How to deal with sibling?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2005
How to deal with sibling?
Thu, 11-08-2012 - 3:04pm

I am looking for advice on how to deal with a Sibling. Here is some background:

1. Sibling (S) was chosen to be the "good child," and I was seemingly chosen to be the "scapegoat" in the family.

2. A while back, a Family Member (FM) acted badly and hurt my feelings.

3. As a result of #2, I distanced myself in order to protect myself from further hurt.

4. A few months later, I told S I wouldn't be appearing at a certain family gathering. S emailed back essentially criticizing me for being a bad sibling. I then explained about #2 since S had not been informed of it. S continued to pester me about the family gathering and this and that. I said I wasn't going to do the back and forth anymore on these topics. I decided to ignore communications from S to protect myself from further hurt.

5. Months later, S pressured me to attend another family gathering. (Trying to corral me back into the dysfunctional system?) I felt like S was in a sense making me out to be the "bad guy" (rather than the victim in #2), and that it was really twisted for S to pressure me given the circumstances in #2. I very much resented S's interference, and felt very hurt that S appeared to think I should attend the family gathering out of guilt or duty or me being at fault or something.

6. S did some tasks to help the family. I was not able to help because of some health issues.

With that in mind.... S recently did something (an act of omission) that indicates S is either mad at me, or feels hurt because of me distancing myself.

I was thinking about having S and other family over for the holidays, as I think I can re-engage them now. BUT if S is mad at me, then I really don't want to deal with S--I have enough to deal with in life and don't need the guilt/pressure/scapegoating thing from S.

What do you think? Is S being a difficult, entitled person that I should continue to distance myself from? Or does S feel hurt and I should somehow make ammends (even though I have been hurt by S and S has been pushy and guilt-tripping and basically disrespectful of the boundaries I've set)? Or is S just reacting because they're having a hard time with the boundaries I've set (ie ignoring communication) because S has never had people put limits on them? Is S mad because I wasn't able to help with #6 (which would be really unfair)?

I was hoping things could be more "normal" now, but it seems maybe that's not possible? Should I just keep the current boundaries in place and forget the holidays? Should I look at communications from S to see if there are clues? (This would be hard and likely upsetting to me.) I'm just so tired of family people hurting me and upsetting me. I am happiest when I am distant from them.

Thanks for any advice!

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2012
Sat, 11-24-2012 - 9:42pm

Have you always felt like this, how old are you?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2005
Fri, 11-09-2012 - 11:12am

Izzy, thank you, I appreciate your understanding!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2002
Fri, 11-09-2012 - 10:12am

In my opinion, S is overstepping and involving themself in a situation that didn't involve them from the get go.  Your decision not to attend family functions, in order to protect yourself is your decision and it should not be perceived as a rejection of the others. 

Personally, I would probably maintain some distance for the time being.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2001
Fri, 11-09-2012 - 1:25am

I totally agree with Blue.  While it's true that it's up to you how much you disclose and how much you withhold, withholding the details about the issues surrounding your FM and S means that we are unable to offer you any kind of thoughts that can be at all accurate or appropirate. Simply saying "FM said some things that hurt me" doesn't give us the detail we need to understand what happened, why you're hurt or if avoiding family gatherings is appropriate.  Without understanding what happened, we're unable to offer you the feedback you're asking for. 

I hope you choose tell us the details so we can offer our thoughts and very likely some helpful suggestions, without that, anything you get from us is likely to be completely off base as anyone who offers opinions on your situation is basing their opinion on guesses and guesses are rarely correct.

~ cl-2nd_life

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 11-08-2012 - 10:34pm

So you're saying that you didn't go to the family gatherings because the person who said mean things to you was going to be there?  I don't know how horrible the things were that were said to you--maybe they were.  Would there be any way to go to family gatherings & enjoy the mean relative?  (I suppose you couldn't do that if it was your mom, for instance.)  Are you planning to invite everyone to your house except the mean relative?

I do think that the best way to gauge how your Sib feels about you is just to come right out & ask him/her--and you could also say how you felt too--that you told her about the problems w/ FM and then she pressured you to still go to the family event and that bothered you--but I'll also say that a lot of families have one person or more that are difficult to get along with and sometimes in order to be in a group, you just have to learn to ignore or avoid that person if at all possible if the only alternative is to avoid everyone.  I don't know if that would be possible for you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2005
Thu, 11-08-2012 - 4:46pm

So you are saying that S has done nothing wrong?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Thu, 11-08-2012 - 4:39pm

By avoiding family gatherings you are able to avoid the person who hurt you.  But you're also rejecting the family members who've done nothing wrong.  

And still, without knowing what was said to you and the thing which prompted them to say it, I have no way of knowing if your actions are justified or if you're over-reacting.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2005
Thu, 11-08-2012 - 4:16pm

Thanks! The FM in essence said some very hurtful things to me. It was healthy for me to set boundaries and protect myself from further abuse.

What S did in accusing me of being a bad sibling was also very hurtful to me.

The other family members including S have not been caring or concerned about #2. They have just put effort into corraling me back into the dysfunctional system and to play the old role of scapegoat, so they can all continue in the dysfunction, because it "works" for them.

By me not going to certain family gatherings, I am protecting myself from people who history has shown are hurtful. Is that "rejecting" them? I don't know. All I know is I need to protect myself and set appropriate boundaries to do so.

I hope that makes sense. I am not holding grudges, unless you consider me saying "no" to further hurt and abuse as holding a grudge rather than setting healthy boundaries.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Thu, 11-08-2012 - 3:49pm

Gogreengo, because you haven't told us what the other family member said or did to you, I can't really comment on your sister's behaviour.  

It could well have been a terrible thing (like sleeping with your patner) and you have every right to distance yourself.   Or perhaps it was a small thing (like suggesting you could update your look) which you really should let go but you're holding unnecessary grudges over it.   

Thing is, when you reject going to family gatherings, you're also rejecting the other family members by default.    And if you're rejecting them over something which you really should let go, then it's entirely understandable that they are mad at you.    But if it's something really awful which was done to you, then please tell the other family members so that they can understand and support you.

For what it's worth, I went through a stage where I also had to distance family because of hurt between siblings and extended family.   But the hurt my choice gave to other family members was also very real.   Please don't underestimate how much your actions effect family members who are not involved in the current situation.