Out of the blue..

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2011
Out of the blue..
Tue, 07-30-2013 - 4:23am


I would love some feedback from others regarding a request from a family member.

This is from my younger brother who doesn't speak to me anymore even though we were really close until his wife came on the scene and caused the family to split. Its a long story but the short version is that she never liked me because I was so close to him and wanted him to stay away from me and my family. This is a brother who I helped at every opportunity and gave whatever we could to him. He has never had the guts to stand up to her and say " this is my sister and although you dont like her ( meaning me) she is my sister and I'll see her from time to time and do it with or without you". He has sided with her, which is understandable, but in the last few years, I keep on reaching out and sending them gifts for their kids - which come back as a " we dont want your gifts" and I've also paid for their older child to attend music and physical activities ( which they were happy to accept and she never thanked me for that ) and when their younger child had  a one year afternoon tea party and we were not invited I was so angry that everyone else in the family were invited and we weren't and so i phoned and asked if we could come over and they said NO. I also asked if we could drop a gift off for the one year old , and the wife ( I will be polite here) said that she would talk to my brother and get back to me to see of I could drop the gift off. The child is now 2  and I'm still waiting for that phone call to see if I can drop off a gift. 

Anyway, the difficult thing is that no one has ever given me a valid reason for shutting us out of their lives except that the wife didnt like the way I apologised to her about something that happened 4 years ago, and in my view, I apologised to her over the phone, I apologised to her face in a meeting, I have said sorry numerous times and my husband has apologised too.Its completely bizarre because my other sister in law who said exactly the same thing to her, and I repeated it, said sorry and she accepted that apology from her and not from me. So now my sister in law and other brother see them all the time and she hates us and loves them. She basically hated that I was so close to him and he loved my kids, so she used any excuse to kick us out of her / their life. 

I've included them in all of our family celebrations, I've brought them medicines for when my brother was sick, I've asked if I could come over and see their children (all I get is NO you cant ) and I've extended the olive branch so far that now the branch has broken. They have never once invited us to anything or asked us to join them in anything for 4 years. 

So out of the blue, I get an email from brother last weekend asking me for money to help pay for some cleaning work at our elderly parents flat ( should mention here that its his parents and only my mother as my mother remarried after my real father died and they had my brother together) Now, firstly the letter starts out with " hi ( and my name..) remember me"? ( as if to say that I should remember him ) 

Then goes into a long rant about how messy my mothers place is and how a cleaner is necessary. The message that comes through is that his 2 small children that visit there are now amongst the so called dirt there. He wants to employ a cleaner on some sort of weekly/ fortnighty basis so that they have a nice clean apartment when brother and wife and children visit.  So he's essentially asking me for money. He wants me to contribute to this cleaner.  This is from someone who has serious anger management problems, he doesnt know when to stop screaming when he's angry , he refuses to let us be invloved in his family and he has no regard and care for me or my children and husband. 

I am of two minds here. On the one hand I could spend hours composing a letter that lets him have it and then I sign off something like dont contact me ever again. Or I could stop wasting my time and energy and ignore him completely and hope he gets the message loud and clear that any relationship we ever had is now over. 

What would you do? 


Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Tue, 07-30-2013 - 1:13pm

Boy, I wish I had something helpful to say here.  I just wanted you to know that you are not alone in this.  Families, for whatever reason, sometimes have these struggles. 

Do you have any kind of clue from other family members what is really going on here.  For arguments sake, if I were to be neutral and not pick a side, is there more to the story that your family is not sharing with you.  I take it that what ever happened in the past, the SIL forgave another SIL (or relative), but not you? 

All that aside, it is too bad that your brother couldn't come to an agreement with his DW about continuing a R with you. 

All I can come up with is that either there is more to the story, either on your end or on hers, or she is just really that wacked.  Returning presents for the children is pretty extreme. 

As far as your mother and step-dad, I would check all of that out yourself.  I take it that you must not go to your mothers house very often?  Is that R strained, also? 

I know it is hard to fit everything into a post without writing a novel sometimes.  A few more details may help.  Disowning family is a pretty drastic measure.  I would pause before replying to his e-mail.

