Advice from those who've been there done that (family/long/sorry)


Active Member
Okay, I won't rehash the stuff I've shared through the years about my mother and brother. For those who havent read some of my experiences, my mother is bipolar, I was raised in/out of foster care, on my own on my 16th birthday. Horribly abusive behaviour from my mom that never ended/changed (verbal/emotional/very hateful). I struggled for a long time to be just done with her without guilt (I was always feeling responsable for her mental health etc to be there to get her hospitalized etc). As for my brother, well he has 5 kids with 4 moms. Sees only the youngest who is just over a year. Recently seperated from the mother and moved back to the town I am in (in with my mother of all people!) after cheating (as usual) on his now ex. He did this from MY house, meeting women on the net, he was conning a single mom of teenage boys with trust issues. Grooming her to be the next very good woman he sucks into his sick web. I also call him a "child collector". He likes women with kids, he sees them as grateful for a man's attention with "all that baggage". I in the end told his now ex what was going on and emailed the new woman to tell her he was not single that he was conning her. I havent' spoken to my mother in a long time now and I am good with it. More than good with it. I had limited contact with my brother, in fact when he used my computer to do all of this, he showed up unannounced at my door 2 times in a month and stayed the first time for nearly 2 weeks! I was a wreck by the time he left and when he showed up again I just couldn't do it. I told him no way he was staying with me, told him I was not his secret keeper and he violated me, my kids, our home during his previous visit. I told him that I wanted nothing more to do with him either (long history there, much like my mother in his actions/words/abusive treatment towards me). They (mom and bro) retaliated with sending police to my door to try to arrest me on false charges. Thankfully I spoke up and the police sorted out the lies and nearly charged them. I was just so drained, spent, emotionally done with them. In fact nobody in my family speaks to either of them anymore, they only have each other.
His 16 year old son I no longer see as he's going through a rough time and stays away. When younger he used to confide in me and I included him in family gettogethers despite my brother not contacting him etc. One daughter is now across the country, her mother remarried and my neice calls this other man dad. I happen to agree with this, she is in a loving home and my brother didn't have contact with her. My other niece and nephew are here in town. My nephew is small and I don't see him as much, but my niece and I are very close, she is 10 and comes over often for sleepovers etc. I started last week babysitting her after school here at my house for a couple hours Mon-Fri while her mom is in a training program. My brother has no contact with these 2 kids either. My neice really hurts over my brother but has a maturity about him that is scary and sad, but probably healthy due to the situation. I admit I have these feelings of sort of salvaging the family name. Don't get me wrong, I love my neices and nephews very much and want them in my life regardless. But I seem to have this need (working on it to make it healthier) to sort of make up for this deadbeat brother by being very present in these kids lives.
So now there is the problem I need advice on. During this last ugliness/drama/codependent crap episode with my bro/mom, I had my first full blown anxiety attack (waves of them actually) in many years and had to get medication. I am glad I reached out for the help, but I am pretty pissed at myself for letting them get to me. It did however serve to make me realize I am 100% right in my decision to have my mom and bro out of my life completely. They make me ill, literally and figurativly.
The problem is his latest ex. She is a sweetheart, she wanted the whole storybook family. She is young. She is naive. She is very alone without support from family (they live far away) and has my neice as well as another child to care for. Her son is 8 and has severe ADHD. She has her hands full. She is overwhelmed and scared to be on her own. She also has blinders on towards my bro, always wants to see "the good" to overcome "the bad". She has been very abused by my brother and you can see it written all over her. She is still doing what I call "the dance" with my brother. He goes to her town, stays in her house supposedly to see the kids, she sees her family back together, he plays nice, she falls all over again, he messes up horribly and is abusive again. She cries and falls apart, he leaves her again, and then she's on the phone crying to me for support. I want to be there for her. The thing is I just can't be. It affects me. I'm tired of picking up my brothers pieces, I've done this with SO MANY women because of him. She is abused by him. Then again, so was I. Her for past 5 years off/on. Me for 32 years consistently. I am spent. Even hearing more about him or my mother affects me in a way I can't expect her to understand, but it isn't good!! I cant' do this anymore.
I tried last evening to explain this to her. She hadn't phoned in a week as he was there for a week. It happened again. This time he was so abusive someone contacted her sons school (mandatory reporters to children's aid society) and the principal had not talked to her, but she learned from her son he had to go to the office to be questioned about what happened at home. He did right, he told the truth. She rightfully knows she will be hearing from the CAS now as her kids were present when my brother went off again. I felt so horrible for her, she is stuck in a cycle and can't see it. Well she sees it, but just till she takes him back believing he will change. He never will. I was so shaken listening to what happened and not being able to do anything about it obviously. I do help her with some money for food/diapers etc. Beyond that, I can only listen. But ... I just can't listen. This isnt' some strange guy who means nothing, he is my brother and there is a lifetime of baggage there.
Anyhow I tried to explain to her that she is the last tie to anyone who actually interacts with my mom and bro and that it was NOT personal to her or to my niece, but I had to take myself out of the equation because it is affecting my health and state of mind. I have to just move on with my life without any lingering parts of my mom and brother. I am damaged from years of them in my life and I am healing and doing a good job of it since finally I am ready to do so. But that won't happen with risidual contact to them even through her stories etc.
She was very upset. She is alone in her world as many friends have had to walk away becuase they couldn't sit back and watch her take him back in that door over and over. Even some of her family feel this way. She felt attacked and abandoned and she also is worried that because of this her daughter wont' have the positive experience of at least me as a family member who cares from her dad's side of the family. Way to trigger my guilt complex!!! I was crying but I had to just apologize as it wasn't my intent to hurt her, and I do love my niece, but I have to do it from a distance, I can't do anything more.

