How Do I Deal With My Angry Abusive Brother Now That We're Both Middle Aged?
(Laguna Beach, CA)
I am a middle aged woman with one older brother. We grew up in the same house, with the same parents and the same beliefs but there is a great difference in our personalities. He has always been a rebel.
He was born with a small birth defect and my Mom attributes it to that. Not being able to walk for a long time, then having a sister who learned at the same time as he did may have been the first cause of resentment toward me. This is only theory offered by my Mom.
He has always come "home" to my parents, from the military, moved back home for financial reasons, stayed with my parents during transitional periods of time in his life. While I turned, 19 moved out, got a job and never moved home. I am not perfect by any means, but just more stable and perhaps fiscally responsible.
He has always had issues with anger, discharged from the military, acted out physically towards friends, co-workers, and even my father when he was alive. He is back now, living near my family, after a divorce, and was living with my mother again until he recently got his own place.
My husband and I have children and have been together for over 20 years. Recently my brother has become more and more verbally abusive toward me (which I can handle somewhat) but has lashed out to me more and more and is now saying horrible things about my family...specifically one daughter who has a learning disability. He is also saying horrible things about my husband (who never says an unkind word about my Mother or Brother).
I can't mention what he has said as his words are so cruel and heartless. They begin with being called (f-ing) losers, to retarded, to much, much worse.
His tirades have caused me to shake, pull off the side of the road while driving because of sheer hysteria, not to mention tears, sleepless nights, and just being heartbroken. They have sent me into panic attacks as well.
He realizes later what he has done and offers apologies such as "I'm sorry I blew up at you. I was stressed. I hope you can move on from it". I accept it because I was taught to forgive but also as my mother ages, and we are all she has, I feel I have to for her benefit.
I just don't want to this time. I am so hurt to the core, but with the holidays coming up, and they have always been celebrated at my house, I feel like I should take the risk and reach out.
I am very conflicted as I would like to teach my kids about forgiveness, I also don't want to teach them it's okay to compromise your self-worth to do so. My Mother is not willing to listen to my side. She just gives me Christian literature about forgiveness every time she sees me. That hurts as well.