of the bullying/abuse. And really, as the adult involved, she does hold significant responsibility. But her acceptance of that is her business and, besides the fact that it's not your place, you're not going to get anywhere addressing it with her.

I would go on as normal. Calling him at regular intervals and interacting face to face. Don't bring it up. He's a grown man and how he handles healing is his business, not yours or your mother's. If he brings it up, express sincere regret, don't minimize, and move on. Don't ask for forgiveness or acknowledgement of your regret. Again, it's his business if he decides to extend forgiveness. You may never know if he's forgiven you.

None of us survive childhood without scars, some deeper and more painful than others. They are our scars to bear, no one else's.
posted by dchrssyr at 8:07 AM on August 9, 2012

From the OP:
Thank you to all the very constructive and helpful responders above. I heard a lot of things I needed to hear, things I would never have come up with on my own. I have contacted my brother and hopefully we'll have lunch next week. I plan to keep things light, let him set the tone the discussion, and remember the things I have read here if the discussion turns to childhood or present wounds. I thank you all.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:43 AM on August 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

That's good to hear. One thing to keep in mind is that it's really, really hard to communicate well over email, and that most people don't realize how hard it is. So I would suggest taking your brother's advice and avoiding email, at least while things are still a little raw.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:07 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dear god, I could have written the comment from anon (that jessamyn posted) except not nearly so well. I am 45 years old and in the same place. So yes, please read that comment several times.

I hope you and your brother find peace.
posted by deborah at 9:34 PM on August 9, 2012

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