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well, that's a turn up for the books, not really sure what to do. Maryz, Vicar, if you're about, your advice is welcome (and anyone else too, obviously!)

(59 Posts)
silverfrog Tue 19-Mar-13 13:31:58

I have just had a phone call from a relative. My brother has just turned up on his door step (he is the only family member to still be living in the same place as when said brother was last seen, nearly 14 years ago).

I don't really know how I feel, or what to think, or anyhting. Obviously I am happy that my brother is alive and well. It has been a worry, as he has what would these days be dx'd as HFA.

My history with him is long (well, durr!) and complex. He lies, steals, cheats, steals some more. the last time I saw him, he stayed with me, under duress I might add, as I had already had enough by that point. It was our mother's funeral. I advanced him moeny to travel to attend, I ran myslf ragged, days after mum had died (I was her carer, and was 22. My brother is older than me, but obviously does not function at his chronological age) organising him a suit, haircut (I paid), bought him a shirt etc. He stole from me again that night, and left in the early hours. I haven't seen him since - a mixture of circumstances (he didn't visit for while - too embarrassed I expect, and then I moved away)

I don't know what to do. How do I even begin to broach with him the fact that (if I do see him) I don't trust him, probably never will. That I won't want him in my house (he is unlikely to leave empty handed; how am I supposed to sk dh to put up with that?). How do I explain it to my children? they do know that in theory they have another uncle, and are young enough at the moment to accept that they haven't met him without question - 'he lives far away' has sufficed until now. If he does come here, he will behave as though none of it ever happened. it's all in the past, not to be spoken of. If I try to bring it up, he will deny it <voice of experience> - he can and will deny things even when caught redhanded.

If he hasn't changed (and why would he have done? he was late 20s last time I saw him, and hadn't done any changing then, despite a lot of trouble - both for him and the rest of his family), then I can't see how I can have a relationship with him. Harsh, yes. but I can't put myself through it again - when I was a student he jeopardised both my degree and my ambitions by stealing from me and from our mum (I had to bail her out, which I could ill afford as a student). I bailed him out time and again, and I can't do it anymore.

Oh, this is all 'me, me, me', isn't it? I know he cannot necessarily help himself. I know he needs help. But he won't accept that help - not least form me, his 'baby' sister hmm.

BUT, he is my brother. He might need help. He certainly was barely able to function independently when I last knew him. I can't not help, can I (if he even needs help, I dunno)

My relative has passed on my phone/email details, and possibly my address (don't know, I didn't ask - I was shock (and relieved) that my brother had turned up at all), and so at some point I will need to talk to him/see him.

I don't know what to do. I don't know how I feel. Anyone got any advice?

MaryZeZJezuzIzntZombiedYet Tue 19-Mar-13 22:45:46

I used to say that my life is like being a tight-rope walker, delicately walking along while ballancing a bar and spinning plates.

It only needs one thing (a slipping plate, an extra teeny load) for the whole thing to come crashing down.

Don't let him be that thing. Really don't. Keep balancing, and if you can stop occasionally, put the plates down, give him a hand and get back up again, do.

Otherwise, please ensure you look after yourself most of all, because if you fall apart so will everything else

[wise and knowing]

and useless at following own advice

PolterGoose Tue 19-Mar-13 23:11:55

I'm a bit late to this, read earlier and wasn't sure whether to post.

I work with people like your brother (based on your description) many have been estranged from their families as a result of their behaviour. But what is actually the most productive relationship is the one where boundaries are clear and where the sensible relative (you) doesn't provide anything except occasional meet ups somewhere neutral, a bit of support and encouragement, giving details of support agencies with the expectation he will do the contacting, and absolutely not giving money or doing everything for him. Signpost him, don't even try to do it all (or any of it)

I would also say that around half of adult offenders have literacy levels below functional, most manage ok, very few don't claim benefits as a result! The growth of mobile phones has been a real bonus, because text speak doesn't require great literacy skills and it is surprising how well a lot of people with poor literacy manage their lives with the phone calendar and reminders. There are free basic skills courses everywhere (I think now called Skills for Life?)

Finally, people do change, I see it happen and could not do my job if I didn't believe it possible. I have seen amazing changes in people, unimaginable really considering some awful histories.

