A “New” Family Member

So, for the last two years or so, my husband’s brother hasn’t been talking to anyone in the family. Even before that, the relationship was pretty tenuous. He would call when he felt like it. He wouldn’t answer his phone. A couple of times, he got rid of his phone without telling anyone. Etc. Etc. Until contact stopped altogether.

Around Thanksgiving, he suddenly emerged into the land of the living. Or rather, he reached out. He emailed not just his parents but my husband, and it was a really strange experience.

He’s had a rough time – he was kind of an angry kid that played into being kind of a paranoid adult, and he put a lot of blame in weird places. His life got pretty out of control, and he fell into a depression. Now, he’s reaching out to try to find help – he needed immediate assistance, but he also wants to get his life back on track and, it seems, get in touch with family.

It’s so hard – my relationship with him is that he’s been causing people I love – namely my husband and my in-laws – pain, without much benefit to myself. DH and I have been married for 6.5 years and together almost 9. His brother’s been kind of not really an active member of the family for probably 6 of those years. I’m really conflicted. On the one hand, to have a functional relationship with him would be great – I remember liking him before things went bad. But it’s not clear to me how exactly that’s going to come about.

Until we figure it out (or he vanishes back into the woodwork – I don’t trust this reappearance yet), it’s another source of stress in a life that already feels kind of consumed with stress.

(And then selfishly I wonder – do I have to tell him about our struggles? My in-laws know, but do I have to tell this virtual stranger who happens to be my brother-in-law? We haven’t yet and aren’t planning on it…but I think about it.)

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