March 14, 2014 - submitted by Anon, Canada
Q. TEAM ORACLE QUESTION #159
My brother and I have had a history of fighting/arguing. Sadly there were periods of time in which we stopped talking to each other. As we grew up and became adults (we are both on our 30's) we became more tolerant and understanding. My brother has a really difficult personality. He can be the meanest of all and then all of the the sudden he can be the sweetest.
I'm trying to understanding him, as he has had a rough life full of frustrations and stuff. We've forgiven each other and I've been focusing on his positives and leaving the past in the past.
My brother just called me to tell me that he was going to move to my city and that he was planning to live one week every 3 weeks at my place. He is planning to work nearby he doesn't want to find a place to live. Instead, he's planning to come and live with me. He didn't consult me. He just said he would come and that I could help him.
Now, this worries me because of our personalities and our past fighting. I'm scared that in one of "swing" moods he says the typical harmful things he says about me or about my mom (he and my mom has never got along). Sometimes he calls me and vents all his frustrations with me. I just listen to him. He just wants to get listened to. But I get so sad and my energy so low... he brings up things from the past and I just listen him. So I'm very scared. He knows I might say yes. I always listen to him and try to be supportive but I feel he is taking advantage of that and that he knows I won't say no. But I want to say no.
I know him and I know this is going to be terrible. I'm feeling selfish at the same time. But after a long time, I finally got my own place to live. To live in peace. To try to figure out my own things. Honestly, I don't know what to do. Can you kindly give your opinion? I need an unbiased opinion on this one. I know, I know, he is going to end up staying longer... I simply know that. It really gets me how lay back he is...he was just telling me, "Oh I can stay at your place, then at my sister's, or I can fly to where my parents live." I was like, dude, you should get your own place. But... I'm very upset. Please Oracle. If you could give me your opinion, that would be much appreciate it. Thanks very much.
The Oracle replies:
It's always interesting to read people's answers - I never read them until after I have written my own response - and this question seemed to divide some of us. I have a brother but didn't consider how I would handle this situation myself, I just listened to your anxiety.
For me your answer lies in one of your sentences: "But I want to say no".
So say "no". I know that's literally easier said than done.
I predict your relationship will become more strained and damage will be done if you don't. Just because someone doesn't consult you and announces they are doing something, don't feel you can't interrupt and say "whoa, hang on... this is not actually ok with me".
Now, you do run the risk of an argument or your brother getting angry or not speaking to you but to be frank, that's surely better than you living your life in a way that will make you unhappy? You can still listen to him, support him and help him without totally giving in to what he wants & expects.
My advice to friends who constantly feel bullied - for that's what it is - into doing things they don't want to is to have an ever ready mantra to say when caught off guard: "Let me get back to you on that". It buys you thinking time. Most browbeaters prey on that instant when you're backed into a corner. Very few come back from there and undo what they've felt made to do.
It is not selfish of you to not want your brother to stay; it's selfish of him to decide he is without asking.
You've come a long way and come through many difficulties to get to where you are now. The last thing you need is an overbearing brother to encroach on your space and time and you have every right to say "no". Exercise that right and hopefully you will feel strong & empowered to stand up to him. Once you start to say "no" to him, he may eventually get the message and treat you with the respect you deserve.
Over to you.
First I want to tell you there can be two reasons why he wants to come over at your and you family's place: He can do it because he knows you don't like it, or because he want's to live as peaceful as you.
You said he had been trough a lot of frustrations. It is possible that he want's to live in peace himself, but he doesn't know how.
I think you should help him finding his own place. In both situations that's the best for you and for him. When he has his own place to live, he doesn't have a reason to come over to tease you (in the first situation) or he found his own peaceful place and doesn't need to come over for that (in the second situation).
Let him come over for the first week, and at the last day you tell him that he has to find his own place, and that you want to help him with that. I think he will accept your help. Maybe not immediately, but I'm sure he will.
