I have been no contact (NC) with my entire family since October of last year. I have not talked to my narcissist mother (NM) since May 2013 and my golden child (GC) brother since October 2013, and they are all that is left of my family of origin (FOO). My mother has made no attempt to contact me other than sending me cards for the holidays and a few hand written letters where she felt she needed to tell me what was going on in her life without even acknowledging that something might be wrong between us. I have not replied to any of her communication. My golden child brother had not contacted me at all other than a few emails in October and a text in late November. I had not heard from him at all for three months.
Then, a few days ago, I woke up in the morning to a slew of texts from my golden child brother. Here is what he had to say:
Hey Brother. Let me know when you’re ready to talk. I’m here. We need to talk. I’m contacting you as someone who gives a shit about you and always has. Always. I still do. I’m allowed to be frustrated. You’re allowed to not like my frustration. This is human man. Shutting me out is cruel. I am your brother. Your brother who is struggling. And human. Seriously (Stephen) u don’t get it. I don’t get it.
One thing that I’ve learned to do when I receive communication from my family is to look at what’s NOT there. What’s not there in his texts?
• There is absolutely nothing there that acknowledges and respects my feelings in this matter other than I’m “allowed to not like his frustration”. I didn’t know I needed his permission to not like his frustration.
• There is absolutely nothing there that respects my right to determine if I want to have a relationship with him.
• There is absolutely nothing there that acknowledges that his behavior might be part of the reason for our impasse.
Another thing I learned to do when I get these communications is break out the FOG tool. The FOG tool is a tool that I have created to check for manipulation tactics. FOG stands for Fear / Obligation / Guilt, the primary methods used to manipulate someone.
So he states that his desire is that we resume our relationship and “talk”.
• Should I talk to him because he’s “struggling”? (Guilt)
• Should I talk to him because he’s my brother? (Obligation)
• Should I talk to him because otherwise he will perceive me as being “cruel”? (Fear)
• Should I talk to him because he “always gave a shit about me”? (Guilt)
• Should I talk to him because he’s “frustrated”? (Guilt)
Yep, his texts are all about him and are full of manipulation. Should I talk to someone who wants to talk to me just because if I didn’t they would perceive me as cruel or it would frustrate them? Absolutely not! His perceiving me as cruel or being frustrated by me is his issue, not mine! For instance, someone might think I’m cruel because I don’t like cats. Should I go out and get a cat because otherwise someone may perceive me as cruel, even though I don’t like cats? No! I should get a cat because I want to get a cat! i.e. I should talk to my brother because I *WANT* to talk to him, not because I’ve been manipulated into doing it! The truth is, I’d be happy to talk to him, as soon as it stops being all about him, and that’s unlikely to happen any time soon.
To put his texts in another light, if you look at the email he sent that I discussed in “Please Come Back, Mr. Scapegoat“, my GC brother said “I cannot understand what your continuing issues are with our family as hard as I try”. In the above text he literally says “I don’t get it”. In the last phone conversation we had back in October (see Golden@2300) he literally said he was “tired of talking about it” and was demanding I apologize for speaking ill of our family. But now he wants to talk, even though he literally says he doesn’t get it and he is tired of talking about it? To me, that would indicate that he wants to have a conversation, but it’s not going to have anything to do with me, it’s going to be all about him. It’s going to be a one way conversation, with him again telling me how to live my life and how much I’ve hurt him and how cruel I am without any acknowledgement on his part that I am entitled to my feelings on the issue and that I have a right to do what *I* feel is best for me.
I think his comment “Shutting me out is cruel” is incredibly ironic for several reasons:
First: It’s portrayed as if I am evil and cruel for not permitting my family to abuse me any longer; for not freely handing them the knife that they will use to stab me. It’s like I took their doormat away and now they don’t have anywhere to wipe their feet. They find that to be incredibly unsettling. They either have to get me to put the doormat back (I resume my scapegoat role and let them wipe their feet on me again) or they have to make do without a doormat (that’s not really an option; too messy) or they have to find a new doormat. I get the feeling that my golden child brother, being the only surviving sibling other than myself, is likely subconsciously aware that he may become the scapegoat with me out of the picture and he’s desperate to get me back into my scapegoat role to save his own skin. He doesn’t want to learn what it’s like to be the family doormat.
Second: My GC brother readily admitted that he shut me out and acted cool during the five month period between the night when I invited him over and explained what I had come to realize about our family and the phone conversation where he told me to “get over it” and required I apologize. Now, when I shut him out, I’m being cruel? So it’s OK for him to shut me out and he’s “allowed to be frustrated” but he doesn’t extend me the same courtesy? What a hypocrite!
Ultimately, his texts are all about drawing me back into my scapegoat role. Sorry brother, that’s not going to happen.