The Cold War….. a mother’s pain.
(Please read my previous posts so the story makes sense!)
As I left off with my brother, we were going to try and repair our broken relationship. We both apologized and wanted to move past things. He had admitted to me that it was in fact the one who had the problem with my dress all along but he went along with it and for the “wrong reasons”. I’m not sure exactly what those reasons were but it wasn’t important. I was willing to overlook the fact that I wasn’t invited to his wedding, he was going to over look the fact that I called his wife a crazy, insecure narcissist. That was all good and everything but there was a few conditions. I could not email, call or text him when he was home, In fact, the only time I could communicate with him was Monday-Friday between the hours of 9am and 5:30pm. I was willing to do it, because I loved my brother and wanted him in my life.
Almost a month had gone by and I hadn’t heard a peep from him. It was Mother’s Day that year and I got no text or anything from him, which was unusual. I was a little bit hurt by it, I am not going to lie. My mom told me the next day that when she talked to him, she asked him if he remembered to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. My mom had a habit of doing that with my brother…..more enabling. I come from a family filled of enablers because my mom and her brothers and sisters were raised in a home with an alcoholic father. My grandfather was the quintessential Archie Bunker type, the patriarch of the family, who spent most of his time at the bar hanging out with his friends while my Edith Bunker grandma stayed home and raised 6 kids, virtually alone. He wouldn’t even let my grandmother drive. At 55 years old she finally snuck out behind his back and took her road test and got her license. She probably spent most of her life making excuses for my grandfather. Enabling is a learned behavior. I have realized in recent years how destructive enabling actually is.
Anyway, I got an email the day after Mother’s Day from my brother saying that he was sorry, he was with Satan and her mother all day on Mother’s Day. They had brunch, and went to dinner and he couldn’t wish me a happy Mother’s Day. It was a bullshit excuse. He managed to call my mom. He could’ve sent me a quick text and erased it from his phone. I didn’t respond to him right away. I sat back and really started to think about how fucked up this whole situation was. Why was I accepting all of these ridiculous stipulations. Who wants to have a half assed relationship with their brother, with all these ridiculous rules and regulations? How was any of this fair to me? Was my relationship with my brother worth me compromising my integrity? I felt more like some mistress and less like a sister. The more people I told, the more ridiculous I realized it sounded.
My mom also was getting fed up with his shit. He kept telling her he was working on fixing things and that in order for him to get his wife on board it needed to happen in baby steps. It was all bullshit. He was just procrastinating because he knew she wasn’t ever going to go for it. My brother had completely stopped visiting my mom. He hadn’t been to her house once since he was married and probably three months prior to the wedding, either. My mom was really broken up over this whole thing and it became a huge bone of contention between this. Eventually she got really fed up and told him to shove his baby steps up his ass!
I was fed up too. I decided to write him a letter in hopes of making him wake up, grab his balls back from his wife and tell her that he didn’t have to like his family but she had to respect that he loved his family and wanted is in his life. I wrote it in a way where I put all the blame on me. Basically I told him that I wasn’t comfortable with this whole situation, that I would love nothing more to have a relationship with him but I didn’t want to be a source for fights and tension between him and his wife. I sent it to him and never heard back. I guess I didn’t know as much about borderlines and narcissists as I thought I did at the time. That is not how they operate. Much like the sun, everything revolves around them. I had finally realized that my brother was completely brainwashed and the chances of us having any semblance of a normal brother/sister relationship was null and void.
That letter was the last contact I had with my brother. The next few months were completely quiet. I didn’t hear from him and either did my mom. My mom was completely devastated over all of this. I mean she fell into a very deep depression over it. She talked about it non-stop. Her and I would spend hours on the phone just going over things and wondering if my brother would ever come to his senses. She told me that she cried everyday on her way to work and she wasn’t exaggerating either. She talked to her one sister on the way to work every morning. Her and this sister worked for two different companies that were located right next to each other. At one point in time they were owned by the same person but my mom’s division was bought out by another company, still they still dealt with each other a lot. My aunt voiced her concern for my mom often and verified that my mom was not only crying in her car on her way to work but some of her co-workers had also grown concerned because they would hear her sobbing at her desk. Several times that she felt as if she was just starting to feel like she was getting used to her new life without my dad and that this came in like a freight train and knocked her right back down. Not only did it knock her down but she fell a few extra rungs further down. She actually said that the pain of me and my brother not speaking was actually worse than the pain of losing my dad. She was profoundly hurt.
My mom and I were always close. It really hurt me to see her in so much pain. We went well into the summer. My mom and my brother both have July birthdays. My mom couldn’t stand the thought of going out with him and Satan. Of course she had already monopolized his birthday weekend and so my mom thought maybe it would be nice if just her and my brother went out that year to somewhere low key just so she could give him his birthday present. I have to say, my mom never gave up hope. She always got him a birthday gift. She text my brother and asked if he thought just her and him could meet up either before or after his birthday somewhere causal like a diner one night during the week. My brother replied and said “sure.” She thought absolutely nothing about it. It had been months since she had seen him and probably a year since they had any one on one time. This was nothing out of the ordinary for them. Even when my brother was with his ex, him and my mom would do their little mother/son date nights. They both enjoyed sushi so they’d go out for that and since my brothers ex wasn’t into all his nerdy Star Wars movies, he’d ask my mom to go to the movies with him. She didn’t think she was doing anything wrong. It wasn’t a big deal.
