Had a Revelation Last Night (long, thanks for reading if you can)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I was thinking about a lot of the stuff with my family, mostly with my mom and brother last night. I don't dwell on it nearly as much but some things came up that got me thinking.

    For the last too many years my brother and mother have accused me of holding grudges about any little thing that upsets me. The recurring accusation is that I have no positive memories and many many memories of "tiny" or "little" things that happened as far back as high school that I hold against them on a regular or constant basis.

    I do have positive memories. Not nearly as many as I would like, but I have them. The problem is that no matter what I remember, how fun or funny or sweet or positive it is to me, it never registers as such with them. Even a story about how my brother, the cousin who is between us in age, my best friend from childhood and I were playing and started sword fighting with the orange hotwheel tracks and couldn't stop laughing even when mom got upset with us because it sounded like we were bringing down the house is seen as a "bad" memory somehow - even when I talk about how we all looked at her like she was nuts and burst out laughing as soon as the door was closed behind her! Heck, memories of us sliding down the stairs in laundry baskets after we tossed our laundry down to pad the way is seen as a "bad" or "angry" memory.

    Don't get me wrong - there ARE bad memories. Every attempt to try to work through them has been met with not just condemnation for not forgetting but actually being told I have invented them (at the best version of what I have been accused of doing). Remembering anything that gfgbro doesn't remember is apparently a deliberate lie on my part.

    I know some of the grudge holding accusations come from my refusal to forget that he has done things. Forgiving does not mean that you automatically get full trust and all the privileges you have abused severely. Yet that is the standard for what I am supposed to do.

    Every 6-9 months my brother would decide I was angry with him for no real reason (just to cause drama, in my opinion) and it is perfectly fine and fair for him, and then for my mother to agree, that I am holding grudges. Quite often I am accused of being angry with my brother out of the clear blue sky. Neither husband nor I can trace these accusations to anything I have said or done. Bro likes to tell you what you think and feel and the family "rules" are that this is the truth and I am supposed to beg forgiveness - but that only applies when he says it about husband, my kids or I. NOT when he does it to my mom, dad, his ex, his daughter or the man in the moon.

    I tried, really really hard, to do nothing to give that impression. Spent several years never mentioning anything unpleasant, not saying how I felt - always saying I was having a good day even when I hurt like the devil was sticking his pitchfork up my last nerve. NO complaints of any kind. Not much real info on our family beyond the very basic surface stuff.

    The accusations still came, and if anything were actually more frequent and more vehement that I was angry with him and would not talk to him about it, that I am clinging to the same grudges, etc....

    Last night I figured out WHY. See, when I was preg my mom told me about my Gpa's alcoholism. He didn't drink around me. Ever - because she drew a firm boundary that he wouldn't see bro or I if he ever did. She also pushed me into going to alanon. It was very helpful and husband and I were able to work through some things back then that really have helped our marriage.

    My brother spent 8 or 9 months of the year in Idaho working in the national forest and other jobs in that part of the country. When I went through the step that calls for making amends I had to make those via phone to my brother. He was always drunk when he called - long, late night rambling phone calls. Sending a letter to him was not even always do-able because he didn't always have a fixed address. It depended on where he was and when. We could not call him because he did not have phone service - he called from a public phone in the bar of wherever he was.

    Years later he went through rehab with the amazing determination and stubbornness he has always had and has stayed sober for a very long time since then. Well, not drinking or getting stoned. His amends were in very long flowery letters - with long sections as to how I made him do the very few things he apologized for.

    I haven't really trusted him because he claims not to remember some really terrible things that he has done to me and my family and for those there has been no apology or amends. Even when he apologized to my children for the serious, dangerous things he did to and with them he put responsibility on their shoulders for "allowing" him to do those things - even for stuff when Wiz was 6-8 years old and the others younger or not born!

    Anyway, it hit me last night. When I made amends to him he was almost certainly drunk. If not falling down blackout drunk he was at least under the influence.

    So while I made amends for many things to him, he has little if any memory of them.

    It is why he keeps working to make me the "bad child" so that he can be the "good child" who "made amends". He harps on my need to work the 12 steps every time he gets upset with me for whatever.

    I know you don't really stop doing the steps, but you don't make amends over and over for the same things. I am okay knowing I did what I could to make amends to him. Now that I have figured out why he keeps acting as if I am totally unaware of the way the 12 steps can change my life and why he keeps pushing me to work them and esp to work THAT step and beg for him to "forgive" me.

