Cutting off family & trying to quiet my brain

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by JMom, Dec 21, 2019.

  1. JMom

    JMom Active Member

    I usually post about my adult son who is a recovering addict. Today, I need suggestions on how to turn off my mind about my adult (50 y/o) brother. Unfortunately, I enabled him from when I was 18-30 ish. It all came to a head when he and my husband got into a physical altercation. This is long and I am merely venting.

    I don't condone violence, but it created a situation where I could no longer enable.

    Fast forward 20 years and my mother continues to enable. He was recently hospitalized in a mental institution, but was free to leave after receiving treatment for bipolar disorder. He was on 12 medications and being normal for once in his life. I was so relieved. My mom set up a cash trust for him, against my advice. He checked himself out the next day.

    Prior to his hospitalization, He wasn't allowed in my parents home due to always being drunk and getting in my mom and dads face. My mom was paying for motel rooms for him.

    My mother fell very I'll around this time, we were making arrangements for this to be her last Christmas. The caretaking fell on me and I live and work an hour and a half away. I was stressed beyond belief, working, caretaking and juggling two households. My dad is disabled as well, he cannot walk.

    All of that being said, my mom's #1 priority was making sure my brother had a place to live, food, cigarettes and money. He sti called and begged and she had 3 or 4 people working on her behalf to sustain his bum lifestyle.

    I decided to take him on to keep him away from her. I offered to pay his motel stay, buy his cigarettes and food if he promised to leave her alone to get well. I knew it was enabling but did it on purpose to park him temporarily.

    I gave him a place to stay and bought his medications, took him to mhmr etc. When she was better, I told him to get a job and start taking care of himself that I couldn't sustain him.

    She got well and sent him bus fare to come to her house 2 days ago. She asked the family not to tell me so that I would still come for Christmas. He has no intention of leaving, as he the left the key I the apartment and took a of his things.

    I've decided not to go but haven't told anyone. I think I want to cut them both off but how do I quiet my brain?

    I did let him know while I was providing for him, it was purposeful enabling and would stop in one month or beforehand if he took one drop of alcohol. Of course he drank, I cut him off and now he's at moms.

    I know it was wrong, but thought she was going to die and I wanted it to be in a quiet, un chaotic, sober home. I know think I wouldn't have housed him for one second if he wasn't sober.

    Long story short, he's not sober, so I'm out and moms in. I want my life back. How do I stop thinking about them? I'm on a seven day break from work and want joy.
     
  2. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Oh JMom, I'm so sorry for this heartache.
    The easy answer is "we cannot control what others do", the hard part about this answer is accepting it and not attaching our emotions to it.
    Your mom has chosen over the years to continue to enable her son, your brother. While you may never know or understand her reasons for enabling him, it was her choice to make. I think most people enable out of guilt and fear, it affords them peace of mind knowing that their loved one is "taken care of".
    It's not easy to cut someone off when we operate on emotions of fear and guilt. Self care is something that we all should practice but can be a foreign concept. As mothers and just being a woman in general, we are wired to be care givers, to take care of others. I'm not saying that anyone should stop being a care giver but it needs to be done in a manner that does not deplete us of our energy. The only way this can be done is through self reflection and soul searching. We must first recognize that WE matter too. We then must recognize that which is not healthy for us, people who can be toxic. We have to set clear boundaries. It can feel wrong to start self care, to take your own life and put it first.
    I hope your mom and dad both have many more years but the reality of life is the day will come when they are no longer here. You can only do what you can live with. If you feel you will regret not spending Christmas with them then I say go. You don't have to stay for the whole day, just long enough to let your mom and dad know you love them. At this point your mom is not likely to change her enabling behavior. If you really are ready to cut them both off then do it without regret. Keep it all in perspective, the holiday season can bring about so much emotion. The perception of what the holidays should look like is not reality. Sure, it would be great if the holidays were like a Hallmark movie but in reality they just aren't.
    The only way to quiet your mind is to make peace with whatever decision you choose.
    I wish you the very best as you work through this. ((HUGS))..................
     
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  3. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    JMom, I hope what I have to say is helpful in quieting your mind.

    My brother is 17 years younger. He was only 6 when our dad passed away in open heart surgery at the age of 45.

    My mother supported him, until the day she died. He was in his 40s. She always made excuses for him. She also wanted my sister and me to say we would continue her enabling.

    When mom passes, she left him her home and made it clear for years this was her intentions. I told her I had my own children to care for (little did I know then what that would mean) and my brother was able bodied to care for himself. My mom and I never had harsh words except on this.

