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Sibling estrangement - how to deal with it

(18 Posts)
keisi Thu 20-Feb-20 17:18:58

Hello all,

Thanks for taking the time to read the following.

DB lives in country D has got a family – wife is housewife. I live in country A and DB wants to move to country A.
Parents have disliked DB wife from the start and viceversa she has never stood them up. DB has had endless psychological battles in this respect with both sides. DB has got own business and when not in the right mood profits go drastically downwards into losses. DB and wife and kids and my parents are constantly argumentative to each other – this is how they function. I cannot stand arguments and am put in difficult position when they occur in my presence when visiting them.
DB has got a chronic health issue and has been thinking that country A might give him better chances at treating this issue than country D. Literature suggests that life expectancy for such condition if managed is normal. DB worried that country D might have a lack of medicine supplies at some point or that condition might deteriorate and complains that will die soon and unexpectedly.
DB has expected I find a lawyer or if not a lawyer arrange DB a job in country A. DB profession is different from mine. I have 2 DC and a full-time job. I have been giving DB direction and finding job adverts and suggestions on life in country A. DB has not deemed this enough with the excuse that DB is in no position to remove focus away from his business as otherwise his whole family will perish financially so has claimed that it is impossible for him to look for a job himself due to a lack of time. DB acknowledges I might have a high housework load with two young DC and has suggested that I could hire a babysitter and a cleaner to help me with them. Also expects me to find time while at work to settle all the right legal routes for him and family and have them moved to country A.
After expecting these things for a number of years, when I visited recently he told me in a very bitter and envious deprecating way how so-and-so that we knew had moved to country A with little effort due to wife making way for the so-and-so and how thousands of others in country D had managed to find a route for their cousins and even friends and how we in our family were so ungrateful and did not help each-other. From that moment on, our relationship has taken downwards, as I did not feel responsible to move his family plus when warning them about financial implications they look deaf. In addition to this, the move can only happen if they sustain themselves financially, therefore by finding a job, but he has not got time to look for a job or to look to links on suitable jobs I had sent him. And DB is somehow convinced that by hiring a lawyer things might be magically easier? And anyway I have sent them links to lawyer contacts anyway but apparently they expect me to deal with the lawyer as well so have made no moves into this respect.
My point is I do not believe they want me to hand them out all expenses, just the way they are they are constantly finding fault in the way I treat them. And they do not believe me when I tell them that he only way to move is for one of them to find a job beforehands.
Then, a few months ago some flooding happened which destroyed DB rented offices, so caused him to deal with situation, remove belongings and transfer somewhere else losing several months work and also investment done in previous offices. DB has been desperate and felt very much more vulnerable from that moment and cut off communication with me – and I suppose thinking that I am selfishly enjoying my life in country A while he is bearing all this suffering of the flooding and the move and of the uncertainty that medical supplies might end up in country D.
DB has also limited communication with our parents (also living in country D), as per his nature (does not talk much generally) and trying to conserve all energies for work (he has his own business).
My concern is that DB might become depressive also, he is not thinking right as claiming things that go beyond normal boundaries (such as the previously explained situation). Would very much like for him to open up and understand others perspective as well. DB is very well respected to whoever knows him that is not family – but then very bitter with family members. DB wife has found her ways to cope with him not pointing out anything that might be going beyond boundaries in relationship with other people. She does this to appease him in the short-term and to avoid arguments in the short-term, also she lacks in sympathy for DB side of the family so if people involved or DB side all the more she appeases whatever he says and fuels that.
Also DB has had 2-3 cases of panic attacks in previous years that I know of (as he is very sensitive) and is father of 2 DC that I love very much and who love to meet my 2 DC as well.
Not sure how to carry on as DB now does not answer my calls/messages. I plan to visit my parents in country D at some point during the summer and have one of the DC’s birthday celebrated as well – but with the DB not talking at all, this seems a tense time and is putting me off. DB has told my parents that I should reflect on whatever I have done wrong towards him (he pretends I deceived him in believing that I would provide all legal routes for them to move providing a false sense of stability to them).

Thanks for any opinions on this.

Smileless2012 Thu 20-Feb-20 21:00:10

Oh dear, what an awful situation for you to be in keisi. From what I can gather from you post, your brother appears to have some quite serious issues both emotionally and mentally. I'm sorry if that upsets you.

