This past Sunday evening I received a surprise phone call from my golden child brother at 11PM (2300). My brother is my only surviving sibling. His identical twin died of a pulmonary embolism about 18 months ago. He is an otolaryngologist doctor that went to Yale for his premed training. He lives about 20 minutes away from me. He and I both work normal day shift hours, so a call this late on a Sunday when we both have to work on Monday morning seemed to be a bit odd. I thought something might be wrong or someone was hurt or in the hospital. We had not previously talked for about a month.
About 6 months ago, when I first figured out my entire family dynamic and my mother’s narcissism, I had my golden child brother come over to my house and I explained to him what I had learned and waited to see his reaction. My stance was that if he was going to deny what I had learned about my family dynamic and chose to continue to be my mother’s flying monkey, that I would also have to go no contact (NC) with him as well as my narcissistic mother (NM). I really hoped I wouldn’t have to go NC with him, too, but I was prepared to do it. The conversation seemed to go OK, and he seemed to understand that he and I had very different childhoods. I decided it was enough to continue our relationship for the time being, but I didn’t think we would necessarily be close.
Then the call at 2300 on a Sunday…
The conversation, although posed as a discussion about me, was truthfully all about him:
His first statement to me was that what I did and said 6 months ago was terrible and made him feel bad about himself and he left my house that night feeling very guilty. I told him I could understand why he might feel that way. He then wanted me to apologize. I refused. This made him quite upset. I told him I had nothing to apologize for and that I can understand why the situation made him uncomfortable but in my estimation I did nothing for which I needed to apologize. He told me to never do it again. I said, “OK”. I’ve seen this theme before in him. When I say something about our family that makes him uncomfortable because he might have to face his own denial about his upbringing, he will almost immediately shut me down. Rather frustrated, he continued to tell me how he had been stewing on this since that night and that it had really hurt him. I kept validating his feelings but refused to apologize. He ultimately wanted me to apologize for hurting his feelings, something that I was not going to do. Sometimes the truth hurts. It doesn’t mean that an apology is required.
Next he asked if I was in counseling. I told him not at the moment, but I do have a counselor that I can see if I feel I need to work on myself in that fashion further. He then told me that he didn’t think my counselor had done me any good and that I needed to find someone else. He formed this opinion based on seeing me 3 times since the night 6 months ago, and all three times were in a group setting. I told him he was entitled to his opinion, but that I disagreed with him and that my counselor had done a great job of identifying the issues. I also told him that I had been doing a lot of work on my own which has also been very helpful. When I stopped my regular counseling sessions, my counselor told me that I had made “amazing progress in a very short period of time” and that I didn’t need to come back unless I felt I needed to. My brother insisted that my counselor was “useless”. He informed me that he had contacted a psychotherapist friend of his with whom he had shared my story (I see this as a boundary issue). His friend told him that I needed to be in counseling for “at least two or three years”. Interesting. I’m not sure I want to see a psychotherapist that can determine how long I need to be in counseling without ever talking to me. Sounds like my brother’s counselor friend is more in it for the money. I thanked my brother for his concern and then told him I would do some more introspection and decide if my gut is telling me I need to go back for more counseling or if I needed to switch counselors. He insisted that I needed more counseling with a different counselor and that he was only telling me this “in love”. (i.e. With my superior perception, I can see how messed up you are, even if you can’t. I love you enough to point out how messed up you are to you, and to tell you when you need further counseling).
Now quite frustrated with my lack of compliance to his requests, GC bro told me that he was “tired of talking about this” and that I should have “figured it out 20 years ago” and that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Umm.. wait 1, didn’t he call me? Now he’s tired of talking about it? I told him that I disagreed with his opinion that I should have figured this out sooner and that it’s taken me as long as it’s taken me to figure this out because that was exactly how long it needed to take. I told him I can’t be angry with myself for being stuck in the FOG (fear / obligation / guilt) for so long and the best thing I can do for myself is to forgive myself for not coming to terms with my upbringing sooner and to move forward being thankful that I did finally figure it out.
He next told me that I had put him in the middle between my mother and him and he didn’t like it. I told him that I can understand why he feels that he is in the middle, but that it is ultimately his decision whether he decides to let himself be in the middle. I told him he did not need to talk to me about my mother and that I would prefer that he not discuss anything about me with my mother. He then told me I had a moral obligation to make sure NM was taken care of. I told him I disagreed and that she was an adult and was capable of taking care of herself. Next he informed me that, at his urging, NM had moved out of her house because of my stepdad’s raging. My stepdad is a former alcoholic that is essentially a dry drunk. He still exhibits a lot of the behaviors of an alcoholic, sans the drinking. I have never liked him at all. In my opinion, NM just jumped on the first train that showed up at the station. He has recently been diagnosed with dementia. Unfortunately his dementia has made his raging much worse. NM made the choice to marry a former alcoholic shortly after my father passed away; a man who was prone to periods of raging and treated her quite poorly even before the dementia set in. So now it’s my responsibility to help NM because of the bad choices she made? I’m supposed to enable NM to continue making bad choices? Nope. My stepdad’s children have little to no contact with him. They have him figured out. NM needs to figure it out for herself. Honestly, it’s not my problem.
The next topic was my dating life. He told me that I shouldn’t be dating anyone and that I needed to stay away from dating for “at least a year”. Part of his comment was based on the fact that I had briefly dated a woman for about 6 weeks and had brought her to an event where my brother was in attendance. He told me she was a “train wreck” (an opinion formed based on a 5 minute conversation he had with her) and that I needed to stay away from her and all women. I certainly didn’t see her as a train wreck, although she did have her own set of issues, which is one of the main reasons I am no longer dating her. I told my brother that it was my decision who and when I chose to date, and that I had since ended the relationship with the woman he had met. His statement: “Good! You don’t need that right now!” So he knows better what I need than I do? Again, he only told me this because he “loved” me. (i.e. You’re too dumb to figure this out, so I will tell you what you need to do. I’m only willing to share my superior knowledge of what’s best for you with you because I “love” you)
It’s now 1AM (0100). My phone battery finally dies. I put the phone down and pour myself a glass of wine.
I realize I had just spent 2 hours talking to my mother.
- Is it Murder? (thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com)
- Stark Realizations (thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com)