MaryZeZJezuzIzntZombiedYet Tue 19-Mar-13 23:22:59

That is a very sensible post Polter.

PolterGoose Wed 20-Mar-13 09:12:36

I've been thinking a bit more about this.

If I were you I'd agree to meet up in a cafe probably and say something like "when we were last in contact you did a lot of very upsetting things eg x, y and z which had these consequences (keep it factual and without emotion, blame or expectation of an apology - it isn't about him apologising, you just need to lay it out straight) I am obviously concerned that you may do similar things again and now I have my own family who are my priority (don't let him interrupt or try to justify or excuse his own behaviour, this is your turn to speak) I would like to keep in touch with you but, to protect myself, it will be on these terms. We can meet here (or wherever) once a month (a month is good, too frequent means you won't necessarily notice any change in him, positive or negative), I will buy you a meal and we can catch up. At some point in the future I will introduce you to my family, I am not ready for that yet, but if you can show that you have changed and are more responsible and trustworthy then we can do this. It will be good for the children to have another uncle but not until I consider that it is the right time. If you are serious about change or truly believe that you have changed then that is great, but right now your word is not enough. I need proof. Have you though about going back to college? How about doing some voluntary work? (Charity shops often take ex-offenders, adults with SNs, and there are always lots of charity shops in dead end towns!) It would be good to see you doing something positive and committing to something productive as well as increasing your skills. And it also shows me that you have changed from your old selfish ways. Have a think about what you could do to show me how you have changed. I'm not looking for an apology or payback, we cannot change the past, but if you want a relationship with me, and in the future my family, then I need to see that you are more responsible and that you have grown up and can be trusted. It won't be easy, and I will be here for you, but I'm not doing this for you, you have to do it for yourself"

Maybe a bit rambly but something like that confused

TheNebulousBoojum Wed 20-Mar-13 09:20:04

Maryz, do you know The Cat in the Hat?
I've often felt as if my life is like this page.
sumthinblue.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/cathat.jpg

'I can hold up the cup and the milk and the cake!
I can hold up these books and the fish on a rake!
I can hold the toy ship and a little toy man!
And look! With my tail I can hold a red fan!
I can fan with the fan as I hop on the ball!
But that is not all. Oh, no. That is not all...”
That is what the cat said...
Then he fell on his head!
He came down with a bump from up there on the ball.
And Sally and I, We saw ALL the things fall!'

Sometimes you go beyond your breaking point without noticing until you fall off.
The trick is to spot it before it happens.

nostoppingme Wed 20-Mar-13 09:43:20

I think you know in your heart what is the right thing to do. Poltergoose has said everything I was thinking but couldn't formulate. I too help my older brother whenever I need to step in; he hasn't done any of what you describe of your brother but the similarity is that my brother is not married and needs support from us, his family. Since my own child's ASD diagnosis, I realise my brother who is a genius and works in a job way way below his intellectual capability, has undiagnosed Aspergers. Long before my own kid's diagnosis, I already suspected my brother was on the spectrum. My child has severe dyslexia and other diagnosis too so your post has really touched me how you describe your brother as being illiterate. In your situation, there is no way I would ignore him when he is trying to be in contact, as he will always be on your mind.

I see my own brother as being kind of my third child, I know he isn't my responsibility and nobody asks this of me, it is just who I am as a person. I can't live a happy life with everything I have and know somewhere out there my own sibling is struggling. And I have promised myself (nobody apart from my husband knows this) to watch over him from a distance until the day I am no longer here. As it is, my husband is very supportive and understands this is a fact of life, he himself helps out certain members of his own family when they need a helping hand.

I also teach my kids to always be there for each other, family is very important to us.

Take care

silverfrog Wed 20-Mar-13 11:01:55

thank you again, everyone. lots of food for thought.

I will try to ring him in a bit <procrastination alert>

PolterGoose Wed 20-Mar-13 13:06:15

There is no rush silverfrog a bit of time to think and reflect really won't hurt after 14 years. Best wishes whatever you decide to do thanks

MareeyaDolores Wed 20-Mar-13 14:33:34

Wot Polter said.

Getting dragged into the chaos helps no-one, and will actually destroy any chance of a sort-of-good relationship in the longer-term.

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