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-   -   Brother not taking my news of trying poly very well. (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24658)

PhilosophicallyLost 06-12-2012 06:35 AM

Brother not taking my news of trying poly very well.
Uh, that's an understatement. He's REALLY not taking it well. But some background first.

My brother, M, and I have been best friends my entire life. He's over seven years older than me, and in lots of regards he has sorta raised me in my morals and being forgiving of people who were mean to me as a kid. For all intents and purposes assume we are VERY VERY close and share just about everything with each other.

However, M has struggled with unipolar depression a good majority of his life. He was diagnosed at about 18, and he didn't move out on his own until he was age 27 (and I moved out with him at age 20). Up until then he had no job, no school life...spent all his time at home, and a lot of it hanging out with me, playing video games and stuff. The fact that he is emotionally dependent on me showed itself in various ways after we moved out and it has made it a struggle for me to make my own relationship decisions without him feeling abandoned, concerned for me morally, etc.

In addition to problems transitioning to adult living M has been plagued by serious health problems, the primary one being chronic insomnia. His health has emotionally wrecked him despite my best efforts to reason with him that stressing out about it so much is not helping things. I believe he has some schizophrenic tendencies that our mother had, with being paranoid of things and the such. He has attempted to get help for his insomnia, but so far we've had no luck. He WAS actually finally getting 8 hours of sleep a day for the first time in over a year starting about two weeks before I broke the news of poly to him.

Well. Leading up to the poly news I confided in M that Y and I were having marital issues. I bawled my eyes out to him, talked to him a lot, and he comforted me. I eventually told him I was attracted to E and was very confused about what to do. I told M that I had considered polyamory as a possible solution, but found myself scared by some of the worse experiences I saw on these forums (two of them seemed eerily similar to my situation in some regards). M reacted relatively strongly indicating that polyamorous relationships were a recipe for disaster. That was about...six months ago. I mentioned to him about a month ago that I wanted to be able to be free to date more than just one person over my lifetime. That I didn't feel suited to marriage because of this tendency. Even then I was still considering polyamory, but I didn't tell him again because of his previous reaction and also the fact he severely disapproves of E as a romantic interest in any shape or form. Still, I indicated an interest in open marriages, when he said that an open marriage is not a marriage at all.

Anyway, stuff with Y and E happens. See the following link if you really want the details (it's LOOOONG): http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23369. Y and I decide we're going to work on our marriage as well as giving poly a try since Y loves me and wants me to be happy. The process is scary but three weeks go by and I feel hopeful that things could work out in the long run. However, I didn't tell M about this change in my life partially because Y didn't want me telling anyone just yet, and we didn't know if it was just going to blow up in our faces. However, I guess to M's very perceptive eyes E and I were spending more time together and he feared I was cheating on Y with E. M was VERY hostile towards me and refused to talk to me about what was upsetting him. I saw that the situation was getting bad really fast so I felt it was best to tell M the truth. I knew I'd have to eventually; he lives in the apartment building next door and has a key to my place so him not knowing was never going to last forever.

I knew he'd be upset as M has incredibly high standards of morality (he largely disapproves of E because he feels E lacks the moral strength where it counts, which....is a pretty subjective topic). However, M's reaction has been worse than my worst nightmares on this situation.

I told M that this was what I wanted, and that Y, E, and I all talked about it and still are talking about it. I told him that I feel it is not morally wrong to try poly. Told him that despite that I know he doesn't like E that I felt E had many redeeming qualities and that I'm prepared to deal with E's faults. I told M it was largely my fault that I didn't communicate more how seriously I was contemplating polyamory, but I was ready to communicate all my concerns now no matter how badly he took it. After all, me not telling him earlier seemed to be making everything a worse mess now.

I talked for an hour and a half about my poly situation and M didn't so much as say a word to me. I asked him if he needed time alone. He said yes. I asked before I left if M still loved me. He said, "I still love Dad despite all the shit he did to me." Which stung, given the bad history those two have. M didn't call me the next day, so I sent Y over on day two to make sure M was okay. Y and M talked a while and Y told M his own reservations about poly but tried to be a fair, unbiased party in discussing my role and E's role in the whole thing. Y said M looked a bit better after the talk.

