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Estranged Brother

Posted by bronzino_2009 (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 19, 09 at 19:24

Hello,

I am new here. I found this website while searching for information on estranged relationships. I am 34, estranged from my 40 yo brother, who is also estranged from our parents off and on. Even though I'm not the parent, is it alright if I participate? It would be useful for me to get different perspectives.

Thank you,
Bronzino


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Estranged Brother

dear bronzino i think it's ok to share your story. i've found the info and support on this site to be constructive. i am also estranged by my older siblings since they decided to divorce our mother. it's hard to believe their unwillingness to try and ressolve our differences and reconciliate. i'm sure most of us here are interested in your story. if our experience can help others avoid or ressolve their estrangment issues then at least someone is benefiting.


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RE: Estranged Brother

Thanks for your welcome and thoughts beginnerseye. My story is as follows. My brother is married and has one daughter. My brother and his wife have been together for almost 20 years, and have been married for 9. Their daughter is 2. For 20 years there has been strife in his relationship with our parents, most of which stem from his wife. I've had issues with both my brother and his wife, although over the years we seemed to be able to work them out. It's been since the birth of his daughter that they both have become extremely cruel and hateful. It has caused so much pain and misery in our family - my estrangement from him came as a relief, I'm sorry to admit.

About a year ago, just before their daughter's 1st birthday, they called to invite me to her 1st birthday party. (I live in a different state.) In the same breath, they told me that our other brother was invited, but my parents were not. When I asked why, they wouldn't tell me. I was unable to fly back for the party, and they said they understood. I can't even begin to describe the pain that my parents felt over this - and when I tried to explain to my brother that it made me feel horribly guilty and that it put me in a bad position, he said it shouldn't because it had nothing to with me. What he doesn't seem to understand is that it affects our entire family. They did not come for Christmas - no surprise to any of us. They asked our other brother and myself to come for a separate "family" Christmas - also without our parents. We both declined. When I tried to talk to my now-estranged brother about this, he became angry and refused to talk about it. Shortly after our conversation, his wife called me, unbeknownst to him and told me she knew about our conversation and started giving me advice on how to behave, speak, and act around my brother. I was astounded. (This was the third such call I had received from her after talking to him without her there.) We are not allowed to talk to my brother by himself - she must always be in the room on speakerphone.

It was at this point that I began to withdraw myself and slowly stopped speaking with him. I communicated by email, but he never responded. Over the course of the next year, I continued to try and stay in touch, and he never responded.

Things escalated to the point of stupidity with my parents - i.e. no one is allowed to take pictures of their daughter, no one is allowed to try and develop any sort of relationship with her whatsoever. We do not understand why. He has essentially rejected our family and more and more, demonstrates that he wants less and less to do with us.

Over the course of the next year, I tried to keep in touch. I sent birthday cards, holiday cards, etc. - gifts to their daughter on special occasions, all with no acknowledgment. At one point, they told us that no one was allowed to send her gifts and then six months later, claimed that they never said such a thing. And this is after gifts my parents sent were sent back or given away. (They would also call my parents and tell them they were doing this.)

Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving and I made yet another attempt to speak with him - they actually invited my parents to Thanksgiving (my parents had to bring all the food as a requirement of the visit). My mother put me on speakerphone (since that's the only way they will talk to anyone) and I said Happy Thanksgiving. They stood there in front of her and said nothing. They would not speak to me. When my parents left, they had the nerve to tell them to tell me to call them. I did not call. My brother called me the day after Christmas, and asked me to call him. I did not. I sent him a message about a week later and told him I would call soon. As it stands now, I said I wasn't ready to speak with him yet, but would let him know when I was.

The only thing that we can figure out is that they are using the child to get back at my parents for all the strife from before. Neither my brother or his wife drink, and we do - they also judge us horribly because we do so. There's never been any conversation about it - they refuse to talk about it.

Right now, I'm very angry - I'm tired of the way that he treats my parents, and the way that they are denying them the opportunity to get to know their only granddaughter. All they will say that it is because of things that happened in the past - yet they refuse to talk to anyone about "what happened in the past" - even to my parents.

Even when we meet every requirement and every demand, they always find something that is wrong with us. It has truly turned into a no-win situation and we feel helpless. It doesn't matter what we do - we can't get along. Both my brother and I have accepted the fact that we will not have a relationship with our brother and his family.

We don't know what to do anymore. Thanks for letting me share!

