I think there is a set amount of shit and drama that the human brain can take before it just says, nope! and ceases to function.
The drama relating to my brother and his behaviour continues to escalate, and I really am done with being involved in it all.
After the initial “drama” of taking the car keys, and the ensuing phone calls, things went relatively quiet, other than a large amount of frostiness and tension between myself and Mum, particularly when in the office.
Through the week the seemed to warm to be, as if the whole debacle had somehow been forgotten about. That weekend, I took my kids to soft play and decided I would attempt to talk to my Mum about the future plans for the business and her impending retirement, so invited her for a cup of tea to talk.
We spoke a little about the business, and then she told me she didn’t know why I couldn’t have come to her house to talk about it.
I wasn’t surprised. I tried to explain that after the way she and Dad had behaved, I didn’t want to be anywhere near their house. Putting myself in that environment over and over again wasn’t healthy for me. She didn’t understand. She just doesn’t.
I asked her whether she thought her behaviour had been appropriate over the past week. She seemed surprised, but had the decency to look a little trite. So I asked, “So, do you have anything to say to me, then?”
Amazingly, she managed to squeeze out a tiny quiet “sorry”. Not much, but it’s a start and I’ll take it – it is the first time I think I can remember her actually accepting her actions were in the wrong.
A few days later, I was in the office when she approached me and said she just “wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to give your brothers keys back, because he’s going to ask you for them to go and visit his daughter on her birthday, and I don’t want you to give them back”.
I was literally dumbfounded. Maybe I’m on some alternate reality but how can someone swing from literally one end of the scale to the other so quickly? I assured her I wouldn’t and she went on her way.
Fast forward to the following week, and I travelled up to Birmingham to stay with a friend overnight as I was attending a one day training course for work the following day. During that day, I had received a text from my brother asking to talk about his car keys, because “he wanted to visit his daughter on her birthday, and she hasn’t been able to hug Daddy in X number of months”. I responded that “It wasn’t up for discussion” as really, there is no point in discussing this topic any longer – it is what it is.
Around 7pm I get a phone call from my mum telling me that my brother is “breaking his heart” because he isn’t able to visit his daughter, and that I need to give him a chance to prove himself. I told her, as I have said before, as he is an active alcoholic, I am not willing to give him the keys until the DVLA had revoked his licence (I made a report to them about him being unfit to drive, and they said they would revoke it once they could access his medical records to confirm it).
She got very angry, called me names, then started threatening to dissolve our (business) partnership, to talk to the accountant, basically threatening to take the business away from me. I suggested him catching a train, or a coach. I made lots of alternatives but she told me I was being irrational (really, me the irrational one?) because my brother needs the car to get to Poole (you can’t seriously think an alcoholic can turn it off for one day only?).
The call got so nasty that I asked my friend to record it on her phone. When I played it back to myself I just couldn’t believe how angry and full of hate she sounded like, especially given the conversation we had had over tea at the soft play not a week (?) previously.
I was so upset by the call that I then descended into a full blown anxiety attack. All I can say is that I thank whoever I need to thank that I was there with a friend rather than on my own in a hotel room because god only knows what would have happened.
Once I had calmed down I sat down and wrote out a long email to my mum:
Since our phone call earlier I have been mulling over the events of the past 6 weeks and the reality of the situation we find ourselves in. Please excuse the formal tone of my email, but I find it easier to put my thoughts down in order.
I am finding it very hard that whenever we have a disagreement you use whatever you can as a weapon against me to try to manipulate me into doing what you want me to do.
The business that we now share bears no relationship whatsoever to the situation currently going on with (my brother), yet you are threatening to take it all away from me if I don’t do as you ask and give the keys back. Every time you threaten me with this it makes me feel insecure about my future. The business is my livelihood, my future and my children’s future, and it is affecting my mental health for it to continually be threatened in this way. Since I started working with you I’ve put in a lot of time and effort to help grow and expand the business, and I feel strongly and passionately about it as a part of my life, as well as it being my source of income. To lose it would be incredibly distressing for me, obviously from a financial point of view but also emotionally, as I feel honoured to be taking over a business that you started and put so much work into over so many years.
That said, I appreciate that you started the company and that you have worked hard to grow it, prior to me joining you. Would it make you feel better if we sat down together to put a value on your half of the partnership and the limited company, and I buy you out? Ben is happy for me to remortgage the house to make this a possibility. If you are dead set on taking my livelihood away from me by dissolving the partnership then I would be willing to do this to protect it.
I understand that (my brother) is living with you and that you need to make decisions about his car keys, because not having them means extra work for you. However, you cannot dispute the fact that he is an alcoholic and cannot be trusted to tell the truth, and by taking on the burden of him living with you you have to be able to acknowledge this, and take on the other aspects of his illness. He has proven previously he is more than happy to drink and drive, so if this means you have to take away his ability to do that, and then act as his chauffeur or pay for his travel some other way, that is a responsibility that goes along with having him in your house. By not addressing dangerous behaviour that he wouldn’t otherwise engage in if he weren’t drinking, you are not only enabling him but actively encouraging his addiction, because he isn’t facing any consequences from his behaviour.