The next day, M wanted to talk to me. We did and it actually seemed to go a lot better. I told him more specifics of why I felt the way I did, apologized to him for the mistakes leading up to this that made it worse, and M seemed even sort of open to the poly thing. However, he lamented that he should have made more effort to morally guide me as a kid and feels like me feeling this way is somehow HIS shortcoming. And he lamented that I hardly confided in him as much anymore. Which I think is false: I just chose not to disagree with him on political discusssion and I rarely pushed poly issue. I told him about everything else for the most part. I tell him that I feel that was a false reaction. By the end of it I actually felt like we had a chance to be our normal selves again; he agreed that celebrating Father's Day with my Dad should be okay and we hugged and said we loved each other. I had hope that this was a healthy first step.

However, because Y, E, and I had a huge weekend planned in terms of paid time-off for the Renaissance Festival, I said I probably wouldn't be able to talk to M again until three days later. He didn't voice a concern with this, and I told M he's more than free to call me to say good night every night, like we always did. I sincerely hoped he would. Now I wonder if I should have attempted to talk to him more often, but hindsight's a bitch....I wanted to give him time alone if that was what he needed.

The next day after the talk M texts me asking if I can take him to see his therapist on Monday (he has no car). I knew what he'd be talking to her about and I was concerned about the sudden appointment, but I naturally agreed. Saturday went by and I had fun having an escape from stress for a change, and Sunday comes and it's my and E's day for some time together. While we're out M talks and confides in Y again about a variety of concerns. Y tells me that M is concerned about the same stuff that I thought I had diffused a few days earlier, and that M thinks I made up some of this stuff about the disagreements we've had because he doesn't remember them. At this point M had already said he's not had any real sleep for a week and a half. Y claims that he and M had a pretty good conversation and they agreed that Y could help mediate a conversation between M and me. Y said M looked better after their conversation. M calls me later that same day to remind me about his Monday appointment, and he is VERY cold to me on the phone. I told M with some concern that he hadn't called me to say goodnight the last few nights. He comments that he's not sleeping well so there was no point. I asked him if he needed to talk now, and he said he was too braindead to do so at the moment. I asked him if he wanted to pick up groceries after his therapist appointment. He said he'd rather wait until Tuesday, but if he slept better tonight than maybe.

So Monday comes. M and I don't talk in the car until I awkwardly ask him if he had a half hour or hour appointment with the therapist. He said he didn't know in a muffled voice. I told him I was going to get some food and be right back. I drop him off, and an hour and a half later a woman comes out trying to get my attention while I waited in my car. I knew something was up. I got out and she told me M was being admitted to a mental hospital because he volunteered to go in and also because he couldn't promise his own safety.

Bringing me back to this forum. I know I haven't been perfect in the handling of the situation, but it's so easy to blame myself for this whole thing. Logically I know that I'm not being fair to myself when I say that. Have any of you dealt with anything to this degree when you confessed poly, and how did you handle it? How am I supposed to handle this? He will hopefully be out of the hospital in three to four days, but what do I do after that? At this point I feel like me giving him space has been a terrible idea and that either Y or myself need to check on him everyday. Still, from what Y tells me M absolutely hates E now. E agreeing to this apparently put him in M's shit book. M has no desire to even see E's presence and I don't know if he'll ever relent on that, which would definitely strain my friendship with M. Yet I'm literally all that M has and if he doesn't have me because of his moral qualms with me I'm scared to death he just MIGHT off himself. Yet I refuse to change my decision to accomodate M's sense of morality because that will do no one any favors. I feel very helpless and I don't know what to do. I never wanted my choice to put him in a mental hospital. =(

Phy 06-12-2012 07:08 AM

I know this sounds harsh, but the only way I am able to see this is with the thought in the back of my mind: Time to grow up. You two brothers sound like a traditional couple, co-dependency issues all over. You feel responsible for living up to the expectations of your brother, your brother feeling responsible for bringing you up living up to the expectations of his own moral standards (or the standards he regards as the ultimate ones). Does your brother even have some kind of own live he is able to influence? He seems to live solely through you and your life.

Just for clarification (I hope I didn't overread it somewhere) but your brother is mentally healthy in general or are you in charge of him and responsible to look after him on a daily basis? Because the way you describe him sounds as if he would really need someone to help him lead an own life finally. But that person should be a professional, not a loving family member without any training or qualification in that regard and most importantly: someone without personal involvement. So if he comes back from that hospital, I would inform me thoroughly (if possible) what the problems behind his reaction were. If he is scared that you may leave him, that he looses his connection to you or if he was just unable to gauge the 'moral-dilemma' of you, a dear person, doing something so utterly wrong to his mind.

