Do I tell my brother this is hurtful to me?

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
Years of him as an adult enabling my father and one day he suddenly is the target and he stops enabling it. Basically cuts my father out of his life. In the middle of it, my father is sort of trying to reconnect with me?
I was recently talking about my one family and the feeling I have that I should be able to "fix" things, if I just can figure out how to do it "right". He said that's an understandable feeling/desire and that all the TV shows where some kind of "expert" gathers a family together to "fix" things, and it looks like it works, and in an hour or less, kind of contribute to the belief that it's possible. Sometimes I suppose it actually works. What I quoted from your post though, makes me think that dear old dad is looking for someone else he can collect up to use as a scapegoat when he needs/wants one.

I have to think that kids growing up in that kind of family are going to have very different perceptions of reality, based on the roles they were assigned. It seems like, if you were "the golden child" your first exposure to the family dynamic is going to be the parents' point of view. So "the scapegoat" is going to look like they're doing everything wrong and deserve what ever they get. It WILL look like they're provoking the parent, for example. They might see some glimmers of unfairness, they might totally buy in to what the official family dynamic is. In the case of your brother, it sounds like when dear old dad turned on him he realized that his father was capable of being unfair and mean and that was an eye opener. Now? Do you suppose he might feel guilty over the family dynamic and his part in it? People are going to vary in how guilty they might feel and how they handle it. I wonder if that's part of what you're seeing in his recent behavior? I don't know what you DO about that. Be open to the possibilities maybe? But I wouldn't expect too much. He's grown up learning the value of scapegoats and that's not a role you want to have assigned to you again.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
But me as a person? Doesn't really show any signs of caring. Like it's a duty or a favor to do lunch together. Engages others with warmth, asks how they are etc, and none of that towards me. Talks about himself, his family, etc. But it's not reciprocal. His wife reaches out, sort of, but it's weird. All weird. I don't really feel like I know any of them, because we have been so distant for so long - except my mother.

I'm not sure what to do or how to process it. I'd like to have a relationship with him. I also know it just may be too far gone. I'm also mad. Like WTF. I can't express that to any of them, because what's the point? For 8 years my father said I didn't exist and my brother joined him in it. Now they suddenly treat me like I exist. My father got me a Christmas gift. What. My brother can't even bother with a card. A hello. I want to tell him this isn't an okay way to treat me, but also know that he'll likely just cut off all contact if I do. It's to the degree it feels hurtful, unfair, etc... but years ago, when I tried to say anything of it, I was rewarded with 8 years of being cut off by him because "it's too painful for you to bring it up." What?

I guess I need perspective on this dynamic with my brother.
I just wanted to add this, Idk if it will resonate with you or not @Justmehere :

I personally feel like, with family, friends, partners, acquaintances: I could be seen or viewed positively, maybe complex; compassionately as traumatized; negatively as crazy or worthless, and not worth the effort. It no longer matters to me in so far as there is also the question of how do 'I' feel, whether I am complex, broken or valued or scapegoated. If you are not accepted- maybe even more so not cherished (because you should be)- why waste concern or time about what they think? Part of that (IMHO from having to do what sounds like the same) is jockeying around all and everyone's likes, proclivities and dynamics. It's good to be wise, and diplomatic. And it's also good to ask yourself who treats you with love and concern. Value yourself. What they choose, is their choice, not just what they think but how they act. You deserve kindness, love and respect. 🤗
 
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Justmehere

Sponsor
This is really helpful. Thank you for all the thoughtful responses. It's such a effed up situation...

Feels like a bit of putting the cart in front of the horse.

Meaning, he’s not a friend, now… but holding him to the same standards you’d hold a friend to.

This is something I needed to read. We are more strangers than anything. It's silly to hold him to be like a friend when we barely even know each other now.

i'm the "golden child" in my criminally dysfunctional family, more often called, "the rich aunt." according to my shrinks, i am every bit as damaged as the siblings who crawled into self-medication containers instead of workaholic distractions.
Yeah. Good point. He's always had ways the trauma affected him... just hides it better? You are so right though. Years ago he even complained of being the golden child who could do no wrong in anyone's eyes. I have no doubt the pain runs deep. I struggle to understand his way of interacting with our dysfunctional family. I have had my own maladaptive way of coping. I can't imagine seeing a parent rage at a sibling and saying it's okay... and yet... I wonder if the tables feel turned a bit. Here my father raged at him, and I just reconnected with the rager. So... huh.

