Family Obligation


I have been struggling with an issue and hope some of you maybe have a better way of reacting or advice or idea or share an experience.

All of sudden, I got a text from a sister telling me that our brother who is in town where I live (we live different provinces), decided to move here. She said that this is something she never understood but no matter what he cannot do the planning of finding a housing, the disability office, apply for health card, and basically settle. Oh boy was I triggered!

The brother in question has been in and out of jail, addicted all his life, has serious physical health as well that can render him disabled to be on a wheelchair if he does not take meds (which is a battle), and is quite violent, the personality of a wall (not exaggerating here). He came here on vacation on a ticket my sister paid. So when he came here and inhaled the whiff of the vacation and being a guest at a brother's house (different city), the idea of this is maybe being a paradise must crossed his mind and now all of sudden without any support, prospect, real tangible reason, he decides to move here and the obligation is I, will do the planning and settling for him. This assumption is a trigger for my boundaries cause I do not make assumption in my family anymore.

I want to add he has been sober for 11 months, actually the vacation gift was for that cleaning up. This is not obviously the first clean up but one of countless times.

My reaction was tenfold. To my sister, I said please do not send me triggering text (I could sense she was avoiding a real conversation). and also please delete the assumption that I will jump on helping and getting involved impossible things in the family. I also said similar things many times before.

My reaction to my brother was a bit more problematic. I am happy for him cleaning up once again. I think him moving to here without any real purpose other than I will go to the GYM sounds so f*cked up and irresponsible. So I struggled. I am still struggling. No one in the family is saying anything to him cause he can flip to wacko doodle or let us not hurt him or reject him. So I wrote a nice text so he could read rather than select what to hear or not. and I said basically I am happy for him but could he please reconsider moving since times have changed, housing, disability cheques, and all things govt programs are not what they used to be. Where he lived before he has a lot of siblings, my mother (his first addiction) also lives there occasionally so coming here without friends, I am not going to see him much at all and being an addict just sounded really a bad mix.

He called me back without reading my text (so quick) and basically berated me on his business and that he is a man and can do whatever he wanted. I kept calm but made very clear I do not have time to do any bidding or planning for him and wished him well. Addiction is huge in my family but addiction with certain personality I do not like. I had another brother who was addict but with sad and reasonable personality. The major issue with this one is he anti-social and can be very violent when he loses so another task will be police involvement which I am not also interested in bailing him out or caring much to be real frank here.

I am feeling guilty about this and cannot sort it out at the moment. I know this is very specific issue but I wonder how others deal with addicted family member who has huge entitlement that things will work out cause others will be guilted to do on their behalf...this is my feeling and I am not sure if this is me - (my default to survival mode) or being reasonable and aware of my boundaries and running for my sanity.

What would you have done? What have you done in similar situation? What would a reasonable person do in such situation? I feel I could have ignored the whole thing - but this is where family obligation is coming from ....whatever that means honestly. idk

I have been simmering in this for while and I am feeling a bit moody cause it is like a stench on my body.


he has the right to move wherever he wants. it sucks that he's moving near you when he's obviously a trigger. but he is right about that. he can move wherever he wants. whether or not the enviroment has changed and what have you. he can still elect to move there.

it may be a mistake but he's a grown up and he's allowed to make mistakes.

however. you are not required to look after him. he is a grown up. he's an adult man. if he wants to move and do all this. he can do it him self. any one who expects you to take care of a grown man who is cognitively capable of looking after him self?

and even if he wasn't. there are professionals who are not you. who are better able to do that. this is a perfectly exceptable boundery. and you did nothing incorrect by establishing it. family obligations are a lie. you are not obligated to harm yourself to look after people who don't appreciate you.

and! who are old enough to look after them selfs.

now if i only could get my husband to listen to this! 🤪 he is the same as you. always feeling responsible of his family. now he knows i don't allow that shit in our home. so he will go look after all the affairs at their house and things. the take real advantage of him.


I am feeling guilty about this and cannot sort it out at the moment.
I totally understand. BUT....
He is right: he is a man and he can decide what he wants. What goes with that is all the consequences of those decisions. None of which is anything to do with you.

My situation is different but ultimately the stepping away and refusing to be the one to solve things is the same.
In my family it's always been me that the assumption is will 'do things'. When my mum is sick, despite my sister being a nurse and having my dad live with her: the expectation is me doing the cooking and cleaning and washing of her etc etc etc. Despite the fact I live 1 1/2 hours away and work full time.
When sh"t hit the fan with my sister and her kids , and their dad. Each time: assumption I go and sort things out. I do the food shopping etc etc etc
Until I realised that: none of this was any of my responsibility! And whilst it felt terrible saying no, and terrible taking that step back (and who am I in this family if I don't do these things?).
It is actually a lot calmer not getting involved.

So: he can do what he wants.
And you can do what you want.

Ignore texts. Deflect. Reflect back. Question why you need to do these things? State why you won't. Don't engage with the emotional manipulation.


I agree with @grief. He can move where he wants to, and if he wants or thinks he can get a free ride from your siblings, then that is between them to sort.

However, your sibling throwing you in the mix to sort out his move is a big boundary violation in my opinion. If he is violent in any way for any reason, you have every right to be totally disconnected from him. Wouldn't you do the same if a neighbor down the street was violent...stay the hell away from the neighbor, right? As far as family obligation goes, there is only so far "for the family" will take you if the sibling is unhealthy, unstable, toxic, needy, and violent. As previously stated, there are professionals who can help him, if need qualifies as disabled. I am happy for his sobriety, but actions in the other areas of his life don't seem healthy just yet. I agree, too, to maintain very protective boundaries for yourself if he does move near you and gracefully say "no thank you" any time you are asked or expected to assist. It is simply your right to do so, free of guilt, shame, etc.


Thank you everybody.

These are uniform responses and exactly what I expected cause I also believe that logically. I think I want to clarify couple things though.

My "autistic" or anxious mind is getting in the way that well because he is telling me he is moving here then I have the right to say I think you should not. At the end, we both communicate our stand rather than he expresses his wants and I just listen and sound like agreement. He has to the right to move and if he tells me including me in his thoughts/communication, I have to right to say I do not agree with you moving here. So he knows where I stand. There is no confusion. and ultimately he has more authority to move than me stopping that. So the buck stays with him physically figuratively speaking!

The other issue that is probably giving me anxiety and I understand it for what it is: speaking from experience, he is known to pass out, become a homeless, end up in the hospital or jail and guess what when he is asked who to call, gives phones. I do not want to be that person getting the call. And this is something I "wish" to pre-emptively declare but do not see an opening yet cause nothing happened yet. My underlying of doing this is to show him, my support is limited and will not be automatic as he is used to with other siblings.

I am sensing my body tightening up writing this cause I can see - it is not my control or in the present and I can also see my coldblooded side or protective side coming to the foreground. I have hard time holding the thought of saying I am not interested in coming to help in the future. I feel I am punishing or rejecting deeply. I think I am just pissed he can even garner such reaction in me. and yet nothing happened yet! dang!

The question popping up in my mind is: I will see when I get there. Now that I expressed my worries in extended way with your input, I actually feel better and less triggered by the whole thing.