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Firstly I want to say I have my first appointment with a new counselor in a couple days, so I will definitely be talking about this with them! I also have a pretty good system of friends, my partner and mom who are all extremely supportive. I just didn't feel comfortable dumping all my thoughts on any of them.

TW: self-harm, weapons

I've gone no contact with a family member before (former step-mother) and it was a massive relief, except for the times she managed to reach out and cause damage.

This time it's my brother, whom I suspect to at least have BPD. I've never brought it up with him because it was a recent realization and it's really only a tool for me to understand his behaviors towards me, so not an official diagnosis. He is 2 years younger than me and we grew up together. He has always been a volatile person, from the time he was a toddler to the present day. He is probably the most emotionally fragile person I know and I (as a very anxious person) regularly fear for him. He's also a gun enthusiast which does not help at all. In fact it makes things worse for me because I feel freaked out around guns and worry that if someone hurts him enough he will hurt them or himself. He has threatened to kill himself (both times would have been in front of other people) on multiple occasions and has been institutionalized before.

These past few years have been the hardest. We've gone opposite directions politically and ideologically, he's an angry and confrontational adult, and I'm fearful and avoidant. Behaviors I see in him are some of the same ones that I saw in our former step-mother who was abusive to us for ~12 years. The straw that broke the camels back was in July when I spent a week with just him and my dad at our family cabin a few states away, and I was treated like garbage. I know that someone being extremely doting to me one second and then clearly patronizing me is not normal! I don't remember the last time I felt so angry, isolated and helpless. One example of this is when he offered to make me a B-52, which I had never tried before, so I accepted. He made it for me and I really didn't like the taste, so I was involuntarily making faces. He seemed to be offended by this and told me to just pour it out, which I did. When I came back he was mad that I poured it out and told my dad (while I was still sitting there) "she doesn't get any more [insert name of the liquor]". I felt so demoralized even though from the outside it seemed like a simple misunderstanding. When I try to reason with him it simply doesn't work.

So it's clear that I definitely need to keep him out of my life, but I don't know if my family will understand. I lost some respect for my dad after that week of just hanging around oblivious to my brother's behaviors (not to mention the confederate flag ON OUR CABIN they were both cool with??), but at the same time I know he is on the autism spectrum and don't expect him to be as quick to pick up on social cues. My grandma might understand, but again I'm not sure. It's really tough. He's (hopefully) moving out of state in December or January so I'm kinda waiting until after that to come visit my dad and grandma.

Thank you for reading. I welcome any words of encouragement or advice you all can offer. :)
 

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Get the guns away from him. Call the police if necessary. I don't know if it's been implemented in your community, but several places in the U.S. now have their police departments respond to family calls about unstable relatives who have guns even if no crime has been committed.
 

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He is probably the most emotionally fragile person I know and I (as a very anxious person) regularly fear for him. He's also a gun enthusiast which does not help at all. In fact it makes things worse for me because I feel freaked out around guns and worry that if someone hurts him enough he will hurt them or himself. He has threatened to kill himself (both times would have been in front of other people) on multiple occasions and has been institutionalized before.
This right here is a giant red flag. Massive red flag. As the poster above me said, you could try to do everything in your power to get the guns away from him (this would be a reasonable course of action), but I would understand if you felt too frightened to do so. If your brother is so emotionally labile as you described, there's no way to predict how he would react in this scenario.

Anyway, I think you should cut ties with him 100%. If you want to put your safety and mental health as priorities, your brother should have no space in your life. I know this sounds harsh, but from what you described, it's how it is. In your place I would do everything I could to stay physically distant from him.

So it's clear that I definitely need to keep him out of my life, but I don't know if my family will understand. I lost some respect for my dad after that week of just hanging around oblivious to my brother's behaviors (not to mention the confederate flag ON OUR CABIN they were both cool with??), but at the same time I know he is on the autism spectrum and don't expect him to be as quick to pick up on social cues. My grandma might understand, but again I'm not sure. It's really tough. He's (hopefully) moving out of state in December or January so I'm kinda waiting until after that to come visit my dad and grandma.
This right here is another red flag (this time, from your father). Autistic or not, it's clear he can be a dangerous person. Why do I say that? Because sometimes, the most dangerous people are the ones who are too passive to recognize a shitty situation or take action to prevent something bad from happening. Your brother deserved to be called out, yet your father didn't say a thing. If your father is aware of your brother's situation but isn't worried and keeps acting like everything is fine, he is an unhealthy element that probably should be kept at distance as well.

TL;DR: Stay physically distant from your brother, put your mental health and safety above "diplomacy" or any other value of secondary importance. Be aware your father is not a reliable person as well and that something is seriously wrong with him if he acts like your brother's behavior is OK.
 

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I recently read a piece on 'family estrangement' that was actually validating, so you might get some benefit from googling that term. You certainly are not alone.


it's always a tough call. i've done it, and had plenty of flak for it. It isn't ideal, but not every family is ideal. So imo sometimes it's simply healthier than the alternative. And if you're one of the people that that applies to, then the responsibility for the realities of your particular family is not yours.
 

