"There are notes between notes, you know." -- Sarah Vaughan

Monday, February 23, 2009

My little brother

I realize that in my last post I mentioned my brother's "situation" but I have never explained what his "situation" is, exactly.

My brother has been living in a homeless shelter for almost a year. Why? Well the short answer is my parents put him out. And it stuck this time.

Now, before you get all outraged and judgmental, know that my brother is 32 (he'll be 33 in April -- our birthdays are 7 days apart) -- and he's not on drugs, not special needs, not selling drugs or stealing or doing anything criminal (that we know of), no criminal record, has some college under his belt and is employed.

Up until my last year when my parents joined forces and put him out of my mom's house, he had spent the past 30-some years manipulating them because they dared get divorced when he was a kid and deprived him of a perfect nuclear family. You know the perfect loving family everyone else had/has except for him. Umhm, that one.

All of these years he has lived in my mom's house, except for the time he was away at college and one brief period where my mom put him out for about two months then panicked and let him come back home. He lived on our Granny's couch during those months.

In any case, he lived in the basement of the house we grew up in rent-free and never took out the trash, cleaned up, cut the grass or did anything. He never asked what the bills were, how much they were or offered up money. I know this not because my mother told me, but because I could SEE it and because, when I asked him if he did any of those things, he said, "nope" and shrugged his shoulders.

Of course, he didn't have to go from my mom's basement to a homeless shelter, that was his own doing. She told him during the summer of 2007 that he had until March 1, 2008 to find new lodgings. I asked him about it when he came up for my wedding in September 2007 and he was real nonchalant. I mentioned it again at Christmas that year and he ignored me. I decided to leave it alone cause I had a place to live, TWO places to live, in fact, so if he didn't care, I didn't either.

It's obvious now that he made no plans, saved no money and had nowhere to go when the deadline arrived. I think that after all the years of no one ever showing him fat meat was greasy, he didn't believe my mom would put him out and that my dad would support her in that decision.

But, March 1, 2008 came and she changed her locks and moved on. My dad was there in case some foolishness snapped off but, nothing happened. It was hard for my mom to make and stick to the decision. No matter how old my brother is, he is still her baby. But the 'rents had finally come to see that their behavior was enabling him and that it was long past time to throw him into the water and pray he swam rather than sank. She also stopped paying his car insurance (she let it slip that she had been paying it) and my dad stopped sending him money every month (something *he* let slip that he was doing).

We found out he was living in the homeless shelter when I called him on March 2, 2008 and said, hey, I know you're just getting started and since we've decided to live in Mr. SLS's house, we don't need a good bit of the furniture in mine. You are welcome to have anything you want, dishes, appliances, furniture -- whatever you need to get yourself set up -- you just have to come get it. He said, I don't have an apartment, I said, oh and asked "Where are you living then?" He said, "I'm at the homeless shelter right now." I said, well, I'm not selling the house immediately, so I'll hold on to my stuff and once you get a place, call me and we'll work it out. He said, OK and we got off the phone.

I told my mom and she cried but she remained steadfast about him not returning to live under her roof. My dad said nothing, just gave an exasperated sigh when I told him, then changed the subject.

So, here it is almost a year later and he is *still* in the shelter. He comes around to take my mom's trash out now and does little things around the house. Grandma and Granny have worn their voices out trying to make my parents feel guilty about it, but my parents seem to have steeled themselves against it this time.

It used to make my stomach hurt when I thought about it, but I decided that if he wasn't willing to do whatever he needed to do to get out of the shelter, I shouldn't feel bad about it.

Sigh.

8 comments:

  1. It's hard to watch someone you care about ruin their lives but it's his decision to change or not. This is the life he's chosen.

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  2. Excellent post. I commend your parents and you.

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  3. It must be very difficult for everyone in your family to deal with this situation knowing what it is. The homeless shelter part is unusual but the rest of it is pretty familiar. It's what my friends and I used to call "youngest brother syndrome." Several of my friends had baby brothers who would not move out of their parents house until an ultimatum was given.
    My own brother lived with my parents until well into his thirties except when he was away at school, which he didn't finish. Eventually he moved out and he's doing well financially and owns a house, but he still lives right near them and has no social life that I'm aware of, other than visiting them.
    I think sometimes when grown-up kids are allowed to remain in the comfort zone of their parents house for too long, it very becomes difficult to for them to make a life of their own and your brother's choice probably feels completely logical to him on some level.

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  4. Anonymous2/25/2009

    Sounds like my 41 year old sister-in-law who absolutely will not be living with us.

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  5. kudos to you for having the strength to share such a personal part of your life.

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  6. I really hope he figures it out. It took my brother a while to figure it out and I didn't help matters by breaking down and fixing what was broke for him time after time after time. Now...I just let him get it how he lives. He wasn't raised the way he is living and hopefully that foundation will take root over his actions soon. LORD, JESUS PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE LET IT BE SOON CUZ IMMA SHOOT HIM ONE DAY I JUST KNOW IT!

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  7. This post is so so familiar. My three brothers are living home and although my parents threaten to kick them out they never do. Sometimes I resent the fact that I have to be responsible when they clearly are not but honestly I wouldn't have it any other way.

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  8. I really hope he figures it out. It took my brother a while to figure it out and I didn't help matters by breaking down and fixing what was broke for him time after time after time. Now...I just let him get it how he lives. He wasn't raised the way he is living and hopefully that foundation will take root over his actions soon. LORD, JESUS PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE LET IT BE SOON CUZ IMMA SHOOT HIM ONE DAY I JUST KNOW IT!

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Use your inside voice ... or I'll put you outside. -- SingLikeSassy