Bronzino


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RE: Estranged Brother

Thankyou so much Bronzino-your story sounds very familiar as my son has disowned 2 of his brothers and now me his mother. He did not attend his fathers funeral 3 years ago and never attended any of his siblings weddings but attended all his wife's siblings marriages. this past year he stopped talking to me-did not return any messages-and the last straw was he ignored me completely at xmas and e-mailed me and said he needed a break from me. that is some long freaking break-I have not spoken one word to him in 14 months-his choice not mine. I well know the pain and suffering this causes and the tension for his other 3 siblings that he still speaks to. they do not mention me to him for fear of being disowned as well and I have not asked them to intervene on my behalf. I am very proud of all my children and want whatever family relations there are to stay in tact as much as possible. I am in my 60's now so you never know when your time is up. I keep hoping he wants me back in his life before it is too late-i miss his 2 little children as well as i have not seen them for 14 months either. He lives 1600 miles away from me and at least a phone call would be appreciated. Bronzino I guess all you can do is take a step back and wait it out. give your parents all the support you can because I know how hurt and ashamed they are feeling-believe me. No sense in even trying to figure what someone is thinking or how your behavior will affect them. Let go and let God-take care and god bless.


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RE: Estranged Brother

Bronzino,

Thank you for your story. I'm trying to understand it better and so that is why I'd like some clarification about issues.

It sounds like you do not know what the strife with your parents was about, other than it started when he met his wife? You say it stems from his wife? How so? It sounds like your brother has not stated to you directly what the problem is that he feels exists due to his parents behaviors?

You said, "When I tried to talk to my now-estranged brother about this, he became angry and refused to talk about it."

I do not know what happened in the conversation that made him angry? I gather from this that he sounded angry? Did this follow any comments that you made? What was it a reaction too? So, your brother refuses to talk to you about it? Your brother is an adult, free to make his own choices and what I hear is even when his wife is not there he is refusing to talk about the situation to you? Is that correct?

You say, "Shortly after our conversation, his wife called me, unbeknownst to him and told me she knew about our conversation and started giving me advice on how to behave, speak, and act around my brother. I was astounded. (This was the third such call I had received from her after talking to him without her there.) We are not allowed to talk to my brother by himself - she must always be in the room on speakerphone."

How do you know that he didn't know about her calling you? Did she tell you that herself? It sounds to me like she is reacting to your brothers distress and anger (what he demonstrates to her) after he gets off the phone with you. It sounds to me like she loves your brother and is trying to help him, rather than make you angry or hurt your parents. I know it sounds strange, but I believe that is what is going on, despite it feeling weird, strange and not right. I think she is reacting to him and his emotional state.

I believe, despite how hurtful it may be to hear this, that your brother has issues with your parents, and even you. It sounds like he is a very poor communicator and maybe he is placing her in a no win situation with your family.

I'm estranged from my 2 older sisters. I am/was also estranged from my husband's family. (He sees them rarely and the story he tells me is that he doesn't trust them and isn't close to them). He doesn't say the same things to them. He tells me that, "they will not change," and "they are a lost cause," etc. I used to try to encourage him to talk to them, but he was a poor communicator and didn't have good skills in dealing with conflicts. His family blamed me for everything (I was an easy target and scapegoat). The problem here was that the relatives would talk about them to each other, but they would not talk to them. The spouses would also talk about them to each other. My husband's always said when I asked my husband about talking with them about issues he would start to talk about how I feel (bizzare) and then he would try to interpret my feelings to his family (WHEN I DIDN'T ASK HIM TO DO THAT). I asked him to tell them how HE FELT. This is a huge problem when someone cannot respond directly to how they feel about an issue and twists in into how you feel. After he would see them and I would ask if he openly discussed situations his response was to say, "That they made it difficult for him".

I got into counseling for myself. It was a very, very difficult situation to be in watching his responses to them and then having him clam up and refuse to talk about it. It was very difficult having his relatives (cousin, aunt, step-mother and grandfather) tell me about the problems in the family, but not talk to him, or them. They all knew there was a problem and they were all complicit in the "no talk rule," and blame others. Eventually, they all admitted that "no one is close," and "no one talks". That is a no-win situation to be in. My SIL would talk, but she was very manipulative, going behind the scenes and undermining relationships by repeating comments out of context and creating more stress and strife. She was neither open or direct and this created a lot of problems.

I'm certain my in-laws viewed me as the source of all the problems. My husband just didn't have the spine or the backbone to tell them how he really felt, because he said, "they are a lost cause," and "it wouldn't do any good". Maybe you can empathize and maybe you cannot for the miserable, no-win situation that this placed me in. According to the story that he told me--the relationship that they think they had with him didn't exist. As far as what he tells them...I have no idea.

I'm asking for clarification. I do not wish to offend you by asking you for more information about this. You did say that you were open to other perspectives and that it would be useful to you. I've written enough for now. There is another site that discusses estrangement as well--these here are more parent-centered, while the other one is more from the perspective of the adults and their estrangements from their parents and the reasons why.