I understand your brother's need to focus on his business but his expectations of you are totally unreasonable. You've done all that you can to give him the information he needs and point him in the right direction.

Perhaps you could write to him, outlining all the effort that's gone into gathering as much information as you can, that you've done your best and there's no more you can do.

You could tell him how much you love him and you hope that he'll respond and you'll leave that with him and wont be contacting him unless he lets you know that's what he wants.

I understand your worries about his history of panic attacks and the distinct possibility that he may be or is suffering from depression, but he needs professional help and that's not something you can provide.

You don't say if your parents have expressed an opinion but I hope they've made him aware of all you've done and suggested that he should be the one reflecting on his treatment of you.

I do hope that you can find a way forward that gives you peace of mind and an assurance that you've done all you can and can do no more. Take careflowers.

Chewbacca Thu 20-Feb-20 21:10:25

I'm sorry keisi, I just couldn't follow your OP at all, it's all so complicated. I just lost track of who was where and where they wanted to be. Sorry.

Yennifer Thu 20-Feb-20 21:23:57

Of course we help out where we can but expecting you to hire a babysitter and a cleaner so you can organise his life for him is asking too much. I think you should just step back and let him get on with things for a while. We can't set ourselves on fire to keep others warm x

Oopsadaisy3 Thu 20-Feb-20 21:36:36

I don’t think that there is much more you can do, especially as you are in a different country, I would follow smiless advice and write to him and send a copy of the letter to your parents, at least then they will know how much you have tried to help him.

I would go ahead and visit your family as planned, it might set your mind at rest when you see and speak to your brother, and if he refuses to see you at least you will have tried. I’m sure your parents will enjoy your visit.

BlueBelle Thu 20-Feb-20 21:37:01

chewbacca me too
I m really sorry but it’s so long so complicated and all the initials are sending me into overdrive
I hope you solve your problems and I wish you luck

Dec46 Thu 20-Feb-20 21:42:21

It all sounds very complicated but to me it sounds as if he really couldn't cope with starting a new life in a different country. You can't be expected to do everything for him he needs to stand on his own 2 feet and sort himself out with the help of his wife.

Starlady Thu 20-Feb-20 22:23:47

I'm so sorry about this keisi. I agree that you've done all you can, and DB has no right to expect anymore. Like Smileless, I suspect your DB has some mental and emotional issues, especially since he has trouble getting along w/ your parents, also - not just you - and, in a sense, he own wife who has to cope by appeasing him (poor lady).

IMO, you need to let go of the idea of seeing him and his kids when you visit country D since he is not responding to you. Disappointing, I know, but a hard reality. Chances are, if he replied, he would just say hurtful things, and if he visited w/ you and yours, he would just create drama and spoil your child's birthday celebration, as well. Is it worth all that?

As for your parents, given their own issues w/ him, I'm not clear on whether they took his message to you seriously or just relayed it to you b/c they thought they "should." If I were you, I would let them know I've done all I can for DB but not get into detail. I would let them know (kindly) that it's between you and DB and that you don't intend to drag them in the middle. And, in fact, that you won't discuss it w/ them. And then change the subject

They may be a little upset b/c they are clearly used to a dynamic of family members sharing their issues w/ other family members (a dynamic common to many families, I think). But I think it would be beneficial for all if they saw that you weren't going to participate in that dynamic anymore They also may try to raise the topic more than once and DB may give them more messages to send along. But I would be firm in refusing to engage, reminding them each time that I had nothing further to say and changing the subject.

The letter might be a good idea, and I get why Smileless says to give a copy to your parents. However, this perpetuates the issue of having them in the middle, so IDK. ... hmmm... If you feel the need to write, then yes, I would give the parents a copy just so he can't lie to them about what you said. But I would let them know this is the last time I would include them in the issue and again, that I would not discuss it w/ them further. But I think DB knows all the effort you've put in and that you love him, etc. So I think I might just leave things alone until he decides to reach out (if he does). But that's just me...

Smileless2012 Thu 20-Feb-20 22:55:35

I didn't suggest keisi give a copy of a letter she wrote to her parents Starlady. I said I hoped they've made him aware of all that's she's done for him.

I agree with you that it would better for them not to be in the middle but it's so hard isn't it, for parents not to get involved by trying to help when there's a falling out between their AC.

