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How do you avoid a sibling but maintain relationship with other family members?(11 Posts)
Just that really. I would like some practical advice on how to do it.
(BTW, I am a regular poster but have name-changed.)
A little of background, my brother was abusive to me when we were growing up. To set the scene, My parents divorced when I was 7, after that I had step-siblings from my Mother's new marriage that I was/am close to but they weren't around all the time. It was mainly, me, mother, stepfather and brother, then me, father and brother at weekends. Brother is 3 years older than me.
My brother bullied me in a way that I feel went beyond normal sibling rivalry or bickering. He hit me most days, sometimes leaving bruises, pretty much until he left home. He bullied me emotionally telling me I was fat (was actually underweight but going through puberty and not happy with my body), ugly, disgusting, trying to find ways to get me into trouble with my parents, telling lies about me, making fun of me if I got upset about anything etc etc. He would also make me very uncomfortable around the time I was 13/14 by unlocking the bathroom door and coming in when I was in the bath or shower and looking at me. I know that sounds stupid and weird BTW.
My parents were ineffectual at dealing with this. My mother had to work so I was left in the house with him every day after school until she came home. I would tell her but had a hard time expressing how exactly I felt (I think I have always had a feeling that I couldn't go to her with problems because this started so young). I think she saw it all as normal sibling behaviour and also she suffered from depression on and off and found it hard to cope. My father has never really known how to deal with any difficult situation and tends to step back. Both my father and brother are AS.
Of course, this has caused numerous problems with depression, anxiety and difficulty trusting others in my adult life. I've had a lot of counselling and have moved on to the best of my ability. However, I'm now pregnant and I feel very strongly that I want to cut ties with my brother and not have my child around him. I want to maintain the relationship with my parents (which is good these days) and with my step-siblings and their children who live close to my parents. If you have a similar difficult situation, how do you cope with family events such as weddings, Christmas etc? Who have you communicated your intentions/problems to within the family and how? I really don't want to get into a big discussion with my family about old issues.
Thanks for reading this far, sorry it is so long.
My gosh OP, I'm really sorry you had to go through that. I'm sorry I can't offer any practical advice but hopefully somebody'll be along soon who can...
I think you have to start by explaining to you parents why you are dropping contact with your brother. Make it very matter of fact. Say your counsellors have recommended it perhaps. Sets the stall out for those family events like weddings, Christmas etc. Even if they don't understand properly or if they want to brush it all under the carpet as normal, if you say it out loud you can then refer back when there's an occasion coming up where you might end up in the same room. Ordinary visits I take it he won't be there?
Ultimately, if you need to withdraw from him but others want to maintain a relationship, there will be times when you are sat home and he gets to go to the ball. I'd say that was a small price to pay
That sounds awful
2 of my siblings avoid each other, but not for any reason other than they just don't like each other and never really have. They deal with it by just not being in the same place, if they have to like weddings, parties etc, they are basically civil but no more (e.g they will say 'hello', sit in a seperate place from each other, and then say 'goodbye')
Does your brother still live with your parents?
Hi, thank you all for the replies. Fuckity ( at writing that) He doesn't still live at home but is home every Christmas etc because he doesn't really form friendships/relationships. He has quite a lot of contact with my sister's kids and while I don't think he will expect the same with mine (I've made no pretence of being close to him), he will want to meet the baby etc and my parents may try to engineer this.
Cogito, I think I had come to the same conclusions you suggested. It feels scary though. I think this will come out the blue for my parents and other siblings. I don't want to be asked to explain myself. I feel quite vulnerable at the moment with my first baby on the way. My dad, who is particularly unable to understand other people's feelings/POV, will not understand and will question it. I've never properly discussed this with my husband and I don't feel ready to. I guess I nee a softly-softly approach to doing this. I might feel more comfortable approaching my sister first, so that's one thing I might try.
I avoid mine but it's easy, as we're hours apart and I rarely visit the family there. Lately I have wanted to see my grandmother (she wouldn't travel here) and felt sad that I "can't" (it's a self-imposed thing).
He's a drifter, so he'll soon have fallen out with the family and be off somewhere, then I'll be able to stay with them.
Your situation sounds similar to mine but very much worse. Hope your family understands. There's no way you should have to cope with any sort of a relationship with an abusive person. Families often try to manipulate the sibling bond into something strong, but the fact is that it isn't any stronger than bonds of friendship, and nobody would make you have a close friendship with an abusive person.
" I've never properly discussed this with my husband and I don't feel ready to."
Is there a particular reason why not? If you're going the separation route and you think you'll come under pressure for this brother to be part of your life, it really helps to have your partner backing you up. Without all the information your DH might think it's something and nothing & join in the family pressure whereas, if you printed out what you originally wrote, he'd probably support you in a heartbeat.
Also, even if people like your Dad don't understand emotions particularly well, all you have to say is 'I've decided I won't be seeing brother any more' and don't explain any more than that.
Realise you have to come at this your own way and in your own time but the softly-softly approach might be the equivalent of slowly unsticking a plaster... i.e. more painful than it has to be.
If you have never made a pretence of being close to him then this will possibly work in your favour.
Are you all at home this christmas? If you are, and you want to go for the softly-softly approach, then start now. Be civil but no more, keep as much distance as you can, don't be obviously rude but start withdrawing from him without putting other people in the middle.
My siblings never moan about the other one to my parents (they do to me though and I spend most of the time going 'hmmm' because I gave up trying to mediate years ago), my parents are sad that they do not get on but they do not interfere.
When your baby is born, do you want your brother to have zero contact, never meet/see them? Or would him occasionally being at the same event ok? If you want him to have no part what-so-ever, then you will have to accept the fact that you will miss out on some things
I don't speak to one of my sisters. As a rule I avoid any family meeting she will be at, though if we are forced to attend I am polite, distant, and make sure I rarely am in the same room as her if at all possible.
This is made a lot easier as, over the years, most of my other siblings have started to take the same approach. One by one as we have grown up and away and especially since we have had children of our own we have all independently come to the conclusion that she's not worth the effort. It's not something we have ever discussed as a group, but it's only becoming more apparent as, on the few occasions where we are forced into a social situation with her, the group discretely moving to another room/space to avoid her has got increasingly large. I haven't discussed this with my parents, I don't think they would understand and none of us want to particularly worry them at this stage in their lives.
It's a pity because her DH is a lovely chap who is well liked by all of us.
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