I now see, with time, that the catalyst that the extraordinary situation with my brother, featuring as the catalyst in the unfolding of our own story of the ‘loss’ of our previous way of living – was, from a broader perspective – a huge gift.
Why? Firstly, the cold shower of being on a debt management plan (a temporary fix until/unless we grow considerably, financially) – halted a really stressful, nasty series of aggressive harassments by creditors on a daily basis over a 6 month period. Which was a huge relief. It also started the process of cold turkey off from our perceived need to consume and support unsustainably and gave us the information we needed to know what rights we had to resist the amount of debt being asked of us above and beyond surviving as a family. It was and is a kind of fast which has borne inner fruit and created strengths in other areas, just after almost breaking me in two. Almost broken, mainly because my relationship with my closest sibling (and almost at one point, my marriage) had been consumed alongside my credit-rating, house, pride and so-called security. I saw the spectre of my mother and felt shame every time I thought about it for a very long time afterwards.
Secondly, having realized too late I had effectively acted out my own late mothers behavior in entering into a financially co-dependent relationship with my brother, I had to face up to how little I had learned up to the point of signing those agreements for him about setting boundaries and needing to rescue men. Agreements which far exceeded what we owed and therefore constituted an extreme form of emotionally-loaded interest, to someone who was living in our house and whose idiosyncratic spending habits and mental well-being I was as concerned about as my own at that point. It’s not appropriate to comment on why I think he did what he did in any great detail for obvious reasons. Learning how to say no had always made me feel uncomfortable, now I notice from this how I am more able to draw boundaries with greater fluency and without the guilt -not only with money but in other areas- because I ask and know what the limits are more clearly.
Lastly, it has necessitated the learning on how to receive from others with lessening discomfort. Without a number of close friends in our community stepping in in the aftermath of losing our house and a year of insufficiently paid work to cover our living costs, (but too much to receive sufficient working tax credit to create a cushion), two young kids and mounting debts, we could very well have ended up on the streets. But we live in a community brimming full of what Eisenstein and others have called social capital – and overcoming my ego’s need to be in control and to be the one who provides, hosts, treats and says yes to whatever I or others fancy -in order to embrace a more collective source of life support- was perhaps the deepest lesson to learn and the most uncomfortable. Things are now coming into balance.
So, although I’m still deeply sad at the impact the story I have told has had on the relationship with my closest living sibling and I no longer blame him, (though I do hold him accountable for his part in it), it has led to a complete re-evaluation of values and attitudes around both money and relationships that has been essential to my emotional survival as a human being! And once again, had the effect of changing the direction of the work I make.