    Anyway, he was not ready for life. My sister paid the taxes on the house for a few years so he wouldn't loose it. He worked odd jobs. It was when my sister found out that he bought himself a brand new smart phone, she had him on her plan, that she finally got it. She was taking over moms position. She quit with much encouragement from me.

    My brother found a full time job and not only did he show up, 11 years after losing our mother, he is now in a management position. He finally grew up when my mother and sister got out of his way.

    I learned to enable from the best. My sister (11 years younger) still makes comments about what I should do with Difficult Child 41 y/o end stage liver diseased alcoholic daughter who is horribly abusive. I let it take me down for the last several days. Replying to you reminds me that my sister is coming from the stance of enabler, a position I have chosen to break.

    Thank you for sharing.
     
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  4. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    P.S. As for Christmas, do what you think is best for you and your family.
     
  5. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry that all this is happening in your family. I think there is another option besides total cut off and being in the drama.

    I personally love my parents so much that if I were in the difficult position you are in, I think I would definitely skip anywhere my brother went (drama). But if my mother wanted to meet me for lunch sometimes and promised not to talk about Brother, I would do it. I would feel terrible cutting her off, knowing how that would hurt her, because she made decisions I didn't like.

    You could do this too if it suits you. There are many options. Doesn't have to be all or nothing. There are gray areas.

    Brother I would tell that as long as he isn't sober I did not want him in my life. But that's me. You can do gray areas with him too if it bothers you to cut him off completely. You can tell him you will only see him in a public place and if you smell alcohol on him you will leave right away. That is just an example. It's a mess, isn't it?

    I hope you can find peace this Christmas season and my heart hurts for you. Be well.
     
  6. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    JMom, we do what we can live with in the moment. Sometimes we know it is enabling, but we do it anyway. When we are stronger, we can set better boundaries. You helped your brother with the best of intentions because you wanted to help your mom. That's understandable.

    That being said, I've done similarly, but what I've learned is that my enabling never stopped the dysfunction and heartache, it just delayed it. And, I think, everytime I delayed it, I took the consequences and learning away from my difficult children that they probably needed/earned on their paths. Many times my efforts to protect others or myself through enabling backfired anyway.

    I still slip, but much less. As much as you love your mother, you cannot protect her from the heartache of her wayward son. Love yourself enough to protect yourself. If you do not want to subject yourself to the pretense of a perfect Christmas, honor yourself.
     
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  7. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    JMom

    I’m so sorry for your heartache. What I’ve been told is that the more you focus on what you don’t want to think about. The more you focus on it. Find yourself a good distraction. Whether it be visiting with a good friend, making a puzzle, reading a book, prayer and or meditation etc. Your peace may not last long but starting with short spurts can grow if you let it.

    You’ll need to do what’s best for yourself insofar as visiting your Mom while your brother is there. I like what someone suggested to go visit but make your plan to stay for a short time.
    Take care of yourself and make good choices for you
     
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  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member


    Wow! What a great story.
    I don't know if I would feel sad or mad, here.
    I agree with Tanya, here.

    This is how I feel. You can't fix either one of them. I think there must be something in you that believes you are responsible. You're not.

    You did not one thing wrong. You know exactly why you helped your brother. And it makes sense. You have not one thing to justify. To yourself or anybody.

    I think your Mom is free to be who she needs to be and wants to be. Your brother, the same. Their relationship is theirs to enjoy or suffer from. You are free to forgive your mother for trying to manipulate and set you up about Christmas. This is what she has done. But she's unaware.

    I am realizing late in life that I can let things go. That I don't have to take anything to heart if I don't want to. I call it "turning." I see I am free to just turn in another direction. And with that, I'm free.

    You can do the same. Just let it be. If you want to go to Christmas. Go. Have a great time. You are not responsible for anything. You are free to have fun and love them both. And then, leave.

    If you don't want to go, don't. That, too, is fine. You don't have to carry any of this on you. You've had burden enough. You can choose to let all of the rest go.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
  9. JMom

    JMom Active Member

    Thank you all so much for your kind words. I took the advice, went to see a friend and turned my cell and social media off.

    It was a pleasant afternoon without thinking about them. I think I will fo for a short time and come home. If they are drinking when I arrive, I can just go.

    Thank you all for supporting me in my toughest times. My doctor sent me for a heart stress test last Wednesday. The results were negative. I'm torn, I guess I thought I wanted to be sick because that meant I hadn't let stress rule my health. I see that it has.

    I. Lucky to be healthy, so I've reconciled the heart and mind to see them all in small doses, maybe once a month.

    Hugs to you all!
     