Am I wrong here? This girl really is alone and I feel like I just kicked her while she was down out of complete selfishness. I am in self preservation mode and I'm very proud of finally being able to get my mom and bro out of my life and be okay with it. But now it seems I can't emotionally cope with even information or discussions about either of them. I was even diagnosis'ed with PTSD from these experiences. I didn't understand for a while that diagnosis, until this pointed it out to me very clearly. Even hearing a story about them and their lives/actions sends me emotionally spiralling. I have work to do myself in this area, and it has to be done with no more thrown at me regarding them. This cant' be a grey area with them, it is cut and dried.

Advice? Should I be trying in some way to stay in touch with this girl? I don't want to hurt her and I understand her desire to have me in my neices life. I wish I could be, she is named after me for crying out loud and I love her to pieces. Unfortunatly contact with them comes with a price tag, and for me it feels too high. Does that make sense? Anyone been in a similar situation at all? Even if not, any words of wisdom?

Sorry this is so long!



New Member
Melissa - as much as you want to, you can't help your soon to be ex sister in law until SHE wants help. She has to take the steps to get your brother out of her life. You can't "save" her from him.

You have to take care of yourself. You can tell her IF she ever gets him totally out of her life, you will be there for her. But until that time, she's on her own. Maybe SHE needs to hit bottom by being totally alone - without even your support - to finally come to grips with your brother.

I'm sure it's terribly hard, but it's the only way I can see YOU surviving.


Well-Known Member
I agree she has to help herself. In some way. Calling you up to complain isn't really helping the situation, and it is in fact harming you. You want to be there for her, but but the reality is that she needs to call on someone else. I'm sure you have given her advice, she obviously doesn't listen, when she wants to get off this merry-go-round she will. I don't mean to sound callous, but it is what it is. You must put an end to her calling you when this is the situation. Maybe you telling her this will in fact help her-because she will have to do something different. Hopefully, she cares enough about you enough to understand. You have to take care of yourself!-Alyssa


Well-Known Member
Can she just not speak to you about bro? If you have a relationship with niece without sister in law speaking to you about bro would that work?


New Member
No you are not wrong. Tell her she needs help. send her a book list with books such as CoDependants no more and also a list of agencies that help abused women. Tell her when she is healthy you will gladly welcome her back into your life but you cannot deal with the chaous. i have very little contact with certain family members due to their disfunction which is toxic to me.


Well-Known Member
Of what good is it to ANYONE that you are being emotionally, and physically, damaged because this woman can't seem to extract herself from a abusive situation? I have a strong belief that I allow no adult use me to the determent of my physical, and emotional, health. Period.

I don't see it from a "right, or wrong" standpoint. You simply can't take the stress from it anymore. I understand having had a lunatic Father that I cut ties with five years before he died. I simply couldn't take his drama, and lies, anymore. I know that having children involved makes this so much more painful. But, if she is going to sink, I don't think you should allow yourself to be pulled down with her.



Active Member
I wouldn't be able to take talking to one of ex's wifes unless she had cut all ties with him and agreed with me completely about how abusive he is. I just wouldn't feel safe. You aren't being selfish. You are protecting your sanity.


Active Member
It must have taken a lot for you to finally come to this. You are not wrong for not wanting to hear about them and to keep your distance. I think you should wait a week or so and then just tell her that you would like to see your neice on occasions, but you don't want to hear about bro. This girl needs to cut your bro out. She's not doing anyone any good and is only hurting hersel and family over and over again. She definitely needs counseling.


Active Member
You are not wrong. You have to take care of yourself and your immediate family first. If contact/and or info about brother cause you severe mental and emotional stress, then you need to put some space there. Maybe not forever, but for now.


I see myself as that girl. I went to the family violence center and joined a support group. didn't think it would help, but it sure opened my eyes. (they provided child-care) I remember in the beginning not being able to talk, only cry. I remember near the end watching others come in and do the same. I went to a seminar, took some classes. I listened to these people talk and they were married. I wasn't. I decided I am better than that, I will not allow anyone to treat me that way. It made me a very strong person.

Do they have something like that? You could have a relationship with your neices and nephews, a healthier one once she gets her self esteem back, and becomes strong and realizes nobody has the right to do that.
Hope she realizes soon.


Hi Melissa,
I just replied to the wrong thread! Will try to recreate what I said...

It does sound like you suffer from PTSD and for your own health you need to cut off contact. It's too bad but this is a trigger for you.

My difficult child 2 was triggered in her symptoms by difficult child 1 a couple of weeks ago and ended up in adolescent psychiatric unit. Her therapist has made it clear that she cannot deal with the stress difficult child 1 causes her and she cannot advance in therapy as long as she keeps being triggered.

You absolutely must protect yourself--it isn't a question of right or wrong but just is the way it is.

Thinking of you,