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Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not priva
te or confidential but public).
I am very sorry to know about this painful situation about your brother and the abuse you have suffered for so long.
Based on your story, I would say that if your father is this open and truly willing to be emotionally supportive, it could be very helpful for your own healing process. At the same time, having a codependent mother who has enabled his dysfunctions all this long, and I assume your father was not able to play an active role setting boundaries and setting and end to this enabling from your mother and the abuse from your brother, represents a tough scenario for anybody in your
Do you and your
brother live with your parents?
Hi Rafael, thanks a million for the quick reply. It's been a pretty emotional week for me trying to digest all this information- basically the ability to put a name to what had been going on for so long. I don't live with them anymore, I left home when I was 17 (for university) and then lived with my brother for a year between the ages of 21 and 22. That year was hell, I got so depressed, and my brother constantly moaned to my mother that I was being touchy constantly, and moody.. when I was trying to deal with how much he was upsetting me and not able to say it.
Dad never gets involved in conflict (bar maybe three times in my life when he's taken my brother on and they've shouted at each other.. scary situations). I'm not familiar with the term codepedent?
My brother also lives in the same county as me (in Ireland), my parents are aboutXXXXXaway.
You're very welcome. II am relieved to know you now live independently. Codependency is addictions distorting relationships, where people like your mother, actively enable abuse and other like your father enable also abuse and neglect by their passivity and avoidance. People with codependency use to truly believe they are doing their best out of love, while in fact promoting what is unhealthy. It seem s obvious to me, that codependency is a core issue - addiction undermining your family relationships, one that lead and fueled everything you underwent for so long.
I do believe you are wise setting new healthy and clear boundaries towards your brother, taking into account how abusive and violent he has been, and also about your mother because of the enabling, which always goes with denial, avoidance, justification, lack of accountability and other issues that never help relationships.
I never thought about my mother and what she was doing by enabling his behaviour until recently, and it's actually been quite upsetting to deal with that too. To be totally honest, my own mental health can't take his mood swings anymore. He messes me about, and then I get upset about it, and Dad will listen and sympathise, but not do anything.. I recently said to my Mum that I wasn't going to talk to him any more and wouldn't be putting myself out for him, and her response was 'well, you won't be hearing from him for a long time, and you're ok with that?'. As if it was my fault... I don't know if I should even say anything to her, but I'm at the stage in the healing process where I just want to out-pour, and for them to hear that it wasn't my fault..
Confrontation of unacceptable, abusive or neglectful behaviors is an integral part of setting healthy boundaries, so of developing good relationships and healing too. Regarding your brother it seems obvious that you would not get anything helpful from exposing yourself to his abusive ways at all, so i would suggest just setting distance from him. On the other hand your parents would continue to keep in touch and share, and specially about your mother, I think it would be healthy for you to express your feelings and confront what was wrong for so long, and make it clear you truly want for your relationship to be healthier and better, so for them to respect you and your decisions. Most times people in her shoes are not willing to take any responsibility for their wrong doings, but you always have the right to make it clear what you you think, set new boundaries and keep working on your own healing process regardless of how much they happen to change or not, since that is something nobody can control but each of them.
I feel that way about my brother too. There's no way we're ever going to have a healthy relationship, and now that he has a girlfriend, any contact we all have is characterised by him teasing me, putting me down and trying to argue with me. It's like our family are pieces of dirt under his shoe now that she's in his life.
I'm conscious that my mother's response to any time I've tried to explain about my brother 'getting away with everything' before was 'well what do you want me to do about it?' and that's not the conversation I want to get in to, I want her to acknowledge that this is how I feel, and I'm not going to tolerate being emotionally beaten down any longer. Have you any suggestions as to how to avoid it descending into WW3?
The best decision you have already done is to get professional counseling to work on your own healing process. Your parents and brother would not change for good unless they truly acknowledge reality, hold full accountability for their own choices and actions nd show real willingness to work on positive changes, and for that professional support would be necessary too. Then as you see, you cannot wait for that to happen if it happens at all, thus please set realistic expectations and clear boundaries, otherwise you could endlessly waste energy and peace of mind trying to make them change and that will never happen that way. Then please come to terms with reality and take your power back to own your life and reshape it the way you need and deserve beyond any further exposure or limitation by any form of abuse or codependency.
This has actually been so helpful, thank you so much for your time. I'm still having a hard time accepting that I'm cutting ties with my only sibling, and can't help but feel guilt (probably wrongly) associated with that, so it's really reassuring to know that I'm doing the right thing. I see now that it's probably never going to happen that my parents accept what has gone on for 27 years, and are willing to change, but it's nice to be able to step back and see that it's not something that I did wrong, and to look at the family issues as a whole.
I think I'm just going to have to limit conversations that involve him, and choose the weekends to see my family without him being there.
Thank you so much again for your help, I'm just sorry I didn't get counselling years ago- might have allowed me to build up the defences and self respect I needed before being bullied!
You're very welcome. I totally agree with you and feel hopeful about your present and future since you have finally started your own healing process and with the right foot. This is not easy at all, but it is also necessary, rewarding, fulfilling and totally worthy process for you.
Thank you for your trust. take gentle care and consistent action.