Serenity CL Making a Second Marriage Work

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Tue, 07-30-2013 - 3:23pm

I agree with Serenity.  I think we need to get into the history before any advice is given.  At face value, I'd say not to respond at all.  Then again, depending, maybe it could be a time to ask him why the overt hostility and exclusion.  To me that is hurtful and over the top unless some very severe and unforgiving occurred.  I do have a SIL in the family that just happens to be that nuts and has alienated the entire family from the brother, so I understand your position if the punishment doesn't fit the crime, kwim?  Also, I've completely cut off my own brother for good, but our history warrants it, so I get your brother's POV if the history was like ours.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2011
Tue, 07-30-2013 - 6:04pm

Hi Serenity and P/S, thanks so much for your replies. 

I'm glad to see that you both realise there is more to the picture than just SIS in law doesnt like me. It started 4 years ago, when there were lots of deaths in the family.. first with my DH side of the family, a few very close family members all within a few weeks. I thought about it and maybe i did or maybe I didnt return my brothers phone call, I cant remember, the whole experience was like a bad dream. We had literally hundreds of people coming to the funerals and people left right and centre dropping by and bringing us food etc. Its all a big blur. I do think that younger brother felt left out and maybe I didnt return his call then. Can't remember and he should not have wanted my attention then anyway, I was trying to deal with grief and trying to keep my immediate family well. 

The next thing is that SIL grandfather dies a few months later (he was 96) and at the time I was really sick with a nasty virus and wasnt up to dealing with SIL or her G/Father passing, so I emailed to say when I'm better that I will phone and come over and see her ... Well, that wasnt good enough according to them and at that time my other SIL ( the one who apologised for saying it , and had her apology accepted... ) had said to me " dont worry, she didnt like her G/F anyway".. so when my brother started whining that I haven't been respectful to his wife ( even though I was sick with virus" I said, " well I heard she didnt like him - the G/F anyway". He stupidly repeated the comment to her and WW3 broke out. Keep in mind here that I didn't make this up, i just repeated a comment from other SIL. 

So my mother said I had to apologise, and I did. And when I phoned her to tell her I was sorry and that I was sick, she told me this:

That I am  a nasty, disgusting person with a revolting personality, and how I dare I speak about her grandfather like that...  I swear she said that outloud to me on the phone. This was also a chance for her to yell out other abusive comments to me, which I ended up saying that I couldn't continue this conversation with her, so hung up. She was yelling and screaming at me like she was a mad woman. 

And this is from a woman who has had numerous dinners at our home, has been invited to every family celebration, knows that I have stacks of friends, and that I have been successful in all areas of my life through hard work and effort and I have never intentionally gone out of my way to abuse or be rude to anyone. 

So a few weeks later we set up a meeting so I could apologise to her which I did. My husband apologised and we all agreed to forget about the comment and move on. 

Thats when it all started.. as I started to give them gifts for their son ( they only had one child back then) and the gifts came back unopened and unwanted. Then I brought medicines for my brother. then the rest is history, they basically shut us out of their lives, except for accepting the free activity classes that I paid for ( and they are not cheap - about $20 a class for 2 terms- and she never thanked me for that) 

And now the request for money for a cleaner.. 

Paradigm shifter, I have asked so many times what it is that I did, and I get back the same answer. That I never apologised and meant it. She believes that I didnt mean the apology. The problem is she is a complete princess, Ive heard her on the phone to her own parents and when she doesnt get what she wants, she swears at them and slams the phone down. She is a tyrrant. I feel sorry for my brother, but then again i dont. 

I have asked my mother to intervene and she gets back from the brother - dont ask and dont get involved. I have asked my sister to intervene, and she cant say anything to them either. My other SIL - the one who had her apology accepted and sees them all the time, is the favourite with them - they babysit, they spend time with them, they all have lovely dinners together including my mother/ StepF and sister and we are all left out. 

I dont look for stress in my life and I go by the motto " To bring peace to the earth, strive to make your own life peaceful" 

My children have been brought up in a respectful home, they say please and thank you often, they dont swear/ do drugs/ drink and their grades are excellent. THey will all have university degrees as they try their best and get into the highest classes at school. 

