November 24, 2016

Drawing the Lines

I know I talked about an issue with my brother in the past.  His excessive drinking issue.  My relationship with this brother has been a roller coaster ride for the better part of the last 15 years.  The excessive drinking has been an issue for well over 20 years at this point.  Along with the drinking he is a pathological liar.  So I'm sure you can understand why the relationship has had it's ups and downs.  I have always supported my brother and been his safe place to land or call when he's needed help.  Even when his antics have hurt me so deeply...not just emotionally but physically (my miscarriage of baby B spawned after an evening of him verbally abusing, attacking me until the wee hours of the morning).  He's always been narcissistic and LOVES to play the victim in all of his relationships, including with my parents. 

It's been almost a year...and I have not spoken to him.  I have no intentions of connecting with him in the near future.  I tried to stay out of the turmoil that had been boiling within the family for the last 3 years.  To no avail...

'The Fight that Fractured the Family'
My middle brother T and drunk B had a LARGE falling out.  Drunk B was drunk and belligerent, and became physically violent towards my T and my 70 year old father at T's 40th Birthday party.  Yes in front of all of his friends.  He even verbally attacked my sister in law!?!?  Suffice it to say this was the last time the 2 brothers spoke until last January.  My parent's amazingly enough defended drunk B saying "well he's an alcoholic, he sick, it'll be ok...we'll talk to him."  I stayed out of it...  Drunk B's girlfriend (who wasn't there) wanted no part of it.  Believed that T was wrong and needed to apologize, but wanted to hear no part of what drunk B had done or said.  Obviously this was a mess! My parent's pushed and pushed for a reconciliation, which was NOT going to happen. 

'The Camel's Back'
Out of the blue.  On January 22 2016 we all received emails at 8am from drunk B.  It was incoherent. It was an F YOU email to the entire family.  Claiming he had called and apologized to T and we could all go F ourselves for thinking this was required...  I promptly received a phone call from T.  He explained to me that drunk B had called that morning at 7:30, his wife hadn't realized who it was, as the voice was extremely slurred.  T got on the phone and B says "Hey it's B, everyone says I need to apologize, so yeah I'm sorry.  We good?"  T didn't engage or encourage much more conversation.  He said "okay thank you for the apology" and ended the call.

From that point on we were bombarded with abusive emails until 10am.  Calling us names, that we are worthless human beings, I'm a joke, none of us would ever be employed or have a clue on how to succeed in life.  Yada yada yada, the crap went on...  It was horrifying.  He attacked my mom, our spouses, and our children.  He advised us all that, the only people who care about our children are us, they aren't anything special.  There was only one email sent back to him and it was me...I corrected him on my age (he was 2 years off) and I told him to go F himself!  

My Dad called him and he was slurring, barely able to speak, he promptly informed my father that if they ever stepped foot on his property he would have them arrested.

The emails continued...for 3 weeks.  Randomly.  Incoherent.  Rambling.  Abusive.  All being sent at 5 am or earlier. I have had to block him, phone and email.  None of these emails were sent on Saturday or Sunday, they were all mid week, which means he had been on a weekday binder and wasn't sleeping.  He also claimed to be at work for most of them, sending them from his work email. WTH?!?!?  How he still has a job is beyond me.

By February I made the decision to completely cut him out of my life.  I have very low self esteem and confidence already, and the constant verbal attacks on my character were affecting me TOO much!   My parents didn't talk to him until June.  And of course he acted like nothing had happened. His dog is dying, his girlfriend (whole 'nother story!) left him and he needed help, so he was nicey nicey to them.  They helped him, and he hasn't spoken to them again since.  And they live 1/2 hour away from each other.  Nice right?!?!

Dealing with an Alcoholic
Listen...  I know cutting someone out of your life when they are 'sick' is not the right thing to do. However, when their illness is self inflicted (*), is abusive and are completely toxic to your home environment, at some point you have to say enough is enough.  I have cried more than I can tell you about this decision.  I'm positive I've thought more about my brother's issue than he has.  My daughters and my husband deserve the best me that I can be.  And with drunk B in my life...I'm not her.  He is so venomous with character attacks that it takes me forever to recover.  I don't deserve that. My girls don't deserve that.  And God dammit I'm not going to allow that crap to be a poison in my life anymore.

