Ask: Why do I feel guilty after setting boundaries with my mentally ill brother?
“My brother, let’s call him Sam, (71 y/o) is brain damaged from an industrial accident 40 years ago. He functions somewhat but has very little “common sense” and has fanatical ideas of about God speaking to him and telling him to fight ISIS and have a new baby Jesus with a woman, etc…He has gone off his anti-psychotic medication so that is contributing greatly to his fanatical ideas… Off meds results eventually in a breakdown (deep depression) which has happened several times over the years, and the signs are there again. The family will then have to bail him out in many ways since he ends up in a mental hospital, without funds, without a place to live, and an inability to survive alone etc. He feels it’s his own business that he is off meds but obviously it is affecting many of us…he attacks me in emails, I mostly ignore it…So, I know to do my forgiveness work and let Holy Spirit do the rest. That work is constantly with me whenever thoughts of Sam come up. Maybe that answers the esoteric part of this, but I feel a responsibility to my brother, as a Son of God, but especially as a sibling. What does ACIM say about the mentally disturbed? Right now, after this past week of frustration with him, I am disengaging from him, just responding to emails of inquiry on non-hot subjects and I continue to send him Light and Love. I still feel guilt there though, so something isn’t right yet! More forgiveness work. Any light you can shine on this?...” – JP
You have a social-moral responsibility for the physical care of a mentally ill member of your family. It is not fair but that is the way of the world. And that is where your responsibility for “Sam” ends. You cannot change the mind or behavior of what are considered healthy adults in the world so you certainly cannot expect to do so for the mentally ill! Beyond encouraging him to take his medication there really is nothing else you can do for him but let him know that you love him. But loving him does not mean putting up with abuse from him. You have taken wise action by putting up boundaries with Sam to keep yourself away from his abuse and engaging with him on a limited basis. Now you need to extend those boundaries within yourself so that you stop taking more responsibility for him than is really yours.
You need to ask yourself why you feel you have more responsibility for Sam than you do. Who says so? Where did that idea come from? How deep does it run? Is it based on fact or on false ideas? Do you take responsibility that is not yours in other areas of your life? This may be part of a larger pattern. When you have worked that out and released (forgiven) yourself from a false sense of responsibility you will find that the guilt falls away.
If you find yourself resenting the time, money, and energy that you have to put into your social-moral responsibility toward Sam then you need to look at what stories you tell yourself about the situation. For example, that it is wrong and that you are a victim. You react to the story you tell yourself, not to the situation, which has no meaning in itself. So it is the story in your mind that you have to forgive (release). So sort out the story (“I’m a victim of my brother.” Or “I’m a victim of this situation.” Or “This is my punishment for…” etc. ) from the facts (“This body has a social-moral obligation to take care of that body. This has no meaning. It is not personal. I am not being attacked. I am not being punished.” Etc.) When you release (forgive) the story you will be freed from resentment.
Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at www.acimmentor.com.