Backing away from toxic people

As time goes by, I can sadly see more and more why I have ended up with mental health issues.

*Disclaimer* – to my brother. I have chosen, until now, to not discuss your issues and their impact on my life. However, they have started to have such a large impact on me and I need this safe space to discuss them and how they are making me feel, so, if you are reading to this point, please, respect my privacy and my right to have this space, and stop reading.

My brother is an alcoholic. His issues have been ongoing, but came to a head last December (in fact, the day of my 30th birthday) when my parents had to drive down to collect him and his things, and he moved in with them. My husbands’ oldest sister died two years ago after a 20 year addiction to alcohol, so given the fact that he is still traumatised by her behaviour over the years and her untimely death, he warned me of what was to come, and like I fool, I laughed it off. It couldn’t be that bad, could it?

How wrong was it.

I won’t go into the events that have occurred over the past year in too much depth, mainly because I want to try and respect the privacy of my brother as much as I can whilst also having the space to dissect and analyse his behaviour in my safe space, but also, I probably don’t have the energy to type it all out and you certainly don’t want to be sitting down for several hours reading the ins and outs of the mayhem he has caused.

To give a brief overview and some history to the situation I want to blog about today, it has been a roller coaster of emotions and behaviours from my brother, mainly drinking and lying. Whenever my parents go away, he tended to crash into oblivion resulting in myself and my sister trying to support him and unable to get medical (or police) help even at the worst of times (super stressful and SUPER triggering) and then my sister took a large step back as she was not willing to put herself in the situation/firing line any longer.

Then unfortunately we have had more than several occasions where my brother has been given (sole) access to his nine year old daughter, resulting in her messaging me to help her because “she wasn’t safe” and “Daddy is drunk”. Understandably fuming about the fact her mother continued to allow her daughter to be put in that situation I reluctantly made the call, with my sisters support, to social services to report that I had concerns. Thankfully, he is no longer allowed access and although I was hoping it would be an incentive for him to get sober, it hasn’t seemed to work that way.

The other issue has been the fact that he drinks, and then lies about it, denying he is drunk, even when it is obvious. And that also means that he has been driving his car drunk. There has been too many instances over the past year to list that either myself or my sister have taken his car keys from him, to stop him driving, but my parents have always eventually given them back to him. He tries to get to AA 4 times per week, and of course if he doesn’t have a car, that means someone has to take him. He has of course already admitted that at least on one occasion he stopped on the way back and bought a bottle of vodka, drank it and chucked the empty bottle in the bushes before coming home.

On all these occasions that I have suspected he has been drink driving, or someone else has told me that he has, I haven’t conclusively been able to prove it. That is, until Thursday. As I have said before, my mum and I run a business together, and the office is a converted old stable block on a farm/office park development about 100 yards down the road from my parents house (where my brother is currently living). It’s very convenient, obviously, to have it so close to their house.

On Thursday, the door opens, and in comes my brother. As soon as I saw him I knew he was drunk. He stays for about 30/40 minutes, during which time my mum asks him if he walked or drove – “Drove” he says. (I’m f*cking livid). When he goes to the other room to take his cup back to the kitchen, I quickly look through his pockets to find his car keys, and hide them. I cannot allow him to get back in the car steaming, despite the fact my heart is beating, my hands are shaking and my anxiety is peaking.

He eventually leaves and my mum follows him out, and they have a blazing row. When she comes back, she tells me she has told him to leave (but I already know it won’t happen – my mum, as you know is full of false threats – and anyway, kicking him out isn’t the way to solve this!).

I take the keys home and give them to a friend for safekeeping. I made the decision that I was not going to give them back, because every single time before, the keys have then gone back to my brother, and the cycle continues, and he is allowed to continue.

I’ve tried calling the police and reporting it, and so has my sister, but they say they can’t do anything unless they actually catch him “in the act”. I don’t want my brother to get into trouble. But, I DO want him to stop putting himself and others at risk by getting behind the wheel of a car drunk.

The next day (Friday)  I told my mum that I had decided to keep the keys as I did not want my brother driving his car any longer.

“It’s not your call to make” she half shouted down the phone.

I tried to explain that I understand she thinks it isn’t my call to make, but now I have 100% conclusive evidence that he is drink driving, I cannot give the keys back to someone who is just going to give them straight back to him and allow /condone this behaviour.

