What do you do if someone you love is a rotten person? Not just an inconsiderate jerk but actually just fundamentally wrong?
Last week, I was awoken at six in the morning to a phone call from my brother’s girlfriend. This was unusual—she rarely called me unless I was on the East Coast visiting them—so I decided to pick up. All I heard on the other line was indecipherable words and violent sobbing. My first instinct was that my brother had been injured and I immediately felt a pit develop in my stomach. I asked her if everything was okay and the first words she got out of her mouth were, “I want you to know that your brother is a terrible person.”
A little backstory: My brother is messed up. Even though we’ve become “close” in the last few years, I still acknowledge that he’s a person with serious rage issues. I knew things weren’t going so well between he and his girlfriend. He had cut her off from her old life when they started dating and subsequently made her entirely dependent on him. He’s a rich dude so he basically has the power to do whatever he wants. She’s a girl with little education or skills so at first, this must have felt like a sweet deal. Move in with a rich guy, get coddled and live happily ever after.
She failed to realize that my brother is a controlling weirdo who doesn’t like to leave the house. He suffers from crippling anxiety and anger management issues. Everyone in my family knows this but when this girl came into his life, we hoped that she could be the one to chill him out. She was so sweet and kind and loyal. Honestly, she was the perfect girlfriend and we prayed that she would knock some sense into my brother and help him deal with his crap.
That didn’t happen obviously because now she was calling me at six in the morning to tell me that he was a terrible person. This wasn’t the first time she’d done this either. When I stayed with them around the holidays, she came into the guest bedroom where I was staying when my brother was in the shower and told me that she couldn’t breathe in this house, that he was paranoid and obsessive and she wanted to get out. I told her to dump him, that he was screwed up and couldn’t love her the way that she deserved. She agreed but ultimately didn’t do anything.
She dropped a bombshell on me this time though when she told me that my brother hit her. I was stunned and disheartened. I always secretly wondered if my brother was physically abusive to his girlfriend. After all, the concept didn’t seem so far-fetched. He had already declared psychological warfare on this poor girl so what would stop him from slapping her around?
I told her all of the things I should’ve: You need to get away, he’s insane, make a clean break. Who knows if she actually will though. Now I’m stuck with this knowledge that my brother abuses women and I’m unsure what to do with it.
I immediately called my mom and told her the news but she didn’t believe me. In fact, she hung up on me, which was the response I expected to get actually. My mom is a big fan of denial (one time when I was abusing pills, she found a giant bag of Vicodin in my room and didn’t say anything) and I can understand why she would not want to think of her son in that way. But it doesn’t leave me with much to do. I want to call my father because I know he would believe it but I’m also worried he might disown my brother. And what if she goes back to him? Then they come to Thanksgiving dinner with everyone knowing that he hits her. Pass the turkey, please.
I also love my brother, which makes this not a cut and dry situation. This is a tug of war between the power of filial love and what I know is wrong. Can I love my brother knowing that he has done these terrible things? Am I allowed to? Blood is supposed to be thicker than water but what if that blood is spoiled and kicking the water’s ass? I honestly don’t know what to do. You’re supposed to love your family no matter what but I don’t know if the “no matter what” included this. One thing is clear however, which is nothing will be the same. I will always look at him and see what he’s done to her. It’s funny how quickly a relationship can change. It takes so long to build but it only took one phone call to destroy it.