    I am flawed. Far from perfect. I try to do the best I can and apologize for time when I am wrong or hurt someone.

    And now I know why that is never going to be good enough for my brother.

    It doesn't change a lot in how I will behave, but it does help me to understand why he harps on how I keep grudges (every letter he has written to me since before he "got AA" has had a long section on the various grudges I hold going as far back as when I was in jr high) so frequently.

    Thanks for reading all of this. Does it make sense to y'all? It sort of hit me last night that this is likely a big part of why he acts as though I have insisted I am perfect and have never done anything wrong and everything he has done was designed to be hurtful and horrible.

    Odd as it sounds, now that I understand why he thinks this, I can stop wondering how I made communication errors that led to his opinion that I think I a some holy perfect person who never needs to apologize for anything (FAR from how I feel).
    I have more peace regarding him this morning than I have had in a very long time.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    I commend you for trying to get to the bottom of this junk. But you need to seriously let it go. I know that is not easy to do, especially when you have contact with these family members on a reg basis.

    Bro may have made it through the 12 step program, but he didn't work the program at all. And quite honestly I wouldn't be shocked if he was secretly drinking and had been for many years. He just learned to keep it fairly controlled and hidden.

    You don't ask forgiveness of someone while laying blame at their feet. He wasn't truthfully seeking forgiveness because he believes he has done nothing to be forgiven for. I don't know all the background involved but "working" the program was most likely just an act put on for your parents ect. He's a manipulative *ss who has made making you the "bad" guy in the family his pet project so that it deflects from anything he does, which keeps him the "good" child in parents eyes. I have a sneaky suspicion your parents have figured him out by now and are either enablers to his behavior or are too afraid of him to buck him. I could be wrong though, and it is possible he still has them hoodwinked but I'm betting they go along with what he says to keep peace with him. They have to have their own memories as well. Bro has more severe issues going on than just alcoholism.

    I say this about your parents because husband and his bro have had this "thing" between them since childhood. Put those 2 in a room together and you can feel the tension rise immediately.....you can feel the hostility, coldness. According to sister in law it's been that way she she first entered the family picture when dating husband's bro in high school, then later on in college.......and the 50 some years she's been married to his bro. She's tried all that time to get to the bottom of what the heck that "thing" is to utter failure. Many many many years our inlaws pretended not to notice this about their sons, even though it was blatantly obvious to everyone even non family.

    Turns out several years back sister in law was determined to put an end to it as it was tearing mother in law apart. (there would be arguments on bro in laws part over holidays because he'd refused to show up of husband was there) So she invited us to Thanksgiving, told bro in law he'd better be the most polite host and talkative and welcoming or she'd make his life a living hades on earth. Well......he did. Except Travis went on sensory overload by the end of the day........husband didn't come get me made the mistake of trying to handle it on his own and blew it into an enormous standoff with a 9 yr old boy in the middle of the street.......... husband's bro's family had very little knowledge about Travis' issues at that point and were staring with wide eyes and mouths hanging open......as I calmly came up, told husband to get lost, and talked the boy back down and into reason. Bro in law told mother in law we were never welcome in his house again. mother in law was livid. She told him that his children were grown, while ours were still little........and ours would come before theirs due to this. His children got to have their grandma when they were little and so would ours. (yeah so of course that made it worse lol) And that is when I discovered while mother in law told me about this that she had known about it all along yet also had no clue as to what the cause of it was. She had kept quiet and pretended not to notice and to play it down in an attempt to keep peace in the family. From that moment on, however, she didn't.

    Odd but since mother in law's death my girls and I suddenly have a very close relationship with bro in laws daughter.........my niece. So much so that Nichole has invited them all to her wedding. Bro in law will at least be polite now........but that rift is still clearly in place. Sister in law told her husband he is pathetic lol. That husband is the only family he has left and he is stupid enough to continue to push him away over something that happened obviously many many decades ago.

    I dunno about sister in law, but my own theory is that there was abuse going on between bro in law and husband. As adults I believe bro in law has manipulated the family (and I know for sure he did with his kids/grandkids) into believing husband did some horrible wrong to him, although not once has he so much as hinted as to what it would be. husband still claims to not have a frigging clue as to what his bro issue is. I'm not so sure I buy that either. lol But I believe bro in law did this so if husband ever decided to speak up about past abuse......he would be perceived to be the liar while bro in laws golden son image would prevent anyone from believing husband.