Should he ever finally seek rehab, only then will I consider allowing communication again but not with my daughters.

I tried to get my parents to go to an Al-Anon meeting this winter, summer, and now this no avail.  My Dad still claims he's going to talk to him..  Hahaha!  What's the point?  It's been 11 months.  And you've already shown him that it's okay, by reaching out in the summer and granting him favors!  I mean enable much!?!?!  I really wanted my parents to attend a meeting as they have really enabled this and they just CAN'T see that!  It's fucking frustrating!!!!

And I'm sorry if you think this is awful of me.  This is honestly the hardest decision I have made.  I think of B every day.  I miss him.  I cry in my car by myself.  He was my best friend.  We've always been especially close, even though there is a 9 year age difference.  And even through all the drinking and drugs...Oh yes there has been drugs as well....  My tight knit family I once had is no longer.  My family is fractured beyond repair.  And now I cling to my own little family.  I instill on my daughter's how important family is.  And you better believe that I will have an iron fist when it comes to drinking and drugs.

* I'm sorry I have trouble with this... he chose to drink, he has also chosen to continue to drink, it is not a disease like cancer. He has hit rock bottom on many occasions, and he has been supported, each time, to stop drinking but he choses to continue.


Anonymous said...

One of my parents is a drug/alcohol addiction counselor, and I can tell you what they would advise in this situation: You are doing EXACTLY the right thing. EXACTLY. Not just for your own mental (and physical!) health, but for your brother's well-being as well. Allowing chronic addicts to get away with constant destructive behavior and enabling them as they do is NOT conducive to having them kick the habit. As my parent has been known to put it, "Some people are going to have to wake up in the gutter in order to get well."

Yes, alcoholism is a disease, but it's a disease that cannot be shaken unless the person in question wants to try. Your brother doesn't want to try. You taking his abuse would do NOTHING to help him. I try not to be too absolutist about things, but...anyone who seriously thinks that you're being "awful" to your brother doesn't understand how addiction works.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Hope your brother can emerge from this at some point. In the meantime, you are doing exactly the right thing by prioritizing your spouse, the children you chose to bring into the world, and your non-abusive sibling -- not just the right thing for you, but the right thing for your troubled brother, as well. If he ever seeks rehab, then yes, communication could be possible again, but for now, he needs to have evidence that his abuse of alcohol and subsequent behavior is not consequence-free. If your parents want to enable him, that's their choice, but that doesn't commit YOU to anything.

ks said...

Thank you so much for that! I truly beat myself up quite a bit for cutting him out. It is truly the hardest thing I have done. But I refuse to love him to death. And he obviously is pushing us all away so that he can continue with his addiction. I just can NOT convince my parents to attend an Al Anon and learn how to better handle his addiction. They are so afraid of what people would say, and they also believe that their actions play no part in his issues... Denial!
Thank you again for your words. I cried reading them. There really is no one I talk to about this.

Anonymous said...

There are times when we absolutely MUST cut people out of our lives. That's not a bad thing. It means you value yourself enough not to put up with their cr#p anymore! I have no doubt there's plenty of judgement in my father's family because when I turned 18 I cut off all contact with his mother. I returned cards until I moved out, and once I moved out I insisted my parents never give out my address. Why? Because I spent the first 18 years of my life being brutally, repeatedly abused by this woman. She tried to kill me on a regular basis. I was thrown off a 30 foot deck and my skull broken, put in a dryer, left in the snow, put outside overnight more times than I count, and we won't even go into the sadistic sexual abuse. When I finally got therapy he impressed upon me how important it was that I do this and not let anyone change my mind (although truthfully I didn't start feeling safer until just a few years ago when she finally died!) My point is- there are times you just have to take care of yourself. ((((HUGS))))