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Very difficult day

Eagle Ray
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Really struggling. Feeling a deep loss in relation to my brother. Our brother-sister relationship has been damaged by his very disturbing partner. I never imagined something like this happening. It feels either our relationship will be destroyed, or he will finally see his partner for the disturbed person she is. But I know if the latter happens it will come close to breaking him and I seriously worry for his mental health which I know is extremely fragile having been his support through earlier breakdowns in his life. I feel like whatever happens there is tremendous pain. I have just had too much of it.


My dear uncle is seriously ill in hospital. He was gradually improving but it’s still a vulnerable situation. He and his family have been so kind to me since the losses in my life of the last few years. I just feel so sad and don’t know if he’ll make it through.


And that and the feeling of the growing distance with my brother who’s my last immediate family member brings up the deep grief of other losses. Dad had a serious degenerative illness. He at least died peacefully but then there were stressful circumstances after his death. Then Mum died in a very distressed state. I absorbed all the stress as her caregiver. She had suffered greatly from trauma-related anxiety and depression all her life.


I tried calling the BB helpline today. I couldn’t answer the quantitative questions they ask you at the beginning. It just pushed my stress through the roof. I then rang Lifeline and the woman there was able just to be present with me and didn’t ask me questions about rating scales of distress which I find impossible to answer. It helped a lot at the time, just the human connection, but I still feel sick with loss and distress and just pushing myself through the motions of existing. I got a card to send to my uncle as he is too ill to be visited. I feel like everything that has held my world together is falling apart. I just feel unbearable grief.


I’m staying near my friend at the moment who is lovely but I don’t want to burden her with how bad I feel as she has a new baby and I don’t want to bring that distressed energy into their lives. I’m so used to protecting everyone else from pain. I don’t know what to do when I’m in this much pain. I’m going to drive down to the ocean I think to try to feel better.

27 Replies 27

Valued Contributor
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Hi ER,

I understand how being in nature sooths & brings you peace, so I hope your trip to the ocean was helpful today.

You sure are caring about & thinking about these family members, those you've already lost & those you may yet lose, one way or another, so in your mind it's hard to seperate all the thoughts & feelings. A very painful place to be.

& meanwhile you have yourself to look after, your own physical & mental health issues.

If you want to be there for others, you simply must be there for yourself first.

I know it probably doesn't seem like enough, but I'm sure your uncle will appreciate your card. I wonder if he is able to recieve a phone call from you, even if you do all the talking, while a nurse holds the phone to his ear? I know, very hard to do... I'm just thinking you'd want to try, for him.

Again, it's very sad about your brother & his relationship with someone you describe as 'disturbed', & he having mental health problems. It's wonderful that you've been there to help him over the years, but really, I agree, there have to be limits to how much yu can give. He's got to take responsibility for himself, his health & make his own decisions about the relationships he has with whom he chooses. That won't stop you worrying & caring about him. If yu are willing to be there for him when he needs your support, especially if/when this relationship breaks down & maybe he sees how 'disturbed' she is, then tell him that. If he acknowledges problems with his relationship, there is Relationships Australia, you could say, if he's open to hearing that.

Otherwise , I fear there is little you can do.

If he gets into a serious crisis (if/when... ) you have the crisis number/s, don't you? If it's not quite to that point, encourage him to see his own GP.

Oh, what about Griefline? 1300 845 745. They have a forum, too.

That's all I can think of, except for LifeLine, which you can say is a helpful resource.

About BB's questions, which I too, wonder why - why not hold off on so many questions & simply listen? Maybe you'd like to send BB some official feedback.

I'll be here as much as I can, which, I'm sorry, might not be enough.



Eagle Ray
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Valued Contributor

Thank you kindly MK.


 I ended up going to a big urban wetland instead with my telephoto lens and photographed many different birds. It always helps.