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RE: Estranged Brother

dear bronzino as you probably already can see no two estrangment are exactly alike. each situation is unique unto itself. your issues with your brother are simular to mine, but it doesn't mean your situation has to turn out like mine did. perhaps you'll break thru.

my relationship with my older siblings is complicated by their inability to respect our parents. i fail to see how they expect me to have seperate relationships with each other as though my parents no longer existed. initially i naively thought that all we had to do was get together with a family mediator and learn how to talk about these issues in a way that would promote tolerance and understanding and come out of this stronger. however i soon learned that not all parties, when it comes down to it, want the same thing:ressolution and closure. i know it's probably not fair of me to have expectations that my siblings ought not be so judgmental of my parents, but it seems too important for them to suspend.

so i would say to you, even though i failed, see if you can get him to agree to see a family mediator with you, perhaps his own minister or someone of his own choosing that he trusts and respects. i would tell him that your relationship is important to you and that you're willing to do anything to better understand why he feels the way he does. i'd go as far and say you'd like to apologize for any grievances he has with you, but that having a third party would ensure civil discourse and allow everyone to voice their concerns and be heard. if he chooses like my siblings to not participate you will have at least known you tried. my siblings gave all kinds of great reasons why they could not participate but in the end the therapist thought it was because they wanted to avoid anyone who might question their motives and examine their rationalizations. so who knows, maybe you'll have better luck...i hope so. but i'd start there.


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RE: Estranged Brother

Flowergardenmuse -

Thank you for your response. I'm happy to make clarifications - I truncated some parts to avoid a long post. So here goes:

"It sounds like you do not know what the strife with your parents was about, other than it started when he met his wife?"

The only strife that I know about is that my parents did not approve of her when they were dating. The reason being is that any time they would come visit us (this was way before they got married and the baby was born), the wife was always horribly nasty to my bro, would just act miserable and be miserable around everyone until they left. Other times she would come over and it would completely differnt - she loved everyone and was happy as can be. My parents didn't approve of her because of the way she treated my brother and her verbal abuse. I confronted her after one such attacks (of her calling him names and giving nasty insults). I didn't speak to her for a year because I told her anyone who treated my brother in such a manner didn't have my respect, I wanted nothing to do with her and if she wanted to be my friend, she had to treat my brother with respect. After a year, we started talking again, and the incident I witnessed was never discussed. Whenever I tried to talk to my brother about it, he would say, "That's between you and her. I'm not involved." He basically copped out so he didn't have to do anything that required him standing up to her. That's one of hundreds of examples of her nastiness and hatred.

"It sounds like your brother has not stated to you directly what the problem is that he feels exists due to his parents behaviors?"

Nope. He refuses to talk to me about it when I asked him about it in the past.

You said, "When I tried to talk to my now-estranged brother about this, he became angry and refused to talk about it."

"I do not know what happened in the conversation that made him angry? I gather from this that he sounded angry?
Did this follow any comments that you made? What was it a reaction too?"

I don't either - I asked him what was going on, why he wasn't getting along with my parents, etc. And he kept saying, I'm not going to talk about it. I'm not going to talk about it. When I pressed him even further, his voice started rising, and saying, I'm not going to discuss it. I dropped it and we got off the phone a short time later. About an hour later his wife called me to tell me she knew I had pressed him about it. She said what he needed most was for "me to be me," which I thought I was doing by talking to MY brother about OUR parents. Personally, I wouldn't dream of calling her brother and telling him how to talk to her. What was once a close relationship with my brother - one where we talked about anything and everything and we quite close friends - evolved to only certain things were allowed to be talked about according to their perameters. I have no idea why they put this "rule" in place - they literally won't say.

"So, your brother refuses to talk to you about it?"

Yes.

"Your brother is an adult, free to make his own choices and what I hear is even when his wife is not there he is refusing to talk about the situation to you? Is that correct?"

Yes.

You say, "Shortly after our conversation, his wife called me, unbeknownst to him and told me she knew about our conversation and started giving me advice on how to behave, speak, and act around my brother. I was astounded. (This was the third such call I had received from her after talking to him without her there.) We are not allowed to talk to my brother by himself - she must always be in the room on speakerphone."

"How do you know that he didn't know about her calling you? Did she tell you that herself?"

She explicitly said, "He does not know I'm calling you. Please do not tell him."

"It sounds to me like she is reacting to your brothers distress and anger (what he demonstrates to her) after he gets off the phone with you. It sounds to me like she loves your brother and is trying to help him, rather than make you angry or hurt your parents. I know it sounds strange, but I believe that is what is going on, despite it feeling weird, strange and not right. I think she is reacting to him and his emotional state. I believe, despite how hurtful it may be to hear this, that your brother has issues with your parents, and even you. It sounds like he is a very poor communicator and maybe he is placing her in a no win situation with your family."

At this point, there's no telling. But I honestly don't think so. If I hadn't seen and hear her treat him poorly in the past, it might be different. This woman spews hatred quite a bit. Another example - she said one time to me before the child was born that the only time her child would visit her grandfather (my dad) was when he was in a graveyard. Now this has not held to be true, obviously, since my parents are allowed to see the grandchild on occasion.