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  10. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    This has been a good thread, and I have enjoyed reading all the different perspectives here. I have been mulling this situation over -

    It sounds to me that you may feel angry at your brother and your Mom for how they chose to conduct their relationship. And I feel like Copa explained that you can chose to let that go and focus on your own business. You have a relationship with your Mom, and a relationship with your brother, separately.

    What you did for your Mom, purposefully enabling your brother, so she can have a quiet, peaceful space to recover in was an act of love, a huge gift ! This speaks to a lot of love you hold for your Mom. And her not wanting you to know that your brother will be there at Christmas , because she wants you to be there speaks of a lot of love as well. It sounds like your actions made a huge contribution to your Mom's recovery. You may have saved her life. This is a lot to celebrate and to try and enjoy each other.

    While I understand why people have to cut off loved ones, psychologically speaking , we stay enmeshed when we cut off (Murray Bowen Family Theory). An excellent book I am reading is "Growing yourself up" by Jenny Brown. In order for me to act like a healthy adult, I can learn (if I chose to) to stay connected while setting appropriate boundaries for myself and taking care of myself within the relationship. This allows me to become a fully self differientiated person, and to exist within my family system as a separate yet connected (not enmeshed) being .

    Since you did not mention your brother being physically or emotionally violent towards you, a cut off (to protect yourself) does not seem necessary even though you obviously can still chose to do so if you want to. Recognizing that your brother is sick (not bad) and leaving his disease for him to deal with, you can chose to treat him with the respect and dignity you would bring to any adult human being.

    Life changes so quickly and so drastically. Maybe I am in a mushy Christmas spirit , but I think enjoying our loved ones (when possible without any real harm to us) , accepting them in their sickness (alcoholism, enabling) and letting it be what it is (since I am powerless over it anyways) , and bringing understanding and encouragement to them while modeling mental health is a huge gift I can bring to the table for the few hours I chose to be present with them .
     
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  11. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    I just realized that your question was how to get them out of your brain. Sorry about that. I rambled on about something you did not ask.

    For me, I have had to (slowly and still practicing this) learn to take control of my brain. I realize that just because I can think a thought does not make it true. And I don't need to allow my brain to run the show . I can only hold one thought at a time, so I can stop a thought and replace it with another. I can cut the tape of the incessant, running monologue my brain wishes to engage me in all day.

    The first step to this is to become an observer of my thoughts . This teaches me that I am not my thoughts. That I don't have to believe every thought. I detach from my thoughts.

    The next step is to learn to quiet my mind. Yoga does an excellent job of this. In fact, the yoga sutras describe yoga as "yoga chitta vritti norodaha" which means "yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind". Meditation is the next tool in my tool box to learn to quiet and control my mind. Meditation practice requires discipline before we start to see some results and they are slow coming which makes this a little bit of a harder tool to practice. Having said that meditation yields HUGE results if you stick with it. After a while , you will be able to cut thoughts off and return to the stillness inside when you want serenity.

    In the moment before I have these tools in my tool belt, and I am tortured by my thoughts about others, I can come back toy own body. Feel my legs, feel my arms, ground myself . And take care of me. Ask what do I need right now? Get into your life. Do the next right thing. Things as simple as making the bed, fixing my breakfast, going to the gym, cleaning my space etc And controlling my thoughts by making mental gratitude lists. By playing games with my mind like naming all the spiritual principles I AM but they all have to be stated as nouns and cannot be repeated . Go as long as you can think of new ones : " I am love, I am harmony, I am well-being, I am balance, I am equanimity, I am unity, I am health ......etc
    Get into the present moment. Force your mind to give you a running account of what you are doing/observing/sensing right now:" I am driving the car. The seat is supporting my bottom. The back rest is supporting my back. I feel the A/C blowing on my facial skin. The sun is shining. There are clouds in the sky. My hands are gripping the steering wheel. Can I losen the grip? Can I relax my jaw.....etc

    Breathing exercises are very valuable in anchoring us in the present moment. Breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4. Keep going. It requires concentration and calms the nervous system.

    I also like to pray for loved ones in affirmative prayer, then let go.
     
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  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This was a brilliant post Wise. I had to stop myself because I was quoting every single line. I want to know what resources you are using (books, websites, etc.) as teachers. I am trying to adopt the same perspective and practice, but am not as apt a student, or my resistance as greater, or both.

    I found the following suggestions especially powerful, for me:
    Thank you.