This situation has all come up for me as I was invited to a gathering yesterday by my brother. I knew I would be unable to attend as his partner would be there. Following our mother’s death she was increasingly abusive. Even a few hours after sitting with my mother’s body in the hospital she was screaming at me while I was speaking to the coroner’s office on the phone who were calling me in regard to Mum’s emergency heart surgery in the hospital. She slammed a pen and paper in front of me and yelled “write it down” while I was trying to speak to them. She has to control and dominate everything. A series of disturbing behaviours ensued over the coming weeks culminating in an extreme attack that left me lying on the side of the road at night unable to breathe. I had just collapsed from shock as her abuse wouldn’t stop. After a while I was able to stand and walk but she continued to rant uncontrollably at me all the way back to the house. That night I made a clear plan to end things and very nearly enacted it. I’d been through several years of extreme stress and it was the last straw. A few days later she tried to gaslight me into believing I must have mental problems. The drive back to the city involved her swearing out of control at other drivers. She then made my brother take over and started manically saying, “You might break up with me” to him over and over, clearly freaking out that her recent behaviour towards me might lead to that. That was the last day I saw her. She has now twisted my brother against me. The support my brother and I would have normally given each other in the wake of our mother’s death has been totally absent.


It is just the incredible grief of everything I have been through and the reality I have lost my brother to a malignant narcissist on top of everything else. She has brought out a narcissistic streak in him and at times he has acted out cruelly to me as well. Those are just a few of many things I’ve been dealing with. My system is just in overwhelm. During the years I was caring for my parents they were rushed to hospital emergency several times and there was so much I had to handle, and my brother had a massive breakdown following a relationship breakup that I cared for him through. It was extreme. But despite the struggles I’ve had, I’ve just kept going surviving on my own. When I did disclose to him late last year I was going through a difficult time I was sent a video called “Attention Whore”. That is the level of nastiness he has degenerated too.


People like my dear uncle who is now very ill have been saving graces of kindness and love. They mean so, so much to me. My cousin (uncle’s daughter) is the gentlest soul and incredibly kind. I have to hang on to the sane, grounded, lovely people. My brother is so messed up because there is definitely a kind, good part to him, but he’s been totally twisted. He’s become like my mother and her mother who could turn cruel when they couldn’t cope with their emotions.


With regard to BB, they kindly touched base wit me and I’ve communicated why I found the approach difficult, which I hope they understand.


Sorry for that massive offloading. Just getting it all out.


Hugzies to you too MK.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

That's okay, ER, off-load all you like here.


Right now, it would seem your brother won't be open to anything from you. His mind is definitely not in a good place, not with her influence/control. 

It 'really is so sad & painful to lose him this way.

I'm not sure what good you can do there, except to message him, to say only that yu will be there for him when he needs help, when their relationship breaks up. He has made some very unfortunate choices. Staying with her means he loses you.

For your own sake, I agree, you can't be going where she'll be. You should not be expected to put up with any of that sort of crap she laid on you, not anytime, not ever.


Now, if I'd received that video, I would have returned it, with a note "You're better than this". But it wasn't me it was sent to, & even a year ago, I may well have thought another response, or just cried about it. It would hurt so  much to have recieved that from someone I'd thought loved & cared for me. No circumstance justifies that video's existance let alone being sent to anyone.


'I'm so glad you have your uncle's rellies, (I can't follow that familial relationship you mention) - good people. I'm sure they could use your support, as much if not more thaan you could use theirs.


I'm glad, too, that BB contacted you, & indeed, I hope they take your experience with their service to heart & follow up with a more considerate & flexible response to callers.




Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Thanks MK,


The video he sent was a YouTube video, so in an email link. It was clearly passive aggressive, or perhaps even outright aggressive. It’s like one shock after another. I expect he told his partner I wasn’t doing well who said something like “she’s just seeking attention” and she might have even suggested sending that video. It’s coming to terms with the fact that not only is she not a nice person but at times my brother really isn’t either. And all the time I was there for him with unconditional love when he was going through a breakdown. He cried hysterically on my floor for a long period of time. I did everything to help him, made sure he got enough hydration and food, took him to the GP and psychologist, and took him out into nature places. He normally can’t express emotions, but it was down by a river I saw an osprey in a tree eating a fish it had just caught. I pointed it out to my brother. He began to break out of his trauma. He was then able to speak for the first time ever about things from our childhood that upset him. It’s the only time I’ve felt his heart really open. He said he noticed how I go into nature a lot and that he thought he should do the same. But I think he avoids spending much time alone because he never wants to feel. He’s socialised a lot and gone from relationship to relationship to avoid being alone and having to face his own feelings and emotions. He doesn’t go into relationships to feel, he goes into them to avoid feeling.


 I think the momentousness of losing a sibling is just really hitting me the last few days. Under normal circumstances I would be catching up with him while in the city, without his partner, as we’ve done before. But I can feel things have shifted gear and it was getting harder and harder to sustain a sibling relationship with her control behaviours in the background. She’d send repeated texts to him while he was on the phone to me to try to interrupt when she was in the same house and knew he was on the phone to me. She would loudly ask him questions about unrelated matters while he was speaking to me on the phone to interrupt the conversation. It is mental. I can’t do it anymore and I have to leave my brother to whatever future awaits him. I don’t think it’s going to be pleasant however it turns out. But I have to save myself now. My whole life I’ve been like a life buoy 🛟 for everyone else. I will drown for sure if I keep doing that.


I need to focus on the good things around me like grey fluffy cat who is so helpful just by being her, my lovely friend and her beautiful baby, my other friend I’m seeing in a couple of days, and my kind extended family members. I’ve offered to help my cousin any way I can re: the situation with my uncle. It’s full on for her though as other family are all wanting to help and I think at the moment they’re trying to keep it simple with immediate family. She’s sent me a photo of my uncle and he’s managing to smile despite being hooked up to multiple hospital machines. He is a beautiful soul. I’m going to focus on sending him kind, loving energy.


Thank you kindly MK. I know I’m rambling a lot. I hope you had a good day today that was better than yesterday.




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I was thinking it could have been a link, as you have confirmed.


Like your brother, I spent a long time not willing or able to look at the past & my feelings, not able or willing to talk to anyone.

Such a long time has passed, & I feel I just don't know how to mend & be in a close relationship with my sister, let alone any of my brothers.


You can always make the offer to your cousin (or any other family member), to just ask, if there is anything they would like you to do, for them, for uncle. Knowing they have your love & support will mean so much to them, even if they don't ask for a single thing.

Sending cards is a lovely idea. Maybe make some using photos you've taken? You could write a bit aobut where they were taken, what animals they are the photos, Something like that, I'm sure he'd love.


You've done so much for your brother, more than many people could have done.

It's sad the decisions he's making now, because he can't deal with emotions, his memories & such.

I hope he realises one day that all the avoiding & denying emotions & the memories leave him in a vulnerable state, where someone like her can manipulate him.

I never met someone quite like her, but I sure have been in relationships where I was dominated & controlled, manipulated & I only got out when I realised what I was feeling was not at all what I wanted - it wasn't respect, kindness, care or love at all. I was so blind to it all until I was away from it.

At the time, no one could tell me - like I couldn't hear either, what people said. In fact, I would defend the relationships & the people I was with.

The more criticism & warnings I heard the more I defended being in the relationships.

It got so bad, I was so hurt, but then, I had to climb out of that, too. I would've denied being so hurt when I had to get myself out of each relationship.

I feel too much 'at risk' now to even want to try relationships anymore.

I hope that won't be your brother's path, that when the relationship breaks down, he will remember you were someone who cared & was with him when he was struggling. If you can leave the door open, just for him ... ? I can't decide that for you, because I can't foresee that this will be the time when he realises he needs to seek professional help for himself.





sorry post sent by itself.

Iwanted to say I am thinking of you . You are so honest as yiu share yiur emotions with others. Those who read but do not post , are helped by your words so they don’t feel alone. 

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words MK and Quirky.


