Ellie Tesher is on vacation. The column below is an archived favourite, personally selected by Ellie
Best of Series Part 3: October 30, 2017
In 2013, I wrote you about issues regarding my mother. While you agreed that she’s toxic to me, you stressed that my relating damaging insults from her to my wife's family was a mistake.
My family didn’t attend our wedding over this, and also because I invited my cousin despite that my mother insulted her disabled mother.
I cut all contact with my family afterwards.
Three months ago, my youngest brother committed suicide.
Due to undiagnosed depression issues, my youngest brother overdosed on prescription medication.
My mother blames me for his suicide, for escalating things after not heeding her wishes on disinviting my cousin.
She blocked my attending my brother’s funeral.
My other brother told me the news and apologized for not attending my wedding.
He’d previously thought that my brothers would "remain neutral" in my spat with my mother.
I said that by not attending, he chose a side.
I recently learned that my mother's maliciousness has escalated since our bother’s suicide and affected his marriage (I wasn’t invited to his wedding).
Unlike me, he’d not told his wife of my mother's constant insults about her and her family until one of her tirades during my brother's wake exposed everything.
He and his wife then separated and he’s living with my parents.
When I told him to cut contact with my mother, he again blamed me for the events of 2013.
How can he be convinced to leave the toxic relationship with my mother? I feel it’s the only way to save his sanity and his marriage.
I’m sorry for the loss of your youngest brother.
There’s a dark history (likely mental-health related) that motivates your mother’s malevolent behaviour.
Her insults, blaming, and trouble-making warranted your cutting contact four years ago.
Now, taking on your other brother’s situation may do everyone more harm, while dragging you (and your wife) back into the cesspool.
There’s no easy path to a healthy relationship for anyone within your mother’s reach.
Having told your brother to end contact with her, he turned on you.
Lead by example: Avoid her, periodically check in with him. When he repeats her old insults about you, ignore them and simply say that he’ll be better off trying to re-establish his life away from her.
Reader’s Commentary You get many questions from people who’ve married someone with adult children whom they consider a problem.
I’m divorced, with one daughter, 24, still living with me. I’d been dating a local man for two years. He moved in with me four months ago.
My daughter acted coldly, as if shocked, though I’d tried to prepare her. She has a part-time job and goes to college. My partner wants her to move out.
I finally told him where I draw the line. Maybe some will find this helpful:
I said, “you say you love me and want to have a life together.
“I love you and welcomed you into my life, which includes my children. One lives with me now, the other may need help later, that’s what a family’s about.
“Soon enough, my daughter will want her own place. I’ll help her move out, but she’ll always be a part of me.
“You say you want to marry me and I want that too. But I’m not just a divorced woman, and won’t be just your wife. I’ll always be a mother and a grandmother, too.
“If you don’t want that, you don’t want me.”
Things are good now.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose beloved dog died (October 6):
Reader - “This book may help: Going Home. Finding Peace When Pets Die, by Jon Katz.
“Like all deaths of someone important to you, it takes time and you must grieve in your own way.
“Two years ago, our nine-year-old Rufus had a heart attack and died within hours.
“He’d always been healthy. I think of him daily. You’ll never forget your dog but time helps. If and when you choose, another pup might give you some comfort.
“When Rufus died, our other dog Franky, sat on the couch for four months, staring off into space. I was worried about losing him too so found all of us a new companion.
“Our new boy, Rogan, is a great joy but he didn’t replace Rufus. Don't expect a replica, even if the pup is the same breed. Dogs are as individual as human beings.”
Tip of the day:
Toxic relationships play havoc with peace of mind. Protect yourself and your own choices.