Carnage by Text
Yesterday I had a terrible and final arguement with my brother. I am relieved. After a day and a night of debilitating psychosomatic symptoms, including agonising muscle cramps, heartburn, nausea, vommiting and a lot of wind, it is with a sense of calm and freedom that I contemplate the carnage left by this latest event and review the wreckage of our brother-sister relationship.
Just when I was getting myself a good sense of esteem because I had had the idea for this site and was making plans and having a lot of creative ideas, I made the mistake of sharing my enthusiasm with my brother, and asking if he would help me out with a small loan to get my business started (which he was in a position to easily do).
There followed some most acrimonious texting, a barrage of abuse from his side, and what I thought was reasonable arguement from mine. But I’ll let you decide:
ME: Hi! How’s it going? I have decided to start my own website and came up with a name, which I’ve bought, along with a professional care and support package, so that I’ve always got dedicated advice and help. My site name is: “one-thought-at-a-time.com” The tag line is “the conversation site” and the “About” section will say something like “for the sharing of ideas, opinions, facts and reflections.” And the idea is I write some posts and invite visitors to add their thoughts so that an interacting audience builds up the content, much like the existing social media sites, so you could say it’s an alternative to Facebook or Twitter and yet at the same time is partly inspired by those social media “giants”. So what do you think?
Half an hour later:
ME: So to get to the point: upon taking advice – I need to get a very good laptop to run my business from (I do intend to explore all avenues of generating income revenue, and media exposure, and I am confident that it will make money. So: I need some start up capital and wondered if you would authorise a loan/advance on the money which is really our inheritance but is currently lying idle in a bank account.(!) I need £800 but a round grand would be more better- “Grand,” even, as dad might have said! So that,s my 1st ever pitch of my business idea- how did I do? Do I get the capital? ? ?
HIM: Sorry but no. Don’t think it’s a reasonable use of what is still actually mum’s money. Not ours. Sorry to be blunt but that’s my decision.
ME: Very disappointed by your decision. I think my request is very reasonable: I’m willing to treat it as a loan that I will be perfectly able to pay back within a few months, even if my business comes to nothing: I GUARANTEE that I am good for it as my income gives me a certain amount of disposable/saving potential. I am lucky that I get a disability living allowance because of my mental/emotional problems. You say that it is still mum’s money which technically is true, but seriously, what is she going to do with it? I realise you feel protection towards mum and her right to her property, but I think you have to accept that, since you have power of attorney, it is effectively your decision but also your responsibility to use that power wisely. If, for instance if mum was still able to make her own decisions, and I went to her and asked her for a short term loan of a grand which i could guarantee i could pay back (even producing bank statements if need be ) do you think she would refuse me? And if so, why?
HIM: Couldn’t disagree more. And it is not up for further discussion. I’m trying to be diplomatic here!
HIM: If your income is that good, suggest you save up and finance it yourself. I also gave you £1500 in last few months. What’s happened to that?
HIM: And you also need to accept that I do NOT have to justify my decision to you. I have power of attorney, not you, and there is a very good reason for this.
ME: Would you care to elaborate on the “very good reason for this” state of affairs?
HIM: No. Case closed. If you still feel strongly about this tomorrow after you’ve calmed down a bit I suggest you contact [name of lawyer] and see what she thinks about it. Trying to emotionally bully me is never going to work, believe me. I have better things to do than wasting time texting like this. If I was you I would think very carefully before you send your next text. My patience, and goodwill are wearing very thin now.
ME: 1st ly im perfectly calm- never felt better actually- and 2nd and, since you insisted, lastly- if you really mean that you would prefer to conduct our family business through lawyers, then I will have to concede to do it your way.
HIM: I suggest you read through this exchange again tomorrow and if your arguements seem in any way reasonable to you, then there really is no hope for you. Anyway I’m done caring anymore . This smacks very much of our previous conversations before last year and you’ve gone back to your unreasonable and childish ways. Not my problem or concern any longer and I don’t have time for it anymore. Please don’t come through this weekend or any other time. I’m done with you. The next time you heàr from me it will be about arrangements for mum’s funeral. For your information [name of lawyer] is mum’s solicitor, not yours or mine so your last comment is laughable. I simply suggested you seek her opinion. Sums up your attitude to reality and life in general I reckon. That’s my last word on it. Good luck!
ME: I find what you say offensive. I would rather you did not contact me again either.
So I’m feeling hurt and angry, but there’s also a growing sense of calm and relief. ¿Why? Because I realise that this is my chance to finally be free of him. I no longer have to juggle good feelings with bad, which means that every expression is a balancing act between what is said and what is not, and that creates a mental strain.
It is often said that text messages are easy to misinterpret and therefore are a terrible way to conduct an arguement. I have had several such text arguements with my brother now, and while misunderstandings do occur in textings, this observation only goes so far towards explaining the carnage that occurred by text between myself and my brother that I have reproduced above. “It’s because there is no way of expressing the emotional import of a message. It’s just words – not even whole words sometimes – and words alone can be interpreted in different ways by different people in different circumstances.” This is roughly what people say, to explain the phenomenon of text arguements being dangerous. This is true to an extent, as I said. But if a person says x is y, or the sun is blue, or a person is a kettle, the problem is not to do with interpretation.
And this is why I have put a transcript of this highly personal arguement on my website. I really would like to know what people think. If this inspires, moves or angers you into telling your own story of texting disasters, with family or others, please do share, if you’re at all inclined to. You don’t have to reproduce the whole thing – just share what you want to. And even if it’s not through texting, but you’ve had a row or dispute with someone, family or not, you’re welcome to share that too . It’s good for us to communicate difficult or contraversial subjects. It can be very therapeutic. So please consider leaving a comment, or a longer piece of writing connected in any way to this subject.😘
One word of advice before you start – if your story is about someone abusing you, verbally, emotionally or otherwise, try not to let your writing degenerate into a tirade of counter abuse. (Do that in private if you have to, but save for public sharing your most mature and measured thoughts, so that we all may reflect together on how to communicate better, ànd heal those hurts that are eating away at us, threatening to curb or even ruin our chances of a good life.)
P.s. a word on the washing (or airing) of one’s dirty laundry in public – people who live in impoverished conditions (in India for example, where they do it in the Ganges) have to do it in public. There is no shame in it. Not for me anyway.
Some time later
I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and I now recognise that my “pitch” for my website was slightly grandiose (comparing my site with Facebook and Twitter, and being “sure” that it would make money!) Bipolar people often have grandiose ideas and this idea definitely comes under that category. I was only dimly aware of that at the time and when my brother said no to my request for a loan, I was kind of spurred on to argue with him about it by a now years old antagonism created by several arguements we had had in which I found him unreasonable and offensive. I wanted to argue with him again, perhaps subconsciously deliberately to provoke him to say those unreasonable and hurtful things again, to say things that he thought and felt but that he had not fully expressed, in order to force an honest confrontation. I was sick of his way of half saying but never fully expressing his negative opinions and judgements of me, in particular that I am irresponsible. And when the text arguement became acrimonious, that was when I realised I wanted to fall out with him.. That was when I realised that this would be a way to get free of him and his disapproval forever.