    I just want to add this. My mind is not always my friend. I recognize now that my mind and its thoughts are based upon interpretations of past experiences, events, and prejudices that may not apply at all to the present or even be true. Who I am or want to be now, is way different than even a month ago, let alone a lifetime ago. And yet my mind tries to call the shots, assuming it knows all, and can foresee the future. If I listen to it, I will be constraining myself to repeat a past I would like to move beyond and I will be denying present experience. Both are outcomes I know longer want.

    If I listen to my mind, I will be repeating the past, repeating past patterns and projecting past limits. Instead of free, my future will be constrained to what has been. Freedom exists by living from the present. Wise shows us how to open to it.

    By focusing on what I feel right now, finding the place beneath thought, I have the possibility of connecting to my true self and needs, and also to others from this place. By living in this moment, I can construct a life full of potential, possibility and peace, free of lack, constraint, indecision, should, guilt and doubt. So can you. But all of this requires escaping the domination of the mind. It's not to throw off thought altogether. Thought has it's place. But I don't want to permit it to dominate and unnecessarily limit me.

    Thank you so very much for this thread. It is exactly what I needed today, this minute.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
  13. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    “Long story short, he's not sober, so I'm out and moms in. I want my life back. How do I stop thinking aboutthem? I'm on a seven day break from work and want joy.”

    I’m so sorry for all your stress and emotional pain. Your brother is very ill and doesn’t wish to get better. Your mother strongly leans toward enabling. I would consider removing yourself from his life. And let your mom know you wish to remain in hers (if that’s the case) but only if she is honest with you and that the great majority of times it will need to be separate from your brother. This means separate visit times and little to no discussion (s) about him. If he is living there, arrangements will need to be made for her to visit you, or you can meet your mom at a mutual agreed upon location etc. some thought will need to be put into the situation.

    Consider using positive affirmations to control your thoughts. You can do this. After all...just like your attitude and behaviors are in your control...so are your thoughts. You can allow yourself a brief moment of review ...but then chose to look at it in the way that serves you best. You’ve been this route before. Probably many times. Seek what brings you joy...who helps you feel joyous...go in that direction thoughts and all at 100 mph.
     
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  14. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Ha...Wise put it very well!!!!

    Omg. I just reread it again. Wise...did you get your philosophies mostly from AA? Sooo good.

    I’m doing very similar stuff. Almost stopping negative thoughts. Accepting that they are within my control. It all starts there, doesn’t it? Thoughts are very powerful. And if I have a negative thoughts...it’s not necessarily real. I can replace it with something more helpful and optimistic etc.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
  15. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    I cannot possiblity list everything here that has shaped my self care routine , philosophy, and spirituality, as it is a conglomeration of many years of study, reading, learning, practicing . I am so happy my suggestions were meaningful.

    I became a yoga instructor many years ago and have been teaching. I attend AA and Al-Anon regularly, 4 meetings a week and have been for many years. I meditate almost every day (with rather rare exceptions). I have worked the 12 steps in Al-Anon and AA and I have taken sponsees through the steps. I attend Unity "church" (it's really a philosophy). I have for the past year studied "A course in miracles" which entails a lesson every day. I read the lesson in the book, and then listen to the lesson on YouTube (Carol Howe and Pathways to Light). I like YouTube lectures by Jerry Wise, by Tara Brach, by Marianne Williamson. I have read tons of books on spirituality like Eckhart Tolle, A course in Love. I have studied the Adult Children of Alcoholics book, the AA Big book.

    I try things and see what works for me.
     
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  16. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    I am learning the same lessons about how our mind often lies to us and that thoughts are not fact. I study mostly from spiritual (not religious) YouTube channels and books from spiritual teachings. I believe the ego mind is our lower self that talks to us in a mean way. VERY mean!

    "Person, you look horrible."

    "Person, you weren't a good mother."

    "Person, be afraid."

    I also learned that fear is not a natural state. We can go into love when we fear. And fear and love can not co exist. I learned to manage and change fear by lessons read and by doing nightly guided meditations. I have more control over my mind now.

    I have made huge strides in dismissing what my ego says to me and living in my highest self. Fear is no longer overwhelming me. I am Christian but have utilized Buddhist teachings. I am not the same and feel 100 percent saner.

    It feels so free to not even hear my ego half the time. I am shocked that we can turn off these debilitating thoughts but we do have that ability. Some are great at it. I am learning.

    I am not my thoughts. The ego mind is like my own personal mean girl in my head, telling me how bad I am and about the hazards that will happen in the future, especially to Kay and Jaden. I would feel hopeless because of the voice, this mean girl screaming in my head. Now I try to distract myself into the present.

