Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Have A Brother Who I Don't Talk To

There is no such thing as a perfect family. Everyone fights and gets irritated. I like to believe that, as a counselor, I can manage being around just about anyone, but that really isn't true. Even the best and most-credentialed mental health professionals have their limits. I fall significantly below them on the qualifications totem pole, so I guess that means that only silly people expect me to have no limits.

I go through phases with all of my 3 brothers where I want to kill them. Sometimes we're best friends. Other times, I just want to knock them clean out and can't ever seem to find my brass knuckles. (I promise I don't actually have brass knuckles.)

One of my brothers, however, has not been in my life for several years, and it will probably stay that way. The point of this is that, to the outside world, I have my shit together and I am un-rattle-able. This is mostly true, but only became so when I realized that even if blood is thicker than water, I don't have to put up with your crap just because we share DNA.

My brother is not a bad person. He may not even be a crazy person anymore. I don't know, and I have no intention of finding out. From what I hear, he has straightened out a lot and is working on getting back to being the successful person he once was. Good for him. I'm still not comfortable with him being in my life at all.

Have you ever been surrounded by so much insanity that you start to wonder if you're the crazy one? Yeah. That's what he made my life like. He was sick. Sicker than most of the people I see at my office on a daily basis. He was targeting me for reasons I could not figure out. He got everyone angry at me. I wasn't entirely innocent. I let him get to me and make me like him for a while. Eventually, I realized that the only way to solve the problem and show everyone that I did not do the things that he accused me of was to take a step back and just let the madness happen. I couldn't stop it.

Some strange things had happened, including my then-fiancé's boss getting a phone call to verify for a job that my fiancé had never applied for. This job was in a competing company, and had it been accurate, my husband could have been let go just for applying. Luckily, they let my husband know and they found out that the person who called didn't exist at the supposedly hiring company. My landlord got a letter with our names and the wrong address on it stating that we were nuisances to the neighborhood. We didn't even know our neighbors and had never done anything that could be considered even remotely disruptive. My friends started getting strange middle of the night phone calls about how they could not interact with me another because I was going to do them harm.

I had to get out.

After a few months of minimal contact with my family because they had made it clear that they were erring on his side, the issues continued without my input. I wasn't talking to them, so I could not have been involved. Finally, they saw that I had been telling the truth because the madness continued even when I wasn't involved.

The point of this is not what happened, but that you are not responsible for putting up with the toxic behavior of something just because they are close to you in some way. This was not a situation that could be talked through because I was not dealing with a rational human being. He threatened my life more than once and left me terrified to leave the house. Over time, I realized that the only way to stand up for myself was to say nothing until he got the help that he needed.

He still hasn't, and he has lost most of what he built for himself up to that point. That's sad, but these are his choices. According to what I've heard, he is doing somewhat better now without the help that he needs.

We were best friends for many years, but, in hindsight, the fact that he made me laugh so often and was okay with such impulsive things was probably an early indicator of what was actually going on. I miss that friend, but I don't want him back. The repercussions of all that "fun" were just devastating.

The best advice I ever received came from my mother-in-law while I was handling all of this insanity.

"It's easier for them to be crazy than it is for you to be sane, but you have to do it anyway."

So, several years later, I am doing the shit out of it the best that I can.

As always, it's hip to be square (and sane!), kids.

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