It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Scared of His Brother” whose boyfriend wouldn’t kick out his violent, alcoholic brother who was staying with them.
The first week was actually really great. Jim was as helpful and friendly as he had been when he first moved in. He went to a couple job interviews and even got an offer. I was elated because the promise of a job meant he would have the money to move out. He asked if he could take me and my boyfriend out to celebrate and we agreed. While at the restaurant I noticed Jim spending an awful lot of time away from the table and up at the bar. He claimed this was because he knew the bartenders and hadn’t seen them in awhile. He returned to the table after one trip with a small cup filled with clear liquid. I asked what it was and he told me it was water. I was suspicious due to the size of the glass and the amount inside, and, when he left to go to the bathroom, I tasted it and discovered it was vodka. I informed my boyfriend (who up until then had been engrossed in conversation with a friend and not paying attention to what Jim was doing). We confronted him and demanded that he leave the restaurant. When we got home, I was ready to tell him to pack, but he addressed my boyfriend. He started crying, telling my boyfriend how much he loved him and how sorry he was, bringing up childhood stories and telling us both how we could “never understand what he is going through, because we are not addicts.” He begged for another chance. My boyfriend said ok, defending his decision to me by saying that Jim had a job now and we would ask him to leave after he got his first paycheck.
Three days after that incident Jim was keeping to himself. He claimed he was sick, and, when I asked about his new job, he told me they had pushed his start date back. He asked me if it would be ok for him to a have friend over to the house that afternoon. I told him he needed to make sure his friend was gone by 6:30 because I was having company, and he told me that was fine. The friend in question was a girl he had met on the internet. He didn’t even know her name. She didn’t show up to the house until well after 11:30 PM and didn’t leave until 1:00 PM the next day. I was livid and confronted Jim, who then went into his apology dance and making excuses. My boyfriend was also enraged, and we went to his mom that night to tell her he needed to go. She asked us to wait til he got his first paycheck, telling us she had already spoken to him and she could tell he was sorry. He promised he wasn’t going to invite anyone else over, he went to an AA meeting and blah, blah, blah. I felt powerless. My boyfriend agreed we would wait. I wanted to leave that night but didn’t, figuring that I could stick it out for another two weeks.
I wasn’t even a little bit surprised when Jim ended up not actually getting the job he was offered. He told us this crazy conspiracy-type tale about how he lost it, and he gave more apologies. We went back to his mother, who asked us to let him stay longer so he could get a new job. My boyfriend and I were fighting constantly because his behavior had not improved. He was still lying, still wasting money, and still not contributing. I demanded that he leave and go to a homeless shelter or half-way house, but my boyfriend wanted to honor his mother’s wishes and continue to support him until he got a job. I told him I didn’t think I could do that and started looking for new places to live. However, before I had the chance to move, Jim ended up making a really poor decision to be disrespectful and threatening towards me in front of my boyfriend, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We asked Jim to leave, much to his mother’s dismay (she blamed me of course). The funny thing is Jim found a new place to live in three days — a place that charges far more money a month than he ever offered us, and apparently he is doing really well.
I wish I could say that his departure has improved things, but, while I sleep better at night and don’t have strangers in and out of my house, I am not sure if the damage to my relationship can ever really be repaired. My boyfriend has become colder towards me since his brother left. Even though he was in agreement that Jim needed to leave, I wonder if he blames me. I feel fairly confident that his mother does, but I have just made it a habit to avoid her and the rest of his family for the time being. This experience has definitely made me question helping people. I feel I was a fairly charitable person in the past, but after this I don’t even want to help my own family for fear of being used. I still have anxiety about Jim returning. I am currently looking into finding a therapist to help me deal with these issues. I still love my boyfriend, and I don’t blame him for this. I know he was just trying to be a good brother and son. I don’t doubt that he would see a therapist with me, and hopefully that will help us get to a better place.
Thanks again for your advice, Wendy, as well as the advice and encouragement from your readers in comments.
Wow, that’s quite an update. I’m glad Jim has moved out and you’re safe, but I’m sorry there was so much drama and anxiety before it finally got to that point. It sounds like your boyfriend’s family is a real piece of work and he’s in an awkward position of needing to distance himself a bit and create boundaries with them. Hopefully, therapy and time will help with that and your relationship will survive the challenge. Best of luck!
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