Sister Feels Helpless...and He’s 43
Posted: December 21, 2019, 5:50 PM


Posts: 7
Joined: December 21, 2019



Hi all, need some advice and guidance. My brother is an alcoholic. I’m 45 and he’s 43. He’s married with two kids. His alcohol addiction has been present for a while but always appeared “controlled”. Over the past couple of months he’s became a different person. We lost my mother about 20 years ago and my father has been present but not like my brother wishes he would. My sister in law has recently started blaming my dad and I for not getting him help. I’ve spoken to him about it over and over but he’s in denial and doesn’t feel he has a problem. We all know he does but he does not, I’m sure a story many of you are familiar with. My question is how do you deal with your sister in law putting unrealistic pressure in me saying “he’s your brother deal with him I’m done” when she had tried for years and he doesn’t see what’s going on. My brother is my best friend and was always my protector, now when he drinks he texts me terrible hurtful things and says I don’t care about our family and our family is falling apart bc my dad isn’t as present as he would like. He expects me to put this “issue” and solving it ahead of my children and husband. He blames me for so many things, and my dad...so does my sister in law.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  Top
Posted: December 21, 2019, 6:53 PM


Posts: 218
Joined: December 21, 2018



Hello, sadly welcome Sisterthatloves.

First it's no one's responsibility to help your brother/her husband sober up but his. He has to want to change. Unless he wants it it probably won't happen. And if he feels you are pestering him since you already talked to him he might continue just to spite you.

If anything you both would have to act together but again since both of you apparently tried until he wants it efforts will be fruitless.

I would advise her that perhaps she take full custody of the children for a while. Hopefully just the act or request might give him incentive to change but it doesn't sound likely. Also if he's had a long running issue she had to know going into that relationship fulltime. Pure speculation but I bet she thought a formal family life/marriage would change him. Nobody's fault but his. Nobody's responsibility but his. Any responsibilities and effort should go towards the children for now.

I can tell from personal experience and observation adult alcoholics that have been doing it a long time are the toughest to change because their life is built around getting drunk at that point. They would have to change everything including routine, circle of friends etc.

My guess he has enablers outside the family as well wether it be friends or co workers. Sometimes if you can get them out of the equation maybe dealing with might become easier.

I'd say yours and everyone else's well being and safety are the biggest concern now.
  Top
Posted: December 21, 2019, 7:22 PM


Posts: 7
Joined: December 21, 2019



Thank you Samegame for replying.

You are on point with most of your reply!! I wanted to be a team with my sister in law and now she’s gotten mad at me for not “trying harder” and “forcing him to get help”. She says I don’t love my niece and nephew and that I am failing them. She also says it’s my screwed up family that caused this. I’m starting to feel like after years of her being mentally abused by my brother that now she has become the abuser. Ugh...I love all of them so much and this is never how I thought our life would be. :(

This post has been edited by SisterThatLoves on December 21, 2019, 7:23 PM
  Top
Posted: December 21, 2019, 7:59 PM


Posts: 218
Joined: December 21, 2018



More than welcome for the reply.

Sounds like blame shifting. I don't think she realizes there's more than taking the alcohol out of the equation. How are her children your responsibility family or not. Her husband who she's apparently known about along is responsible. Both are the better part of a half century old. Ain't no spring chickens here.

Is the sister in law a drinker herself in any fashion? Here the alkie's gf tolerated his drinking because she benefited by him spending money on alcohol, fancy bars and restaurants. It was about the nightlife in the beginning especially along with thinking/assuming time & age would temper him-not. Or that she could change him but her drinking hasn't exactly ceased or diminished to any great extent either.

And if she knew he had a drinking problem did she enable by picking up alcohol for him, take him to bars just to drink or even so much as refill his glass at home. If she knew he had an alcohol problem she herself should not have participated in his drinking no matter how seeming harmless.

This post has been edited by samegame on December 21, 2019, 8:00 PM
  Top
Posted: December 21, 2019, 8:02 PM


Posts: 7
Joined: December 21, 2019



She doesn’t drink at all! Totally against it probably bc of him. They have been together for almost 30 years. Started dating in high school. She calls me, my husband and my dad when he comes home drunk, or finds him drunk at home and screams at us to get him out of her house. Yells and is condescending and mean. I know she’s at her end rope but instead of finding allies she’s pushing us away. With the holidays here my husband doesn’t even want to see them. Our kids are so close and mine have no clue...his of course do.

This post has been edited by SisterThatLoves on December 21, 2019, 8:04 PM
  Top
Posted: December 21, 2019, 8:19 PM


Posts: 218
Joined: December 21, 2018



That's good she's a non drinker. She sounds like a fixer like she could change him and it didn't work.