I know that sometimes you may think this fact is not right or it may seems that it isn't useful for you. Everything happens for one reason: the knowledge. The fact that you and your brother grew up indifferent to each other brought for both the understanding and the tolerance. I think that you living with him might bring knowledge too. Maybe you can know more and more about him and find out that he's not the person who you think he is. You can even help him to be a good person. I mean Teach him! He's your brother and he loves you.
Be lucky! Roberto.
I think that when a family member is in need, you help. It's like a rule somewhere. Obviously, if there are circumstances that threaten your safety or those around you by having your brother move in with you, that's a different story. If the worst case scenario is that you and your brother are going to argue because he has a moody personality and you will be miserable for a bit, then its kinda just your luck of the draw in life. When and if it gets to the point that it is intolerable for you to have him there, you guys will deal with it at the time. You've had practice at this. Instead of being hypersensitive about it before hand, focus on the good times you will share during the process. I'm one of those people who think family should be there when all others walk out, even if it sucks hard sometimes. I realize not everyone thinks that way, but that's who I am and how I would advise on the matter. Good luck. Focus on the positive and make some really cool memories with your brother. Miranda.
I can't imagine what you and your brother went through the years, but what's clear is that your brother really counts on you, even too much. You said it by yourself, he needs to get his own place as you first were able to do, with time and efforts. He may be scared of that, of trying to build a life without depending on you, his sister and parents.
You have to understand whether you have the strength to help him or not. If it's so important to you to help him to make it through, then just go and do it, with the same determination with which you managed to take care of yourself.
I think that, if you think you can bear it, you could suggest him to move to your city but provided that he finds a place on his own. In exchange, you could arrange a meeting every week to talk with him about his progresses, in order to make him feel he's not alone in this. Or anyway you could find a point/moment of connection enabling both him to feel your support and you to feel free from his constant presence.
Any decision you make, you must be very strict and don't change your mind: convince yourself that you're doing this for his own health, he cannot conduct a happy life keeping on depending from other people, once they won't be there for him he'll feel destroyed, he will fall in front of difficulties. Maybe you could ask a close person of yours (a friend, a relative) to help you doing this.
Advising is always easy, if I was you I would find it very difficult too. Don't forget WHY you're doing this, and everything will appear clearer.
Here's a lot of people squeezing their brains and opening their hearts to help you, you're not alone.
A big hug. Giulia.
You have already answered the question yourself: You do not want to have your brother stay at your place. Now, the reason why you asked the Oracle for help, is because you need someone to support your decision. If I were in your shoes, I would feel just like you feel. As you have mentioned, you need your own space, a house of your own. I bet your brother is old enough to depend on himself. I agree that human beings should not be selfish, but your well-being is at risk here. If your brother goes to your place, instability will reign what should be your home sweet home. If you become unstable, you will not be able to help others, since you will be brought down. You can help others when you feel good yourself. If helping someone else blurs your happiness, I do not think is worth a shot. That is not the way to go. Once you get done reading this, say no to your brother, and do not let him convince you to say yes. He will surely say how bad your attitude is, make you feel guilty, in order to get a yes from you. You will have to confront him, and even if the conversation ends badly, you still have to say no. This way he will have no other chance but to try other options. Since he thinks you will say yes, he does not consider other possibilities. Much love, Carolina.
There are always moments in life where it's necessary to say no. This may be one of those moments. You can't always be trying to make everyone else happy; you have to make yourself happy first. Being content with yourself spreads positivity and happiness on its own! Unhappiness can spread as well, and you may inadvertently bring down those around you, including your brother. The best way to build up your relationship with your brother as he moves into town may be to offer to him assistance in getting a start in the new town, rather than a home where he can slack off. You have lived there already and know the town, you would be perfect to introduce him to it. The key is to not let him become reliant on you, but at the same time let him know that you will be there to guide him whenever he needs help. Make sure that he learns from his mistakes, that way he does not come back with the same issues again and again. He is your brother after all. Although you guys have had your difficulties, now is the perfect time for you to open up to him about how you truly feel about your relationship together. The difficult past does not have to define the future, and understanding each other's sides of the story may lead to a strengthening of your relationship.