"I got into counseling for myself. It was a very, very difficult situation to be in watching his responses to them and then having him clam up and refuse to talk about it. It was very difficult having his relatives (cousin, aunt, step-mother and grandfather) tell me about the problems in the family, but not talk to him, or them. They all knew there was a problem and they were all complicit in the "no talk rule," and blame others."

I definitely understand the "no talk" rule. The issue is that we used to be able to talk to him, but no longer. When they are on speaker phone - he doesn't speak - she speaks for him. Even when you ask him direct questions, she speaks for him. Another example was that one time my mother was very ill (she's fine now) and I called my brother and asked him to call her because I was really worried. (This was before I knew that they were having problems.) He did not call me back, but instead forwarded my message to her, and his wife called me back about our mother, stating how they WOULD NOT call her, and my mother was the kind of person who lay in the street dying before she'd ask for help and I just needed to accept that. First, that made me really angry, and second, I began to wonder if he even received my phone call, if she checked his messages, etc.

There are all these other behavioral signs from her that just don't add up.

"Maybe you can empathize and maybe you cannot for the miserable, no-win situation that this placed me in. According to the story that he told me--the relationship that they think they had with him didn't exist. As far as what he tells them...I have no idea."

I can absolutely empathize. Maybe it is a similar situation where my bro sees us as never close and so forth, but it sure seemed like we were close to me.

"I do not wish to offend you by asking you for more information about this."

No offense taken at all. I truly am out of ideas on how to deal with the situation. I appreciate your response!

Thank you!
Bronzino


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Re: Estranged Brother2

Beginnerseye,

Thank you for your response. Yes, every situation is different - and as much as I hate that anyone has to experience anything like this, there is comfort in the fact that there is support like this forum.

"my relationship with my older siblings is complicated by their inability to respect our parents. i fail to see how they expect me to have seperate relationships with each other as though my parents no longer existed."

Exactly - I'm infuriated with the disrepect, rudeness, and outright meanness that my brother treats my parents with - but I'm "not supposed to know" because no one is supposed to talk to anyone about anything - by my brother's rules, not my parents.

"my siblings gave all kinds of great reasons why they could not participate but in the end the therapist thought it was because they wanted to avoid anyone who might question their motives and examine their rationalizations."

Group therapy is a good idea, but I have a feeling this is exactly what would happen with us. I can't even get them to compromise on the dang speakerphone - asking them to please get off speakerphone simply for the fact that I can't hear and I'll talk to both of them separately - no longer. The one time they got off speaker phone, she picked up the phone and wouldn't let me talk to him.

I do appreciate your suggestion of therapy - I will mention it to my folks and see what they think.

Bronzino


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RE: Estranged Brother

Bronzino,

Thank you for clarifying. I think your situation very different from mine. I never treated my husband poorly--calling him names or insulting him. The issues were different. I was rejected by his family for other reasons--their control, etc.

Now on to what you describe...What isn't clear to me is this: your brother tolerates this woman's insults and verbal abuse. He dated her, married her and now has a child with her. He also lets her speak for him. Apparently he is a willing participant and has been with her for 20 years, so it doesn't sound like it is a problem for him. Unless there is a lot more to this story. I don't know why he would tolerate this type of abuse or continue to allow it, yet he does. The bigger question is why. What does he get out of it. It does sound like he wants a relationship with you, despite all the restrictive rules. The question you have to ask yourself is if you can manage this type of relationship with him or tolerate these conditions (maybe for a short-time) while you try to problem-solve? It doesn't have to be a permanent situation.

You said that, "I confronted her after one such attacks (of her calling him names and giving nasty insults)." Then you say, "Whenever I tried to talk to my brother about it, he would say, "That's between you and her. I'm not involved." You also wrote, "He basically copped out so he didn't have to do anything that required him standing up to her."

Well, it sounds like he copped out to you too and doesn't want to answer to you why he is tolerating her (as you see it--abusive behaviors)...You haven't said that he is complaining about her abusive conduct and if he has, why doesn't he do something about it. What I hear is that he's not telling you that he didn't like or doesn't like her behavior. He's not saying I appreciate you standing up for me. He's not saying anything. It's hard to have a relationship with someone who refuses to open up and talk through issues, probably impossible.

Some of your SIL's issues with your family may stem from your parent's rejection of her, but it is understandable given her abusive behaviors. However, your brother is a willing participant in the relationship and it appears he is unwilling to stand up for himself, let alone talk to you about it. (And this, from the situation you describe, is very hard to understand). He dated her, married her and has a child with her and for 20 years! He would leave, if he'd had enough or was unhappy, so the question is why does he stay.

Obviously, there are issues with your father (the grandfather). It doesn't sound like you know what they are and if he is unwilling to talk about it, you may never know.

