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Financial Convo w/ Brother

MoreThanBroken posted 9/28/2020 13:49 PM

So the abbreviated version of this is that for the last 10 years I've been paying for some of my brother's bills as he's worked for a christian ministry. Based on his position he's given roughly $75 a week as a stipend but they provide a furnished condo as well as the ability to eat at their cafeteria for three meals a day. If he never left the compound he would have zero expenses. 10 years ago my parents, my sister and my wife & I discussed my brother's potential needs as he would have very little money and would need to that money to fly home and such. I told my parents as well as my brother that I would support him as long as he stays with the mission. My brother sent me an email this week letting me know that he was leaving the ministry to pursue...he's not sure. So now I'm in a position where I feel like I need to let him know that he'll no longer have the financial support from us (my parents are planning on having a similar conversation), but I feel like I'm an asshole for taking away support knowing that he likely made the decision to leave partly because he had financial support from others. I guess I'm not exactly sure how to talk with him about this? My bigger fear is that he will put himself in a bad position because he's unwilling to get a 'normal' job (he once lived in someone's basement on an air mattress for 2 years because he wanted to focus on his music instead of getting a job. Another time he lived in an extremely cheap building (it was not safe to live in structurally) and would fast for weeks on end so that he wouldn't have to buy groceries. He's almost 40 and this is the first time in nearly 15 years that he will be living on his own with no support. Any suggestions or thoughts would be great.

Now for the longer version: my brother 10 years ago went to this ministry after years of doing really random things: he went to Hungary to teach english/music and dropped the program and then spent a year living in a hostel in Amsterdam working in a kitchen trying to get enough money to fly home (my parents eventually paid to bring him home), he spent several years in Alaska doing to research regarding how much plant life was in certain amount of yardage, he lived in a friend's basement on an air mattress to focus on his music which resulted in nothing as he never wanted to upload his music to anything on the internet and never wanted to play anything other than a local coffee shop. When he went to the ministry it was for his own desire to do gay-conversion therapy as he was struggling with his own homosexuality and his religious beliefs. After he completed his therapy, he was offered a job as a music leader. When he left, he flew 1000 miles away and didn't tell us. He eventually clued us in and then began the discussion of how to support him. My sister decided she didn't want to support him, and that left my family and my parents. We agreed to split the pay for his phone bills, insurance, etc. When we presented him with this, we told him that as long as he stayed in the ministry, we would support him. My brother is an amazing musician and he has a passion for religion, but he's someone who would rather starve than actually get a normal job. My brother is now leaving the ministry and seems to be entering the workforce. He doesn't have a job lined up, doesn't have a place to live, doesn't seem to know what he wants to do other than "feeling lead to leave". The ministry has provided a condo and food for him for a long time and truthfully, he has limited expenses as we have covered his out of the norm costs. I am sincerely worried because he's the type of person who would live homeless, playing his instruments, nearly starving himself in lieu of either asking for help or putting in an application at McDonalds. I suspect he'll be planning on living with my parents, but I could see him heading to NYC or Nashville or something as well. I don't want to abandon my brother, but I don't want to support him while he chases his dreams. I suspect there's resentment that he's always lived a very free spirit, chasing dreams that accumulate into nothing while I work a very frustrating job that at times has barely paid the bills. This year I'll be making more money than I ever have and I suppose I feel selfish that my hard work is financially paying off and I could afford to keep supporting him. He tends to live in his fantasy world and I'm not sure that I want to force him to face reality. I suppose I just want him call me and tell me that he got a good paying job, he's living in a great apartment and he's pursuing his dreams in his off time. I just don't see that ever happening. Thanks for listening.

ZenMumWalking posted 9/28/2020 14:24 PM

The fact that you can AFFORD to support him (now - what if for some unforeseen reason you lose your job? what about putting extra money into a pension so that you can have a comfortable retirement? what if you come down with an expensive medical problem?) doesn't mean that you NEED to support him.

So what if he becomes homeless based on HIS choices? Those aren't your choices. He's old enough to suffer the consequences of his choices.

By paying to support him, you're not helping him - you're CRIPPLING him. Helping him involves cutting him off financially and letting him learn how to support himself. What if you were hit by a car and killed tomorrow? Where would he be then without his own resources?

And when you say this:

I'm not sure that I want to force him to face reality.

it tells me that you're not supporting him for HIS benefit, you're supporting him to make YOU feel better.

Stop crippling him, and don't let him manipulate you into starting back up.

You can do this MTB.

[This message edited by ZenMumWalking at 2:46 PM, September 28th (Monday)]

StillLivin posted 9/28/2020 14:32 PM

Barring some mental disorder, your brother is a grown man and is fully capable of providing for himself. Personally, I'd let my brother starve. He would have the option to come over for a meal from time to time. My brother is not my responsibility, neither is yours. Sometimes helping someone is only enabling them. I learned this the hard way. At one point in my life, I allowed my brother to stay with me rent and bills free. After the first 12 months, he had to pay for a portion of the utilities (not even half btw). After 3 years, I was hurting financially myself and couldnt afford to support him any longer. Unlike your brother he had a decent paying job, just never volunteered to start paying rent.
When i told him he had to start paying rent and half utilities, he stole from me, moved out and didn't pay his share of anything, and left me with a broken faucet that I got stuck paying to fix. I had lost my job and barely had enough to pay my mortgage when he did this. Lesson learned, stop enabling moochers. My brother hasn't seen any financial aid from me since.
Would your brother offer to foot your bills for years if you decided to stop adulting? Exactly!
At most, I would being up the fact that you are no longer going to support him, and give him 3 months (maybe, but only because it's hard getting work right now becomes of covid) to get his affairs in order before cutting him off.

number4 posted 9/28/2020 14:50 PM

I agree with others - you are involved in a very co-dependent relationship with him. You are each getting something out of the arrangement. You have to ask yourself what you're getting out of the arrangement - is it an avoidance of feeling guilty if you cut him off? Guilty if he ends up homeless? You are colluding with him to remain dependent on others. If he chooses to be homeless, then so be it - he's an adult.

