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Thank you so much for the backup! I haven't done this thing in a loooooong time, and successfully very seldom, so the observations and advice really help.

So, lunch was interesting. Felt very happy to see him and he seemed the same. We sat in a booth and talked for two hours. Couple things arose that made me glad I'd seen my T his morning. My main job is to speak up, state needs and wishes, and observe how he responds. I had told my T a while back that I wasn't quite clear on whether B. is dating other people also. Tried asking him once and his answer was confusing. I couldn't tell if he was saying No or changing the subject. So my T asked today, Did you find out if he's still dating? (Not to judge B either way, but that it was something I'd wanted to know. So I gave myself the homework to find out.)

His answer was Yes, I'm still dating but not much. I was surprised but REALLY glad my T had reminded me. Not too upset but it was a warning not to get my fantasy engine going too fast or too far down the line. I am wondering--is he accustomed to being such a decisive businessman that he's "shopping" and the first candidate that fits enough of the qualities he desires, he'd propose asap? I almost think that might be true.

So I said, if you are dating that's healthy, you probably should. And I probably should be too. And mentioned that I'd signed up for a dating website but hadn't checked it in several weeks since I started seeing him. And we left it at that. Hmmm.

So we have a long convo and he mentions again that he's looking for "a wife or a permanent relationship" and that life is getting shorter, and he'd like to find someone as soon as possible. I believe him! I told him I agree about not wasting the "golden years" and that I have the same sense of time passing, but that I also think many conversations and questions and answers are not time wasted. I don't think we were disagreeing, just looking at it from different angles.

One thing is a green flag and its mate a red (or maybe pink) one. He's open and honest, I believe. He's been transparent about his negative side, which is perfectionism. I asked if that was a regret he had for his relationship with his wife and he said yes. Told me an example of how they were painting a room and he allowed her to tape off the floor cloth but not do the painting. "The fun part," I said. He said, "I didn't think she would do it the right way." I said, "Yes, she'd do it the way SHE does it." And we talked about the value of sharing an experience and having fun together, versus having the perfection of the final product. I get the feeling that's why he feels guilt and regret.

I understand some of this. But I do think it's a flag to consider carefully. He may need a meticulous partner who has little of my main weakness (ADD/disorganization) in her character. And, who's a great cook. I'm adequate but no chef, and likely never will be. He mentions it often (cooking and food) and I wonder if, because his wife had been such a great cook, he could ever adapt to being with someone for whom it's a low priority. I'm beginning to think maybe that's a deal breaker. Or perhaps even should be one. It's pretty obvious that it's a big focus of his....and I don't see that as automatically something I must make as important to me as it is to him. He is retired, I am not. I wonder if it's a gender expectation?

The key thing for me is whether his perfectionism is a quirk to learn about and manage lovingly and with humor, or whether his perfectionism expresses itself as a critical spirit. (Which can break the spirit of the one criticized, if it's constant.) I think he's a little obsessive and that maybe a perfectionistic engineer type is not what somebody like me should sign up for.

But it's too soon to know for sure. Quite a challenge to stay steady and continue, but I'd like to.

One other thing I noticed. Today he offered some observations about the warmth in my eyes and how sweet my smile was, and said how now and then something "hard" surfaces that surprises him. He wondered if that has something to do with my past marital experiences or experiences with my daughter (which he asked me to tell him about again today). He actually focused on an insignificant word choice in an email and had a big interpretation about how it showed this "hard" thing. (I went back and looked and that email was full of warm/friendly words as well. I responded, of course I have some sharp points, and they might come out. But I am never abusive. If I were nothing but sweetness I'd be a marshmallow.

I felt uncomfortable telling him about my brother and my daughter, because I thought he was sizing up whether a dysfunctional family should be a deal-breaker. But then again, if he's really evaluating me based on who they are...let it break.

I guess the lunch was both good and bad though I do feel a little deflated. I'm grateful that he's open about his thinking. I do feel myself backing off a bit, and for the first time wary of hurt.

Does this lunch story spark anything for you guys? Anything I'm over-interpreting or missing?

You're such a caring sister.
That research and those links will be an enormous help for him.

Venom. Ugh. Belongs to her and nope, you don't have to hold out a hand for her to bite.

I think you're right it will make no difference what you say or have said. If she's full-tilt N, and sounds like she is...your intelligence, sense of fairness, and willingness to live in an evidence-based reality are all just drops of water on the umbrella of her self-absorption. She lives in a cloud of self.

(Now there's an overworked metaphor for ya...)

The immediacy of the problem may require a short hotel stay. Until he can find a place to rent. Which is more than enough for him to think about right now. I took it on myself to start looking at community options for my mom, so when the topic comes up - again - I can send him some links.

No matter what is decided or what is resolved - it will clearly never suit her. The venom against my brother is out of this world. Her assumption is that what she believes is what is really going on - and that she is, by nature of being her - "right" about it all - despite me saying: you can't possibly know that.