    Pretty typical behavior of an abuser.

    Susie you need to make peace with the past once and for all. Let it go. Set firm boundaries for behavior you will and will not tolerate in the present, and this includes from any person be they related or not, and stick to it regardless of how they react. Because you don't care how they react. Their reaction to it is their problem, not yours. And sadly if your parents can't respect how you feel, then it is their loss. You need to truly admit that they enable his behavior for whatever reason and draw firm boundaries due to it.

    My mom for all her lack of empathy, coldness, manipulation ect..............still had the foresight to ask me before my eldest bro brought her for a visit because she knew he was one of my abusers. Why? Because MY boundaries have been firmly set in place for many many years and I won't back down regardless of how anyone reacts to it. I had no choice but to live that nightmare as a child, I flat out refuse to do so as an adult or to subject my kids to it.

    The only one who is going to stand up for you, is you. People only treat you how you allow them to treat you.

    My families views on me varies from what I hear. lol I'm either evil personified or off my nut.........or the courageous one who managed to stop the cycle of abuse. Depends on who you talk to what answer you'll get, and the latter one comes from other than immediate family. But you know what? I really honestly do not care at all what they think. I have been free from abuse since I left home all that garbage is in the past and remains there, and I managed to give my kids a fairly boring "normal" life due to it.

    I know your parents are older and you want to be close to them. But I think you're going to have to realize that being close to them has a price to pay, and then decide if that price is worth it for you and your kids.

    Boundaries had to be in place many many many years of me refusing to back down even a teeny bit before I began to develop a new relationship with my mom. Now I feel comfortable in asking her to move into town where she will be close to family who actually does care about her well being. But if I'd never been able to develop that new relationship? No way in hades.

  3. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911


    I sat and thought about this for a while. Mostly because I care about you, and wanted to come back with some sound advice, as if we were chatting over coffee or something - And I did read it all, every line. And I have read about your family almost every time you've posted, or at least every time I'm here. The one thing that I see over and over is - you aren't ready to let go of your past, and it's affecting your present in a lot of ways that aren't healthy for you. Just like you are starting to realize, but it's really hard to try to go back 30+ years on your own, and then you are only getting ONE side or one view, and then what? What do you do with the emotions you dig up? There just kinda hanging there in limbo and now not only do you have today's junk today with - now you've dug up all that 30 year old junk and you have it hanging around nagging you and you have NO CLUE what to do with it - and it's clogging the system (so to speak).

    To me it's obvious you have a lot of unresolved issues from your childhood, that are spilling into your present and it is frustrating you to the point that you are obsessing about it. I know you love your parents (even as one sided as they seem) Again just my opinion, but the things that you are craving from your Mom and Dad? Aren't going to just jump out there and present themselves to you. I think it's possible that you could have the approval that you seek from them and the respect that you want - but I think all this past junk clunks it up for them and you. I think for a lot of us, we don't even realize that sometimes we do carry past junk into the present NOR are we willing to admit it. Are you carrying grudges? I dunno. I know I did about a LOT of stuff. Who doesn't? You'd have to be a Saint not to. One time I got accused of cutting the bottom off of all the show-dog toys and grounded for a month. OMG I was so mad. I just KNEW my sister had done it. I mean I didn't do it. So for YEARS and I mean up until like 3 years ago - I carried this grudge. Dumb, but still. I knew I got blamed for something I didn't do - and that wasn't the only thing- being the oldest you get blamed for a LOT. Well guess who finally confessed to doing it? In a million years - you'll never guess. My Mom said Pop did it. He was trying to cut the raggedy ends off and took it too far and sliced the ends on accident - when Mom found them I got blamed - and Dad never found out till years later because what Mom said went. OMG what a dumb grudge to carry huh? So then I started asking about a lot of other stuff and well there weren't many confessions but I got a lot of junk unloaded. It was good - Good to know in my Mothers eyes that my sister wasn't perfect - so yeah - I see where you are coming from with that.

    in my humble opinion until you deal with your past- and that to me after reading your posts - is YOUR perceptions of your parents opinions of you, your perceptions of your parents, your brothers opinion of you, and your perceptions of him - I don't think you will EVER get the thing you desperately seek. What is it you seek? I don't know - you have to figure that out yourself.