And maybe there is the fear/expectation of how he might be based on how he has been in the past.
And maybe there is something in the middle? If he is able to show some elements of 'friendship' (which I take to mean understanding, mutual engagement etc) and is still an asshole in other areas that he is unable to change (yet? Ever?)
This is a good thing for me to remember. He is likely a mix - not all good or all bad.
Randomly = there’s no focus to it. It’s simply when I think of it, as I feel like it. No stress, no pressure, no reliability, no expectations. IF they get back to me or reciprocate? Awesome. If not? No skin off my nose… because I haven’t made this… effort …that is unrewarded/ feels like wasted time / why do I even bother/ detracts from people (or parts of my life) I could be focusing on if I weren’t directing energy their way, etc.
This is really helpful. I had started to do just this - send a card there, an email here, etc. Sometimes he responds, sometimes he doesn't, and if I have no expectations, it works out ok. It actually seems to get better over time. A little.
The past is a massive subject. Maybe instead, it could be focusing on the future. I.e. saying "brother you know I would really like to have more of a relationship with you, perhaps we could start talking more or seeing each other" or something like that?
I did ask this about 18 months ago. The breakdown with my brother and father was very fresh then. He said he was very "indifferent" towards having a relationship at all. He explained it wasn't that he didn't want it or did want it, he just was numb to it. Okay. I have been numb in other ways. He didn't say no or yes. Then he kept responding now and then to some of the times I initiated contact, for the first time in years, and twice initiated contact himself. So. Maybe that's something? I struggle to connect as well. We are strangers in many ways.
shared trauma is a sneaky, snaky bond. the typically unspoken secrecy codes of family dysfunction make it hard to know what is leaning which way. healing those family dysfunctions calls for many, many leaps of faith and even more patience with the process.
Yeah. It's wild how much it hits deep.
Good luck and surround yourself with kindness. The family is not always what it's cracked up to be, and your brother may need his own processing to deal with his relationship to your father, as well as yours together.
Thank you.
What I quoted from your post though, makes me think that dear old dad is looking for someone else he can collect up to use as a scapegoat when he needs/wants one.
This is what I'm concerned about. My father just went from 15 years of stating I don't exist to 18 months of trying to reconnect... once my brother stopped talking to him. Only then.
In the case of your brother, it sounds like when dear old dad turned on him he realized that his father was capable of being unfair and mean and that was an eye opener. Now? Do you suppose he might feel guilty over the family dynamic and his part in it? People are going to vary in how guilty they might feel and how they handle it. I wonder if that's part of what you're seeing in his recent behavior? I don't know what you DO about that. Be open to the possibilities maybe? But I wouldn't expect too much. He's grown up learning the value of scapegoats and that's not a role you want to have assigned to you again.
I don't right now see any sign of any guilt. At all. Which frankly... he should feel guilty! He enabled an asshole! But then, now am I?

You are right though, they will be quick to push me back into scapegoat at the drop of a hat. I have to stay out of that role... Even if it means staying away from all of them.
If you are not accepted- maybe even more so not cherished (because you should be)- why waste concern or time about what they think? Part of that (IMHO from having to do what sounds like the same) is jockeying around all and everyone's likes, proclivities and dynamics. It's good to be wise, and diplomatic. And it's also good to ask yourself who treats you with love and concern. Value yourself. What they choose, is their choice, not just what they think but how they act. You deserve kindness, love and respect.
Thank you for this. The whole situation has me thinking of where can I find the connection and type of relationship and being valued that I don't and won't find in my family - but instead from myself and chosen relationships.

I think my next step will be to reach out in a month or so with a card to say hello to him and his wife and kids, something silly and fun, maybe send candy for the kiddos. No expectations. Maybe just be the aunt that sends something silly and fun now and then to his kids, and a card to say I'm thinking of him as my brother, and see what happens.