That all being said, I wonder if he has PTSD. Those gay conversion therapies are abusive. He may have chosen it, but they are so destructive to one's identity and self-worth. They are illegal in some states - that's how awful they are. If that's the case, perhaps you can compromise on the help you offer. He gets a job, and you contribute toward some science-based real therapy for him to address his PTSD... meaning, you pay the therapist directly - not give it to him to pay his bill so he can squander it on something else and not go to therapy. His lack of motivation and unwillingness to take adult responsibilities seriously is obviously debilitating. He needs professional help, and you can't provide that - so you need to practice some tough love. Some day he may thank you.

Just curious - your parents who are helping him - are they financially comfortable? If your brother is 40, they must be pushing at least 60s, and might be near retirement. Also, do they have accumulated money that your brother just thinks he might eventually inherit one day? And that will be what sustains him?

josiep posted 9/28/2020 15:29 PM

Dear Brother,

I'm sorry to see your ministry time coming to a close but I'm so glad I was able to help support your mission work.

Please keep us posted of what you do next, as I like seeing where your free spirit takes you. And I'm not embarrassed to admit, I'm glad I'll be able to put that $XX each month into wife and my adventure account so that we can plan to someday do something similar.

Much love,

[This message edited by josiep at 3:31 PM, September 28th (Monday)]

ZenMumWalking posted 9/28/2020 15:38 PM

And I'm not embarrassed to admit, I'm glad I'll be able to put that $XX each month into wife and my adventure account so that we can plan to someday do something similar.

I wouldn't include this, it's none of his business how you choose to spend YOUR money and I'm guessing that his response - whether he voices it or not - will be something along the lines of 'wow, how selfish, what about MEEEEEEEE??

And StillLivin - wow, that's fucked up.

Marriagesucks posted 9/28/2020 16:38 PM

he once lived in someone's basement on an air mattress for 2 years because he wanted to focus on his music instead of getting a job.
spent a year living in a hostel in Amsterdam working in a kitchen trying to get enough money to fly home
My brother sent me an email this week letting me know that he was leaving the ministry to pursue...he's not sure.
This behavior in fact is the exact definition of a bum.

He is already living out his dream (everyone else supporting him).

For me this would be the straw that broke the camels back. Or... you can take care of him forever... your choice.

Lionne posted 9/28/2020 17:51 PM

I'm with the others. Supporting him to that degree is unhealthy.
I have a "free spirit" son. He struggled through school, dyslexia, ADD, chronic illness, but worked in various jobs since 14. He had a well paying job before he entered rehab and recovery and wound up living with us, spending down his considerable savings on living expenses and rehab costs. Ultimately he had a mental health crisis which set him back a bit. I promised I'd always make sure he had health insurance and he always had a home if he needed it. I made sure he knew that the bank of mom was closed for most expenses. I don't know how, but he lived, on his own, for several years making less than $8000 a year. I paid only for his cell phone and for his psychiatrist.
He's also very involved in our religious community. He's recently married, she has a well paying job, and he's cobbling together what he needs to be an equal financial partner.
I very much doubt he'd be doing that if he knew I was going to support him.

ZenMumWalking posted 9/29/2020 09:38 AM

I very much doubt he'd be doing that if he knew I was going to support him.

Exactly. Necessity is the mother of invention.

If you really want to help him, instead of assuage your guilt, you will stop the financial contributions and support his becoming independent. Supporting a 40 year old man is crippling him. Allow him to develop and to take responsibility for his choices.

MoreThanBroken posted 9/30/2020 16:57 PM

I appreciate the responses; you all have voiced the side that I know is the right thing to do. I know that by giving him the support, I'm robbing him of the reality that we all have to live in. My family and I are fairly distant (I don't talk to my sister anymore due to her choices, my brother and I only talk a few times a year on the phone that I pay for, my parents live 1k miles away), I suppose I worry that this may very well burn another bridge. Family bonds have never been tight in my family, I suppose I've connected my financial support to a bond with him, but I know it's superficial and just a lie I've told myself.

Thank you for affirming the position I need to take.

And StillLivin...that is fucked up

thatbpguy posted 9/30/2020 17:55 PM

You may not be reading this anymore, but I live around Portland, OR. We have a huge homeless problem with many of them caught up in drug addiction. Ex drug addicts implore people not to give to the homeless, but to give to places that directly help them.

Same with your brother. Opt not to support him directly, but if he gets treatment... offer some support there.

MoreThanBroken posted 10/4/2020 15:19 PM

Just wanted to thank everyone, I had the conversation and used some of the things y'all had said, particularly about him being responsible for for himself and all of his expenses. Not very surprisingly his first response was to deactivate and stop using his mobile (since we pay for that 100%). He basically has accepted a job that has zero pay but will give him a furnished 2 bedroom apartment. He will be working for a church, however, he will need to get a normal job in order to do everything else. I think he was thinking he would get a low paying job and would keep the monetary support, however, after talking with him that there is a large difference between what he was doing which would be compared to missionary work to what he will be doing (a job at an established church), support will look different. He understood but admitted that he had hoped nothing would change. He also was surprised when I told him how much I contribute (roughly $75 a month for 10 years). I told him about some options he does have for his cell phone provider including using wifi which he will have access while at home. I know he'll be alright, and I know I would just enabling him if I continued to do what I was doing.

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