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#417073 - 11/24/12 09:17 AM Family Dynamics
RTMark Offline

Registered: 11/05/10
Posts: 6
Loc: EC, WI, USA
So, for the extent of my life, I always felt as if I weren't as valued as my older brother (my abuser). I just always felt as if my mom & dad, and the rest of my family for that matter, always took much more interest in his life and what he has done or is doing currently. And, this emotion rears its head pretty regularly with my mom & dad because we grew up as a family who didn't communicate about much of anything. Now, being married to my wonderfully strong-willed wife, she has gotten me to open up and be more vocal with my parents. However, it doesn't seem to matter how many times I've told or shown them that I feel as if me, and subsequently my family now too, have taken a back seat to my older brother and what is going on in his life.

I have tried to tell myself that what I'm feeling is unfounded because my parents love us equally. But, I keep seeing them favor him time and again.

It used to be just that they were interested more in his schooling or his sports interests. I say this because he was never forgotten at any sports practice. They always made sure to pick him up or made sure that he had a ride. But, I was forgotten at 2 separate occasions. That's right: 2. I had to walk home for about 5 miles on each occasion, mind you, and they get defensive to this day when I bring it up. Then it changed into his military service and his job. My family, especially my grandma (not so much my parents, because we never talked much) was always saying things like, "Are you going to join the Army like your brother? (even though it was my idea since I was 10)"; "Are you going to go to college like your brother?"; "Are you getting deployed like your brother?" I don't think I would have been compared to him as much if my parents didn't talk about him more than they talk about me.

He always did the things that I ended up doing, but only because he was older and was better at stealing my ideas. At all of these points, I was pissed, but I just decided to live my own life and not worry about what they thought. I drank a lot and chased women and generally didn't give a shit about anything. At the time, I just thought I was being a normal college kid, but now I realize it was not normal and I was being self-destructive.

When I met my wife (then girlfriend), I thought my life was complete. I stuffed all the shit in my life way behind everything else and decided to devote myself to her. I was happy. I was carefree. So, I decided to marry her. Then my brother's unit was called up to be deployed. And he decided to marry his then girlfriend, now ex-wife. Now, none of this would be significant except for the fact that he had my mom call the courthouse that I was getting married at to get a time for him on the same day that I was getting married. How fucked up is that? My mom called me to tell me after she had made the appointment for him. And she made his appointment for the hour before mine! I was livid.

I asked her, "how the hell could you do that? He has done everything in our lives before me. Now, I propose to my wife before him and do all the planning myself to get married before him and you do this? Do you understand how messed up that is? Do you understand how upset I am?" Now, at this point, my family had no idea that my older brother is my abuser. So, my mom calls back to the courthouse and makes a different appointment for him to get married the hour after us, just so I can be first. Yippee. Then there were some more phone calls to which I yelled and swore and told everyone in my family exactly what I thought of what was going down. It's not like my brother couldn't have gotten married on a different day. That's just the way my mom arranged it for him.

So, my wife and I plan a reception party at my sister-in-law's huge house and spent a lot of money to do so. We invited my parents and even my brother and his new wife's family to the reception and they actually showed up. For about 30 minutes. Then my mom says to me that they have made plans to spend the evening with my brother and his new wife at a restaurant and whatnot. At the time, I was so happy and having a good time that I didn't care. But, after I left and thought about it, I was mad. Neither of them bothered to tell me that they weren't going to stay ahead of time, so I had gone through the trouble to make food and have drinks there for them that they hadn't planned on eating all along. Then, as our party was just about done and my wife and I had almost finished cleaning up, my mom calls to ask me if they can come back to hang out for a little bit. I said, "no, everyone is gone and we are going home to go to bed." And that was the last anyone had ever talked about it.

So, a few years pass and my brother and I had went off to war (he went first, of course), then we both came back and we went our separate ways.

Then, I had my confrontation. And things haven't changed between my parents and I hardly at all. They are probably in denial or something, but that's not my problem.

There was a recent mix up when my wife and I were trying to buy a house that left us without a place to stay for about a week. The only place we could go was out to my parents' house. And it sucked. Every time my wife and I brought a load of boxes and furniture to store in their basement, I got the question from my dad, "how much more do you have?" And then when it got closer to when we were going to be staying there he kept saying, "how long are you staying?" Like he had no idea. Then, while we were staying there he was constantly on edge trying to clean up his house around my kids like they were destroying the place with every step they took (AND THEY SLEEP OVER THERE ALL THE TIME!!!). We have since been moved out and in our new house for over 6 months now.

So, my brother (abuser) had gotten divorced and is now married again and my confrontation with him and the telling of what happened to my parents has since happened. But, for his second wedding, his new wife invited my wife and I to come to their reception at a fancy restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. But, my kids weren't allowed to come. Their only niece and nephews weren't allowed to come. Nice. I was pretty pissed off and we ended up not going to show them how mad we were. And, apparently, at the reception, my brother's new wife told everyone that she was pregnant. We ended up finding out by accident when my little brother's wife said something to my mom one Sunday when we were out having dinner. No one had any clue that we didn't know anything about it.

