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My deepest apologies that I disappeared for long after you put so much thought into your response.
While I do believe your theory of familial darkness is way over- reaching, I appreciate the time you put into pondering it.
I am actually feeling a lot better and making peace with the way things will be moving forward and I’m just taking it day by day.
Thinking of your response again, it’s wild for me to hear an outside perspective that there was potentially always darkness in the family. Because I really can understand why someone would think that. But genuinely, my parents complete beings of joy and love. They are not perfect but there isn’t a single particle of darkness between them. If it helps at all, I have actually been in psychotherapy with them and the therapist never sensed anything but love and concern from them. I just get more and more confused as to how my brother came to be like this.
Good evening, Anita.
That’s some interesting thinking and I appreciate the thought you’ve put into your detailed response.
To be honest, my parents are actually pretty fantastic though. My mother especially raised me exceptionally well. And I could see- and can still see- that she tries her absolute best with my brothers and I. She is involved, insightful and actively loving. I should clarify that the “strange fish” comment was one she picked up from an old friend of his, as that’s what he used to call him. She tried very hard to get him to open up to her and, by her own admission to me, was always just worried that if she pressed him too hard that she’d ultimately push him away. She has very high emotional intelligence and is a really admirable mother.
My dad is not as emotionally fine- tuned as my mother but he tried very hard with all of us to talk to us and guide us in the right direction. There was genuinely never a shortage of love or attention. But I do understand why you might have extrapolated that from my other replies. It does, however, make my brother much harder to understand.
I was speaking with my husband about the situation earlier and he thinks the best way forward may be to just pretend to my parents that my brother and I have resolved things and it’s fine. Sounds dreadful but we don’t live in the same county so it may actually be the simplest option.
Correction, *ran away because of it. The ‘r’ on my laptop is wonky!
He does engage with a lot of violent material. That’s not to say that’s to blame- I sometimes enjoy horror also.
I’m afraid he has been cruel to animals in the past, including one of our own dogs who eventually an away because of it. That’s not universal though- one of the dogs was exclusively his own and he never harmed her. But in general he has no concern for what animals feel, even though he really loves dogs. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 10 and vegan for the last 5 years. He always, always made fun of this which is normal enough as a teen but now he’s well into his late 30s and still talks about how silly it is, how it makes me a weakling etc. That seems a bit strange for a man of his age.
Something that gives me pause for thought is that he himself got extremely badly beaten one night in his 20s when he was out. He saw two men beating another man and decided to intervene. Then several of their friends appeared and beat him to the point of hospitalisation for trying to stop them. This would have been after the incident he confessed to.
I’ve been pondering over whether his telling me meant that he was dealing with guilt and he couldn’t hold it in and I did suggest that to him at the time but he says he has no remorse.
Not wanting to completely slander him, my brother has been loving in other ways though- some years ago, he gave me 400 euros when I was stuck trying to pay my postgraduate fees and never asked for it back. He just has a limited range of how to show love and I think money is one way. He is very frugal with his money so I did think this was a very generous donation. That said though, I value time over money and he has never come to visit me (I moved to a different country, albeit it’s less than an hour-long flight). It is always me going home to visit him. I don’t mind of course, I love to visit but I love where I live now too and wanted to show him but he refuses to visit. (he’s very well travelled so it’s not related to travel anxiety etc). He just doesn’t want to “waste holidays and money visiting a country that isn’t hot”. My husband has always commented on this being very weird behaviour and I always defended my brother with “that’s just his way” etc. I feel like my husband has always been aware of an edge to my brother that I just didn’t see or didn’t want to see.
I always explained away my family dynamics as “we’re just a weird family but what family isn’t” etc. I believed this too but the more I think lately, the more I feel it’s all just a bit beyond the realm of acceptably strange.
His relationship with my parents is really good. He and my dad have lots of fun stuff in common and my dad often goes to stay the night with him and hang out. My mother always loved him to absolute pieces- but she is a loving woman in general. She knows that he’s an oddball and frequently just smiles and says “your brother really is a strange fish”. She knows also that he has some struggles in his personal life and sympathises and tries to be supportive. He is difficult to support though because he doesn’t speak much. When I told her that he told me something that really upset me, she asked me not to push him away because I’m the only one he ever opens up to.
Unfortunately, I tend to be that person for a lot of people and have always tended to fill that role in the family and I am at the stage where I can’t do it any more. I have had some very serious struggles with my mental health and I feel like I can’t look after myself if I keep accepting other people’s burdens. The problem is, that seems really awful to anyone outside of myself. It seems very selfish. But I want to get myself to a really mentally healthy place before I start my own family. My husband and I both have demanding careers and there’s really only so much space I have in my head for stressors. It just so happens that the straw that broke the camel’s back in this instance was put there by a close family member.