We are also successful financially and sometimes I wonder if siblings are jealous of this.. although i try to ask about them when i am with them and not talk too much about myself.. I know they all notice how things are with me, but shouldnt they be proud of me rather than jealous? 

Anyway, with this essay, what would you do about the request for money for a cleaner and the email.?? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Tue, 07-30-2013 - 10:55pm

Hi Samuby,

Your SIL sounds like she doesn't accept apologies and holds grudges.  I'll admit that it was a terrible thing to say and it would take me a long time to get over it.  Nonetheless, your apology counts and should have been acknowledged, not discounted.  In that respect I find your SIL and your brother to be vengeful and immature.

So, enough of them for now.  In my mind, I'm thinking that, once again, you might want to seriously consider being the bigger person here.  I don't see you coming out well in hindsight if you refuse.  The money to get a cleaner for your mother's place would improve her quality of life, so it is more for her and not for your brother and family.  However, I don't know if handing over money to him to deal with it is the way you want to go.  I'd want to see invoices and perhaps even speak to the cleaner or cleaning company if there is one.  So I guess my advice here is that I think it would be a good idea to help your mom.  Too bad that it's coming from your brother, but don't lose sight of the fact that in fact this really does help your mom, kwim?

As for them, enough sticking out the olive branch so far that they chop your arm off at the elbow.  What was said was cruel TBH, but you've done everything a person can do to right a wrong.  You've apologized twice.  You've reached out on several occasions only to be ostracized.  You've tried enlisting your family to help mend fences.  Enough.  There is only so much abuse one can take, and at this point I think you've redeemed yourself, owned up to your mistake (and we all regret things we've said and/or done), and tried to move forward.  IMO, they've paid your cruel words back in spades, so they're living in a glass house now.

As for your financial success, etc., I have a feeling that you've put that there because you've been feeling so terrible about yourself that you've become defensive and defending yourself has become a habit.  Please don't take this as a harsh criticism because it's not intended to be that way at all, but sometimes defending oneself by listing one's successes, childrens' success, wealth, etc., can come across as bragging.  Again, I don't think you're doing that here at all.  I think it's a defense of oneself after all of the rejection and ostracizing you've endured, but it can be taken very wrong.  That may indeed cause some to feel jealous and get their backs up, and it gives them something to criticize you about.  You are more than your finances and goals/childrens' goals.  You are a big person to have gone out of your way the way you have.  Your actions speak volumes.  You care about family and you work hard in your life.  So I think it's time to forgive yourself for being human and accept that you've done all you can.  It's time to concentrate on the wonderful life you've made for yourself and the family and friends you have rather than those that aren't in your life. 

It's possible to love from afar.  Don't let their inability to forgive destroy all of the good you do have in your life.  If you accept that things are as they are, you will find peace. 

I just want to add that I felt the pain in your words.  Big Hugs.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Wed, 07-31-2013 - 12:24pm

Could the request for money be your brother's way of reestablishing contact with you in a way that his wife allows? (or maybe she doesn't even know that he has contacted you).

I think I would try to separate the contact from brother and the use of the money as two different subjects. Decide if you want to help your mother/stepdad by paying for a cleaner, and if you can afford it. 

I would probably tell brother that he and you need to talk before you join forces on the shared cleaning plan. Partly because he owes you an explanation, partly because you need to have a line of communication if you are going to be co-payers. Without rehashing every hurt of the past 4 years, try to get him to explain what is going on, why he hasn't contacted you in the past few years, why he is contacting you now, has there been a thaw in relations, etc. Based on whether he will speak honestly with you and what he says, you can decide if you want to join with him in addressing the problems at your mother's flat or deal with it independent of him (directly with the cleaner, or not contribute at all). You can decide if you want to continue trying to have a relationship with this brother. 

Its easy to say that he should just stand up to his wife and see you apart from her but from your description I would suspect she may have a mental illness. I can understand your brother not wanting to incite her anger, or maybe he doesn't know what else to do. I don't say this to let either of them off the hook for their bad behavior, more as a possible explanation.