Starlady Thu 20-Feb-20 23:42:39

Oh, sorry Smileless, it was Oopsadaisy who added the idea about sending a copy to the OP's parents.

And yes, it IS hard for parents not to get in the middle when there are issues between their AC. I totally get that. That's why it would probably be easier for the OP, herself, to put a stop to it than for her parents to do it.

keisi Fri 21-Feb-20 10:35:47

Thank you all for your opinions on this.

I am suffering the situation especially as we used to be very close spend some of the summer holidays together and have lots of fun especially with the kids. But from my DB perspective recently, he claims that it would be superficial to have fun while he now knows that I am not helping them up to the end. And that I have made false promises to them so as to take advantage of them and make them happy in the short term just for the purpose of having smooth holidays with them (or something along these lines).

In addition, in a sense I understand somehow his behaviour, as I used to be the same before I married many years ago. By being the same I did not put much thought into DB family dynamics when visited or on their financial difficulties of the time and their workload with 2 DC.

Also, being part of the same family I had been involved in arguments and in same dynamics previously. So to speak within the family did not spra critics where I found them suitable etc. But just in last years since I had my 2 DC I changed my attitude as that brings more peace of mind to my family unit and do not want them to raise in argumentative environments. Now for example, I do not complain anymore of the daily workload or of any arguments or missunderstandings within my family unit. This, from my DB and his family might be percieved as distancing from them, as dropping them off, as judging them or whatever else.

I look around constantly for ways of finding more and more peace, mindfulness etc and when attending a workshop on mindfulness sent DB the slides as well. He did not reply but told our parents that he is not mad and does not need that kind of material.
I have also mentioned professional help previously but to no avail as he does not reckon (to me at least) he has a problem. At some point after the panic attacks I know he used to go for walks with wife very early in the morning and then also joined a gym. And have noticed that after those, his wife does not leave him to go alone anywhere, or to meet me alone when I visit. This is good, but also she does not spare critics to him constantly and insists with arguments until she wins her ways into having her family periodically (6 times a year) go into holidays with her side of the family.

My main concern now, is DB mental wellbeing, as he is not open to anyone that I or my parents know.

Also, I have kept DH mostly out of this (especially since the argument below). My DB is very direct so has not got a good attitude towards DH when they meet, but also DH is very direct especially when upset so they have had a heated occasion once a few years ago during our visit where DH said that were they to come in country A our family house would not be suitable to host 2 families (he said this, after DB had said that as we had moved in a bigger house recently, that now would not be a problem when they came over. He intended this as a temporary - couple of months maximum solution as DB is not used to other's people's homes but DH does not like their argumentative nature so could not stand even a few days of them, that is why he answered directly to cut out any expectations). And DB got offended, and I think that is where everything started. I intervened and said right there that it is suitable and we will host them until they find their own place. But that was not enough for DB who now says he will not set foot at my house ever.

I know it is very complicated, and every now and then I just sit down and reflect on the stuff until I have cleared my mind, but then, after a few weeks it all comes back again. The unpredictability of DB behaviour is really bothering me.

Thanks for going over this, even if very complicated situation!

keisi Fri 21-Feb-20 10:47:41

Also, to complete the scenario, dear parents, being argumentative themselves constantly have lost let us say the opportunity of now being taken seriously from DB. They are sorry of the situation, and think this leaves DB without anyone at all to support and to comfort him (they are not worried about me as they think that I am more sociable and have got my DH side of the family as well).

They have pointed out to DB in several occasions that they should take responsibility and active steps themselves, as I am not a billionaire or not even an employer so no apparent chance of easily laying out jobs for them. However, after DB cut out communication dear parents said that we should resolve this ourselves and they cannot do anything about this.

DB and wife however, claim that me being in country A makes it easier to investigate ways for them than themselves, plus they say I should have by now created the right network and to start leveraging whoever I know.

Anyway, this is all for background as now DB and wife have lost hope in me, and have given up any expectations together with ignoring my calls.

Starlady Fri 21-Feb-20 13:27:26

Phew! You and yours certainly have been through a lot of drama! Frankly, I don't blame DH for not wanting houseguests for a couple of months (one weekend would be enough for me even w/ those I totally get along with). And I'm a little surprised you went against him (DH) to appease DB. I'm also a little surprised at what you're now saying about your SisIL arguing for her family to visit with them, etc. So she's not such a hopeless appeaser, after all. It sounds as if they both have things they want and both pressure/give into the other in turn.

