Friday, 3 March 2006

Family emergency

J called me at work today and asked if I could "call him back from somewhere private".

He proceeded to say that "it was nothing I should be worried about", which obviously meant I managed to imagine all kinds of things in my head before reaching "somewhere private".
I am not keen to be next
It turns out his brother's girlfriend is leaving him.

Which doesn't sound like a big deal, except they've been together for about 15 years and have three children; they just never got around to get married.

I would be lying if I said it was a shock; he's a lovey man but probably quite difficult to live with. Still, I'd kind of got the impression she'd resigned to it being that way, at least until the kids were out of the house.

Where J is introverted and shy, his brother acted out against his strict parents and spent a considerable amount of time living in Camden playing "Whitnail & I".

He never talks about his feelings, and doesn't really relate to people very well. I know they went to see a Relate councellor a few years ago, but that obviously didn't do much.

On top of it all he commutes and lives somewhere else during the week. I never think it's a good sign when you end up sharing the bed with your children more often than with your partner.

And in addition there are probably tons of things we don't know.

It's funny how these things happen. She is, as far as she can be counted as a member of J's family, the only sane member of it, and now she won't be there anymore to tell his mother to shut up and sit down.

I have never had to deal with divorce (which in effect is what this is) in my family. My parents are still relatively peacefully, if not happily, married, and the only one who did get divorced was my aunt, which is not difficult to understand if you know her (spoilt brat just about covers it).

I feel with J in his worry for his brother, whom he can't get a hold of, considering the above mentioned W&I past and present tendencies to drink to much (by my standards). J's mother claims she is feeling OK about it, which is I suspect because she never liked her 'daughter in law' anyway; she is too strongheaded and not afraid to speak her mind.

I have a feeling J's mother may be one factor contributing to the break; a couple of months ago she told the girlfriend that she is an awful parent (for not raising her children to be at J's mum's beck and call) and I am quite certain J's brother will not have stood up for his partner.

Although they both realise their mother is unreasonable, she's kind of brain washed them into thinking they owe her something because she's lonely and she's their mother, and this involves never criticising her. Which I guess could be pretty hard to bear after 15 years of having to receive abuse without anyone ever defending you.

But I am also wondering how this will impact on our relationship. Their mother will remain the same, for as long as she's alive (in fact, I'm ashamed to say that when J said on the phone this morning that he had some bad news, my first flippant reply was "what, your mum died?").

But more importantly J comes from the same background, he has the same problems in closely relating to other people.

If his brother's girlfriend, who is an emotionally intelligent and stable woman, couldn't break it, who's to say I can?


  1. That's sad. But I don't think your objective should be to try to "break" anything... more to understand it's dynamics, and manage them so that you and J can function despite it. And J has a responsibility in this respect.

  2. It is sad... But you're right; I should take it as a learning experience, as life is too short to make every mistake for yourself. #

    Strangely, this weekend was really nice; I think he's realising how important it is to have someone in your life and that keeping them there requires hard work.


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