I know that you don’t believe this but my only reason for not giving the keys back is to protect (my brother) and the other people using the road. You may think I’m trying to cause trouble or be malicious, but why would I be? I have enough going on in my own life to keep me busy – I don’t need all this extra stress and angst! But I cannot have (my brother) killing someone, or even just causing an accident, on my conscience. In addition, if he is involved in any sort of accident, however minor, and is found to be drunk at the scene, he’ll face prosecution – do any of us really need to go through that at this point in our lives, with everything else going on? Why not simply prevent it happening altogether? I now know that he will drive drunk and can’t just un-know that.
I feel very much like I am no longer a valued part of your family. The last two times I spent any length of time at your house, I left in tears. I cannot continue to put myself through that. It is emotionally damaging, and I don’t want my children to see me like that. You are my mother, you should be my main supporter and protector, yet you call me an arsehole, tell me I am causing trouble, threaten to take some of the most important things away from me, and use my children to manipulate me – threatening to take away their Christmas presents if I didn’t come to your house for boxing day – who does that? Why can’t you see that threatening me to do something only damages our relationship even further? Why not sit down and talk to me like a normal person, rather than constantly making threats to get me to do what you want? I feel like you still view me as the very troubled person I was ten years ago, and not as the person I’ve worked so hard to become today.
I am feeling utterly hurt and dismayed about the way you are behaving. It was only last week you told me in the office that you wanted to make sure I didn’t give the keys back! Now our conversation today. I hope you understand now why I no longer feel comfortable coming to your house. I hope maybe my email will help you reflect on the way you are behaving towards me. I am not the instigator in all of this. If you want to blame anyone, blame (my brother). He chose to drink and drive. He took the decision out of my hands. I am only doing what a sensible person would do – ask anyone the question. Hell, even ring the DVLA yourself. They will tell you exactly what they think of the situation and what they plan to do about it.
Please, I beg you, do not hire him a car to drive to Poole. Once he is down there he is out of reach and you cannot control what he does. Do you really want to be responsible if something happens? Please try and see the bigger picture here. If he really wants to see (his daughter) that much, there are trains and coaches. You asked me what I would do ? Firstly, for my children, I would stop drinking, and lying. Secondly come hell or high water I would get down there to see them. Even if it took me 10 hours, I would do it! But Tim just wants the easy route, and by telling him you will hire a car – it’s making it easy.
I hope you understand why I am sending this in an email. The way you have been behaving towards me lately makes me feel uncomfortable about approaching you face to face and I feel this is my only option.
The following day I got a short response, saying that “she loves me dearly” and “the business was safe” but no acknowledgement what-so-ever of any of the other points in my email.
Another couple of days passed, and that brings us to Saturday morning, when I (reluctantly) asked my parents if they would look after the children when I went to a work appointment that I wasn’t able to get out of. Whilst dropping them off, I manage to again embroil myself in an argument with my Dad about the car keys, being told that I had “removed his role as head of the family” and the only reason I had taken the keys was “to punish” my brother. No matter how much I try to explain my reasoning, and the fact that because EVERY SINGLE TIME previously when I have taken the keys and handed them back to my parents they have given them straight back to my brother – is enough to make me not trust their word this time? That is will be on my shoulders if he subsequently drives and injures someone? I feel like I am repeating the same thing over and over again but no f*cker is listening to me.
The following day I had a chat with my brother, and it really felt like we were getting somewhere. There seemed to be something different about him – something lighter perhaps – and he told me had hadn’t had a drink for a month (well – not true as the office incident was less than a month ago but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt). I felt like I was having a soul sharing moment with him and told him about the conversation myself and mum had had, and how horrible she had been that I felt I needed to record it, and read him parts of the above email. How stupid was I. Why oh why do I again and again trust my brother, and not just accept he is at the epicentre of the shit pot pulling the strings and stirring the pot?
Today my mum phones me in the office to ask why I recorded her phone call. Why would I expect anything less of my brother than for him to go directly to her and wind her up? She told me I had violated her privacy by recording her without her permission and that she was disappointed in me. Disappointed in ME? I saw red. I told her that she should be disappointed in herself for the fact that I felt like I NEEDED to record to call, and that she needed to look at her own behaviour before attacking me about mine.
I sent her this message but of course it had no response:
Of course it didn’t have a response. She has zero accountability for her behaviour and never has. Now I am finally standing up for myself and standing my ground, she can’t believe it. She’s literally shocked because she doesn’t understand that maybe this might be a consequence of her behaviour – how could it be? It feeds back into the almost narcissistic thinking pattern.
#I’m so done with it all. I go in their house (because I have to, twice per day to drop off and pick up my dog who stays with theirs while I am at work) and I am barely spoken to. My Dad is looking sicker and sicker as every day passes and I am convinced that the stress my brother is putting him through will eventually be too much and will kill him.
My brother has put himself at the centre of the perfect storm, and in his journey to get himself better he simply cannot see how much damage he has caused to the lives of everyone around him. I no longer want to be part of that family. The way my mum treats me isn’t with love, care or gentleness. It is constant bad feeling, threats, bribes. I’ve had to put my medication up due to the way she has been behaving and it’s direct impact on me. I need to start thinking of my own mental health. It is a miracle I survived growing up with these influences (mind you it was by a small margin given the number of attempts I made on my life) and it is only now at the age of 31 I am able to step back and truly see their behaviour for what it is.
I hope through this realisation I can reach out to teenagers who may find themselves in a similar predicament and help them see that there will come a time when they will able to able to take a step back and have that moment of realisation too.
For now, take care. xxd