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please help with codependent mother
August 25, 2004
1:06 am
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September 29, 2010
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I'm currently caught in the crossfire between a codependent parent, a visciously manipulative brother, and a father whose thoroughly fed up with the situation.

My parents are both in their early 50's while my brother is 25. I myself am 21 and only experience this situation first hand when I'm home for the summer and holidays from college.

Essentially here is the situation. My brother was diagnosed with Bipolarism a couple of years ago and would go in and out of manic and depressive states. We all felt horrible for the guy and did everything we could to help him. We got him medications, counselors, and provided him with a warm and friendly place to stay with plenty of support. Unfortunately this went nowhere, and the situation has developed into quite a nightmare.

Just to sum up a few of the things he's done to alienate the entire family: he has stolen and pawned my drumset on three different occasions. He has racked up $1000+ phone bills to my parents accounts and then refused to pay them. He's nearly burned down the house at one point. And in general he steals, lies, and manipulates everyone constantly and openly feels zero remorse about it. All the while living here at the house with no job and constantly talking ill of all things financial in general (much to the annoyance of my very hard-working dad).

Suffice it to say that after two years and plenty of effort pumped into helping my brother cope with his disorder things have only gotten worse and more unlivable. Upon my brother stealing the drumset a third time, my father in a moment of clarity threw him out of the house and washed his hands of the situation. For you see, my father had been growing increasingly fed up with him and literally couldn't take the abuse anymore.

However, enter my mother who I must say has been playing the part of enabler for atleast the better part of 2 years. No matter what crimes against the family my brother committed she would always rush to his support and bail him out of any and all situations. It hit the point that she even completely stopped asking him about newly stolen items. In fact in all things she would defend him and continually give him the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile my father and I would grow continually alienated despite our attempts to try and talk the problem out.

So the situation is now that my brother is barred from the house and my father and I wish my mother would stop helping him at every turn. We see how my brother, whose alienated every other person he's come across, manipulate my mother so easily, and frankly it disgusts both me and my dad. We both wish she would just let him go and cut her losses, but she continually throws money at him and doesn't care that he continues to steal from us and refuses to even attempt to find a job. She won't give up on him and becomes hysterical when we try and talk to her about it. I read up on codependent tendancies and she showed atleast 98% of the symptoms with my brother.

I'm going back to college in a day, but my poor father is having to deal with a severely codependent wife. On top of that the situation with my mother and my brother is clearly unhealthy to both parties. And I'm afraid that with the strain between my parents they won't make it to their 30th anniversary next summer.

Sorry to judge my brother and mother like I am, but I don't know any other way of describing the situation. I'd appreciate any advice or experience anyone could shed on this situation. I'm really worried for all people involved.

Thank you for any help.

August 25, 2004
10:06 am
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September 30, 2010
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Eeek; what a tough situation to be in. I am the same age and your brother, and I also am dealing with a codepedent mother (my parents have been divorced since I was eight years old). Be grateful that you aren't around to witness the situation firsthand. For me, the best thing I could have done was to go away to college, so that I could grow and try to break free from my mother's codependent cycle.

One of things I have learned in therapy for my codependency is that we cannot change others and we cannot be responsible for their choices. I can totally understand your family's desire to help your brother when he was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder; who wouldn't want to help?

While I am not excusing his actions, he is not healthy, which could contribute to his alienation and tendency to steal your drumset. It seems as though he is taking advantage of your mom's kindness: living at home without a job, almost burning the house down, stealing. That's a pay-off for him. Why would he try to get better when he can live at home, do nothing, and get what he wants?

By throwing out your brother, your father set a boundary, albeit hard as it as. As a codependent, I know how hard it is to set those kind of boundaires so people don't walk all over you. It seems as though your mom is afraid of setting these boundaries. My mom does the same thing; she will complain about my brother acting irresponsible, but she continues to take it...she never sets any boundaries with him.

Your mother is obviously not ready to set any type of boundary with your brother. Unfortunately, we cannot push or make people feel ready to deal with these situations. Rather, it will come on her own time. Has anyone suggested your mother see a therapist? Maybe your dad can encourage your mom to go with him to a therapist? Have you taken care of yourself by attending CoDA meetings or seeing a therapist? It sounds as though you have a lot to deal with, with regards to this situation.

The hardest things about being codependent for me is sitting back and letting people make choices (as bad as they may be) without me trying to "fix" or "save" them. I struggle with it on a daily basis. As much as you and your father disagree with your mom's treatment of your brother, unfortunately, you can only take a step back and let her make her own choices. She will see, when she is ready, that she is doing a greater disservice to your brother than she thinks.

Hang in there!! Be sure to take care of yourself! I am here for you!

Baby Steps 🙂

August 25, 2004
1:18 pm
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September 30, 2010
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I can understand your frustration but I agree, you have no control over your mother's behavior or your brother's. You are not the care taker of your parents marriage. That is between them even though you are on your father's side. I can understand your concern about it but it is really their problem. I would stay clear of trying to intervene in any way.

October 23, 2017
11:12 am
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October 23, 2017
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I'm having trouble with a codependent and possibly narcissistic mom. Im 33. She hates my husband because she doesn't like his personality. I've explained him upbringing, doesn't matter. He is a quiet and reserved person around people he doesn't really know super well. He doesn't act that way around me. He never smiles enough, laughs enough, talks enough, etc. He's not attractive enough.
Every time I'm with mom and he texts or calls me, she says, "can't he ever leave you alone?!".. also her famous smirking angry face and eye rolls. So, I just keep my phone on silently and "got to the bathroom" to respond.
If I let 3 days go by and I haven't called her (she rarely calls me), she gets upset.
One year we stayed at my parents beach house with them for a week, my husband took our 6 year old home so I could stay another week with just them. When he leaves, I get the "thank God he's gone, he was irritating your dad sooo bad"!
She recently called up quilting me into telling her how much my husband makes a year because she thinks he's not a good provider and she's "worried for me".
Constantly saying my husband is "taking me away from her". That kinda creeps me out.
She calls to shame me over trivial Facebook stuff because if her friends see it it will embarrass her. This has happened 3 times recently.
I finally got the courage to tell her to stop calling me to shame me over stupid Facebook stuff and to please stop with all the passive aggressiveness towards my husband. And if she doesn't stop calling me about Facebook I'm going to have to block her.
.. and her response is angry yelling, blaming husband for everything, and saying our relationship would never come back from this.
I'm now being punished with the silently treatment, even from my dad. Been a little more than a week now with silence.
I have my first therapy appointment tomorrow.

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