Firstly, it seems to be a new situation, and my mother and I have had a very candid conversation, including the a-word, and she does not have blinders on. She's sad and afraid and it's breaking my heart. I've also convinced her to go back to her therapist so she can work on herself - both protecting herself and learning ways to communicate with him. So I did the things I know to do.

Background: I am the oldest of 4 children; I am 30, my brother is 27, my sister is 20, and our youngest brother - the one I am writing about - is 18. My mother was sick with cancer during the two little ones' early childhoods, my dad was checked out, and I ended up essentially running the household from age 13-17 - so my relationship to him is more maternal than sisterly.

I could go into great detail and take forever, but essentially this: a few years ago, my dad left my mother for some filthy trollop, and he absolutely tried to destroy my mom financially and just hailed constant abusive language at her from all directions. It was a nonstop barrage - she'd wake up to hundreds of nasty text messages, get phonecalls all day, emails - it was awful. He did this to all 4 of us but in a much more limited sense.

Understandably, the narrative largely favors my mother, and all of us pulled away from my father, me most of all, going almost two years without contact. I'm happy to report that despite an entire lifetime of screaming and yelling, it seems that my dad has calmed down. He hasn't apologized and he hasn't stopped lying, but he's stopped trying to hurt us.

My mother is now married to a very calm and collected guy - who might be out of his element a bit since his children weren't the wild demons that we all are. He doesn't participate in discipline, though.

Now: My father's wrathful behavior has passed on to my brother, it seems. The other three of us tend to avoid arguments. Between my dad and an abusive ex, I find yelling and insults extremely triggering - I essentially break down.

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My mom does too. Raised voices cause her anxiety attacks now.

It seems that my brother is experiencing depression; he might be failing out of high school due to never attending (we don't really know, and because he is 18 he does not have to tell my mom his grades). He's also been through hell in the past few years; after his father moves out and he acquires a stepdad (none of the rest of us have actually been part of the household during this), his best friend died in a car accident, and his girlfriend tried to kill herself. About 6 months after that, she OD'd on Xanax and my brother found her and drove her to the hospital (she is ok, thankfully), but her parents forbid him from coming around anymore. They are together but his girlfriend has started pulling away from him. He stays in his room and doesn't bathe, go to school, or do anything.

He has seen a therapist on and off since my parents' split, but he has started refusing to go in the past several months.

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He has been screaming at my mother, threatening her, telling her just the things I know will hurt her most (things about my dad that are really low blows), and he has pushed her a few times. I'm worried this is going to escalate. My stepdad has had to step in because he's afraid he will really hurt her.

Last night on the phone, my mom broke down and told me she is afraid of him. She is afraid to be in the room with him because he might say something that just destroys her for the rest of the day. It's like my dad all over - she never knows when he is just going to shut her down for the day, or the week. She's sick of watching him self-destruct. One of her brothers self destructed in a similar way; she always says she's worried there is another Uncle ___ on our hands.

He won't go live with my dad, despite his insistence that my mother is the devil incarnate. She can be really, REALLY exhausting with nagging but his reactions to her are scary. It's hard to describe but he's acting really out of line.

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He's not a little asshole - or, he never was a little asshole before. He was a quiet kid; kind of got into trouble but we all did. I don't know how to experience him turning into a little asshole. I don't know how to simultaneously protect and support both of them. I don't know how to reach out to him, without putting my mother in harm's way (he'll be mad she was talking about him). He's clearly just full of rage but won't accept help. I suggested to my mother she let him choose another therapist, but she said she already tried that and he just yells at her.

Part of me wants to say, "kick his ass out." He doesn't think he needs a high school diploma? Let him find out what that will mean. And my dad would police him WAY more than my mom - that's not the lifestyle he wants, so he won't go there. He got into college and he was all excited to go to school a few hours away and now he seems to be just like, fuck it. He's being a spoiled little shit but I know it's more than that.

The best solution anyone has come up with (and partly to give my mom and stepdad a break - surely this isn't easy on a newly married couple) is for him to come spend a long weekend with me and have just a fun time, out of town. Maybe remind him of what life could be like if he can move the fuck out of my mom's house. Spend some quality time outside of what has become a toxic environment for whatever reason. Maybe he'll talk to me, I can figure out if something is going on with him.

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I'm so glad my mom is going back to her therapist (she tends to only think you go to a therapist with a specific problem, fix it, and then not go again). I think it will help her to protect herself, figure out how to deal with him, and she might be able to learn about him.

I'd love advice but I know there aren't really good answers. Thanks for listening, GT.