Siblings Can Hurt You Over and Over Again and You Them

A message from Sylvain Richard
I requested permission to publish this piece from the author because this topic on siblings is so important, yet it's ignored. This is a shame. Unfortunately, many suffer with problems related to family. I find the strategies given are helpful and compassionate. The author has outlined key points to consider if/when attempting to remedy this problem which affects so many. Good luck!

 by Nancy Snipper

As a teacher, guidance counselor, sibling and friend, I have learned from over 45 years of experience that this delicate topic is rarely addressed. Yet so many suffer. Time to break down the static silence. Maybe this little essay can help someone who is experiencing “sibling malfunction” (my term).
While obtaining my B.Ed, I researched sibling support and its connection, if any, to familial emotional wholeness. I interviewed over 200 different siblings to discover that 44% feels in some way rejected by their siblings on various levels. This rejection were backed up by examples. 26% were no longer in touch with their siblings, except at weddings and funerals, and even at those times, no communication was achieved. 14% felt this had affected their lives in such a negative way, they sought therapy to deal with it. Let’s not forget that close to 66% enjoyed a close relationship, and for the most part, felt happy and valued when in sibling company.
However, if you have been silently, slowly or in one fell swoop abruptly ostracized by your sibling(s), you are not alone. This is a universal family challenge that knows no cultural, economic or racial boundaries.
So have your siblings either subtly or overtly put estrangement from you into modus operandi?  Wrong for sure, and very hurtful, especially if you have really done nothing wrong to them to the best of your knowledge. You have tried to reach out, but are always being rejected. What the hell is going on?
Let’s face it: the sibling unit can sometimes become a breeding ground for all kinds of unhappiness: jealousy, favouritism, injustice, alliances, mocking you, secrets, power plays, lies and no empathy. No matter how educated you are or no matter how much love and caring you received from your parents, the sibling issue can make become tumultuous – if you let it. It’s sad but it’s human in an intensely negative way.

How to deal with it all?

Some see you as nutty, narcissistic, irresponsible, expendable, and even nasty. Others see you as the “black sheep”. But it’s better to be different if the rest of them are full of anger and mistrust or they constantly exclude or insult you. Count yourself lucky if you know how to love constantly – no matter their inability to return it for whatever reason; for these sibling souls are in torment. Pity them privately, but don’t get roped in.
Love doesn’t seem to figure much effectively or always work with those that don’t put sibling love, patience and pride in having you as their sibling as family priority. Overlook the little things, but don’t skirt any situation if you are being mistreated. Let them know right away when you have been wronged; don’t let it fester for years. By then it is too late to even remember their names.
There are many reasons for growing so far apart – that even the slightest bit of warmth you shared in younger times turns into a cold chill. These reasons have never really been systematically examined and though every case has different reasons, the result is too often: bye bye. KEEP IN TOUCH!!! But if they rebuff your warmth and attempts to stay connected, then you may have to do a reality check. Not everyone is going to have your heart and values.
The most unproductive and cruel scenario is cutting blood ties. And many are too quick to do that.  It’s Neanderthal not to mention ruthless. But if they do it, chances are they wanted to do it a long time ago. Think back at the signs: too busy to see you; not a good time to call or visit, never invite you for a stay-over or if they do, abandon you. Welcome to your demotion as their house sitter. If they don’t reply to your calls and emails, but maybe said they did, don’t second guess yourself unless there was an immediate follow-up on their part. These are indications that they have no interest in your life and do not wish for you to know theirs.
But you say,” What did I do wrong?” Everything and nothing.  But here’s the rub: no more puppy-dog caving. 

Six Solutions that require resolve

1> I highly recommend courses on how to handle siblings' poor treatment of you. There is so much misinterpretation and misconception that sometimes is unwittingly or sadly, purposely applied to you. If undermining you or shutting you out is constant, and you don’t call the person out on it due to your own fear or out of incredible kindness - misguided as it is for these situations - as you are afraid to hurt them – then take a long break, but never ever cut them out. Bring it up with a quip, a brief statement or express your surprise. Dial back and reassess.

2>Remember, kindness is owed to you, but it must come from you as well. Don’t hold any grudge. That’s a cowardly defence. But protecting the other means taking a risk on your own self-worth. So state your disappointment in a clear, calm way.  

3>Be conciliatory if they wish to communicate with you without mutual attacking.  But you must express the wrong doing; let it out and resolve it. You must give yourself permission to call them up on their behaviour if wrong doing to you has been a far too long pattern. Most of us are incredulous to take it in that they really do not want to have anything to do with you or you with them.
The key question is if so many years have passed and silence is the only communication you have, then you must let them know you wish to have them in your life but major issues have to be laid out like a deck of cards to explore and reveal.
Remember that cards have two sides, so you have to let them voice their hurts that they feel you have given them. 

4> It's not easy for sure as we all get defensive, but this is not the time to attack. It is the time to listen and talk it out. If you ask them if they wish to have a relationship that is mature and workable and they start attacking you again or say no, it's sad, but let them know your door is always open. 

 5>Find people that accept your love, communicate well with you and make you feel appreciated; you will love that. And make them the same way from the bottom of your heart! 
Unrequited family love can be as painful as that not given by a potential lover. Lovers can come and go, but siblings are permanent. Personality conflicts are inevitable, but the gift of having siblings is immeasurable. 

6> Don't let the bad stuff overcome you. Who you are and what you give must be valued by you and you must value them. You deserve everything and so do they!  But if bad spirals down to worse with emotionally cruel behaviour being exhibited to you over and over again, walk away! You tried, and that’s what God praises us for, even if we fail.  Sibling caring whether inconvenient or difficult is the highest state of peer family love. Aim for this.

BE YOU was a song I wrote in 1977, and to my surprise, it somehow went beyond my room; it was performed at Ontario Place during International Year of the Child. The song came from a quiet place in my heart. I believe its message strikes a chord for those who doubt their own self-worth.
Meg Ruffman’s stunning voice first sung it in a church soon after a man named Cam told me over the phone, to come down to the church, and he would put the lyrics and my rather unsure melody to piano. The two artists teamed up to bring my song to life.
May this song comfort and embolden you.

I have learned that whatever is inside of you,
Let it do whatever it wants to do.
If you’re shy, afraid, crazy or brave,
Be yourself, you’ll be amazed
to see how beautiful you are when you’re true,
Just be you.

I have learned that whatever is inside of you,
Must be said, felt, without a fuss.
Though others may chide you, won’t sit beside you,
Fear you, sneer you, won’t come near you,
Just be yourself, before you know it
You’ve made a friend, plenty of them.

I have learned that whatever is inside of you,
Be proud of it no matter what they say and do.
To rearrange you, try and change you, act like they are strangers to you,
Misconstrue you, mix and brew you, if they only knew the real you.
Just be yourself, let it all come through,
And love will shine in you.

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