Dork-o-Rama: The Random Thoughts of a Total Goofball

Embracing the Dork Side....Because Life is Too Short to Take Yourself Too Seriously

Friday, October 13, 2006

You reap what you sow...

My brother's in jail.

My mom and I put him there.

Well, actually, he put himself there, through his actions...but we urged prosecutors to pursue a criminal case against him.

How's that for the start to a truly heartwarming family tale? Pour yourself a drink. This is a long and ugly, ugly tale. And I can't believe I'm a part of it.

For most of his life, my brother has been the Golden Boy. Star athlete, good student, popular in school, class president... blah blah blah. I can't tell you how many times during my freshman year of high school that I had to endure the "Are you GOLDEN BOY'S sister???" question from teachers and from classmates who knew him before he graduated. I felt very much like the black sheep of the family, like I could never measure up. But even I looked up to him. He was... is... my big brother, after all.

We could not be more different, in temperament, interests, personality, and apparently, values. For one thing, he's far quieter than I. A lot more uptight. Rather closed off, emotionally. I've never been sure if that's just a guy thing, or more. We've not been particularly close, though I've tried over and over again to break through his outer shell, to reach out to my only sibling, and he keeps me and our mother at arm's length. He and I have even lived in the same region for more than 20 years -- and even in the same city, for a little while -- but we've still only seen each other once or twice a year, tops. Frankly, I stopped caring many years ago. Why keep trying to get closer to someone who doesn't give a shit? Not every family is close.

About seven or eight years ago, he suddenly left his wife of nearly two decades with no explanation. She came home from work one day to find him all packed up, and he told her "I have to leave." He would not elaborate. Can you imagine? She was devastated.

It turned out he'd been having an affair, and he immediately moved in with the Other Woman. Shortly thereafter, he and the Other Woman got engaged. Not long before that wedding was to take place, a matter of months later (but after I'd bought the fucking dress to be in the ceremony I really wanted no part of), he suddenly told us he was living with a different woman. I later learned he'd been cheating on the Other Woman with K (and it seems he's cheated on her, as well, but that's another story).

To quote a young friend of mine, what le fuck?? All of this was beyond shocking. We might not have been close, but I'd always thought of him as a good guy. I even understand the collapse of a long marriage, especially when the parties involved wed so very young, as they did, but I never thought he'd be such a lowlife as to cheat on her. And then to cheat on her replacement...!

I think it was around this time that I realized I wasn't the black sheep after all.

My maternal grandmother died about three years ago, and she'd chosen Golden Boy to be the executor of her estate. My mother was the sole beneficiary. I should explain a little more about my grandmother: she was a difficult woman. Very. She and my mother were estranged for most of my life, which is why I thought it was so extraordinary that my mom picked up and moved back to Wisconsin about seven years ago, to be closer to her mother, when her mother's health was failing. They ended up estranged again, and were never able to resolve their issues before my grandmother died, and my heart broke for my mother. I know she wanted to make peace, to feel some approval and love from her mother, and it just didn't happen. I can't even imagine how painful that is for her.

So, my brother starts taking forever to do what he needs to do to deal with the legal matters surrounding the estate. We thought it was just him being flaky, though my antennae went up when he started taking so long to pay some of the estate's bills. I couldn't figure out why he'd be so slow to write checks on the estate account when there was more than enough money to cover the expenses incurred, unless something shady was going on.

I can't remember now what got my mom and me talking about this -- probably another unpaid bill, or a bank statement that didn't make any sense -- but it turned out we'd both been having suspicions about what was happening with the estate. We asked him countless times for copies of the bills, for copies of the checks he was writing, etc. etc.... and he stonewalled every time. So we removed him as executor and took away his access to the estate account.

Boy, was he pissed.

Since he still wouldn't provide documentation for any of the money that had been spent, we had to have our lawyer put the pieces together, which was a costly and time-consuming process. But that's how we finally learned just how much money was missing from my grandmother's estate -- really, my mother's money, if you want to look at it that way.

$63,000.

My fucking asshole brother stole $63,000 FROM HIS OWN MOTHER.

(Can you tell how hard I pounded the keys while writing that sentence?)

Evidence in hand, my mother was finally able to confront him, but over the phone, of course, as she's still in another state, languishing, while waiting to resolve this bullshit. He denied, denied, denied. "It was all for estate expenses," he tells her. "I can prove it."

"You'd better," she told him.

What does he do? Nothing. Doesn't respond to countless requests, and later, demands, for documentation. Doesn't respond when his mother tells him he's broken her heart. Doesn't respond to a very pointed email from me. Nothing. So we pursued a civil judgment against him, which we got, and even the judge was shocked.

And then we went to the District Attorney in the county where my mother lives. It's funny -- she was worried that I'd think she was mean for pursuing criminal charges against him. I told her if she hadn't, I'd have gone to the D.A. myself, because I want him to suffer the consequences of his actions.

Golden Asshole finally talked to the detective who was investigating the case in June -- the day before he'd been given a deadline to respond -- and confessed. He finally admitted he'd taken the money for his personal use. And I'm guessing he thought that would be the end of it. That all he'd have to do was admit what he'd done and that would be it.