    I understand everything you said, Wise. We are very much going in the same direction, both of us. I so appreciate you, Wise!!

    Blessings and peace to all.
     
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  17. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Yes, it is the egoic mind that wants to run the show. It is steeped in self pity, self delusion, self centeredness, and fear (AA Big Book). My ego competes with God. It thinks I am God (Al-anons will recognize this as always thinking we know what is best for everyone else) . When my ego is overgrown, I am crowding God out. (EGO = easing God out) (AA).

    In Step 3 in any 12 step program, we turn our will and our life over to the care (the love and concern) of God (you cancan c it love). So I get out of the way and I "let go and let God" (Al-Anon). And by doing that, I can align with love and receive a happiness past anything I have been able to create for myself.

    My ego has become overgrown because of past trauma (childhood mostly) and I developed coping mechanisms (character defects) in order to survive. This has not served me but they were the only tools accessible to me. In Al-Anon, I learn better tools.

    Copa, you make an excellent point about being in the present moment. God is not in the past, not in the future, but only in the now. So when my mind dwells on the past or the future, I am in regret or anxiety, and not with God. As the spiritual awakening that comes as a result from working the 12 steps takes hold, I can train myself to stay in step 3 and step 11 and maintain conscious contact with my Higher Power.

    The more I do this, the more I let go of the mean voice inside of my head. When I realize that I am a child of God, that I am loved beyond measure, that I am the light of the world (a course in miracles), and that my purpose on Earth is forgiveness, that anything I have done is just a mistake to God, I can let go of fear and attacks on myself which are all egoic mind patterns.

    And when I can align with love most of the time , I am in the Self that is God flowing through me, and I can begin to trust my thoughts better. I can have the God think in my mind. I always know because God thoughts are based in love, and ego thoughts are based in fear.

    I cannot hold fear and love at the same time. It's like walking into a dark room and turning on the light. The darkness is gone. It cannot coexist with the darkness.

    I find that I hardly ever attack myself anymore . How I treat myself is a reflection of how I treat other people and vice versa. When I go there, it is a sign that I need to draw closer to my Higher Power. The wound is where the light enters (Rumi).

    I need to be aware of my past patterns , my triggers. I need to create a pause for myself to maintain connection with myself and my higher power. Then, situations that used to baffle me will be easy to handle (AA's promises).

    My character defects are not where I am bad , but where I have been wounded .People in my life deserve to not be hurt by me in the way I was hurt which is why I need to be diligent about my past pain and the coping mechanisms I still sometimes want to employ in order to make me feel ok. This is the spot check 10th step inventory that Al-Anon and AA talk about.

    I also deserve not to hurt myself when I experience pain. So I have to go to my Higher Power for healing.

    Once I fully grasped that we all have a chip of divinity inside of us whether we know it or not, it became easier to connect to that in meditation . I see the huge beam of golden light that is my Higher Power's power flow into me through my crown chakra as I inhale and I take in the love and power and rejuvenate me . It is my job to reflect that love and that forgiveness back to other people seeing their innocence rather than their (or my own) guilt.

    I can then meet others from a place of acceptance .
     
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  18. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    That was amazing, Wise. It totally sums up what you learn in Al Anon. You said it perfectly. Great post.

    I urge anyone with a kid even addicted to pot every day, like Kay, to explore 12 step. If you have God in your life 12 step is extremely powerful. Please... Try it six times to see if it resonates. Going to meetings in my opinion is more helpful than trying to do it alone.

    We don't need to suffer. If we are suffering, maybe we need to change how we think and behave just as our troubled kids need to do in order to get well. We are made sick through their addiction. It is a family disease. But we can learn to cope better.

    Hugs to everyone.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
  19. JMom

    JMom Active Member

    Wow. I love this, thank you! Both posts were extremely helpful!
     
  20. JMom

    JMom Active Member

    Wise and Copa,
    Thank you for teaching me self-care. I will use your beautiful words. It has painted a picture of a world with peace that I can achieve. I have never meditated, not sure how, but I will research it.

    I called mom and moved our visit up to tomorrow to lessen the anxiousness of the wait. She mentioned that brother "doesn't know what he's going to do after Christmas " and hit her up for $1600 for a truck. She wanted my advice on what to do because she doesn't have the money to give him.

    I practiced self care! My response was "hope he figures it out, I'll say a prayer for him " and changed the subject. I told her she sounded cheerful and couldn't wait to see her tomorrow!

    And now I'm going to figure out how to meditate!
     
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