Thanks all.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
I can't imagine seeing a parent rage at a sibling and saying it's okay... and yet... I wonder

it was harder to wonder if, as the golden child, am i defective for not being able to stop the abuse? will buying my 10 siblings new cars repair the damage of the abuse? after decades of psychotherapy for my savior complex, i'm still not as sure as my shrinks seem to be.

I wonder if the tables feel turned a bit. Here my father raged at him, and I just reconnected with the rager. So... huh.

the tables of family dysfunction turn continually. in my own birth family, those tables turn with the speed and predictability of a roulette wheel. it is never so simple as a just. healing hopes for all. no exceptions. family dysfunction be a very complex and tangled web.
 

Justmehere

Sponsor
it was harder to wonder if, as the golden child, am i defective for not being able to stop the abuse? will buying my 10 siblings new cars repair the damage of the abuse? after decades of psychotherapy for my savior complex, i'm still not as sure as my shrinks seem to be.
My brother told me that he felt like "I could control him" until he became the new target. He is clear "I do not feel safe around him." I responded by telling him I understand, as someone who has been targeted too, it makes perfect sense to me to not feel safe around him after what happened. I didn't know what else to say. He told me he would not leave his kids alone with him again, and I validated I wouldn't either if I was in his shoes. I support whatever boundaries he needs as he navigates it. I said what no one said to me. When I had set boundaries with my father in the past as a child an an adult, I was screamed at, disowned, blamed, penalized, abused further, etc.

I told him I didn't know what to say, and I would fumble and make mistakes, but I'm here for him in what ways I can be as he goes on his journey.

He changed the subject. So I did too. But I wonder how it is all impacting him to lose that sense that he could prevent the abuse towards him that he knew others suffered.

I too tried to make everyone happy, fix it all, in my own sort of magical thinking type of way... it's taken a long time for me to let go, and it in many ways, I am still wrestling with it.

I think it's normal for kids to want to make everything okay, and it's hard as adults to let go of the belief we can make it okay.
 

Friday

Moderator
I think it's normal for kids to want to make everything okay, and it's hard as adults to let go of the belief we can make it okay.
My brother told me that he felt like "I could control him" until he became the new target.
(@arfie, too.)

Cha.

There’s a quirky thing that happens with siblings in abuse, where the other kids become extensions of themselves, regardless of what role (protector, scapegoat, whipping boy, etc.) any of them hold. So instead of just blaming themselves like adults do in DV? (It’s all my fault, I should have, I shouldn’t have, I know better than, I I I). The self blame with kids parcels onto their brothers and sisters: Why did you have to, why couldn’t you, why didn’t you, you did this, you know better, you could have, etc. Woth all the same passion and belief that the abuser? Can be controlled, made not to abuse, by their own actions. Whether it’s standing up to them, or going along with them, or being nice to them, or fighting back at them… each child tends to be driven keeeeerazy by every other child that doesn’t do what they themselves do, so the abuser “won’t” abuse.

Trauma Thinking + Magical Thinking = A Whole Lotta Pain

They also often become core beliefs. Takes something like an abuser turning 180 degrees after the kids are adults to shake them, more often than not.

Like you & your brother are both experiencing, right now, with roles reversed and finding yourselves each doing what the other did.

Abuse. The mindf*ckery that just keeps on going. And going. And going.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
But I wonder how it is all impacting him to lose that sense that he could prevent the abuse towards him that he knew others suffered.

while i still believed i could prevent that abuse toward myself, a huge part of me believed that stopping one piece of the abuse helped prevent the abuse toward my siblings. i never really let go of that childish delusion until recovery led me to let go of the delusion that i could control others. ever. period.

There’s a quirky thing that happens with siblings in abuse, where the other kids become extensions of themselves, regardless of what role (protector, scapegoat, whipping boy, etc.) any of them hold.

proof unavailable, but i believe that phenom is not unique to abused children. children are extremely narcissistic by nature. just believing.
 
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