Regardless, perhaps it's just as well if they remain NC (no contact) w/ you and DH for a while and focus on their marriage (though IDK if that's what they're doing). No doubt, you miss DB and family and the fun you've had in the past, but (sigh), I don't think it would be that way now. IMO, some "space" from DB and SisIL may be better for you and DH right now and for the foreseeable future. It's probably better for your DC, also, since you don't want them growing up around a lot of arguing. I'm truly sorry, but I think that's just the reality at the moment.

keisi Fri 21-Feb-20 14:28:49

Thanks @starlady you are right, nothing will ever be as it was and times change - everyone should focus on their family units!

Also I went against DH at the moment then (which also caused friction between us), knowing that I would have time with him to discuss of better ways but not with DB (as you see not even that has helped in the long term the relationship with DB). Plus, when we visit for holidays we have stayed for 1+ weeks with them, so reciprocating and hosting them would not be unusual in our families (DH mum has periodical long months visits at our place and his relatives also have occasional long weekends at our place).

However, given the nature of things, and my changed attitude I would rather (still) find DB and family a separate place and help them financially for the first couple of months with rent than have them at my place but this is irrelevant until the point they would be ready to move - so they did not need to know this yet as there was a much higher barrier they would have needed to overcome first.

Also, I have asked DH to not confront any of my family side directly but to talk with me first and leave the message with me. And the same goes for me related to his side of the family.

Also, yes, wife is not such a hopeless appeaser as she would always nag DB about any slight thing/discussion occuring between her and my parents and that is one of the main reasons that DB has been closing into himself more and more. And wife has also been loudly (without me present but with our parents present) expressing her disappointment and challenging DB on his sister not doing a single thing to help them. But when I meet her she behaves as good as a pie.

I am just so sad that DB thinks I have been insincere and have decieved him while my intentions (although maybe not expressed in the best of ways) were different. Also incapable of helping DB with his emotional state and not sure how we would agree in the future (not far away) for the care of our elderly parents. And so sad my nephews are missing the chance of having a stable communication with auntie/cousins and missing out on opportunities that might derive from this confusedconfused

keisi Fri 21-Feb-20 15:36:04

Also, this is important although I think I have not mentioned it:

I was so disappointed when DB accused me that I had decieved him that I could not act natural and be comfortable around them for the rest of that visit (or of every other visit afterwards). At the same moment my dad had the highest blood pressure he had ever had due to this friction happening in front of him.

What I should have done is cut out communication with them myself from that point on! But again I did not do that partly because at the time we also had a scheduled gathering that included in addition to my side of the family also my DH mum and DH siblings that had arrived from abroad on purpose for that gathering and to meet my DC. Cutting off my DB would have broken completely my parents and I would have also had to explain with embarrassment to my DH part of the family.

However, in the next months, I tried to overcome my feelings and carried on skyping periodically (but again not with the greatest sympathy for DB). This, might have been percieved from DB as him uncovering "my true mask" and now me being uncomfortable when talking to him could be due to me feeling now guilty for decieving them which then also topped up with his personal problems within his family and due to flooding led to him ignoring my further messages or calls.

My point anyway is not to prove that he is wrong and I am right (had it been just a friend or cousin I would not be bothered and leave everything be), but rather to better the relationship - at the same time not enabling him into his immature ways of "silence treatment" and to be of support for him (emotional and strategical especially for his DC).

Sparkling Fri 21-Feb-20 22:52:47

Keisi, You have posted five, very long posts, I am afraid I looked and didn't read them. I hope you get back either your sibling.

Madgran77 Sat 22-Feb-20 09:39:01

I suggest you write him a letter telling what you want to and say that you would line to keep in touch etc but that you will respect his apparent wishes to not speak to you. And then just leave it . The ball is in his court and if he realises that you will not be manipulated he might stop it! Dont justify by saying what you have done or him etc. He knows what you have done so doesnt need telling

Mebster Wed 06-May-20 02:38:34

I think your brother is asking way too much of you. If he wants to move then it is up to him to search for a job and research requirements on his own. I'm shocked that anyone would ask for such services from a sibling. Tell him you love him but he needs to take responsibility for himself.