Dear New Shrink,
I have two brothers. The oldest is 40 years old, gay and married. He asked my mom, her husband and me to join them in Palm Springs for two nights. He paid for my room and I stayed in the same hotel that he did. My parents stayed elsewhere. I did not enjoy the trip because he was controlling and strange.
The first day he asked me to go swimming, but I couldn’t because it was that time of the month. On the second day, he called and told me that we would eat a late lunch, but he never followed up on it. I waited in my hotel room but ended up calling my mom because I was hungry and spent the day with her. We met my brother and his partner for dinner at 7 p.m. I was annoyed, but I didn’t want to show it. That night he told me that he’d be up at 9 a.m. to help me check out of the hotel the next day.
The next day, he didn’t wake me up until after 9:30 a.m. Later that morning, he dropped me off to meet my mom at her hotel. He told me that next time we should go swimming and to let him know whether or not I have my period. Then, when I got out of his car, he handed me $20.
A few weeks later, he texted me and invited me to go to Palm Springs again. I replied saying, “I don’t want to go. I know that I won’t enjoy myself if you are going to be controlling. Have fun.” He texted and said “Good call.”
Later this September, he texted me and said to “save the date. We are going to Disneyland to celebrate mom’s 70th birthday.” I texted back and said, “I’ll go but I don’t want a repeat of what happened in Palm Springs.” He didn’t reply.
I e-mailed him again to say, “I will go to Disneyland for one day and night. I’d like to have my own room.” He wrote back and said, “I gave you $100 for your birthday. Check your bank account.”
I talked to my mom and she said I could stay in her room for a night. I e-mailed him to confirm that he was still planning to pay for my ticket to Disneyland. He wrote back and said, “Canceled. Wait for further notice, thanks.”
Now, I’m really annoyed because he is vague, involves everyone and then often doesn’t follow through.
I am not sure how to respond to my brother? What should I tell my mom? I don’t want to cause conflict between my mom and brother. And I won’t call him because if he is in a bad mood, he hangs up, and if not that, he barely listens to me.
Should I tell my brother how awkward and rude he is? Should I tell him that just because he’s paying doesn’t mean that he can manipulate and control what I do?
Annoyed and Angry
Dear Annoyed and Angry,
First off, I know that you are very upset because I had to edit your question to fit this space, and it’s still rather lengthy. So my answer will be short. (We have limited space in the paper.)
It is very difficult to know what the family dynamics are from your question alone. Clearly, you do not get along with this one brother but you didn’t mention the other? Can you talk to him? Where is he in this picture?
You should be able to speak with your mother; perhaps it is a matter of how you speak about it. Perhaps you say something like, “He doesn’t seem to care about me, I am feeling hurt, but don’t know what to say to him?”
I don’t think e-mailing him with your complaints is a good idea based on what you say here. If you could sit down face-to-face alone or in a family session, that might work better.
Often we attack others when we feel attacked by them. Honestly ask yourself if you have attacked him as well? Are you in a vicious cycle with him? How did it start? Or are you convinced he is just not that kind or into you?
The big question is whether or not you should allow yourself to be controlled because he pays for you. There are many who do this but I have yet to meet a single person who is happy when they allow themselves to be bought.
If you want to be healthy and happy, be true to yourself! Do not worry about causing family conflict unless in your heart you know that you are partly responsible. Your mother knows more that you think; talk to her.
Most importantly, take care of yourself.
Dr. JoAnne Barge is a license psychologist with offices in Brentwood. Visit her at www.drbarge.com. E-mail responses and inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org. Got something on your mind? Let us help you with your life matters.