My family is breaking down
I have been on and off here for quite a while over the past couple of years, with problems with self-harm and depression, but right now there is a another load of problems going on in my life.
MY 18 year old brother is tearing my family apart. He is stealing from my parents (mum and stepdad), lazing around the house and generally just being destructive. He is a compulsive liar and he has lied to our family a lot about things that have gone missing (and they have been found out to have been taken by him). He's done things including: stealing my mum's credit card, her bus pass, and drinking a bottle of whisky of my stepdad's that was a gift to him. It has caused my mum to have lots of problems (stress, high blood pressure etc) and it is really taking its toll on the family.
Now I know that he is going through a lot of problems. He's tried to commit suicide a few times, but there is just no excuse for his behaviour. I know a mot of people who are going through a lot of things (me included, no need for that now...)
The last straw for my mum has come this week, where her bag has gone missing (containing money, her cards, her drivers licence and her passport). Although there is no other explanation than that he has took it (there is evidence)... he is still lying and saying that it isn't him. This has made my mum kick him out of the house and she no longer wants anything to do with him.
I live with my boyfriend, rather than my parents, so I have offered for him to come and live with us provided that he pay some rent and contribute to the house. He said no, he would rather couch surf and stay in hostels.
He has even been to talk to the housing trust, where he has told them that he has nowhere to live, rather than stay with me. He wants to live rent free, with everyone feeling sorry for him and taking pity on him. That's his game.
It's making me so sad and so angry. My family have given everything to him that he has needed and he has just thrown it back in our faces. It's got to me so much today that I have lashed out at my boyfriend. I've also been crying a lot, because I just don't know what to do.
I just don't know what to do. It is making my mum ill, my stepdad angry, my sister scared and sad, and everyone around him miserable and depressed. He's toxic.
More than anything, I want to know what I can do for my mum because I don't want to see her like this anymore. She's miserable and sick because of his lies and his behaviour, after all she has done for him.
Has anyone has a family break down when everyone has been an adult (rather than being in a breakup where there is custody of children to think about etc)? Should I try to get my brother to stay with me, or should I just leave him to rot and realise what the world is really like? What can I do about my mum to make her happier? I want to try to fix it.
I know this is long, and thankyou to anyone who has got this far. Any advice would be amazing.
I am sorry you and yoru family are going through this.
It sounds like you and your family need to take care of yourselves and let your brother figure some things out for him self. As you know doubt know you can only help someone who wants to and takes part in helping themselves, and from what you have posted your brother is not interested in help right now.
It is hard when a loved one does not want or respond to help.
I can very much relate to this. My younger brother behaved very much like yours at a similar age and I really understand how stressful it is. I'll tell you how we handled it and my experience if it's any help.
Well my brother stole regularly from me and my parents, money, drink, possibly jewellery but we can't prove it. He took my car and crashed it while drunk. We know he was doing a lot of hash at the time. He was so angry all the time, he came after me with a knife one night. We don't know why he was so angry, maybe it was the hash.
Anyway, my parents would not throw him out, they felt it was a phase and he would grow out of it. And they just couldn't bear turning their back on one of their own when he needed them most, despite what his words and actions said. And in the end they were right. It took maybe...6 years? But he did grow out of it. He had a bad accident after a night's heavy drinking and he really needed his family (he sat on my knee in the hospital while they stitched his face, but that's another story). That was the start of the change for him. He's mid twenties now and an upstanding member of society and very much part of the family again. He's my friend as well as my brother now and I depend on him a lot now.
When all this was going on, I begged my parents to throw him out. It was breaking my Dad's heart to get up in the morning and find €50 gone from his wallet on a regular basis. Looking back, I think they did the right thing. By keeping his close, they kept him safe and he did come back to us. We went through an awful lot to keep him safe though. I got phone calls on a semi regular basis from his friends in the middle of the night saying he needed help getting out of this situation or another and I could end up going to break up a fight or collect him from the police station.
This is just my experience. I think most people would have given up a long time before my parents did. I will say that me and my Dad lied to my Mom a lot about what was going on. She got so distressed about it, she still doesn't know about a lot of it and it's for the best. What's done is done. It worked out in the end for us.
If I were in your position, I would try and get your brother to stay with you. I don't think tough love always works. If he's anything like my brother, you'll need to keep him close to keep him safe. Yes it'll be hard and stressful, but in my experience, it's worth it in the end. My brother's back in my life and I never even hoped that he'd be my friend as well, but he is.
I'm sorry that this isn't advice, it's just my experience. But I do understand what you're going through. It brought back a lot of emotions just writing this.
Thanks for your advice, Ktulu. I really do want him to stay with me (to be honest) because then at least I know where he is, and that he has somewhere to come to sleep and eat... but he's officially an adult now so I can not force him to do anything, it's out of my control. I just hope that he will come to his senses. I know that he has got somewhere to stay for the next few weeks so I am not so worried, but I don't know about after that, because I know that my mum is not letting him back home.
However, she has said to me that she is going to offer to him to pay for a deposit on a flat and some furniture, so that she knows that he has a roof over his head... but I just have a feeling that, with the way that he is now, he will refuse so that people will feel sorry for him.
I hope that he will grow out of it, but unfortunately his father (not mine, we're half siblings... and they are not longer together) is a lot like this too. And he has never grown out of it. I guess you would call him a "deadbeat"
I just hope that it is just a phase and he comes to his senses eventually. We know as a family that if he just has a job and a routine that he would be a lot better, but he just won't look for work.
It's all very frustrating and I am feeling a lot of emotions right now, but I can't help but care.
I hope it's a phase too. He's only 18, although he's an adult, he's a very young, immature adult. He has a lot to learn yet. I understand there's some family history there but he won't necessarily turn out like his dad.
It would be very helpful if he could get a job. Is there anything at all that interests him? Would he do a trade? Is he involved in sport? My brother did have a job/apprenticeship in fairness to him and it did help him. At least he knew he couldn't be calling in sick every Monday morning! And he did/does enjoy his job then and now, it gave him some self worth I think.
I think your mum's offer is very kind and having his own place might be what he needs to give him the kick up the bum to grow up a bit. There's a lot of responsibility involved in paying your own bills on time and doing your own grocery shopping. If he would agree to this, it could be just what he needs. But he'd also need to find (and keep) a job to pay the rent.
Whatever happens, I think it would be good to just keep in touch and make yourself available to him no matter what ridiculous problems he might have. I know with my brother I did this and he told me pretty much everything. He knew I wouldn't freak out on him or 'tell' (even though I really wanted to!) He trusted me so he told me more, so in the end I was able to help him and get into his head a bit more.
It's a fine line, but I would err on the side of caution because he is only 18 after all. I understand your feelings, and caring despite everything, it's hard not to...he's your little brother.
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