You love the person that your brother used to be, but now you need to find out if he is still that person and is currently under the control of his crazy wife; or if he has changed and is not a very nice person anymore. It may be that he is no longer someone who you would want to be friends with. Sad to say that about a sibling but sometimes its true.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Wed, 07-31-2013 - 2:40pm

So, you and your other SIL apoligized, in person.  At the time of the meeting, you thought you were all in agreeance that you were to all move on.  Correct?

So when shortly after you send a gift to your nephew, and it is returned, you are obviously surprised.  Somewhere along the line you find out from a 3rd party that SIL didn't feel your appoligy was sincere?  And that is why the other SIL and offended SIL are all buddy buddy.  Her appoligy was accepted and yours wasn't.  And you had to hear this through the grapevine, as she did not tell you to your face at the original meeting.

I suppose these details are irrelevent, but just trying to get a picture here of what happened.

I think your brothers e-mail (this is the offended brother, correct) might be a way to get a thread of a connection back with him.  That is the relationship that really matters here.  Sure, if you and the SIL could make up along the way, that would be great.  But having a R with your brother comes first, and you may have to suffice with 'cordial' with his DW.

My DH has a very strained R with his oldest DD.  She has some serious issues and has done some hurtful things.  My DH isn't totally innocent here, but we have to be realistic that there are some bells that can't be unrung.  It will never be what we had hoped, yet we are still hopeful that something can be salvaged. 

Back to the question about paying for a housekeeper at your mothers.  I am still unclear where everyone lives.  Can you go to your mothers and see for yourself?  Or is she too far away for that to be practical.  I think that unless you had 100% trust in your brother, I would want to see for myself before I put any money out. 

But, with that said, I do suppose it could be an opportunity to open communication with your brother again and also help your mother at the same time. 

About the only thing I am clear on, from what you have shared, is that I would NOT send your brother an e-mail saying you are ending any relationship with him.  That is just too final.  If you choose not to participate in his life, then fine.  You can stop handing out the olive branch.  But a verbal statement, especially in writing, is unnecessary and can never be undone.  Lesson learned from the Grandfather comment, right???

I still hold out hope for you and your brother.  Embarassed

Hang in there and let us know how it goes. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2011
Wed, 07-31-2013 - 7:06pm

Hi all thanks for your comments/ help. 

P/S I agree with you that SIL is vengeful and immature. The time I phoned to ask if we could come to 1 year old daughter tea party, she said " you see, how do you like how this feels, not to be included, not to be treated nicely" It was like she was waiting for her golden moment to to be nasty to me again. I was completey shaken by that one (I've never been spoken to like that) 

Perhaps your right about me talking about my financial success, but there is more to it than meets the eyes. My real father was very successful and when he died my older brothers and sisters and I were all under the age of 14. My mother soon meets my SF who bulldozers his way through my fathers money at every opportunity. He is a man who left his own wife and 2 kids in another country, meets my mother here and uses her money to open up business after business that all fail. And this is with the hard earned money that my real father made which was to be used for us kids and my mum. My mother has stuck it out with him and now they are old and not wealthy. I've turned my life around and done what my real dad did with my husband and worked very hard my whole life to have something for ourselves as we get older and to be able to afford schools for our kids. So perhaps thats one of the reasons why I mention it, as a reflection of how things changed from when I was a child to how I am now. 

Thank you for your big hugs P/S, you are a beautiful person. Sending love back :) 

ELC 11 - I hear where you are coming from. Brother might me curious to establish some contact back, and an email is the least threatening way to do so. The cleaner and the money is not the issue. BTW, the email that he sent was sent to my other brother and sister an hour earlier than mine was sent ( I looked at the times on the email) I think what really happened is that he was asking the others to contribute and someone has come back and said that he should forward this to me too, and they would think I can pay as well. I would not be giving him any money directly. The other thing is that my mother and S/F could afforrd a cleaner. I think that its quite rude of him ( brother) to go behind their backs and ask us for money for a cleaner because the apartment is not clean "enough". He is basically not saying anything to my mother directly, he has rather sent an email saying how dirty the place is. ( and Ive been there its not that bad, its just for his kids on the floor, he would see it probably isnt spotless. The other thing is that when my mother wants something, I go ahead and pay for it and never ask them for money to contribute. I offered to buy my mother a small car and would never think to ask siblings to pitch in as its something I wanted to do for her. Of course stupid S/F said NO, your mother isn't driving anymore, I will take her places or she can catch the bus ( he's a bully and dominates her - my poor mother - I would have left that man years ago ) 

