My Brother The Verbal Abuser
My brother is a very angry person who we have asked to get help for his anger issues for years...reading up I believe he has a lot of signs of a sociopath also.
He is in his 40's and we have been dealing with his mean behavior and mood swings and verbal abuse for years, usually taking it to avoid a "blow up". Our mother who is now in her 70's pretty much takes most of the abuse with constant put down's and name calling and being made fun of. She takes it because he has a 3 year old and a 3 month old who she loves dearly and when the mood strikes him he will not let her see them.
For all of us to see them it is by appointment only and I live a half mile from him. He is like a roller coaster ride and we never know what will set him off or if he does not return calls/texts to see them suddenly we usually have no idea why or what he is upset about. He is a control freak and his wife does everything he asks and even asks permission if she may eat and on what she can give their 3 year old. I believe she does this also to avoid a blow up. She is like a robot.
My nieces' first birthday party they only invited Grandparents, that was their explanation of why the aunts uncles and cousins weren't invited, then the 2nd birthday they did the same and the last one he decided to invite me but not her other uncles on his wife's side. No one understands what his logic is only that he likes to hurt people or be mean and it gives him some sort of joy? He goes through friends and becomes best friends and is so very wonderful to them and all of a sudden they will be unwelcome and we never see them again.
I have shut him out of my life many times due to his mouth and behavior and the severity of his cruelty but usually he will weasel his way in through a sob story or family emergency etc. Then it will be magical and wonderful (yet I keep my distance best I can) and then the cycle will continue and he'll turn ugly and blow up or do odd angry things.
He recently asked us to go on a camp out and was in control of all the food and if he doesn't he will cut down make fun or say nasty comments on others. On this recent camp out it began raining heavily and we suggested packing up and going out to have breakfast (it was our day to leave anyhow) and he insisted on cooking and won't let anyone help then when you ask to help or get something he snaps and will say things like "I will get the lettuce in a second but I am REALLY busy right now cooking for everyone." When I offer to get it myself and that to let others help he won't answer. He enjoys making people feel bad or making people feel that he is going out of his way and they are so terrible for not helping yet he won't allow anyone to help.
He is like a time bomb waiting to explode!
On the rainy morning we all did as he instructed and ate in the rain and then things again went south. He began complaining then putting food items away. He threw a box of cookies I had bought for his daughter in the fire pit without saying a word. I looked at him in disbelief and asked why he did that and he said it wasn't his and I shouldn't leave my things next to him even though we shared the campground food locker...it made absolutely no sense at all. Then from there it went downhill fast.
I have become so hardened by his cruel nasty behavior that I have no feelings for him in the sense that I don't care if he is in my life or not, whereas before I didn't want that. It seems that the times that I experience without him in my life are calm and peaceful and when he is in it it is STRESS, put downs, never anything nice. It is hard to see my mother take the verbal abuse. I wish she would be strong and get out of that situation but she loves her grandkids and he knows he has that control over her.
I read up and try to understand what he is and why he does these things...I almost feel as though it brings him some sort of joy to be mean to people.
My mom got up one morning and he just put coffee on and she said good morning to him and that it smelled good and his reply was "just shut up already mom." So she sits there like a zombie and doesn't say anything...nobody was around when he said this, she had told me later. It's a sick situation. He will never apologize for his horrible behavior or actions, he has never sat and talked about his feelings or how to resolve things. I have asked him to seek help and told him he has anger issues among other things when he wanted back into my life and he always say's he will but has yet to do so.
I plan to keep him out of my life and feel it is the only way. He is toxic...I don't know what else to do.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. You have made it very clear just how difficult it is for your family to deal with your brother. That is high stress, and it makes perfect sense that you would want him out of your life.
First, I'll offer some perspective, then some possible courses of action.
One thing to consider, which you may have already thought of, is that the family's efforts to "avoid a blowup" sends a message to your brother that his behavior is warranted and effective. When others cater to his needs, tip-toe around him and try to keep from upsetting him, he gets two messages: one is that he's a monster that everyone is afraid of, and the other message he gets is that he is correct in all of his judgments, criticisms and anger toward the family.
In other words, trying to avoid a blowup just won't work--as you've probably noticed.
The best thing that could happen is if the entire family refused to be around him when he acts that way. I know that won't happen, and if it did it would mean the family would be deprived of contact with his children. It still would be good, however, because it would send a very clear message that his behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Currently, he's getting the message that his behavior is acceptable, from everyone but you.
Re. a course of action. Shift your focus from your brother to yourself. Do not allow his behavior to occupy your attention any more than absolutely necessary. Focus on what you love about yourself and everyone around you. The positive journaling exercise on this page will help you with that.
Every time you think of your brother, choose to see him at his best, and getting better. This is your refusal to let his bad behavior into your own mind, and to hold out the possibility of change. It will probably be easier to do this if you're not around him much or at all. That's fine. This is for you, not for him.
Create a fabulous life for yourself, and focus only on what you choose to be part of your reality.
My very best to you,
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