No matter the substance of what is going around her and how intensely it may affect others - it's always been all about her. And she believes she's in control, btw.

Pffffft. It's not like he can take time off from his job - he has scheduled track meets to chaperone, etc - until this week. And he's only had 2 weeks to try to resolve the "place to rent" problem, while still working 60-70 hr weeks and being sleep deprived. All he wants is a couple days peace & quiet to be able to think straight.

I think separate hotel rooms would make sense. 

Driving to town & back settled my brain down a good bit. She's trying to make all this my problem - and then it would get to be my turn for being the target of her venom. BTDT and have the t-shirt. Best thing I can do is still support my brother without telling him what to do - I can suggest options, leaving decisions up to him. Tell him I think he's doing a good job with the mess he's got on his hands. And do that legwork on places where mom can be on her own - but with help at hand, if needed - since brother will still be traveling a lot for the near future. He doesn't need to hear any more grief from anyone else about his choices and the reality he's facinig.
Well then moving must be right!
I'm glad it's an option, and agree with Lighter than a plan brings hope.


Ai, yi, yi sounds nightmarish, truly.

I remember being asked by my T when I'd rant about my mother's self-absorption, illogical, and especially her panicked monologues. I would respond to them with a rising spiral of panic of my own because (though I didn't get this then) what was happening in me was, if I don't succeed in reassuring and calming her, I have failed. If I don't succeed in getting her to be reasonable, I have failed. (Or, I'm a Bad Daughter.)

My T said, once I took a breath, there's another thing you could say. I go, what? He goes, "Oh my, that sounds very difficult, what are you going to do?"

You can't always stop there when it's a dependent (alas, many elders are) but it was the first time I got that I could teach myself to listen without imagining that I had to be the solution.

I am SO glad you put in steps. I think perhaps a moat and drawbridge would be nice adds...

Lighter's spot on, ime.

I'm really sorry. It's stunning that if your brother has known for a time that he has to leave the house (I didn't quite realize your mother was living with your brother and his wife) by Tgiving...that he doesn't have a plan in place for her.

Hope to god there is an assisted living apartment opening available near him right now.

Fingers crossed,

I say lay your feelings and needs out there and see what happens.  Don't even focus on the what ifs of his reaction over the the hug discussion. 

This should be a small thing, and a respectful man who cares should be able to handle it, IME.  (And without drama, for Heaven's sake.)

On the other hand, a controlling, rigid person lacking the capacity to feel empathy or withstand (any) criticism might not handle this small thing very well, IME.

Sometimes I think walking on eggshells is muscle memory.  You shouldn't have to worry about how someone will respond.  You should be able to make a statement and get an adult response that's appropriate. 

If his response isn't in line, then you have important information about who this man is.  Esp since he's pointing his toes in the honeymoon phase of the relationship.  THIS is him on his best behavior, likely. 

I like the idea of using humor, but..... I'm unable to muster much when thinking about this situation.  Likely bc I don't want my lovely friend to waste time on a king baby.

Oh dear.  I realize I'm impatient, and that's my problem, not yours, Hops.  Keep having fun, but remember to believe him when he shows you who he is.

Remember not to make any excuses for bad behavior.

Expect the best from him, but don't close your eyes if he offers something else.

He'd be very lucky to have a family member like you to share his life with, IMO.  51% rule, and all of that.


Wowsers, Amber.  Your brother better be researching retirement homes, if he isn't already.

And.....your mother likely heard nothing you said.  You may as well shout into a storm.  She's uncomfortable not knowing what's coming, and that's normal.  Nothing anyone says will make her feel better, IMO. 

If your mom had control of the situation that might help, but she doesn't. 

I do wish we could honor our instincts iimediately and without doubt. 


A plan brings energy.  This plan is based on the knowledge things will get better if you excise certain people from your life with conviction and distance.

 I'm excited for you, and looking forward to reading about your creative solutions to problems you've already solved in the past.  You will overcome them again, and then it will be done. 

No more looking back. 

No more looking over your shoulder.  No more sabotage from the shadows. 

There will be succor, and healing in the sun where good friends can support and steady you through the normal struggles everyone has.

This too shall pass.

(((Amazing, soon to be free Tupp)))

I'll try to get some pics posted Lighter; remind me if I forget. Running into the big city today... coming home & starting a batch of crusty yeast rolls for Thursday - laundry - hunters are here all week - and Wed Holly's driving out to pick me up for the holiday with them and Matt's family. It's an experiment on my part. Anxiety about getting lost in a big, mean, dangerous city is my biggest deterrent to getting out and being more social. Even though I used to live in the same city. Her driving me, is the workaround, for now.