"If your brother's response is I don't want to talk about it," then there really is nothing you can do, than to make yourself available if he ever does want to talk about it. You cannot control him, or her. Also, I know it sounds odd, but your SIL is reacting to his emotional state by calling you up and making "helpful" suggestions. Your brother should be doing this for himself, and yet he refuses and isn't. Why? I know you wouldn't dream of doing that--I agree and I wouldn't either. The only time I ever tried to talk to my husband's family about their behavior is when it had a direct impact on me, not just on him and also when I saw what it did to him. In my situation, I was reacting from a loving place (I was standing up for him), because I knew how much their behavior was hurting him. He isn't a good communicator and really isn't direct at all. I really can't say if this is going on in your family--it's hard to know. Ultimately, it was a mistake that I made...but the emotionally abusive behaviors were hard to watch and hard to deal with.

A telling comment from her was this, "...what he needed most was for "me to be me." I have no idea what that means, other than he wants you to act like his brother, but he doesn't want you to talk about your parents. Is this request something that you accomodate for the sake of you maintaining a relationship with him (despite it not being what you want). Could you do this for while, as you try to find other solutions...just to keep the lines of communication open?

I agree with Beginnerseye and think it may be a good idea for to seek counseling either on your own, because of how you feel and what you feel it is doing to you, or with your other family members, if they are willing. I don't even know if I would share that with your brother, until a later date (if you want). Some people don't believe in counseling and one needs to find a licensed, qualified psychologist. I would go to a family physician and start there for referrals.

I don't know if this has been helpful to you or not--some people get angry on these posting threads. I wish the best outcome for you in dealing with this situation.


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RE: Estranged Brother

dear bronzina--in my initial suggestion to seek family mediation it was aimed specifically at your brother. my experience with my siblings has shown me that they prefer estrangment rather than actually doing something about it. i had hoped in your case that there was still a chance to pursue this course of action. unfortunately many people don't wish to relinquish old resentments and it's difficult to motivate them to try family mediation. i know it must be frustrating for you. i would stop wasting energy on trying to help someone who doesn't want it and instead concentrate on your elder parents... they will undoubtedly question and doubt themselves in ways they've never experienced. it took years but i was able to assist my 80 y/o mother reclaim her life again and now she's not angry anymore. we've had many insightful talks about the past. i never surgar-coated anything and i was amazed at her capacity for honest truthful dialogue. now she feels secure and knows i will always be by her side. this as you can imagine for someone her age is something that gives her great peace. i know you feel powerless at times but i can tell you being there unconditionally for your parents will make a huge difference. good luck we're here for you.


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RE: Estranged Brother

Bronzina - I have 2 sons who are experiencing a lot of what you are going through. Their older brother has cut me and my whole side of the family out of his life. My ES has been very vague about why, and gets very angry when he is asked about it. His standard response is "It's not about you it's between mom and me." To which I am sure you would agree - then why is it affecting more than just him and me? Why are my other 2 sons hurt and angry? Why do they have to arange to see their brother on DIL's time?

After the birth of my first grandchild - one of my son's and his girlfriend piled up presents and drove about 4 hours to see her. When they got near, his brother told him to meet him at a restaurant. Once there, he told them they would have to wait until his wife said they could come. They sat in that restaurant several hours before being given permission to bring them over. He said that meeting his neice was exciting but it was pretty uncomfortable being there and feeling like DIL was just waiting for them to leave. That is just one example of how this is effecting them. This estrangement has torn our family apart. My parents are heart sick and constantly ask my sons about their brother making them feel like they are letting everyone down for not making things right.

I miss my son, but being angry at the way he is treating his brothers (who by his own admission has nothing to do with this) has helped me appreciate what I do have more than what I don't. That is why I felt the need to respond. Your parents must be hurting for you as well knowing that you did the right thing standing up for your brother and them and yet are left being treated so badly. I know they are proud of you though, as I have been of my two sons.


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RE: Estranged Brother

It's very sad when parents need to use their children as weapons in disagreements with other family members. It shows how immature they are that they can't deal directly with those with whom they have issues. In the end, they will "pay" for their behavior.


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RE: Estranged Brother

You need to make a decision: do you want to get involved in the problems between your brother and your parents and take sides; or do you want to have an independent relationship with your brother and his family? Both choices will have consequences.

If you choose to align with your parents, you will be treated the way your parents are treated. You will get the same benefits they get, and the same penalties. This does seem unfair, because you apparently have not done whatever it was your parents did to cause the estrangement, so you are being penalized for something you did not do and have no control over or even apparently knowledge of.

However, your brother has given you a choice: to have a relationship with him and his family independent of your parents. You don't have to be estranged, unlike your parents, you apparently have the choice to have a relationship with him. The consequence of this choice is apparently you feel you are betraying your parents.

There's a problem between your brother and his parents and it's not in your control to fix. It's probably not even your business. At least that's what your brother is telling you. I understand that you sympathize with your parents' problem with their son and DIL, but that still does not make it your problem.