Wrong.

An arrest warrant was issued in Wisconsin several weeks ago, and my mom got a hysterical call from the girlfriend yesterday. He was arrested Tuesday, and as of this writing, remains in jail, pending extradition.

I should point out that he's been given many, many chances to try to make things right. Many. He never acknowledged any of those chances. He's never even tried to apologize, or explain. Nada.

For a few moments after I got the news, I felt bad. I can't imagine how awful and scary it must be to be handcuffed at work and thrown into jail. But that feeling passed.

See, my brother's a profligate spender. He's always enjoyed the finer things in life, and he's usually had jobs that allowed him to enjoy them. Good for him. After his divorce, though, he ran into financial trouble, but never curbed his spending. He continued to dine out every night, to buy his women (and himself) very expensive gifts and toys, to live in costly homes in expensive neighborhoods, and to take pricey vacations.

THAT'S where the money went. There was no urgent need, no emergency, nothing like that. It was simply his lifestyle. And considering how tight my finances have been in recent years... well, I'm pissed off on my behalf, as well as for my mother.

Some of that money was mine. That's the irony here: we'd ALL have had a little chunk of money, if all had gone as planned. But now, since he's spent so much money and we've spent so much in legal fees, mom and I aren't likely to see any cash at all.

(By the way: when my grandmother died, the last thing I thought of was her money. I had no idea she even had any. How unsavory, really, to even think of such a thing.)

Worse, though, is the stress my mother's been through because of him. Her blood pressure's up. She feels like she can't move to someplace she'd like to live, because she doesn't feel like she can afford it. And every time I think of that, I want to strangle him with my bare hands. And cut his tiny little balls off. She's 66 years old; she's not had an easy life. She should be enjoying her "golden years."

How do you do something like this to your own mother? Who raised you on her own after your father died?

I hope he's thinking about that while he's sitting in that decidedly un-plush jail cell. And I know there's a special place in hell for him.

I'm sure someone will tell me I should find it in my heart to forgive him. I just don't see how I can. Even my mother once said that she didn't think there was a way back from this. That even if he paid back the money, she didn't see how she could have any sort of relationship with him, considering what an enormous betrayal this is.

I'm with her. I never want to see his sorry ass again.

17
At 13 October, 2006 23:50, Blogger cadbury_vw said...

that's pretty vile

i'm rendered speechless

if i could actually write head shaking and a little sputtering i would

i can only imagine how this must feel for you and for your mother

 
At 13 October, 2006 23:57, Blogger terry said...

vile... incomprehensible... inconceivable...

so many words cone to mind.

and my mom, of course, feels somewhat responsible for "raising him this way."

wish he knew about that, while he's whiling away the hours in jail.

 
At 14 October, 2006 04:40, Blogger buddha_girl said...

You're right. He's a fucking asshole. You don't do ANYTHING even mildly resembling his actions to your OWN FAMILY. EVER.

Forgiveness isn't for HIM. It's for you. I will admit that someone did something to me YEARS AND YEARS ago, and it took me 20 years to forgive him. I did it for myself,though. Not him.

As for you, I say hanging on and giving NOTHING to him, no kind word, no love, no interaction, NOTHING....that's what he deserves.

I admire you and your mom for being able to stay strong and press charges. Too many people buckle under the family guilt and back down when it's truly time for severe consequences to ensue.

*hard hugs*

Thank you for sharing this tough time. You're not alone, Terry!

 
At 14 October, 2006 04:41, Blogger buddha_girl said...

Fuck.

One more thing:

He will encounter more moments of fear, desperation, and longing while his sorry ass is sitting in jail than you and your mom will ever encounter. And that, my friend, is justice.

 
At 14 October, 2006 08:39, Blogger Natalia said...

Oh, doll, I am so sorry you have to go through this. Understanding why people do such unforgivable things is impossible for some of us. I am no stranger to family issues. My oldest sister was a bit off for a long time. As a teenager, she made our lives hell with her constant tantrums and lies and physical violence. My family and I didn't talk to her for 6 years. It gave us ime to heal and gave her time to mature. Now we are all on speaking terms but I often see a glimpse of the person she was and I think always will be a bit of. But I think some trespasses are way to big and there is no going back. At the end of the day, life is short and you have to do what is right for you. As heartbreaking as this betrayal has been, your mum and you are still standing and maybe are even stronger now. I hope he has time to think about what he has done. And I hope you tow find a way to keep going strong.

*huggles*

-N

 
At 14 October, 2006 08:49, Blogger terry said...

buddha girl, that's an excellent point you make about forgiveness. and maybe one day i'll be able to do that. but not right now. and even if i'm able to forgive, i'll never be able to trust him.

i can only hope he's feeling utter desperation and humiliation right now. he deserves that and so much more.

thank you for your support.

thanks, nat. you're right -- some trespasses ARE too big. and all families have their issues and challenges. you'd just like to think there'd be no crime involved.

i'll never understand why he's done this. well, actually, i do: he's a self-centered, selfish prick.

i'm glad to hear your family has healed, though. that's really nice to hear!