    Reason i say this is because when I went through therapy the thing I wanted most was self-esteem. Without it - I couldn't get anything from anyone else. No one will give you respect when you don't respect yourself. I had this confused with self-confidence. Oh yes - I could do anything..that's self confidence - but I had zero self-esteem. I had allowed everyone to beat that out of me for years. I had distanced myself from everyone and I was nice on the surface but what a volcano under the shirt. I had no idea why I was so angry all the time, an why it was EVERYONE ELSE that I was pointing at. Once I started in therapy? I didn't have time to worry about everyone elses faults. OMG i had so many of my own to deal with - I didn't have time to fix anything else. When I saw what I needed to fix in ME? And fixed it? I started to like me - and felt a little bit of pity for the people that I used to point at. Eventually a lot of pity. It was like - I get it ---and they stayed petty. When you truly go through years of therapy and work on YOU? You dont have time to worry about your brothers short comings. You won't worry about his past - or why he did this 20 years ago, or 30 years ago. Honestly? You'll just sit back and have this peace - real inner peace most days and it will give you the ability to look at your brother and his problems and you will start saying things to your parents like "I'm sorry for Johnny and his problems today, but I'm not buying into his routine of engaging our family in an argument over silly trifling things."

    My sister is a perfect example of this - CONSTANTLY trying to engage people in arguments. Constantly trying to find someone's trigger. Usually with me - it wasn't hard. I was a cannon - and had a short fuse and I think now how much entertainment (cheaply) I must have provided for her over the years. How much sick enjoyment she mush have gotten watching me blow up, burst out of the doors, or peel out of Moms driveway, or yell or argue, or throw things across the yard, and then sit there like the little innocent. I think even thinking about it - makes that vein in my right temple swell up -lol. But fact is - eventually I found peace and the last time she tried it? I just sat there - and texted things back like - I'm sorry you feel that way - hope you feel better. You're welcome, have a great night. And this ended up in us not talking for months - until her accident - and guess who was right there? Me. amazing huh? It was no small secret to see the look of shock on all her "friends" faces as I sat there day after day in her hospital room and as they came in - introduced myself as her sister. (it was priceless -) they'd look at me, then her, then me - and I thought - Ohhhhhhhhh yeah....expecting horns and a tail? OH not expecting me at all? Wow.....(ahem)

    I think perhaps since this thing with your brother and family.....IS bothering still? And you have said to us over and over "I'm not bothering with him" and then are still thinking about it - you are OBVIOUSLY not going to let it go. SO my advice would be - don't. BUT - DO go talk to someone about it - because my underlying thought is - FAMILY NO MATTER is VERY important to you. AND out on a limb here really - but no matter what your posts say - I would guess that it would mean the world to you to have a brother. So IF your brother can't be well - and you can't have a relationship with him - and if that is not a reality - then your best next bet would be to get to a therapist that can help you put the past behind you, AND HELP YOU lay this relationship to rest or help you know why it is NOT you that can't have what you want and deal with the why of what you can have and be okay with that because up to this point? You are NOT. Otherwise you would not still be trying to figure things out on your own. You need a professional to help you with this plain and simple. No shame in that. Actually I think it is probably the best thing you could ever do for yourself.

    My therapist told me that everything we see, hear, touch, smell - is stored chemically in our brains like a huge warehouse. When I went through therapy - I did regular and EMDR. Part of my therapy was to walk through my mental storage warehouse and 'shred' junk I no longer needed to make room for good memories. Sounds easy - but it isn't. You have to work with a therapist to know what to toss and what to keep. For me I'm highly organized so part of my homework? Go home do the relaxation exercises and shred! I loved it. EMDR was a blast. When I was done I could hear an echo in my warehouse. Lots of bad memories forever changed.

    I hope something in here helps - You need to get this done.....and it takes time - but you do have the rest of your life to get happy!
  4. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Susie, honey, your past is haunting you. I was blessed with my childhood yet I had a terminally ill sister who died at the age of 4. I was 12 when she died in 1969. We didn't have the supports for grieving families that there are today. As a family we floundered ~ it's amazing & a testament to my parents that they didn't divorce but became stronger.

    Yet I spent years blaming my parents for this & that until it hit me. As a parent what would I have done differently? With 6 children, one in the hospital almost continually for the last 2 years of her life & the other 5 at home I have to say I would have been at the hospital daily. My parents worked (my dad was working 2 jobs - mom worked & headed to the hospital). This was our reality & years later I realized I wouldn't have done things any different. There was no one to forgive because there was nothing to forgive. AND if I had waited for an apology from my parents I would have waited til he!! froze over. There was nothing to apologize for ~ it was life.