Think of it this way: your colleague is fired for no reason you understand or know of, maybe it's just the economy, maybe the colleague did something you aren't aware of, maybe the boss has an unreasonable dislike for your colleague. Whatever the reason, your colleague is out of a job. You feel terrible for him. He's got a pregnant wife and twin toddlers, and supports his ailing mother all while putting his brother through college. And he just bought a new house. This is awful for him. But it's not your problem.

Yes, you can go to the boss and see if you can help fix any misunderstandings, you can vouch that your colleague did work the hours he said he did, or wasn't anywhere near the cash box when the money disappeared. But if the boss says it's none of your business and he isn't going to discuss it with you, then that's that. You can also go to your colleague and suggest he tries human resource department, or look into employment law and talk to a lawyer, or give him job leads or help him with a resume. But you can't get the boss to rehire him.

You may feel terrible and think it's unjust, but do you quit your job too? Do you really believe quitting will teach the boss a lesson or get your colleague's job back? It won't. But still you might feel so strongly about your colleague's firing that you do quit. But if you do, you have to own up to the fact that it was YOUR choice, not your boss's, and you brought the hardship on yourself, it was not imposed upon you by your boss or your colleague.

It sounds like you are choosing to do the same thing with your brother. It's fine if you want to show solidarity with your parents, but you have to understand doing so mean you share their hardship. It's also fine if you choose to keep your job (ie, your relationship with your brother), but you have to understand that you will disappoint your parents who are looking for allies. It's a hard choice, but it is yours.

There are some rules of human relationships, one being that triangulation, the pulling in of a third party into a dispute between two others ALWAYS makes the dispute worse. You are triangulating into the problem of your brother and your parents. Whether you are volunteering to triangulate yourself or your parents are pulling you into the problems, it's hard to tell, but you CAN NOT make anything better by anything you do. You can't make it better by siding with your brother and you can't make it better by siding with your parents. You can't make it better by being neutral. It's not your problem, so you can't fix it. You are irrelevant, as discomforting as that might seem.

Another rule of human relationships is that the person who cares the least has the most power in the relationship. Generally, generations look forward, parents care more about their children than their children care about them; generally adult children are more concerned about the grandchildren than the parents. It does not mean that adult children don't love their parents, only that they grow up, lessen the bonds, turn away and focus on the next generation.

There are no relationships where both parties care equally, altho the best relationships do reach a parity. But even in marriages, one person is always more invested than the other. I didn't make up the rule, it just is how it is, designed probably by nature to further the species. Therefore, it's likely that your brother will be quicker to severe ties with his parents and siblings than your parents will be to severe ties with him. They've invested more in him, than he has in them (as is natural), and he's invested more in his wife and child.

What this means is if there is a problem, they are going to have to be more flexible and compromising than he, if they want to resolve things. It may not seem fair but it's reality. And the same goes for you. He's invested more in his wife and child than he's invested in his siblings: if there's a conflict, he will likely to align himself with his created family rather than his family of origin.

Another related rule is that there are varying degrees of enmeshment in extended families. All are acceptable, closely entwined is not better than loosely connected; nor is casually entwined superior or healthier than tightly bound. The only problem comes when people have different expectations of enmeshment. And once again the person with the lowest expectation will prevail.

If I want to see you once a week, but you want to see me twice a week, I will prevail. You may be able to trick or guilt me into seeing you more, but eventually resentment will make that stop. If your resentment at not seeing me as often as you like taints the one time of week we do visit, then likely I will pull back a visit yet less. This can set up a dynamic that's hard to break as one party grasps more tightly and the other struggles more for autonomy.

I wonder if this is not the case with your parents and brother. Your parents want more, particularly since the baby was born, but because of the initial disapproval of his wife and the apparent nonstop irritations between your parents and your brother and SIL, your brother wants less. Their mutual inability to negotiate a satisfactory arrangement all around is their own struggle. Neither side is factoring your needs in; neither your brother or your parents. You are getting a double shaft, which is something to consider as you decide how you want to proceed in this mess. You need to respect your own autonomy and needs here, and not be a pawn for either side as you consider whether you want to take sides or be neutral.

One last point: I agree your SIL was out of line to call you and tell you how to behave, act, think, speak, etc... No adult has the right to tell another adult how to behave. However, you did the same thing when you told her how to treat her own spouse. And when you tell your brother how to treat his own parents. There's a lot of inappropriate bossyness going on here all around. It's not helping at all, is it? You didn't take your SIL's advice on how to behave, and she's not taking yours. And you are both offended and indignant. Everyone would be a lot happier if the adults in this matter stop telling one another what the other should do, unless asked.

I wish you well in this, and apologize for the length.


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RE: Estranged Brother

Bucyn...

Good response...I find many of your posts helpful....I don't know why some of them are deleted


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RE: Estranged Brother

LOL, I didn't even know some of my posts were deleted. Maybe for space? ;)


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RE: Estranged Brother

Motherlode - Thanks for your message. I'm sorry for what you are going through. And you're right - I'm trying to give my parents as much support as possible!