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Get the guns away from him. Call the police if necessary. I don't know if it's been implemented in your community, but several places in the U.S. now have their police departments respond to family calls about unstable relatives who have guns even if no crime has been committed.
Thank you for that info. I discovered my state has a red flag law and I'm informing my family members.
 

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I wonder if you really are a very anxious person or if you've simply been living with unstable brutes for too long?
 

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Many families have at least one person who is trouble. If you want to avoid your brother, don't worry too much about what family members will think.

You can avoid places where he will be, or leave if he is there or shows up there.

It might or might not be advisable to calmly inform other family members that you prefer not to see him. If they won't respect this, you might also have to avoid them to some extent.

If others try to make excuses for him, don't argue. Say something like, "I understand, but I'd still prefer not to see him."

Be on the lookout for possible sabotage or people ignoring what you say. For example, I told someone I would attend Christmas only if a certain person wasn't there. She went ahead and invited both of us anyway. So be prepared--don't go to isolated family cabins unless you have your own car and can leave any time, etc.
 

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I wonder if you really are a very anxious person or if you've simply been living with unstable brutes for too long?
I guess I should clarify that I haven't lived in the same house as my brother since I was a teenager. I'm in a very safe and loving situation right now. I've always been an anxious person and I think my bad luck with family just fed the flames growing up.
 
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Your dad and grandmother might seem unreasonable, but your brother is still their family member as well. It must have been hard to learn that your brother had a mental disorder, and time spent around so much uncertainty surely will take it's toll. As you've mentioned you want to visit them after autumn or winter, I take it your relationship is still fairly good, and that they love you. You have people around you to support you, that's good.

I have no advice to give you, but I wish you some peace and calm. Letting mentally unstable people near firearms seems like a bad idea, but I'm assuming your brother went and bought those guns for himself. I'm sure you've told him, but I hear those with mental disorders are hard to reason with. A friend of mine has a son about my age. Sometimes he will compare his son to me, which is not a fair comparison. His son has bipolar disorder and depression, which gets him into quite a bit of trouble. Things around him break because he acts out, and I often hear stories of how my friend needs to fix a window or a car or his son's health by taking him to the hospital. It'll be good to see the day when nobody has mental disorders, but until then I hope you stay safe, and that you also feel safe as well.
 

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It doesn't matter if your family understands, they just need to respect your wishes. You need to explain your side and that's all. There doesn't need to be an argument from their side. But there will be opposition because "families should stick together blah blah blah", but you know your brother's behavior is not okay. Even if they don't understand, your safety comes first, so don't argue with them if they try to change your mind. Notify what you need to do and why and anything they say goes over your head and doesn't matter. Allowing yourself to be around him for longer than necessary will only cause you further emotional, mental and/or physical harm. So I support your decision to avoid him. Your safety comes first.

You've made the goal, but now you have to take steps to maintain that goal. May the best outcome be given to you.
 

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It doesn't matter if your family understands, they just need to respect your wishes. You need to explain your side and that's all. There doesn't need to be an argument from their side. But there will be opposition because "families should stick together blah blah blah", but you know your brother's behavior is not okay. Even if they don't understand, your safety comes first, so don't argue with them if they try to change your mind. Notify what you need to do and why and anything they say goes over your head and doesn't matter. Allowing yourself to be around him for longer than necessary will only cause you further emotional, mental and/or physical harm. So I support your decision to avoid him. Your safety comes first.

You've made the goal, but now you have to take steps to maintain that goal. May the best outcome be given to you.
Lately I've been putting off calling my dad, partly because of other stressors in my life and not wanting to deal with it. I need to though. Sooner or later he'll wonder why I haven't called because I used to call and chat several times a week.
 
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There are two ways to manage the situation. Diss or piss and control. The latter needs titanic nerves. And effort. Id vote for distance, if that is an available option.
 

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Lately I've been putting off calling my dad, partly because of other stressors in my life and not wanting to deal with it. I need to though. Sooner or later he'll wonder why I haven't called because I used to call and chat several times a week.
I would use those stressors as an excuse. In the event that anyone really ever asks why you didn't do such and such. My dad used to tell me that I'm good at "just giving excuses". Meaning giving answers to his questions to which he considered not a valid excuse. I used to then tell him that if he wanted to know the "why" to something, I'll tell him. =)

After a while, in varying degrees and ways, they stop asking. You're allowed to live your life and take care of what's in front of you and put things aside. As well as talk to people when you feel like it rather than because you have to for some reason.
 

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There are people I know I'd never give an excuse or explanation to. They just see it as an invitation to debate my decision with me.
 

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Thanks for all the responses. I haven't spoken to my brother since I left the cabin (about 3 weeks ago) and I feel pretty great about it. I finally called my dad today and just told him I don't want a relationship with my brother anymore, at least not at this stage in my life. He was surprisingly chill about it and I was able to have an easy, constructive conversation with him. I didn't mention how I felt about how he acted at the cabin because he told me that sometimes even he doesn't know what to do.

So we're cool, boundaries are set. I told my dad that I want to come visit very badly, but I don't feel comfortable until my brother leaves. That was a big weight off. :giggle:
 
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