Anyway, I’ve veered off- topic. So he has what I would call a good relationship with my parents and I never noticed any abnormal anger towards them- just the usual teenage angst, you know? So with no obvious issues, I will be the one creating a rift and I fear it will hurt my parents and that they might resent me for ruining the family. Now I do know that I am not responsible for ruining anything but rather I’ve just reached a point where I want to resolve and disengage from sources of trauma and not carry that forward to my own children.
Anita, my apologies, I must have read your suggestion too quickly. Yes, you’re right, seeing a forensic psychologist in that sense would be a good idea. I think it would put me somewhat at ease knowing that I’ve at least tried to make sure there’s no further danger.
At the time he made this confession, he also proceeded to joke about killing one of our guests and to let him know if there is anyone I wouldn’t miss. He then proceeded to list the people that he wouldn’t let die. Disturbingly, one of my other brothers and my husband weren’t on his list..
Thankfully, he doesn’t work in a hospital – he has an office job.
Thank you for your research. It’s a little hard to stomach because he really does have these traits. His last relationship before his current partner lasted 16 years and he hid her for 8 of those. I remember sort of innocently getting him a bit tipsy so I could pry for information at the time and his defense for not bringing her to meet us was that it would be “too awkward”. So he definitely fits the bill for struggling with interpersonal relationships.
This is a bit disturbing also but he is 7 years older than me and once, when I was a child and he was maybe 14 or 15,we were playing. He was wrestling with me and came very, very close to strangling me. He had his arm around my neck and I started to lose my vision until he let go. He said he didn’t have any idea I was struggling. This incident had given more or less to the back of my mind (I know kids can be stupid sometimes when they’re playing!) but since his confession I’ve remembered it and it’s been haunting me a lot.
Have you ever read ‘American Psycho’? The main character’s personality actually reminds me a lot of my brother. He was always quite obsessed with that book and it was him who gave it to me to read.
That’s probably not super relevant but, for me, just sort of represents many disturbing details.
Moving forward with the rest of my family, I’m not sure what to do. I have two other brothers-one older and one younger- who don’t have much of a relationship with him. The family core has always felt very much like me, him and our parents and the other two brothers are outliers. So for me to disengage with my brother will be very obvious and cause a huge amount of distress to my parents. I told my mother that he really upset me but I can’t explain the extent of it without breaking her gentle heart. She thinks we will get over it and go back to the way we were but I don’t know how to explain that that isn’t possible.
Anyway, I know they aren’t really problems that you can personally solve but I do really appreciate you taking the time to help me think through it.
Thanks again for your kindness and for listening.
Yes, my husband needed to know, of course. It just disturbs me because he is such a peaceful creature. I hate to have brought this into his life. But he’s being very supportive.
Strangely enough, he said he’d always gotten a dark vibe from my brother but obviously didn’t want to say anything before.
I’m feeling pretty conflicted in myself because it’s as if all and any love I had for my brother has been suddenly switched off. I’ve lost my belief in unconditional love and I’m ashamed of myself for it.
I expressed the idea of talking to forensic specialist to my counsellor and he said he’s certain it would be fruitless. Where this happened, wasn’t even on the same continent, let alone the same legal jurisdiction.
I feel conflicted also in that I sometimes wonder if his girlfriend, for example, has the right to know. They have 2 year old son who I’ve never met (despite trying) and that is just another example I suppose of strange my brother is.
I was awake very early this morning as I was having nightmares about him. I was with him in person but before he’d read my letter and kept pushing my boundaries
Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful response.
The counsellor I spoke to also suggested he was having strange feelings about me getting married but I find the idea that he may have wanted to spoil my wedding (he didn’t, ultimately) hard to grasp. Maybe there is some truth in it but I’m struggling to get my head around it.
I’ve been discussing your other point with my husband already, actually. I don’t intend to be alone with him and wouldn’t intend to have him in any future childrens’ lives.
I suppose I’m starting to accept the way our relationship is different now. But I am sad for my parents because they love that we had a close relationship. We are the middle of four children and always gravitated to each other. I know that they know there is now some problem but I can’t let them find out why I need space from him. I think it would break their hearts. So I feel like I have to carry this burden forever.
Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be impossible to have him visit a therapist with me but I have an appointment with a psychotherapist at the end of the month, thankfully.
I feel bad for evening telling my husband because now he is also burdened with it.