One night she was out to dinner with a friend when she sees a text from a strange number pop up. She begins to read the text and sure enough it says, “so you think my husband is going to want to go out to his birthday dinner without his wife? Obviously not.” Then she sends a second text that says, ” I AM his wife, I AM his family.” My mom was in shock. At first she thought maybe Satan was in the restaurant somewhere spying on her and overheard her and her friend talking. The friend she was with that night was actually my brothers ex-fiancé’s mother. She had no idea why all of the sudden she was getting this text. My brother seemed totally ok with the idea and told her sure he’d go. I guess once he ran it by his drill Sargent he realized he was not a person anymore who can go anywhere alone. I mean it’s just so ridiculous. I went and visited with my mom every weekend by myself and my husband never had a problem with it.
My mom sent my brother a screen shot of the text she got from his wife and toms him to re-read his texts. She didn’t ask to go out for his birthday celebration. She just asked to spend some quality time with her son. My brother replies that if she has a problem with his wife, to take it up with her. My mom told him if he has a problem that she asked him to go out with her than so be it. My brother then told her he had a problem with her excluding HIS family from HIS birthday and again if she had a problem with his wife to talk to her, not him. My mom explained that she had a problem with the way he allowed his wife to talk to her and that he made a big deal out of something so small. He told my mom then that if she chose to treat people disrespectfully then she needed to be prepared to deal with the consequences. That him and his wife were adults who don’t tell one another what to do (or so he thinks). Then he tells her that he’s at the beach trying to enjoy his day and he doesn’t want to discuss it.
Looking back on those texts, I do not think my brother even wrote that. The way it’s worded, it’s not him. My brother was never a confrontational person. He never talked like this to my mom. It was all her. They never ended up going out for his birthday. I don’t even think my mom ever sent his gift that year either. I mean my brother had to understand where my mom was coming from. She just asked to see him alone. It wasn’t that big of a deal. His wife made it a big deal, not her.
I was really nervous when this whole thing happened because a few weeks earlier I had sent out invitations for my mom’s 60th surprise birthday party. I had mentioned it to my brother back in April when he came to my house while him and Satan were fighting over the fact that he had started to see a therapist. He said to me then that he would probably have to come by himself. When you keep going around telling people you want to talk to them without your wife knowing, the people who care about you are not going to include your wife. I fought back and forth with myself whether or not I should even invite him. My family was telling me to just send an invitation to his house and leave the ball in his court. I didn’t feel comfortable inviting Satan after witnessing what I witnessed back in April. I wanted my brother to know however that he was still our family and still welcome to my home anytime. I sent the invitation but only put his name on the envelope. I figured he’d either assume she was invited or he’d at least get in touch with me and ask. After the fight over his birthday, I didn’t want to risk calling him up and possibly fighting with him, which may result in the the surprise being ruined.
The party got closer and closer until the day finally came. I never heard from my brother whether he was coming or not but there was still a small part of me that had hoped he would just show up. The party day came. The surprise and everything went off perfect but my brother never showed up. My mom tried to hide it that day but I know she was disappointed that he didn’t come. That was the new version of my brother the living disappointment. He never even bothered to call my mom and explain herself and that made her even more upset and so a few days after the party I decided to write him another email. I told him I was very upset that he never responded to the invitation. I also told him how upset my mom was that he didn’t show. I asked him how long we were going to drag this pointless nonsense out for. I asked him if there was anyway we could all sit down and have a conversation about how to move past this. I told him we were wasting valuable time and I referenced my dad and his brother as an example. I told him it would be stupid for us to continue the family curse. My dad and his brother didn’t speak for over 30 years over the fact that my uncle got into a fight with my grandfather and a few days later my grandfather had a heart attack and passed away. They finally reunited back in the mid to late 90’s. I never saw my dad so happy. He was genuinely happy to see my uncle mike. From that day on they kept regular contact until a year later when my uncle met his fate on a barstool at his Moose Lodge. 30 years wasted for nothing. I didn’t want that to be me and my brother.
My previous attempts to reach out to my brother were futile. He ignored them all but this time he wrote back. The was nothing conciliatory about it. What he wrote back was a long letter pointing out how I was wrong in every situation, how I owed his wife an apology and how I could’ve taken the “high road” (aka kissed his wife’s ass and walked in eggshells around her as he does). It was a very nasty letter. Again, I couldn’t believe this grudge holding, stubborn asshole was the same person I grew up with and used to hang out with all of the time. My brother was never a grudge holder. That’s not how we were raised. We were raised to love one another conditionally and to forgive. Nothing he wrote made it sound like he had any desire to move past things.
At that point I was so fed up I let him have it. I refuted all of his points told him exactly what was up. How he completely contradicted himself. I had a feeling Satan was reading these letters and so I decided it was time I blew the whistle and confronted him about coming to my house. His wife needed to know that there was a desire from him at least at some point to fix things. He responded by telling me that all I wanted to do was write nasty letters. There was no winning. My brother was brainwashed. I asked him what he wanted from us? Did he just want us to sweep 9 months of craziness under the rug and pretend nothing ever happened? He replied yes, that’s exactly what he wanted…….
(To be continued in my next post)