Good luck from one brother to another, Ryan, USA.
I do understand your feelings nut my advise for you is: You are not selfish, if you tell your brother that he can't live with you. It is good to be supportive of your family but not at the costs of your own peace of mind. There are plenty of other ways you can be there for your brother. Your home is the one place where you should feel at peace and untroubled. You shouldn't let anyone disturb that. Not even family.
Be brave and be selfish (a bit)! You are not a help for anyone, if you aren't feeling strong yourself.
All the best, Anne.
All sibling relationships have their ups and downs, it sounds like you and your brother have been through a lot. But like you said, you're both in your 30's now and you have your own place for a reason. I know it's hard, but if deep down your gut is telling you to say 'no' to him, you really must try and listen to it. I think it's very rude of him to just invite himself over to stay with you, even if he is your brother. Try to explain how you feel and I'm sure that in the end he'll appreciate you being honest and sticking up for yourself. Good luck! Amanda.
This is a dilly! What surprises me is how quickly you are willing to let him do this! You pay the rent or mortgage, why are you letting him decide this?? You may want to ask him for a nominal fee for the time he spends with you, and ask when this visitation will begin and end, since it is not just a weekend visit. True he is family, but while being family does come with an unwritten code of hospitality, it would be wrong for anyone to presume upon it for an extended period of time. Don't let him, or you may end up being the doormat at your own home. Make it clear from the start this is your home YOU DECIDE if or when he will visit, and for how long. He may balk at your being independent from him, but you do need to assert yourself, and this will take time for him to adjust to, you may get a cold shoulder, but at least you will not have to worry about your peace being disrupted. Hope you can feel empowered enough to keep your space yours. Good Luck, Laurie.
Honestly sometimes I would be glad to have a brother. Sadly with this history of troubles and fighting the only thing you can tell him is 'No.' You are not his mother, and even if he wants to move home again after a time off he would have to ask in a proper way. I wonder if he gave a thought about how it should work, you are not a hotel!
The way you describe him reminds me on someone I knew well and I can imagine how stressful the situation was for you. I don't say he will never change, but this would not be a good start for trying it. Tell him this, you are glad you both have the situation like it is now, his move into your house probably could only damage your contact.
You can welcome him in your city, for sure, help him finding another place to stay (maybe someone of your friends knows something), offer him some support during his time there, you can invite him, introduce him to your acquaintances. To move to you is too much for you at the moment, show him your limit. Make clear for you it is the question to work on a sister and brother relationship with a future. He should be interested in this as well, more interested than in a (probably in his opinion) cheap place to live but risk new family troubles. A second forgive would not be easier. Best wishes. L. Q.
I think you have defined what you, in fact, want to do. You want to say no. What you don't know is if saying no is the best thing for him, and you definitely want the best for him, otherwise you wouldn't care and you'd simply say no. But, in my opinion, this is not so hard, because saying no is the best you can do, not only for yourself, but also and especially for him. Why? You have said that he just made a really important decision involving you both, without consulting you. But he is your brother, so he must treat you with respect. And, even though you may think that saying yes will help him more than the opposite, I don't think like that. By saying no, you'll teach him that if he wants something, he needs to deserve it. And you can say yes, but he has to deserve that answer, he has to treat you respectfully. Your home, your rules. My advise? Talk to him, let him know how you feel and show him that if he wants your help, he must deserve it. He may get upset, but he'll eventually understand that having a good relationship with his sibling makes everything better. Good luck! Love, Ana from Portugal.
Thanks to all those who replied to this week's question. Remember, Team Oracle is open to anyone so if you fancy replying, click to read this week's, and send us your answer.