    I've been in therapy 2x a week over the last 5 months ~ dealing with husband's death & the tweedle stuff. The more I spend time with therapist the more I realize that it's my reaction, my responses to the past 3 years. It's appropriate for me to grieve, be angry & feel stressed. I will never get an apology from husband for not going to the MD's sooner; the tweedles may apologize for their daily antics yet they don't see the ongoing overall stress & all that goes with it. They may never understand & I don't expect any different as I chose to become a parent & heaven help me, God blessed me with kt & wm.

    You life has been different. In your case you've done your part. You're a grown woman with children of her own. Is this the model you want for your daughter - to be seeking approval or acknowledgment? It's not their place. Brother was drunk during your attempts to make amends....you've done your part & it's time to move forward.

    I've spent a great deal of time over the last 2 months studying Buddhism. The art of calm, forgiveness & strength. The one thing that has hit me time & again is a quote I repeat to myself daily. "We never treat others the way we treat ourselves."

    It's ugly that we can/will/do tell ourselves how ugly we are, how fat we are, how stupid or illogical or emotional we are; we wouldn't say such things to others.

    It's time to move forward Susie. I haven't put this as eloquently as Star or Lisa. Start treating yourself with the dignity & respect you deserve as you have earned it & deserve no less.
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I would say that forgiveness is an acknowledgment that people make mistakes, regret those mistakes, and are making an effort to not repeat those mistakes and to try to right the wrongs they have done.
    Some say that to give forgiveness is a way to free yourself. Sometimes it is. One can forgive without forgetting. It does not excuse future behavior, or mean that you shouldn't be on your guard against it. But if he truly wants forgiveness, I'm right back to my first sentence.
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Thanks all. You all have excellent points. I have a need to understand things, partly because much of human behavior is incomprehensible to me - I very much feel this is because my own aspie traits (if I were a chld evaluation'd today I would def have an Aspie diagnosis - no question in my mind.) It is a coping skill I learned out of self defense.

    I don't think about gfgbro on a daily basis or even weekly sometimes. For me that is a HUGE accomplishment. It is going to take time to make progress in this. I am on a waiting list for counselling but in our area it is over a year. WIth husband out of work we couldn't pay copays for insurance covered therapy even if we had insurance.

    A lot of the tiems when I think about my mom/bro it is in response to my kids. they still have questions and problems and I cannot refuse to address them. I do limit responses and encourage them to just let it go as I encourage that in myself.

    When your memories of events are dramatically different than the revised history that you are presented with from family (who presumably cares and isn't lying), it makes you question your sanity. I actually have wondered at times if I dreamed entire months of my life because my memories are so different than what I am told has happened. If not for pictures of things that support my memories I might have truly thought I had multiple personalities or something (NOT said flippantly - the differences are that huge).

    So finally realizing that I actually DID the things I remember and that the family says didn't happen is a huge relief. I am working on trusting my perceptions and memories of events. I know it soemtimes frustrates husband because I will ask him if things actually ahppened the way I perceive them. My family's version of events truly has been THAT different from my perceptions and memories. It isn't easy to buck a lifetime of training even when you knwo the training is lies and based on lies/inaccuracies.

    You are all giving me excellent feedback and I am working to make progress. THANK YOU.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911


    Given that time is a factor - and this deals with perception? I would seek out a therapist qualified in EMDR therapy. I think that is the route that would help you best, fastest and deepest in setting your memorys straight and true. I've actually had those moments when I KNEW what I remembered was right and everyone else around me kept saying NO NO - it was THIS and I thought I was loosing my mind (ALL with X's family) and I remembered those events like it was yesterday, obsessed about them and your brain DOES work overtime to -how should I say it - 'right the wrong'? It's maddening. Odd thing is - you never get that chance - and it will make you nuts. When I did EMDR - it GAVE me the opportunity to be the one in control and change things in my mind and 'fix' the things I had no control over. It was the most freeing experience ever. It didn't change history - it just gave me the opportunity to put things right in my mind and let it go once and for all.

    Check it out on line - and if there is ANYTHING that you can do to find an EMDR person and work with them on a pay scale or work something out? Do it. Never hurts to write them --You find coupons for everything else. lol