And don't give him this much power over you. You have the right to live your life the way you see fit. His constant need for care is highly controlling, because you have to consider him every day of your life and it influences how you yourself regard your decisions if I got that right. Look for professional help. He did so himself, so he is either able to see the threat he holds to his existence right now or he wants to get your attention by this. Maybe both. Don't get further succed into this powerplay and don't handle things outside of your capabilities.

This would be what I would try to do. Sorry if I am way off, because I personally never dealt with this kind of person. So take this with a grain of salt, I may be wrong.

PhilosophicallyLost 06-14-2012 03:37 PM

I'm his sister...sorry if that was not clear before.

I'm pretty much M's world, in a lot of ways. I have my husband, E, friends and confidants. I have other people in my life, and I have myself. M has primarily just me to confide to. M does get SSI and lives on his own in the aparment building next door, but he doesn't have a car so I've been driving him to a lot of places for doctor's appointments. We were hoping to get his driver's license by the end of summer. He has taken the bus to go to school and did all that on his own, which I was pleased by because it seemed like he was becoming more independent. Still, all his worries about his health and the state of the world he only felt comfortable telling me. So in a lot of ways he does seem to live through me.

We do go grocery shopping together, but since we end up going late at night sometimes I see it more as having a free bodyguard, so I don't really mind that. Still, we do have to coordinate schedules to do it which sometimes can be restrictive.

I have felt controlled off and on by M's feelings regarding my personal decisions. He did not handle me dating Y a few years ago well at all, and he'd get upset just randomly when I felt I was doing perfectly normal things. He had serious abandonment concerns back then which were very hurtful, as I never have abandoned him. I feel like he is too emotionally dependent on me...I wish he would learn to depend a bit more on himself for the sake of his mental health. Because being this attached has landed him in a hospital, and I don't think it should have....

I do agree he needs some professional help. Whatever he's had in the last few years hasn't helped him break out of his shell the way he needs to...so I will try to push that issue somehow. I will probably have to drive him though, so I have to consider that investment of time until he can get his own car.

PhilosophicallyLost 06-18-2012 03:45 AM

Well, M is back home and everything, and it seems like in some ways the hospital helped him set some goals and whatnot for himself. He and I at least are able to talk about random non-drama topics decently enough, which is an improvement.

He is supposed to be writing me a letter about his whole take on the poly thing and how I've treated him leading up to it and following. I think some of his problem is that I didn't confide in him more before and after....he's still thoroughly convinced he could have done something to prevent me from considering this as a serious option, but I don't really understand how. I told him it was my decision and he said that didn't reassure him or change his mind one bit. Ok, but I don't get what magical thing he thinks he could have done given I'd been thinking about poly off and on for 10 months.

He also thought I treated him like shit the last two weeks before his hospitalization. I will agree I made a few mistakes in handling some things, but I think calling it shitty treatment is a bit of a super oversensitive reaction on his part. In a lot of ways I was trying to be level headed about certain things and asked him to compromise on the situations he was upset about. Some of what I did was try to be honest about my issues with him after all the shit hit the fan and he took me as attacking. I might have been on some things, but for the most part I had a very level tone of voice I thought. I don't know, I feel like he still was just way too sensitive.

Anyway, he is getting therapy much more regularly now. Apparently he tested positive for marijuana even though he hasn't touched a drug in his life, so we're having someone inspect his apartment to see if he's getting contact highs from a neighbor or something....there are people always smoking something in that place, so that's possible. If it's true, that could have a lot to do with his health problems, which contribute to his mental state....

I told him I don't want to discuss the heated issues except with a professional around. He just doesn't seem capable of handling it very well otherwise, and I get pretty upset myself talking about it all. M's been at least far more better mood-wise, so I'm hoping maybe the worst of the storm is over, as long as we are productive with future talks.

lovefromgirl 06-18-2012 06:05 PM

You're enmeshed.

Your brother should not be able to disrupt your life this much over something that pertains to you and your partners. Now that he's shown you that he's willing to do so, and will also heap blame on you for his inability to handle things (hint: it's HIS inability), not talking about the "heated" stuff is definitely a good move and a great step towards establishing healthier boundaries.

He needs someone else's car to ferry him around or else he needs a license and a beater. He's been qualified as disabled; I would hope it's easier with that designation (me, I'd have to fight pretty hard and/or pay through the nose). I would like to point out that you also have partners who can do the free bodyguard thing for you, if you're shopping in that harsh a neighborhood.

How he sees poly is the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the surface, from what you've written, there's so much more that he feels he's entitled to control about you. If it's making you unhappy, then put that out there in therapy. And if you can't do that, then get used to being trod on by him in your future personal decisions.

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