And Further

I think the thing is that I resent that I feel like a terrible person when it comes to my brother. Why can’t I just listen and be supportive and, if he needs help and I can give it, give it? People have been so kind and generous to me. Who am I to not pay it forward to my brother?

This isn’t a question you can answer. It’s not that kind of question. It’s the question that nags at me. It’s the question I have to answer, every day, in order to keep living this life. And every day, I choose being a terrible person, by my own standards, over not being.

I think it’s the right thing to do. For a lot of reasons. But mostly because I don’t think that jumping up to help my brother with every little thing is what he wants (I think), but just want I’ve been conditioned to think of as my role, and I don’t think it would help. My ideas about what would help involve me telling everyone what to do and then accompanying them everywhere they need to go in order to make sure they do it.

This is one of the stupidest things about my life–how I’m constantly teased for being “too bossy” (the sin second to fatness that makes me unlovable) when what at least half the people in this family want is a boss. Someone they can hate and resent who will make them do all the things they need to do in order to have a functioning life.

It’s a weird thing, to feel like you’re being continually asked to be the monster you’ve been shamed out of being.

But I also just feel like I don’t want to do it. I’d like to not want to do it and not feel bad about not wanting to do it. But, if I can’t get that, I’ll take just not wanting to do it.

But mainly I’d like to figure out a way in my own head to short-circuit this dynamic. Usually, stressful terrible things happen to people and you help them and things get resolved. Even if they hit a bad patch, it’s months (or a few bad years) and then shit gets together. Your help actually helps.

But I feel like, if I read back through the annals of TCP, I’d find something with my brother–something along these lines–once a month, once every other month at the most. Something happens. I get brought into it. I feel like how it’s being handled is a stressful clusterfuck, but I say nothing  and just make supportive noises because otherwise, I risk getting pulled deeper into the mess. No matter what’s going on in my life, there’s some bigger drama in his.

I’m so tired of it. And I don’t really understand how he’s not also tired of it. I don’t understand how he doesn’t take measures to save himself. Let alone his kids.


5 thoughts on “And Further

  1. You’re not alone in this, Betsy. I’ve seen more instances of this type of thing than I can count. I deal with some of this in my own life. The hard truth is, some people don’t know how to help themselves – and as long as someone comes in to fix the problems (throw money at fixing the problems), that person will never truly have to figure out how to solve the problems in life. And the shitty thing is, they just don’t care that other people have to rearrange their lives and finances to bail another person out time after time.

  2. It’s harder when there’s kids involved, but I’ve had to accept that the help my family wants from me is not the kind I can give, and the help I want to give (that I think will actually do some good) is not the kind they want. It’s an impasse.

    I can’t make them accept what I have to give, no matter how much I love them. And that’s ok, because it’s their life; they have the right to refuse. But they don’t have the right to make me feel guilty for not enabling what I see as destructive or mean behavior. That’s my right, to not help with that.

    So: we don’t talk much.

    But I keep in touch with the kids through Facebook, and if I live long enough, I think I’ll get along ok with the next generation, at least. I’ve been able to help one of the kids in a really important way at a critical moment, and if that’s all I’m ever able to do, well, at least I did that much.

  3. Once big difference between the help your brother is asking for and help you have received is that he is asking for support in not doing anything new, whereas you have gotten support for trying new things, taking on more challenges, and helping out others. I don’t think you can exactly pay “help towards doing more” forward to your GA brother, but maybe in time you’ll figure out a realistic way to pay it forward to his kids.

  4. Yeah, you’ve already watched this movie and you know how it will end — with another showing of a slightly different movie (substantially same plot and characters) next month. No wonder you don’t want to buy a ticket. Your brother is an adult. He’s trying to avoid the harder consequences and character implications of the choices he’s made (as we all are prone to do), but nothing obligates you to enlarge the harm by stepping in to “rescue.” You don’t want to do it. Nuff said. He’s capable of doing for himself, but he’s disinclined (because he can always get someone else…a girlfriend, a parent, a brother) to do it — and then he never has to take responsibility for whatever is done because he didn’t actually do it. He’s pushing 40, right? By this point, as you point out, these are not crisis events, but collectively have become his way of life. Nothing wrong with doing what you can for his kids when you’re able and letting him fuck up or figure it out.

  5. Last night at dinner was interesting because my parents were obviously upset to talk about it. But it was clear that there’s just a spewing forth of bs from both my brother and my sister-in-law and the truth of the latest crisis is indeterminable. It’s also clear that the extent of my youngest nephew’s suffering is both larger than I knew and that nothing is being done to ease it. My sister-in-law had been told some time ago he needs a doctor and a counselor and she can’t be bothered to secure that for him. And now that he’s run into bigger problems, she’s looking to ship him off to my parents, who are devastated for him, but, obviously, can’t take him in. Whether he’ll be shipped off to my brother remains to be seen, since she, in her typical way, waffles between “what does my son need and how can I do it for him?” and “what can I get out of this if I dig my feet in?” My brother, in his typical way, is like “whatever.”

    So, my parents, in a new strategy, have offered to pay for whatever my brother and sister-in-law agree to do.

    So, they can’t use my parents against each other. They have to make a plan, figure out to how execute it, and my parents will finance it. But, since they have to do this together, much to my parents’ despair, they’re not expecting this will cost them any money.

    But it’s interesting to realize that my parents are feeling very similar feelings to me–trying to figure out how to be supportive without being forced into the role of parent (as in “person who has all the responsibility for the situation”).

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