My only brother...
It's amazing how one's way of life is one's norm. You are raised in a particular environment, by a certain type of parent(s), be that good or bad. But you do not know anything else. And so that becomes your norm. And because of that norm you do not realize that something is very, very wrong with the dynamic of your family. Or maybe you do realize it, but, like me, not until you are in your 60s.
My only sibling is my younger brother. He is 4 years younger. He has estranged himself from the entire family. It has been 6 years. There were many years where we got along just fine; even had fun together. But for every year that was good and peaceful, there was another year that was miserable-years that were wrought with backstabbing, manipulation, incredible anger and resentment, and outrageous competition. My brother was an angry child who threw chairs and swung baseball bats. And neither of our parents did anything to remedy it. They did not get him any help, nor did they try to help him. It was almost as if they were afraid of him. And he grew into the angriest adult; explosive and volatile, and we never knew when it would strike. Sometimes all it took was a certain look in his direction and his fuse would be lit. And unfortunately he married a woman who got off on his misery. She loved it when he was at odds with other family members, and she often created situations where she lit that fuse causing him to explode. He was also very volatile at work, and one company he worked for actually sent him to anger management classes and paid for it. His outbursts were abusive in nature, and oddly enough, there were a number of times I witnessed this abuse towards his wife. She never responded, never fought back. She just took it from him, and then would turn right around and sic him on someone else. And she could create a scenario where there was none to get him all wound up.
My mother taught us how to be jealous of everyone around us because she was jealous of everyone around us. My brother grew from a painfully thin child to a slightly overweight teen, to an obese adult. The older he got, the more he could not stand to be around anyone who was thinner, richer, smarter, better looking, more prestigious, more athletic, etc., etc. The only way he could deal with it was by taking shots at people, or making little snide remarks that he always thought were funny. He never had a nice thing to say about anyone unless they could benefit him in some way. Then we saw this great guy; a real schmoozer, full of smiles and compliments. A total Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality.
My brother fought with my parents constantly. While I often fought with my mother, his battles were loud, angry and ultimately very abusive. He became threatening towards her. The truth is, he was just giving back to her what he had received. She emotionally abused us both. She played us against each other. Sometimes I was the "golden child" and he was the "scapegoat." And at other times, it was reversed. We never knew from day to day who she was going to "pretend" to love, and who she would "pretend" to hate. If I were the golden child on a given day, she would make sure I knew why she was angry with my brother and manipulate me into being angry with him and basically hating him. And of course that meant I would take her side, defending her to the end in the hopes she would "like" me. She was really good at making me think she actually liked me. But then there were the other days where she'd flip the scenario. My brother would be the golden and I was the scapegoat. She would turn him against me--he'd side with her against me in the hopes that she would "like" him. Again, not real, never long-lasting. You see, as stated in previous posts, the narcissist is incapable of love, so there is nothing real about what appears to be positive reinforcement or parental love.
Note. It is very, very important to note the following: the above described behavior of the NM is not limited to the time when the children are young. This behavior continues well into the adulthood of the children, and the children continue to follow these behavioral patterns all their lives-unless they have gone into intense therapy to understand what was done to them and to learn how to stop these behaviors from ever continuing into another generation.
There were a few times over the years that my brother and I were estranged for all the reasons I've written about here. But, the last nail in the coffin was in January of 2013. A few months before, my brother and mother had an enormous argument. He was very abusive and threatening towards her. They each called me separately, as they always did, to plead their individual cases. This was two years prior to the start of my own therapy, but I somehow had the presence of mind to not get involved.
Fast forward to January, 2013, to a birthday party for my mother's 86th and my 60th, thrown by my cousins at a NY restaurant. My brother and his family were invited. They could not stand that someone else was getting all the attention. They needed to upstage me and my mother. They needed to take the focus off of us and put it on themselves. So, they "arranged", or shall I say manipulated for their daughter to become engaged to her boyfriend the night before the party. They all walked into the party with my niece waving her hand with her "tiny" engagement ring on it. They were determined to turn the birthday party into an engagement party of sorts. The only one who wished me a happy birthday was my brother. My niece never even said hello to me, nor did she introduce her new fiancé to me. The party continued, and they did everything they could to draw as much attention to themselves as they could. The shame of it all for me was that it was one of those rare periods in our lives where my brother and I were actually getting along great. And this is just another pattern. It's as if he couldn't stand it when we were getting along and was compelled to do something to ruin it.
I was livid. Then, a week after the party he emailed me again just furious with my mother. She hated his gift(a photo of my father as a child with a pro baseball player) and told him she would hang it in a closet. I took her side because I was so angry with him over the party, and because that was what I was taught. I needed her to like me. I needed to be the golden child (at the age of 60). She was angry with him for his abusive tirade, and she manipulated me into taking her side against him. Unfortunately, this was the end for my brother. He cut contact with me, with her, with all cousins and anyone connected to the family. He hasn't spoken to any of us since.
In March of 2016, after almost a year of EMDR therapy, I wrote my brother a letter with the help of my therapist. I explained what I had learned about myself, our mother, and our family dynamic. I explained why I did the things that I did, and told him I understood why he did what he did. I told him he could reply if he wanted to have a dialog with me, but if he did not respond, I would understand. I emailed the letter, and a few days later I received this response: "your note was received." I never heard from him again.
My anger is gone, and so is my resentment. I no longer have the need to stab him in the back, or to retaliate against him--or his wife and daughter for that matter. I do feel sad, however. He is my only sibling; he's still my brother, and I do care about him. I know nothing about him now--is he well? has he gotten help? is he still the same angry guy he always was? I may never have the answers to these questions, but life goes on. The only person to blame is our NM who is 92, and still capable of inflicting pain if allowed. She takes no responsibility. Her son wants nothing to do with her, and I barely ever speak to her. When I do, I am in complete control of her and the conversation. She feels nothing except anger at the world. And when she tells me how much she loves me, I chuckle to myself, knowing that any given moment she would still turn against me.
If any of this post rings true for you, and you'd like to have a private conversation, please email me. I'd be happy to guide you towards healing. No one needs to live under the shadow of a narcissistic parent. There is so much help out there now, and so much clarity on the dynamic of the narcissist's family. Please know that you are absolutely not alone. You can be free, and have peace in your life. I am free of it all, and I have peace.