ELC I like your last paragraph, and its true - I did love the old brother, but he's dissapeared. The new one isnt someone I wish to be friends with. Thats the reality, and Im dealing with it. 

Serenity - all your questions / comments in the beginning are true. My apology was never accepted, but other SIL was. Never got that one, obviously they like her more, she is not a sister, but a wife of other brother and maybe they join forces to say horrible things about me and my mother? ( you know, the DIL and MIL thing) 

Serenity, Its terrbly hard when you when you have a strained R and in your case with your DH DD.. must be tough to think about this, but its great that there is some contact and hopefully in time, things might turn around. Hope you can work this out in time. 

To all of you, my mother lives close by and we are going there tomorow night so i will see for myself the state of the "dirty" apartment and figure out if a cleaner is necessary. 

Thanks once again for all your comments. Its a huge relief to know that there are people out there who care enough about others to help people in need. Any more feedback and comments are most welcome as this is incredbly cathartic for me to share. Bug hugs to all Innocent

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Wed, 07-31-2013 - 8:53pm

Hi again Samuby.  Thanks for the response and again you provided more clarity.  I too hold out hope for your relationship with your brother and yeah, your SIL is very immature and vengeful.  You bring up a very good point about your brother doing this without your mother and S/F knowing.  It IS their house and they need to be asked.  So I think it's a good idea to go to your mom's place and have look for yourself.  Then you can make a determination for yourself and really, your mother needs to be asked too.  So you can act independently and make your own determination, involve your mother of course, and then get back to your brother. 

Do you think that afterwards, asking for your brother to give you a call to discuss is a good idea?  Maybe that can be the opening to talking.  You know what would be best, but I think we all share the same idea that sending him a get lost email is not the answer because it's so final, and I don't think not answering at all is a good idea, either. 

Also, just to touch on your further explanation about your personal successes, I understand perfectly now.  I'm so glad that you've taken that part of your father and together with your DH have made good lives for yourselves and your children. There are certain things from my own childhood that I've reversed and worked hard to succeed, and I am proud of that too.  :)  I'm glad you're feeling better after sharing.  I've had so many positive "a-ha" moments from sharing on this board.  I've met some amazing people here that have become lifelong friends, and I cherish them with everything I have.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2011
Sat, 08-03-2013 - 11:06pm

Hi P/S thanks for your reply also. I'm glad youve made some lovely friends through ivillage. 

I made a decision. We went to my mothers apartment and it really didnt look that bad. We had dinner there, the place seemed fine and we didnt comment. ( although my son who is a bit cheeky and also saw the email from brother, commented saying how clean the place looked! and my mother said that she dusts and vacuums regularly)

I decided not to write back to brother as I didnt like the way he wrote the email AND I thought it was wrong of him to complain about my mother in an email AND request money from me to help pay for it. If he is insulted by the floor, that his kids play on, then he can deal with that problem himself. My kids dont play on floors anymore, so its not an issue for me.

Im not sure if its the right decision but I feel that I cant deal with even communicating with him anymore. Not for a while. Im too hurt and insulted. So this is my decision and I have to live with it.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004
Mon, 08-05-2013 - 1:45am

I don't enjoy drama, and I have no use for drama addicts in my life.  Therefore, my suggestion to you would be to simply ignore the request and let it go mentally.  Stop sweating it.  You've tried doing things for their children, and they don't appreciate your doing it, so spend your time, money and efforts on people with whom you can have a HEALTHY relationship.  Drama addicts are no different than any other kind of addict...they will do anything to anybody for their next fix, so stop providing it to them!