Dear Diane Column — September 24, 2011

Dear Diane,

My brother has had a drug problem for many years and recently he went into rehab. I want to be supportive of him, but I’ve seen him go through this before, and I don’t trust that he will stay sober. I want to be supportive, but I’m sick of feeling like I’ve been duped again.
When we were kids, we had a hard time and I always tried to take care of him, but I’m tired of being his protector. It’s not that I don’t love him; it’s just that I wish for once that someone would take care of me. I’m really tired.
I’m worried that he might have bi-polar tendencies, and if I have to take that on, I might as well flush any life I have goodbye. How can I be a good sister when I’m sick of taking care of him? I love him, but I feel cheated. Is this a karma thing? I was born 6-23-71. He was born 3-19-73.


Dear Heather, 

I believe that we have karmic lessons in life, and one important lesson for you is to learn to nurture yourself. It’s clear that you have survived a difficult upbringing, but there’s more to life than just survival. By always taking on the role of caretaker, you may be blocking others from taking care of you. It’s time to put yourself first.
Don’t make a commitment to taking care of your brother until you feel ready to put your own needs ahead of his. This may sound selfish, but in your brother’s case, I see that he is much stronger than either of you realizes. In constantly being rescued, he has forgotten how to take personal responsibility for his actions. Your brother has an amazing heart energy, and if he gains some confidence in himself, I see him staying sober for the rest of his life.
There are support groups available for families faced with addiction. This is one way to get some perspective on a regular basis. It’s time to stop surviving your childhood and start enjoying your life. I see better times ahead for both of you.


Dear Diane, 

My ex-husband and I had a horrible divorce, with lots of anger and accusations. He cheated on me, and I was pretty quick to tell people about it. I am still hurt, but he and I have managed to find our friendship again, and both of us have grown. We moved in together a couple of years ago as platonic roomies, and it has worked out better than either of us expected.
Diane, we like the same movies, food and music, and we have fun together. I cook for him, and he does lots of work around the house. The problem is that his family is hateful to me. I’ve tried to mend fences, but they refuse to speak to me. I admit that I aired his “dirty laundry” during the divorce, but everything I said was true. He is a different person now, and while I don’t trust him romantically, I love him like my best friend.
Last year at the holidays, his family made him choose between them and me, and he chose me. How can I get them to accept that past is past? I want him to be happy, and I’m tired of the anger. I want to put it behind me.


Dear Mandy, 

I’m really happy that the two of you are back on track. There is clearly a great deal of love between you. Keep focused on the positive aspects of the relationship that you are building. Trust will take time.
I pick up that part of the problem with his family is that this man has let people “push him around,” and it’s wonderful that he stood up for you last year.
In not accepting you, his family is disrespecting his wishes. You can’t change that, but you can let him know that you are proud that he stood up for himself. He needs to make it clear to his family that his life is HIS choice, and that he chooses to include all of you. I see that if he takes control of this problem, things will start to thaw out a bit. Congratulations to you both!


Dear Diane, 

I’m concerned that my son is not getting enough stimulation in school. Sometimes he zones out completely. He’s very intelligent, and I’ve asked his teacher about possibly skipping him a grade level. I’m frustrated that she doesn’t support the idea. She says that he isn’t emotionally mature enough to interact with older kids. I don’t want him to become bored with school. What should I do?


Dear L.T, 

I see that your son is very bright, but he has trouble motivating himself to work. Perhaps you can reward his efforts with more advanced after school activities.  Whether it’s music, athletics or the arts, a bright child like this can benefit from expanding his horizons.
You might motivate him to finish his assignments quickly by giving him a choice of things to explore in his spare time. Any extra activity will help to develop both his mind and his character. I pick up an interest in science when he is older, so this might be a place to start. Good luck to you both!


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