But the constantly calling and blaming you/family. I have to wonder what the alkie himself has been telling her. Alot of alkies & addicts go on rants & tirades frequently giving a lifetime of personal grievances against who ever(I call it not my fault syndrome). The alkie here gets mad he will list a lifetime of his perceived grievances against you & others. He holds grudges to say the least.

Personally I think there's something missing. For alkie's to go decades without consequence there's usually enablers. Is he a bar or restaurant goer on his own? What's his workplace culture like? Could there be other substances involved? Nights out with the guys?

Dealing with an alkie/intoxicated person is bad enough but a sober person with hardline views. I think you are right she became the abuser.


  Top
Posted: December 21, 2019, 8:42 PM


Posts: 7
Joined: December 21, 2019



He works from home most of the time and drinks at home. He does use “work lunches” where he does have to meet with people as excuses to drink. She continually finds bottles and dumps them. It’s just a mess!! He does drink at parties, but at times does not when he knows he has to drive with the kids. But I feel that sustained them for a very long time. Within past few monthly I feel he is spiraling quickly. Is there anything else involved? I cannot say for sure to be honest. I wonder too since he made such a drastic change of some kind of prescription drug is now involved.
  Top
Posted: December 21, 2019, 9:27 PM


Posts: 218
Joined: December 21, 2018



Glad he can control his drinking when driving the kids. Hopefully he is honest there and not just reducing his drinking or using some kind of convoluted logic.

The working from home I can see being a problem especially if not disciplined.

Question does he have actual office where he works where family business is not mixed with work. Point being if he makes himself an area designated for work only that might help him realize he's drinking on the job so to speak. Also if he does hopefully less chance of kids seeing that. And the work 'lunches' with alcohol. That's not good because that means the drinking 'officially' started which helps validate his behavior.

And the prescription drugs and alcohol-not good. Here the alkie used steroids and would be in a a state of agitation. Still is with sports drinks. Now it takes multiple medications to keep his bp down, had mini strokes, probable diabetes along with other stuff. Also he used the hair growing drug which is a cross purpose bladder control drug. So he can drink a lot more without going to the boys room. Then he gets an sports injury he goes for corticosteroids which are just as bad as muscle building because they fuel a temper. It's not just about mixing with pain killers, anti depressants etc. Mixing that much drinking with alot of things is not good as you can see.

As you described he probably holds deep long held resentments. But adults can't be blaming stuff that went on decades ago for ever. At a certain point one has to act like an adult rather than putting it off and blaming it on childhood or even adult events. There's a time to move on and at least control one's emotions and urges.

Sounds like you are the stable/rational one which is probably why she comes to you.
  Top
Posted: December 21, 2019, 10:29 PM


Posts: 78
Joined: November 10, 2019



It also sounds to me like there are not clear boundries. They sound very fuzzy. As you said, you have your own family and your own life. Yes, you love your brother but that is where the responsibility stops. He is a grown adult and he chooses his life path. Period. She is an adult (your sister in law) and she is responsible for her own marriage and happiness. Period. You are NOT his mother and in so many words (said kindly of course) you are not going to listen to anymore blaming. Then say, so what do you plan to do about YOUR life? Put the responsibility back on them where it belongs. Step out of the middle. You don't belong there.
  Top
Posted: December 22, 2019, 10:02 AM


Posts: 7
Joined: December 21, 2019



Thats how I feel...like she comes to me like I’m the mother. I think they both see me that way since my mom died but I’m seriously done. I want a relationship but he needs help. My Dad is stepping up and talking to him, but in his own way. He feel my brother need to gain trust back in my dad and my dad realizes that. His wife continues to harass my dad about not being there, favoring one grandchild over her kids etc. She is looking to also blame everyone with what is happening under HER roof. She threatens to leave with the kids and NONE of us will see them again. I’m like, ok that’s something that’s good for your kids. I understand leaving for the kids, but threatening us that we won’t see them...this is where I feel she honestly feels we NEED to fix everything for her.

Its a real big mess. Lately she’s been saying he needs to get out that she shouldn’t have to displace the kids. He feels he doesn’t have a problem and won’t willingly leave his kids and doesn’t feel there’s an issue...again, it’s a mess.

This post has been edited by SisterThatLoves on December 22, 2019, 10:03 AM
  Top
Posted: December 22, 2019, 10:44 AM


Posts: 246
Joined: December 23, 2018



I agree with same game & SallyAnna - blaming someone else shifts the blame off themselves but blaming ANYONE other than the addict solves nothing. Everyone in the family can offer all the money in the world, all the advice & suggestions & you could even do an intervention & force him into rehab but until HE is willing to get sober for himself, none of it solves or helps anything.

Making him accountable for his actions is the only way you can save your sanity. Not responding or allowing him to send hurtful text message (i.e. I will not accept these messages when you are drinking. I love you & when you are ready to get sober, I will support you but until then do not contact me" It is VERY HARD but he cannot be allowed to bully & manipulate you.