Beginnerseye - Thanks for your kind words as well! Let go and let God indeed!

Lost1of3 - Oh my, our situations do sound similar! And you are right - it's amazing that they can't see how it does affect other members of the family when one is estranged.

Estrangedgrammie - Yes you are right, it is sad. And one day it will come back to bite them you know where.

Bucyn - Thanks for your thoughtful response. You bring up a lot of good points and angles that I hadn't thought of before. You make a good point in your last paragraph as well - I hadn't thought about it from that angle either.

I have a bit of an update - as it stands now, I am in "negotiations" with them to set a phone appointment to talk. Slightly ridiculous that I have to make an appointment to talk to my own brother, but whatever. I have a list of things that I am going to address that specifically regard the way in which he treated me before the estrangement and his lack of response when I tried to keep lines of communication open. I have no idea how this will go or when it will go. Whatever the outcome, at least I will have peace of mind that I attempted to work things out. After that - it's out of my hands. I just know that I can't continue to let it affect me the way it has. I don't want to have any more sleepless nights, any more crying fits, or any more anger. I'd rather have nothing than go through the rest of my life feeling like that.

Thank you everyone for your time and your thoughtful responses. It has been a tremendous comfort and I will keep comin' back!

Best wishes,
Bronzino


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Bronzino-when i read about the upcoming phone appointment my heart jumped right out of my chest-i know it sounds silly but i have a good feeling about this for you. Baby steps baby steps with this bronzino. May i humbly suggest you not jump into the whys and wherefores right away. Maybe keep it light and friendly to start and short. Just tell him it is good to talk to him and looking forward to more open communication of any kind. I think if you put him on the defense it may hinder any progress. Not to say he does not owe you an explanation but later when you get more trust between you. Take it or leave it and the very best wishes to you and yours. Keep us informed-we need to hear some success stories-fingers crossed here.


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dear bronzino- i am pleased that you were able to at least motivate your brother to have a phone conservation with you. a couple things you might keep in mind: leave his wife out of the conservation. i know you feel her influence hasn't been helpful but realize she couldn't have tapped in to it unless he'd already adopted these views about your parents. she merely reinforced preexisting attitudes. secondly don't bite off too much. it's not important in one phone conversation to make him get over everything. go for small incremental successes. even if you were to get him to agree to have another phone conversation that would be a great feat. lastly, i know you are frustrated inside but it's important not to disburden yourself on him. keep it simple. let him know you love him and that's why you simply won't write him off, but at the same time you are not a minister or psychologist and though you want to listen to him and try to understand why he feels the way he does, you will need his patience too. perhaps your brother needs to just vent to you without any judgement. good luck, try and be strong and rise above your normal urges. i know all of us would like to hear about someone breaking on thru.


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right on beginnerseye-i guess men look at this differently than ladies sometimes-they just want to fix it and get over it-we want to spare feelings and go slow-i wish only the best for bronzino and holding my breath till we hear from him again-take care and god bless


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RE: Estranged Brother

yes motherlode, i look at estrangement as a kind of addiction. i realize each case is unique and some forms of estrangment are probably neccessary for those who have sadly been abused. but in many cases, including my own, there are adult children who are estranging their elder parents only because they need someone to blame. the operative word here is "need". if you try to take away their rationalizations you will encounter great resistence. that is why many of us become confused because; we don't understand why wouldn't they want reconsilation/healing/closure as badly as we do. the reason being it's not a conscious choice for them. their need to have someone to point to and blame is so entrenched in their psyche that it becomes very difficult for them to relinquish it. it allows them to maintain their self image that they're "perfect" or "i am good". it's easier for them to convince themselves if you have someone that they can say is bad or evil. that is why you get alot of demonization and judgement from these kids (adult children). it's only out of some kind of profound insecurity that these adult children blame their parents and estrange them.

now if you are going to do intervention and attempt a dialogue with one who estranges then it's important to realize that the person you're dealing with is addicted to blame. and just like any other form of addiction (ie. alchohol,drug,creditcards,infidelity, etc.) there is a denialism that is associated with it that is very difficult to penetrate. that's is why it's so difficult just to get to first base because to give in and admit anything would fracture the foundation of all their displaced anger and instead of directing it at thier parents they would have to learn how to take responsibility for their own failures. parents are just easy targets and appear more than willing, because of guilt, to assume responsibility for their adult children. if they are at fault for anything it is for enabling their children.

so that's why i cautioned brozino to go slow. there's nothing rational about this process. what complicates it even further is the fact that all of us to some degree or another have these same issues present in our own lives, it's just that we somehow have not allowed these feelings to take over our minds and estrange others. that's why a qualified family mediator is essential to help facilitate civil and constructive dialogue. one can't think that they can "fix it" by themselves. if brozino can just get his brother to agree to talk again or possibly with his minister that would be a great accomplishment. it's tough to do but if he can then there's hope for the rest of us.