Now, for the past 10 years or so... mine have been relatively "drama free". To the point that even though we do things "unconventionally", we still have a good time. The city trip means I'll be spending Thursday with people I've mostly met before - but don't know WELL. They are nice people and I'm not working myself up into a tizzy over it. It should be different from my normal stuff - but fun.

So last night - while I was really busy juggling the woodstove, the hunters, and my dinner - my mom calls. Given the ugliness happening with brother & his (hopefully very soon to be) ex-wife... despite my instinct to NOT answer, I did anyway. I really need to listen to my instincts more often - even if I regret them later. She doesn't often call at night.

She was working herself up into a panicked snit, indulging in all kinds of imaginary stuff, and mind-reading my brother... to the point of totally convincing herself that she "knows" what he is/isn't doing. She even went so far as to question whether such a thing as "no fault divorce" exists in her state - or our home state - and when I confirmed that it did, she insisted that it wasn't that way when she got divorced. I pointed out that laws can and do change in 50 years... and she wanted to argue that laws don't change.

Then came the defiant ultimatums about what she would/would not do... the excuses... the worries about her "stuff". No matter how it would complicate things for my brother, no matter who became collateral damage in the process... I could not get her to simply accept the facts of what she MUST or MUST NOT do, at this time - whether she liked it or not. She couldn't possibly understand why the wife wasn't being forced to leave the home instead of brother. Because of course - wife is the "evil one" - and in a no fault divorce, there is LEGALLY no blame, no "bad actor" to punish. I deflected, at that point... and tried to stick to concrete advice to make things bearable for her.

I didn't exactly lose my temper, but I was having to shout over her rediculousness. Till she hung up on me, basically. She "had to go now". I was advising her to get together what she needed to have, to be able to pack quickly - including her "sick cat" - because the wife is inviting her family and a lot of other people for Thanksgiving and has gotten a lot more unstable and violent with my brother and his lawyer advised him to be out of the house by Thanksgiving. It is not safe for brother or mother to be there anymore. And it isn't possible to for her to take all her "stuff" at a moment's notice. The "stuff" - honest to god - is what she cares the most about.

I need to find time to talk to brother today and at least warn him what kind of crap stew she has waiting for him. Mom SAID that brother suggested driving to my place and staying with me over the holiday... but of course, nothing like that came up when I talked to him last - and he didn't know I wasn't going to be home. I can see some triangulation starting up... in her "other world" as evidenced by her conversation. He mentioned a "someday" visit... and I explained that I have too many stairs here for my mother. (OH.... was that a subconscious choice??  :evil grin:)

Well, his job involves a lot of travel. Two weeks to find a place to rent isn't much notice. He can't leave Mother behind - because she is another of wifey's targets. I put the facts out there for her. Commiserated that it sucked, but it is what has to be done at this point. And she kept flipping back & forth between blaming brother for what she was "sure" he was thinking and doing (she doesn't know that; I got tired of repeating that) and telling me (not HIM) what she would/wouldn't do.

I stopped myself short from using the "command voice" to state that NONE of this was "all about her", like she was trying to make it, and I didn't like that she was going out of her way to make a difficult situation even more difficult for my brother. I guess she was mind-reading everyone, she might've picked that up.  :another evil grin:  I did tell her, that neither she or I are ALLOWED to have an opinion about brother's choices - it's NONE OF OUR BUSINESS - and neither of us can "tell" him what to do.

I guess she forgets that brother will be 60 next year... and has a mind of his own.

Enmeshment, projection, triangulation, blame/victim cycle, hoarding syndrome, panic/anxiety, defiant resistance, passive-aggressive.... she threw the whole stew of shit at me. And like water off a duck's back... on my side. I insisted on reality, facts, and that she is not in control. I pushed those buttons until her brain locked up. Maybe when she reboots herself, she'll be a better state... but I doubt it.

Yep, one of those communities that go from independent living to assisted living to full nursing just might be the ticket here.

(Sorry - I'm thinking out loud I guess. Still upset - rattled - by having to field this crap that isn't my problem and I don't want it to be.) Just had to vent that all out.
Minutia is where all the good stuff is, Hops. Heh-heh...

but since you DID notice your reaction, you kinda do need to figure out if it was just you being triggered and questioning... based on past history - or if it really was something you were "reading" from him. Usually, mind-reading isn't a good thing to indulge in (more on that in my thread) but one could look at the range of possibilities, as long as one does follow through: express the concern and the feeling, make the request, and assess the response. Not a good idea to decide on which possibility it was... until you have the direct information.

The possibilities range from the totally innocent (wanting to reassure, convey a sense of security, and pure over-exuberance - and since he's a widower, perhaps conveying this to HIMSELF that you came back) to all the subconscious flags for bad things that we're all experienced amateurs in.

One way to look at the conversation you'll eventually have, is to see how self-aware he is. Being the engineer type in general, doesn't necessarily indicate that he's not aware of his motivations and/or insensitive to other people's responses to him.

All part of the "getting to know you" dance.

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