Thanks MK, yes I have let my cousin know I can do anything to help. I sent my uncle a card with a cute doggy on it as he loves dogs. He is very understandably a bit down at the moment but is doing ok.


Yes, of course, my door will always be open to my brother, in the sense that I would never close my heart to him. But I’ve also had to learn to assert a boundary about how I’m treated. So many times he’s asked for my help and I’ve fully given it. I’ve been there for him 100% through his emotional breakdowns. But he really hasn’t been there for me and doesn’t even know about most of the struggles I’ve had. On the few occasions I’ve attempted to share something it’s been ignored or at worst mocked. He is partly repeating the way my mother treated me because it’s what he observed growing up. He was the golden child and Mum always spoke of him with high praise. I was frequently denigrated and I couldn’t defend myself as Mum would escalate the rage to an extreme level, leading me to totally retreat and freeze. At times my brother has repeated this pattern in how he’s treated me and I haven’t properly defended myself because that was my learned pattern. But I’m starting to say no to certain behaviour. I think he’s at least started to get I might just have nothing further to do with him if he is abusive to me. I’ll always love him but won’t have him in my life if he’s being awful. The narcissistic streak has gotten worse in him with the current partner because she is intensely self-serving and controlling without empathy and sensitivity. It’s a bad influence.


I’m so sorry you’ve had those difficult relationship experiences MK. I understand that feeling of being “at risk” in relationships. I think I’ve experienced something similar. I’m now finally getting to know how to have a boundary and I think that’s the only way to step out of the “at risk” state where you easily become a target for others who are manipulative. I’m now very cautious about who I give my time and energy to. I think it’s never too late to learn healthy boundaries, but it is a process and past experiences can definitely make you wary of being vulnerable in relationship again.


My brother’s had a couple of truly lovely partners who were the warmest, wisest, most lovely women. He couldn’t commit to them and has ended up with someone very different now. I really don’t know how things will turn out. I met a true soulmate when I was 18 but due to complex circumstances we couldn’t be together, so that was a huge source of grief to me back when I was so young. It made it hard in that once you’ve met someone you truly connect with, it’s not easy to find that same level of connection again. But I’ve tried.


In thinking about grief and the feeling of something dying, it may not be so much my relationship with my brother dying but old patterns dying. The relationship could still die if he doesn’t shift as I shift, but I have got my own back now and have drawn a line in the sand in terms of how I’m treated, and any form of bullying is unacceptable. His partner’s core behaviour is bullying, hence she remains a no-go zone. I’ve seen my brother try to stand up to her assertively and her respond with an unbelievably childish tantrum, and then him run after her to try and appease her when she’s stormed out in a rage. He needs to leave her in her childish rage, not try to appease her which teaches her she can manipulate him.


Thank you too Quirky for thinking of me. I hope if nothing else what I write may help someone else feel less alone who may be in a similar situation.


Sending you both hugs,


Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear ER~

I know you realise "my system is overwhelmed" and frankly think anyone's would be. To have your brother having a wedge drawn in by his partner, to have an uncle whom you love very ill and to have looked after your parents all ad up to a huge burden.


When you have a physical reaction collapsing on the side of the road is understandable as are all the other involuntary reactions that come with C-PTSD. Judging yourself is an insidious thing, and can lead ot you shunning others who are good for you in the  belief you might be 'bad for them". If they are adults and you feel good in their  presence let them be adults and choose for themselves. You have a lovely nature and will draw similar to you.


You say yourself "I need to focus on the good things" and that is so completely true, cats, nature, some people. another thing is oyu cannot see how things might be in the future, maybe your brother won't always be a lost cause, circumstances do change.


It is also your lovely nature that makes toxic or ungrateful people give you such a reaction, and as it says in the Desiderata "Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit."


It also says "You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars" which I thought was very appropriate as time and time again nature -and your photography of it - have brought you healing.


It would be wonderful to be totally in control at all times and not have involuntary reactions and thoughts. I'm getting there and I know you will too