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Motherlode - Thanks for your message. I know that we won't keep it light - we've already established that we are going to talk about why we haven't seen each other in over two years and why we haven't really talked in over a year. I've been thinking about the taking it slow part, and I think this is a good idea, but I know we won't just talk about the weather. However, I am going to review my list of things and see if I can pick a couple to start with instead of blasting him with the whole list. I probably wouldn't make it through the whole list without them hanging up on me anyway. I do plan to offer him to speak first, and then I will follow. How does that sound?

Beginnerseye - As much as I would like to keep his wife out of the conversation, it's not possible. I will not be allowed to speak with just my brother. They will not allow it - and both of them will be on speakerphone. In the past when we were getting along and asked to be put on speaker phone, they refuse. They did take me off speaker phone once, and I was forced to talk to her - literally, was not allowed to talk to my brother. I do plan to address my brother directly. However, it is also likely that she will answer for him. That being said, it was him who called me after Christmas - so he may be allowed to speak. Regardless, she will be there and will be privy to the entire conversation.

To me, she had complete control over him, and there's no fighting that. All I can do is that if she continually responds and won't let him speak is continue to direct the questions to him and I'm not afraid to ask him if he can speak for himself instead of allowing her to speak for him.

It's really tough. Thanks for your kind words and encouragement!

Bronzino


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Bronzino I am so proud of you and wish you all the best. You have a long wasy to go to get back with your brother -having to go through the wife first-huge undertaking. I urge you to check out estranged stories and get some added support and guidance. Eveything sounds fine you plan to do and whats the worst that can happen-another 2 years of silence and misunderstanding-hopefully not. I wish you were meeting in person-you know body language and tone of voice and eye contact. I actually have a brother in law who had to cut his conversation short with my husband-they are brothers-because his wife was yelling in the background-get off the phone i am paying for this long distance. they both work and both pay the bills so guess what-he gets off the phone. when my husband had a stroke he never came to the hospital-2 hours away-because she did not think it was necessary. so i know all about controlling spouses-sort of. i will keep my fingers crossed for you and let us know how it goes. take care and god bless-


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dear bronzino, motherlode is right please slow down a little and it would be helpful for you to check out estrangedstories. one thing they point out is that e-mail is a good way to start off because you can count to ten before you give a response. no one is above the emotional fray of trying to keep an open mind with your brother while at the same time defending your standards of fairness and decency towards your elder parents. that's agreed. but how is one to help preventing this important discussion with your brother from deteriorating into another failed situation where everyone is pointing blame at each other. rather than have a list of infractions to confront your brother with why not just pick out the one thing that is the most important to you. sure it would be great to hear your brother own up to all of his inappropiate attitudes towards your parents but that's probably not going to occur on the first phone call. as you stated he called you. why not reward his iniative with a response that substantiates the risk he has taken. show him he made the right choice to contact you. don't punish him for reaching out.


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Hi,
I just joined as a member since a new friend said it was a good place to reach out to others in the same boat, so to speak. I followed all the posts on this thread and although it saddens me to see so many similiar siuations to my own, there is great feedback and support in this environment. My story isn't much different and now I have learned that the toll it has taken on me and other members of my family is similarly sad too.

I am a 39 year old woman. Mother of two of my own children (12 &8) as well as a step mom to my new husband's children whom are grown and off on their own (23 & 25). The problem resides with my side of the family. My older brother (2.5 years older) stormed out of my house in a rage almost 2 years ago and now I may as well be dead to him. He refuses to aknowledge my exsistance on any level, despite repeated attempts by me to communicate and patch things up. Our back story is that he has always been a bully to me but I found ways to keep him at arms length most of my life. I have always wanted his approval and he has gotten my back when I have needed it as I have had his. I went through a HUGE crisis of my own and really needed my family support (during the divorce of my ex husband) My mom and my brother were there. I have since moved locally near my brother as I received my MBA and a job opportunity brought me closer to my brother. There were such high expectations that our children would become close as we hoped we would be closer too. I met my new husband at work and we married quickly. I have never been happier and our families merged beautifully. My brother on the other hand decided he didn't like my husband but never told me of his 'concerns' so when he stormed into my house in a rage, my husband and I had no idea what he was angry at. I have since learned through my mother what the issues were that made him explode and it in my opinion is all stuff that can be worked out with simple listening and communication. It was all a misunderstanding that was caused by his 9 year old son. I know that whatever he was 'upset' at had very little to do with what he was actually raging about but we haven't been able to talk at all because he has treated me like I am dead. I live 5.2 miles from him and we share the same gym and shopping centers. My family has been divided because of this. My mother took his side and walked away from us and my dad won't tolerate his cutting my family off so my brother cut him off too. I am sick over it and have no answers. I would love any and all feedback.

Thanks for reading/listening


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