General Etiquette > Family and Children

Get off my boundaries. (very long)

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Coley:
Yesterday, I received an inflammatory e-mail from my brother in which he stated that my feelings are stupid, that I am hateful, that I need to "get over it" and that I need to put on my "big person panties and move on."

BG: All of this was about my relationship with my mother, which I have chronicled here on eHell. The short version is that my mother is narcissistic. She was an abusive parent both physically and mentally. My brother is younger than I am. Her relationship with him is different from mine. It was classic golden child vs. scapegoat. As he got older, my brother experienced some of my mother's abusive behavior, but not all of it. When I was out of the house, my mother needed a scapegoat, so she turned on him. My mother is manipulative, and she uses guilt trips and other tactics to circumvent people's boundaries. I gave her the cut direct almost 7 years ago. I have let her back in, and we are now on low-contact status. If I allow her in too far, she will go back to boundary stomping. She knows how I feel, but she doesn't take responsibility for her behavior. She thinks it's justified. She is unhappy with the low-contact status. She tries to manipulate her way around it, and I don't let her.

My brother is in therapy (again). His now ex-W caught him cheating on her three times. He talked his way out of it the first time. He didn't succeed with that the second time she caught him, but they did manage to stay together. He supposedly went through therapy at that time. Then about two years ago, she caught him again. This time, she threw him out. They're divorced now. Some eHellions may remember my Easter dinner thread in which I expressed concern about how to handle a situation in which my mother (who is volatile) and I would be meeting his SURPRISE new wife at Easter. He married a woman, and we'd never met her, but he was trying to surprise me at dinner. At the same Easter dinner, his focus was on getting my mother to sign off on some business paperwork. I didn't say this in the original thread, but my mother gave my brother $20,000 and is on the mortgage for a condo he wanted to buy. That's the paperwork they were signing. Once he got that signed, he and his bride were out of here. He has now admitted that he manipulated my mother into giving him the money. He's quite a piece of work.

I haven't spoken to my brother since Easter. I did see my mother over Mother's Day. It was a fairly superficial brunch. I told her at that time that I'm starting a new job in August. I also told her about our plans to attend a milestone birthday celebration for a relative in another state. We hadn't communicated since then ... until last week.

My mother e-mailed my brother and me because she was planning elective surgery for ... August! She wanted one of us to plan to stay with her for three days. I looked at that and thought she was out of her mind. I already told her that I start a new job in August. I can't stay with her for three days. In addition, she had some chatter in her e-mail about her plan to attend that milestone birthday party, and it caught me off guard. She gave us a deadline of June 26 to respond. DH and I were weighing our response. And then my brother happened ... (End BG)

He e-mailed me on Friday with a blunt demand that I must take care of her after her surgery. See, he's so busy, and he didn't want any part of dealing with it. He decided that it was my "turn." I replied and told him that I couldn't take a "turn" at that time because I start a new job. He then demanded that I tell my mother, which I did. I thought we were done. However, unbeknownst to me, he apparently then sent her a separate reply in which he demanded to know why she would schedule this surgery when she knew I was starting a new job. His whole issue seemed to be the possibility that he might be on the hook to help her, and he doesn't want to. I don't know if she replied to him, but she didn't reply to me. And then my brother happened again on Saturday night ...

He sent my mother and me an e-mail with the inflammatory language I described in my first paragraph above. His first sentence was, "This situation is stupid, and you are both acting stupidly." In between were lovely phrases he used to describe me and my feelings like, "hateful," "get over it," and "put on your big person panties." There were a few curse words sprinkled in. He labeled my low-contact relationship with my mother as PA. He thinks it should be either no contact or full contact and anything else is PA. He portrayed himself as an innocent victim. And hold on to your hats: The last sentence of the e-mail was, "I sincerely love you both and want our family to heal." Um ... You'll have to excuse me if I'm not feeling the love because if that's love, then I must be really confused. DH read it too, and he couldn't believe what he was reading.

You can bet that I called him on that e-mail big time. I replied. I told him in no uncertain terms that I would not accept disrespectful behavior from him and that I had no interest in a relationship with him if he's going to behave disrespectfully. It won't come as a surprise that he doesn't believe he was being disrespectful. No, no. He thinks he was perfectly justified to talk to me that way because those are his "boundaries" and he is being "direct." Um ... If those are his boundaries, may I just say that he can have them? And he can have them a long way from me because I don't want to be anywhere near THOSE boundaries. He can call them "boundaries," but from where I sit, it looks a lot like toxicity.

On top of his "boundaries" and "direct" communication style, he said, "Right now, I see this as an opportunity for, if nothing else, you and I to heal." He has decided to change the dynamic of his relationship with his mother, and he has decided to take me along for the ride whether I want to go or not. I have now told him twice that I am not interested in tagging along. No matter how many times I said, "You get to have your relationship with her, and I get to have my relationship with her," he doesn't get it. He won't accept that. And so I got two more e-mails with the same dramatic first sentence: "I am truly sorry that you made the conscious choice to not take this opportunity to try to heal." And also, "I am really disappointed that you have chosen to take my direct communication as rude." Ooookay ...

So, to summarize, I am a stupid, hateful person who will not put on her big girl panties and get over her abusive past courtesy of her mother. My brother is not rude; he is direct. He has determined that I am full of anger and rage because I won't have the relationship with my mother that he would prefer. Since he is ready to have a different relationship with her, he has decided that it is time for me to have a different relationship with her. Because he has said so, as in "get over it."

And to that I again said a variant of, "I'm afraid that won't be possible" otherwise known as "no." I've already had him on low-contact status. My plan right now is the cut direct. Any thoughts?

WillyNilly:

--- Quote --- Any thoughts?
--- End quote ---

Stop reading your brother's emails, and certainly stop responding to them. Let him yell, and rank and type and plan and want to his heart's content... with no involvement from you.

It really sounds like you are handling yourself well here. You are keeping things light and pleasant with your mom, to the best extent you can. You are being honest and clear and prompt about communicating your availability to help with things. And you can conducting yourself in a polite and mature manner. Don't worry about your brother, let him handle him, and you handle you and if he doesn't like how you handle you, that's his disappointment to get over.

PastryGoddess:
Good grief, it's absolutely time for the cut direct and I would go the extra step of becoming a black hole for your brother as well.  How do you feel about your mother?  Are you ok with your relationship now or are you ready to cut her off again as well?

cwm:
Cut your brother off. He's not doing himself any favors with his crazy sorry, direct method of communication. Refuse contact with him. Keep things low key with your mother. If she starts escalating because of what you're doing with brother, leave her out of things as well. Rid yourself of the emotional black hole and all the baggage that comes with it.

Maybe, in time, you can have a relationship with your brother like you've built back up with your mother. Maybe not. But for now, with all the stress and strife he seems to be causing you, it's not worth it.

Coley:

--- Quote from: WillyNilly on June 24, 2013, 04:14:34 PM ---
--- Quote --- Any thoughts?
--- End quote ---

Stop reading your brother's emails, and certainly stop responding to them. Let him yell, and rank and type and plan and want to his heart's content... with no involvement from you.

It really sounds like you are handling yourself well here. You are keeping things light and pleasant with your mom, to the best extent you can. You are being honest and clear and prompt about communicating your availability to help with things. And you can conducting yourself in a polite and mature manner. Don't worry about your brother, let him handle him, and you handle you and if he doesn't like how you handle you, that's his disappointment to get over.

--- End quote ---

I will stop reading his e-mails. I was literally shaking when I read the first one he sent. Thank you.

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