“IF YOU DON’T BRING THE KEYS BACK TONIGHT, YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH SHIT WILL BE COMING YOUR WAY THIS WEEKEND” (and hung up the phone).

It’s all cool. I’m used to being threatened by her. It’s her main parenting method (remember the blog post about boxing day?!). But this time I can’t just roll over. I need to stand up for what I believe in and what I feel is right.

I rang the DVLA for advice. I explained the situation, and they told me that if I could make a formal report to them, they would gain access to his medical records, and if he has been diagnosed with/is being treated for alcohol dependency, their standard procedure is to revoke the license for 12 months. So, I made the formal report as they said and I have everything crossed that they do that.

I had decided to message my brother just prior to calling the DVLA, and I sent a copy to my mum too, just so everyone was on the same page.

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Shortly afterwards I had a call from my parents landline, which I didn’t pick up, and then a voicemail.

It was from my mum.

“THIS IS NOT YOUR DECISION TO MAKE. ANYWAY, THE DVLA WON’T SUSPEND HIS LICENCE WITHOUT PROOF THAT HE IS DRINKING (I mean, what the f*ck? Is she defending and hiding the fact he is drinking now???). IF (YOUR BROTHER) CAN’T HAVE HIS CAR, WHO WILL DRIVE HIM TO AA 4 TIMES PER WEEK, BECAUSE IT CERTAINLY WON’T BE ME! THAT IS 16 TRIPS! TWO CAN PLAY AT THIS GAME. IF YOU DON’T BRING THE KEYS BACK BY TONIGHT I WILL BE CALLING THE POLICE AND REPORTING YOU FOR THEFT!”

I rang her straight back. I told her I would happily get the number for the police for her, because if they turn up on my doorstep I would invite them in and explain exactly WHY I have my brothers car keys, and give them to the police, and let them make the decision as to whether they give them back to him or not. Let that be on their conscience, not mine.

I explained that yes, in fact I had had a long conversation with the DVLA, and they WOULD revoke his licence once they had looked into his medical records (which she clearly wasn’t happy about).

She then started making threats again, so I very calmly (but assertively) said “Please do not threaten me” …. she carried on….. “Please do not threaten me”….. she hung up.

I then returned to the office to do a few errands and one of the ladies there pulled me aside and told me that my mum had actually been in the office when she had made that first call to me, and that she wanted me to know that they were all shocked at the way she had spoken to me, and that if there was anything I needed, to just shout.

It was so heartwarming and reassuring to hear that I had their support, particularly as I’m sure recent events (my brother turning up to the office drunk etc) will have made them all feel uncomfortable.

I lay in bed that night mulling the situation over and over in my head. I had spent the entire evening feeling incredibly hurt, upset and mostly anxious. I was particularly worried about someone turning up and becoming aggressive (not my mum, but maybe my dad ?) because I would not be able to give the keys back given that they aren’t even here (for that very reason).

As I was lying in bed scrolling on my phone, I came across this quote, and it made me realise that I needed to stick to my guns.

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Despite all the threats from my mum (and I am sure there are more to come, anything that can be used as a weapon against me will be used as a manipulating tool) I have to stick to my guns on this one. Car accidents are easy enough to have when you are sober, let alone drunk. How would I feel if I gave the keys back, for him to get in the car and mow down and kill an entire family? I would not be able to live with myself.

So, it’s now Saturday evening and I haven’t heard a single word from my parents. My sister phoned to say she heard what happened, and spoken to mum, and told her that she completely supported what I was doing. It is so nice to have at least someone on my side, and I told her how much it meant to me.

I wonder what is coming next. I think maybe my mum may try to use the business to manipulate me (as she owns half of one business, and more than half of another) but I’ve spoken to my husband and made plans about being able to take out various loans if the worst comes to the worst and she tries to sell it from under me, out of spite.

That said, if she chooses to do that, after I have spent 8 years making it my own, working as hard as possible and making plans and dreams, purely out of spite, I don’t think I could ever speak to her again. She has done similarly nasty things before in my life but she knows exactly how much the business means to me. It is more than a job, it is my lifeblood, and if tries to destroy it just to spite me, well…. I just can’t.

So, that’s where I am right now. Horrendously anxious, surprisingly not having any self harm urges (which is fantastic really, given the pressure I am under) and awaiting the “shit” that is meant to be coming my way this weekend. I expect something may happen tomorrow, given that my brother needs to go to AA tomorrow night – watch this space.

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