Needing space from brother; Push your brother towards help, and help yourself, too
Dear Annie: I need help, but I’m so lost on what to do. Please help with some advice. I’m 52 years old and so broken. My mom passed away on Sept. 14, 2019, at home. I’ve had to live with my brother “Ed” ever since. Or, should I say, he has had to live with me.
I love him, but he can be such a challenge. Life is all about him. He sees a counselor weekly; he is a recovering alcoholic and drug abuser; he is bipolar and high — I mean high — anxiety and needs complete hip surgery.
I am his caregiver, and I’m really not happy. Everything I do seems to be for him. He is going back to drinking after 170 days of sobriety and smoking again after three weeks of quitting. It never ends. He stands and mumbles where I can hear him carry on, usually about me. Ed is very self-centered and spiteful, but he is my brother. I don’t want to just abandon him, but I need a life. I don’t know where to turn. He only gets $794 per month Social Security, not enough to maintain his own place.
I’ve been single since my youngest was 4 years old. She is 26 now. I would like to find my special someone to spend my life with. What should I do? — Overwhelmed and Unsure
Dear Overwhelmed: I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother. I’m sure you still miss her every day.
You have given everything to your brother, and it’s time that he takes some responsibility for himself. Even though he’s carrying a large load, there is no reason he can’t accept some part-time work to supplement his Social Security and get a place of his own. It’s great that he is in therapy, but he should also look into Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous for additional support in his battle with addiction.
As for your own well-being, reach out to your local Al-Anon chapter to meet others going through similar situations with their loved ones.
Remember that creating distance between you and your brother is not an abandonment; it’s a boundary. You can only give someone else a tow if your own tank is full. If you’re running on empty… well, then you’ll both get stuck in the mud.
Take a deep breath and write down a list of things you’re grateful for. Often, when our lives feel like they’re spiraling out of control, we become so overwhelmed that we feel helpless. This exercise will help put things in perspective.
Dear Annie: I am afraid you missed the boat on your answer to Worried in Wyoming. I am a lawyer, and I can assure you that the risk of her husband keeping virtually all of the assets in a noncommunity property state is real.
If she is concerned about the other woman, I suspect she at least has some reason for concern. Something that isn’t a threat while it’s at a safe distance can become serious quickly if that distance is removed. After all, there’s only so much that can happen over the phone.
I agree that she shouldn’t go on the attack, but moving to another state should always be a joint decision. If she doesn’t want to move, her husband should be willing to discuss it. How about staying put and arranging frequent visits? If the husband doesn’t listen to her and insists on the move, then before she even considers relocating, she should find a good divorce lawyer immediately. — A Lawyer’s Perspective
Dear Lawyer’s Perspective: Thank you for offering your professional advice. Sometimes, what appears to be an irrational fear may very well be a gut instinct. If Worried in Wyoming feels like this plan will harm her, her relationship or her assets, she should indeed take action.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.