I am working on my workshop powerpoint yesterday morning, and it’s really coming together by the way, when I receive an email. Now, I know you are not supposed to stop what you are doing and check your email every time one comes in. Efficient people check their mail at set times, deal with them and ignore them until the next designated mail check rolls around.
I check my email all the time. It is a habit from my teaching days when I would receive emails all day long from other teachers and parents that about half the time had to be dealt with quickly. If this is not efficient, it has never severely impeded me from getting work done either.
The email was from my brother, CB, and, of course, he was in trouble. I don’t hear from him unless he is in trouble and he is afraid to ask Mom for help. I am his go-between. His enabler if you will. He knows that if all else fails, I will at least send him a care package and ten or twenty dollars. Mostly, I don’t fail. I have always been able to convince our parents to pity him and help out.
He is 42 now. Hardly a “baby brother” anymore and while I would like to be on an equal adult footing with him, it’s so hard to achieve that balance when I get SOS emails and directions to phone him at this or that friend’s pad.
Today’s sad story involved my XSIL and an alleged broken nose (his) and a van with its engine scattered around the garage of an old girlfriend’s. There was the usual blame shifting – his car insurance company withdrew more than it was supposed to for the monthly payment – and he expressed his usual bewilderment at how he could still be living out of his car and on the generousity of friends at such an advanced age. The latter is the only thing that surprises me. My mother, sisters, myself and his daughters are really the only people compelled to love him; the rest have options.
CB has never been in step with the world. He drank from a young age and never outgrew the need to use alcohol to alter his reality like most people do. He mated up early with someone who was not good for him but, for reasons I certainly can’t understand, can’t see that. He thought he was too smart to need an education and was too lazy to go back for it when he realized he’d made a mistake. He was drawn to wild schemes and dreams that were too off the grid to ever truly work or required more work than he was willing to put into it.
I saw CB in so many of my students which made working with those kinds of kids easy for me, but I don’t think I had any more impact on them than I have ever had on my brother. Some people will never believe that it is they who are wrong and the world – with all its rules and customs – that is right.
I called Mom for CB. She called him. He was a bit of a jerk to her, but she figures a few hundred dollars is a small price to pay to keep him half-way across the country for a while longer.
8 thoughts on “Being the Big Sister”
Well, I’m that sibling now. But I worked my butt off for thirty years first. I wish you luck, but I don’t think he’s going to change.
No, he won’t change and there is a difference between life altering events that leave a person in need of family assistance and those who just seem to think they don’t have to amount to anything in the first place.
I had to ask for help, lots of it, when Will was sick. Interestingly though, my folks pretty much withdrew assistance after he died because, I guess, I was supposed to be fine then. But I know they were always uncomfortable with me needing help as they had grown to depend on me being the one they didn’t have to worry about.
It’s unfortunate that you have to pay a family member to keep him at bay. Would you have him in your life if you were not related? Probably not. Well, you can’t choose your family.
It’s his instability and the fact that I am about the only one who can deal with him that makes me counsel my mom as I do. If I lived close by, it would be a different matter.
the inborn sense of ‘entitlement’? where does that come from? the sense that the world owes you something, you are ‘above’ the need to work for a living? i see it in family. in friends/acquaintances. in the blogosphere…
honestly? i can’t think of one single case where there’s been a true awakening. a genuine ‘a-HA!’ moment where the
sociopathindividual is suddenly stricken with a sense of humility…
All I can do is shake my head at these people. It’s interesting to me that they can’t see the sense of working within the rules to change the rules, but I know the larger issue is that they would have to “give up” aspects of their teenage selves and take on grown up qualities which would lead others to expect things of them that they don’t bother expecting now.
I can sure relate to this post. My younger sister who is also 42 is stuck in the 80’s and refuses to ‘join the rest of us on the hamster wheel’ however she’s not shy about calling when the party beer and chips & dip are low. Indeed it’s a tough call because I wonder do I a) let the chips fall and help her start from scratch or b) cater to the temporary needs that come about every 6-8 months ? Ah, the joys & perils of family.
As long as the needs are small, B is a good plan, but those needs have a way of becoming huge just often enough that you begin to question the strategy.