 
At 14 October, 2006 20:02, Blogger masgblog said...

Wow and also speechless. I am a pretty rose coloured glasses type of person, and cannot truly believe that someone would do something like this to anyone. I also agree with you in that, even if you could forgive hime, you will most certainly never trust him again.

That was a lot for you to write and share, but here's hoping that things look up for you, and take care of your Mom.

 
At 14 October, 2006 21:47, Blogger terry said...

yeah, masg, it's still very hard for me to wrap my mind around. who DOES this?

and thanks for your kind words.

 
At 14 October, 2006 22:05, Blogger JMai said...

Vile is just about the right word to describe this...

I'm so glad that you decided on legal action. It's so completely unforgivable to take advantage of your own family like that. I'm ony sorry he was able to go through so much cash before he was stopped.

Wasteful, selfish... I'm so sorry. It's not about the money, I imagine... it's about realising that your family is unforgivably disgusting. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about it. I hope you and your mom get it all back and then some.

 
At 15 October, 2006 07:01, Blogger DZER said...

I don't blame you or your mom for feeling the way you do, or doing the things you did.

I would have done the same.

Sometime, family just sucks ass.

 
At 15 October, 2006 08:58, Blogger Blondie said...

I was just bopping through cyberspace and landed here. What a horrible experience for you. I've recently been burned (not nearly as badly as you have been, however), and I've found the best way to get through it is to embrace the emotions whenever they come: anger/yelling, sad/crying. Let it all hang out. Then slowly, you will be able to heal. You are very brave to face this problem head-on!

 
At 15 October, 2006 11:16, Blogger terry said...

thanks, dz. it's so odd to see your family become a dear abby column. we've always had our issues but i'd never expected anything like this...!

blondie, welcome... and thank you! the thing is, we've already dealt with most of those emotions.... now, we're dealing with HIS reaction and his girlfriend's, and that's a challenege. and a topic for another post. eesh.

 
At 15 October, 2006 11:38, Blogger Angela said...

That must have been cathartic ... getting it all out like that. Even though I've been hearing about this as it's been happening, it's still so unbelievable. I hope you'll be able to forgive some day ... if only so you don't have to carry it around with you. That doesn't mean ... however ... that you need to forget.

 
At 15 October, 2006 20:31, Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

I've tried writing five or six things here.

I know how difficult it is to have someone close to you destroy things without seeming to care. It's happened to me. It's very easy to hate the person who did this. It's hard to even think about forgiving him.

But it's not very productive.

Perhaps your brother will not ever feel the need to make reparations for what he did. Or maybe he will. Maybe he will find a program that will help him deal with the pain that he's been feeling for what sounds like several decades.

You may not think it's possible to forgive your brother for this. You may think it's best to hold onto this anger forever.

May I suggest that you stay angry for as long as you need, but also consider that at some point in the future, it might be better for you to let go of it. You might need the energy you're expending on this anger towards him for something else.

This doesn't mean you have to forgive him. But perhaps it might make it easier to accept his apology, if it is ever offered. And I'm guessing that someday it might.

My best to you, your mother, and your brother.

Yeharr

 
At 16 October, 2006 13:27, Blogger Queen of Cheese said...

Balloon Pirate makes a good point.

I hope you will forgive him too because forgiveness is truly for the forgiver.

His job is to earn back your trust. Whether that happens or not is on him.

And even if you do forgive that doesn't mean you need ever see him or talk to him again.

That's the beauty of it.

Go you and your mom. You are both brave and did the right thing.

see you at the bunless burger club ... 12:15?

xoxo d

 
At 16 October, 2006 22:38, Blogger terry said...

ang, pirate, cheese...

you guys are definitely right, that one day it will do ME good to forgive, to let go of the anger i feel.

but i think i'm a long way from that point right now. these latest developments have stirred up a bunch of stuff that will take awhile to resolve.

it doesn't speak well of me that i want him to suffer for what he's done, but it's the best way i can describe how i feel right now.

more in a future post...

thanks for all your support. it means so much!

 
At 22 October, 2006 11:53, Blogger sassinak said...

oh sweetie i'm welling up with tears for you about this. there's probably some selling of his assets that can occur to ease your mom's life a little but wow.

*shakes head*

regarding forgiveness. forgiving is rilly rilly hard babe, like the hardest. it's also worth it in the end because then you don't have it roiling inside you.

be mad, try not to wish him ill, that's for the universe to decide... and be willing to let the mad go when it's time.

that said, just because you forgive doesn't mean you accept.

like i forgive someone for dragging me through an emotional minefield for no reason... BUT i do not trust him, i do not choose to speak with him, i do not choose to associate with him save in unavoidable group situations and i flat out do not talk to him other than with that sort of cool politeness you reserve for people you know, have to put up with, and don't like.

but if he apologised with understanding of what he did and he meant it? i might let him in just a tiny bit to see if it was worth it. it would take a really long time... but i might.

forgive him for yourself. the rest is up to him.

 

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