His wife, well she isn't your responsibility either. If she says anything like that to you again, ask how that is supposed to help your brother get sober? But who knows what he is doing & saying to her and the children. What she does is her decision, you can't control that.

Everyone is an adult. This is a great message board where you can talk freely & without judgment. Everyone here is at different stages dealing with a loved one's addiction. Bottom line - your brother has to make the decision & find the treatment best for him. If everyone is running around, blaming each other he doesn't have to do anything. Everyone needs to step back & let him feel some pain & difficultly. HOPEFULLY he will choose sobriety - sometimes they do, sometimes they don't....
  Top
Posted: December 22, 2019, 10:54 AM


Posts: 78
Joined: November 10, 2019



Yes, you are right it's a mess, but it's not your mess. There's a very distinct line between your life and theirs. For example, my youngest daughter (she is 26) life is totally messed up. She's lost everything...her money, her car, her apartment, most of her friends. I love my daughter very much and she knows it. I know she loves me. Her mess is not my mess. She has to turn her life around. Its all a result of her addiction the mess she's in and she knows it. If she wants to change her life she has to do it. I'm always available to her and I offer suggestions when asked. It breaks my heart however the reality is it's up to her how she chooses to live her life.
  Top
Posted: December 22, 2019, 12:02 PM


Posts: 7
Joined: December 21, 2019



That’s how I feel with my brother. We are each others best friend. He knows I love him and I know he loves me. I can’t fix this as much as I wish I could. I worry about our kids not having a relationship...they are all so close. I will keep you posted as the week progresses as his “mean bout” with me was Friday and I haven’t heard from his since. I’m not reaching out to him...he said some pretty hurtful things. He was always my protector when we were growing up, now I feel he’s the one that’s hurting me the most.
  Top
Posted: December 22, 2019, 1:06 PM


Posts: 1622
Joined: June 27, 2016



Hello - Here's another angle - your SIL sounds like an aggressive bully. She might have an alcoholic personality even though she does not drink. It could be that your brother always had the inclination to drink. maybe in recent years he is facing inner conflicts, such as an unhappy marriage and doesn't know what to do. wants to leave, wants her to leave, doesn't want to leave but is not happy, feelings of failure...

I had a BIL who was married and had kids in his twenties. by the time he was 30 he had a problem with alcohol. a few car accidents, domestic issues at home. in a short time he agreed he needed help and went to meetings and quit drinking, divorced his wife, met someone else and abstained from alcohol for 30+ years. he was drinking because he did not want to be home.

everyone's situation is different. we don't know what everyone is thinking, feeling, saying. Divorce is not easy on anyone, but neither is the fighting and family disputes.

Suggestion: Your brother sees a councilor who specializes in addition, by himself. He needs to work out some inner issues.

Your SIL sees a separate councilor. That would be a start.

Blaming is part of active addiction. Mtnmom's son ranting at family members is common. My own son never ranted and called us names but would state that 'this is dad's fault because...."

Remember the words: I didn't Cause this, I cant Control this, I can not Cure this.

When your brother or SIL are telling you to 'fix' something, ask them how that situation at that moment is your doing, or your responsibility. Ask them how YOU created the situation. Tell them I did not create this, it is not my responsibility to fix it. One step further - YOU are not qualified to fix it. They need to go to the experts who have years of experience successfully helping people come to terms with their life choices.

You are a mere mortal who is not equipped to deal with their issues.
It is OK to not indulge their rants. Just say - you cant talk now, and hang up -- or whatever you want to say -- think of your responses in advance. Prepare a head of time to leave a gathering if you are getting upset or badgered.

About the kids - Kids are resilient. Your actions may or may not influence the kids. At this time it sounds like the kids are young. They usually don't understand the long term effects of adult situations. It may seem like they do bc they are involved in what is going on around them, but they really don't know what you know or think like an adult does. You do not have to tell the kids anything. Just say everyone has been too busy to get together.. Kids are usually forgiving.

The best role model is for you to allow others to treat you properly. your kids could be separated for years and still come out as friends later on.

Hope this helps!

This post has been edited by NyToFlorida on December 22, 2019, 1:11 PM
  Top
Posted: December 22, 2019, 1:46 PM


Posts: 7
Joined: December 21, 2019



Thank you nytoflorida!!!

I’m so glad I found this board. You all make so much sense and what I feel inside. It’s good to hear it’s not me and I’m not going crazy feeling the way I feel! I have to fight the thoughts in my head saying “maybe you can fix it, maybe you are part of the cause”.
  Top
Posted: December 31, 2019, 2:22 AM


Posts: 51
Joined: December 17, 2019



It’s not your fault and you can’t fix it. Hang in there and take care of you.
  top of page  Top