Earlier this week, my brother emailed my dad a very accusatory message, something along the lines of: I told you a million times not to have the grandparents get the flu vaccine. Now grandma got the shot and has a weird cough/respiratory issue that she didn’t have previously. . “She behaves in a semi autistic manner with this breathing. It reminds me of autistic kids who keep mumbling to themselves.”
OMFG, this email immediately plunged me into a fit of rage. First of all, for someone who has been totally selfish and self-absorbed for the last 40+ years, who the fuck are you to come in (now that other people have gotten my grandparents to their ripe old ages of 93 and 94 y/o) and comment on how to care for others. Second, shut the hell up with your unsubstantiated anti-vaxxer autism bulllshit. Third, leave us the fuck alone.
I was so pissed, I couldn’t sleep. So here’s the dilemma. For all intents and purposes, my parents and I do NOT discuss my brother. ever. In the past, I always reacted harshly and critically, so now we just don’t touch that topic. The thing is, even if what I say about him is the honest-fucking truth, they probably don’t want to hear me berating my idiot brother. Maybe it puts them in some weird position of having to pick sides among the kids. I don’t have kids, so I don’t really know. The point is, Dad knows I see the emails and I sometimes read them. He knows I’m irritated as fuck by what I interpret to be uneducated, stupid bullshit. When I brought up these video links and such to Dad a few weeks ago, he was super diplomatic about it— asking if I had read/watched the links. I had skimmed a few and then I started to rip into it, basically saying that in all cases, there are exceptions: Sure, there are stories where people got screwed by western med. There are stories where people “cured” themselves of cancer or whatever using eastern meds. Dad agreed with me and said he tried to explain that to Johnny. That was the extent of his commentary. I dunno if Dad was just trying to stay neutral, but he said nothing about deleting or blocking the emails. In other words, he will keep the avenue open to possibly read/watch these links when he feels like it.
From my perspective, I tried to stay open minded initially, but this daily bombardment is too much, and frankly, I don’t trust my brother’s judgement. Also, I am offended by his insistence that western meds are a scam when hello, our father is a retired western meds doctor. That just drives me fucking insane… the disrespect and notion that his WebMD, self-taught bullshit comes anywhere close to someone who went to med school, took board exams (sometimes even before they needed renewal– just to prove his knowledge was sharp and current), and served an entire community with medical expertise for nearly four decades. Seriously, FUCK YOU, asshole for adulterating something noble and good with your conspiracy theories. Ugh, it just makes my blood boil!!
Needless to say, I stayed up drafting an email. I just couldn’t stay silent any longer. Maybe this all bugs me more than it bugs my parents but STILL. Maybe they will hear in through one ear and out the others. I just worry that repetition and repeated exposure to these bullshit claims may eventually sink in and take hold, esp as they get older and start to cognitively decline. So here’s what I drafted:
Dad has me screen his emails, bc he does not check his messages regularly. Please refrain from providing any medical related advice or guidance for our family. You, who are the cause of so much heartbreak, chaos, and pain in our family, have no right to be dictating how we should be living our lives and caring for the people we love.
The whole reason our grandparents have reached their old age is bc of mom and dad’s care and consistent access to western medicine. If you want someone to blame for whatever emotional distress and physical illnesses are in our family, please look at yourself and your lengthy history of bullshit scams.
I’m tired of you trying to thwart and obstruct care for our family. Mom is going to Hopkins on Monday, and I don’t want to hear anything about your deer placenta bogus product. I don’t trust anything that you say or do.
You go thru life falling into all these traps, like a fucking wannabe groupie… taking strangers’ stories for the truth. You think you’re so discerning and intelligent, yet people just have to turn on the charm and suddenly everything they say is the fucking gospel. Fuck off!
Why don’t you redirect your energies into doing some legit research about MLMs and cults and the irreversible damage that dependent, problematic kids have on their family’s well-being.
Back the fuck up and focus on being a responsible adult rather than a conspiracy theorist man-child. I will do all that is necessary to protect my family from your toxic shams.
Yes, that was the edited and toned down version. So of course, when I consult with Bubs, he advises not to say anything. He thinks my message is ridiculously confrontational and scathing. Yes, sure, whatever. Radical honesty, baby. I don’t really understand his rationale to say nothing though. I think he says taking action will put my parents in a weird position, bc then J will know I’m reading his emails to them, or maybe it’ll come across like my parents are badmouthing him to me…. I really don’t know. But then again, so what? I mean, someone has to call this shit out, bc for how long is this going to continue? This bullying and lack of respect for other people’s decision-making. I know that he used to harass my relatives too. They just listened and ignored him. But why is anyone listening at all? Sure, you can just ignore it, but why should we have to? He should stop spewing this crap that nobody wants to hear.
Ugh. I dunno if this is some cultural meekness or what. It reminds me of when my dad used to always say to me that his comments to me were just his opinion. I can just listen and hear it and then make my own decision. I would get so pissed at him though: why do I need to hear your shit over and over again? If you don’t think I’ll accept your comments or advice, then just don’t give it to me! I’m sure there’s some cultural mismatch or whatever with that. You know, another example of how impatient and intolerant I am of views different from my own. The bottom line though, is this. Live your life how you want. If you want to follow a cult leader like a dumbass, go ahead. Just don’t try to get ME to follow your path esp after I’ve heard your spiel and decided for myself. And honestly, I don’t want you mucking around with decisions that are critical to my grandparents and parents’ lives. It’s not your place to comment. Am I being too controlling?
John says he doesn’t see how this message is supposed to change the situation. I was actually going to insert a ton of links to articles about cults and MLMs and psychological impact and whatever. Maybe with the very small hope that it will appeal to his scholarly sense and in the best case, get him out of the cult. The second intention is just to set the boundaries: let him know that I know what he’s doing and it’s NOT ok. And he’s not going to just get away with spewing his propaganda unchecked.
I head home next week and frankly, I don’t even know how to have a conversation about this with my parents. I just get so angry and protective and then well, my words turn highly acerbic. I mean, I stand by how I judge him. I stand by all of my feelings about this but I dunno: will it just make my parents feel more torn knowing their kids are in such conflict? Fuck. I hate family drama. What’s the right way to handle this? The world-class EQ advice is to ignore it and not ruffle the feathers. Everyone knows Johnny is off his rocker. They don’t listen to him, so let other people censor his crap.
John says my parents will never shut Johnny our of their lives. It will NEVER happen. I get that and that’s fine– continue to have contact with him! I just don’t want his ONLY contact to be all his deer placenta, anti-vaxxer propaganda. And like I have claimed and done in the past with other situations, “sometimes bridges are meant to be burned so the bad guys don’t keep chasing us.” Get back in your space, bro, bc you are majorly overstepping.
Side note: Two days after his accusatory email, my brother sends another message apologizing to my dad, saying that my aunt confirmed that grandma has had the cough all along— it didn’t occur right after the flu shot. The apology email does represent some glimmer of hope: 1) he can admit when he’s wrong 2) maybe he does still gather additional info… should I still send him the articles on the brainwashing tactics of cults and MLMs???