Thursday, October 22, 2009

The thing about our emotions...

Hiya, Brooke.

The Setup: I am the last of 7 children. A VERY long story cut out completely, I want nothing to do with my second oldest brother. I adopted the philosophy several years ago of not keeping people or things in my life that were negative. He didn't make the cut.

While I am perfectly okay with it, and my brother also has done nothing to change the situation, it does occasionally create problems between me and my mom, who I call at least 4 times a week. She'll remind me it's his birthday, or his anniversary. Or his wife's birthday. Or that she's going to a party there. I've tried telling her that I don't need THOSE updates, thank you, she can tell me about anyone or anything else. I live 600 miles away from the rest of the family, so accidental contact isn't really going to be a problem.

Well, that's the background. Now the question. I am terrified that my mom, who is getting up there in years, might one day have to move out of the house we all grew up in, and move in with this brother that I can not stand. She's the type that would rather die in her own bed when that time comes, but I am still worried he might talk her into moving in with him at some point. Then, I would never get to talk to her again. That's my worry.

I want to know how to bring up my concerns to my mom, in a way that gets more of a response than "You're being stupid, I don't want to hear it" from her.

Or, I guess, how can I get over needing an answer to this question without talking to her about it?


Last Child in Stone Ridge.

Dear Stone Ridge,

While I don’t know the “very long story” I can sense from your words how strongly you feel about this situation. Your brother and you are on the outs, with no interest on either side to reconcile… it is what it is. That being said, in order to maintain the relationships you do care about, it’s important to consider some other angles of this story…

So let’s just get right to it…

It’s one thing to be disconnected with your brother and not want him in your life. But you and he have something very much in common. A mother. Just like a divorced couple that has a child. In order to make life for that child the best it can be, some parents will go to the ends of the earth to be cordial and respect one another- for their kid. I think you can learn a lot from this model.

You may not need the updates on your brother and his family. This is true. But what’s also true is that your mom feels a need to give them. It’s her way of showing how bummed she is that you guys aren’t connected. She’s a mother of 7 children…and 2 of her kids don’t speak. I can’t imagine how painful that must be for her to experience. I’m definitely not saying you should reconnect with your brother because your mom is upset, but I do think that her passive messages are something to think about…

Ok…I think you get that part. Next part…

You wrote something very interesting and worth taking a look at. You wrote that if your mom moved in with your brother you would never get to talk to her again. Get? Hm.

Saying that you won’t ever get to talk with your mom again is basically like saying that you don’t have control over the communication, that you don’t have a choice, that someone else will be deciding for you. Totally disempowering darling! When it comes down to it, the only thing you get to do, is decide for yourself. My dear last child in stone ridge, it’s time to take your power back. You’ve given your feelings towards your brother all of the power. You’ve lost yourself in your emotions.

The thing about our emotions is that we own their efforts, their time, their power. They belong to us, and no one else. We call the shots. We get to choose where to spend our emotional energy, and where to conserve. Your anger towards your brother is yours… you get to decide what to do with it. You can let it come between you and your mother, or not.

Taking your power and your emotional energy back may look different to different people… but what I know for sure is what it won’t look like... it won’t look like you on the defense, as if things are being done to you. When you take your emotional energy back, you’ll have the freedom to talk to your mother, no matter where she calls home.

Lastly. You asked if this was something you should talk with your mom about. In my opinion, this is not your mom’s fish to fry. This is a decision that you have to make, because your emotions are yours and yours only. You have a choice regarding how you’re going to handle your anger and dislike towards your brother, and how you are going to make this about you rather than about your mom.

My hope for you Stone Ridge, is that just as you know that not speaking with your brother is your choice. Speaking with your mom is also your choice. You get… to choose.


Please send your questions to! Your identity will always be kept private.


  1. It is a powerful thing to know we have power in our lives. From basic daily decisions such as getting up in the morning to owning and controlling our actions/emotions. However, talking about family dynamics, the youngest is often the most cared for and babied. I wonder too if this sibling rivalry/disconnect is really a quest, although at an older stage, for mom's attention. Oftentimes we displace our anger onto people who really have nothing to do w/ the underlying issue. In this case, the baby in this family is still asking for mom to decide who loves who the most? Maybe she (mom) just loves everyone the same and maybe talking to mom directly about this is time! I would also imagine that the oldest son, depending on the whereabouts of bio dad, took on the dad role? Is there resentment about this? Again we dont know the skinny on the behind the scenes and what led up to this break up amongst siblings.

    Also, from a more existential point of view, a distraction to not accepting each human's "givens" in life, the natural given that we all must die, that we all must move through stages in our life is present in this situation. Is it facing the inevitable, that one day, hopefully not soon, mom will leave this earth and stop spreading her attention/love to her 7 wonderful children. I think going deeper and reflecting, what is this hate towards my brother really about will the baby gain some insight and more awareness on the issue at hand. Again talking to mom about her last stage of life and how this feels to a child might be helpful.

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