But, the straw that broke the camel's back came just a week or two ago when my family and I were out at my parent's house for dinner and my dad asked me a question. He and my older brother had just returned from a hunting trip out west with my uncle, who lives out there. While driving out there, my brother told my dad that he is allergic to bananas and avocados and then while my uncle was preparing sandwiches with guacamole on them for their day, my dad swung in for the rescue to make sure my brother got a sandwich without guacamole because he is allergic. So, the question he asked me was this: "Are you allergic to anything? Because your brother is allergic to bananas and guacamole" I just about laughed in his face because I've been saying since I was about 5 or 6 (I'm now in my 30's) that I'm allergic to just about everything. And about 5 years ago, I had an allergy test to prove it because up until then, my parents didn't believe that I was allergic to fresh fruits and vegetables. So, that's the thing: if they wouldn't have ridiculed me for "claiming" to be allergic to bananas, tomatoes, apples, and pretty much any other uncooked fruit or vegetable, this wouldn't have been a big deal. But, the fact that my father acted completely surprised when I told him that I've been allergic to those things my entire life, even when they were making me eat them was absolutely ridiculous.

So, my feelings aren't completely unfounded. I have proof. But, maybe they did care. Maybe I'm just filtering my memories to fulfill my feelings. But, that's why I wanted to put this out here, I want a second opinion from some objective parties.

#417079 - 11/24/12 10:38 AM Re: Family Dynamics [Re: RTMark]
seikei Offline

Registered: 08/06/12
Posts: 94
I hate to sound callous, but after reading through your post ai think you might be making a mountain a molehill. I understand that because your brother was yout abuser you feel great sensitivity to the way your parents treat him over you, but a lot of the things appear to me to be mere coinsidence. For instance, the whole marrying thing, I do not know how long soldiers have before being deployed, but its my understanding they usually do not have very long. I really do not think that your mom asking you to make an appointment for your brother at the courthouse was an effort to steal your thunder so to speak, but rather to ensure your brother could get married as quickly as possible because of his deployment. I will day that when it comes to conflict its always best to begin a dialogue open and directly as opposed as to trying to decipher actions and words through second hand methods. If you really want to get to the bottom of this, I would suggest sitting down with your parents to have a frank conversation about their behavior. Thats my take anyway.

#417080 - 11/24/12 11:04 AM Re: Family Dynamics [Re: RTMark]
frankie72 Offline

Registered: 11/23/12
Posts: 32
Loc: Australia
I have a friend who used to constantly talk about how he believed his parents favoured his younger brother over him. His parents were always helping out the younger brother, who was constantly getting into trouble, had a drinking problem, and acting out in various way.

Having seen the family dynamic in that situation though, to me it appeared the reason why so much attention was being placed on the younger of the two brothers was because he needed to be looked after, whilst my friend was actually able to manage his life on his own without the need for his parents guidance.

In your situation, it could very well be the same situation. As you said, you were able to organise your own wedding with your wife, move house and make plans when things were difficult, Maybe your parents see that your older brother is incapable of doing these things on his own.

A few things though are a little concerning, such as being ignorant of you allegies. Though as seikei mentioned, the best solution may just be to sit down and talk about it with them. Just be honest and rational, and find out why the situation is as it is.

#417085 - 11/24/12 12:05 PM Re: Family Dynamics [Re: frankie72]
SoccerStar Offline

Registered: 10/15/12
Posts: 928
I reacted furiously to your story and almost feel like I must have read something different from the prior respondents.

It seems clear to me from what was written that your parents do not take you seriously or respect you as a person, and are favoring your brother beyond all reason. That crap with the wedding date would be inexcusable, unforgivable, a slap in the face. Forgetting your allergies? Double-scheduling parties? I don't know the details of your abuse but if your parents really are in denial then it says a lot. Just the fact that they still expect you to be happy for HIM at all, without groveling apologies and therapy, is outrageous.

I've been around people who were so completely oblivious to the needs and feelings of their neglect-ees, their see-throughs, their "also-s". People like that are nearly impossible to change and use the language of emotional abuse - minimizing and gaslighting and pre-emptively shaming - to escape any guilt or any need to change themselves and their own comfortable priorities. In my experience that can ONLY be changed through the most unambiguous, explicit, and absolutely seriously to-be-enforced threats to the relationship. And even then it's like 50-50.

Not saying you should necessarily do that to your parents, but you are right to feel like shit because that's plainly how they've treated you.

Disclosure: I am an extremely unforgiving person. I remember every slight, every fight, every unfairness or harsh word. Have often said the only person I've ever forgiven for anything is my wife - and even that is often really hard. For you to have any kind if reconciliation with your abuser brother and still hang out with him is very very foreign to me. But if your wife, with her new and un-baggaged eyes, also sees a problem, I'd sure say that's indicative.

Your feelings are valid. Parents are allowed to have favorites - most do, I do. But they're not allowed to show it. Especially not when real harm is between the siblings.
My story

"Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of Heaven just because it hasn't!" --Bugs Bunny

#417103 - 11/24/12 05:33 PM Re: Family Dynamics [Re: RTMark]
Mountainous Buck Offline

Registered: 12/15/09
Posts: 1631
Loc: Minnesota

I have similar family dynamics and have slowly realized and grieved the fact they are NOt going to change.

One if my deepest wounds is the unmet longing for a family to nurture, value, protect, and safeguard me. I acted on this unmet longing in many ways relating to my family of origin. It never worked. They are part of a system dedicated to survival and my recovery and role threatens that system. Period.

Meanwhile I have a wife and two beautiful girls who need me to not be hijacked but to be engaged and present emotionally and wih my whole heart- so I work to heal my heart and dedicate myself to MY family of choice- my wife and kids and many brothers in recovery who Nurture me, listen to me, and give me joy.

Hope this helps- your post rang a very loud bell for me.

Thank you .
We have to take responsibility for what we're not responsible for.

�It doesn't matter where you've come from,
It matters where you go" Frank Turner


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