I have a very challenging relationship with my brother who’s 10 years older than me. We’re full-grown adults.
I feel bullied and disrespected by him and how he conducts himself towards me. I feel the situation’s toxic and I perceive narcissistic character traits in him.
I work on myself to try and stop reacting to everything he says, and to pause and not engage in certain discussions that always end up toxic.
But when my buttons are pushed, I defend myself, which again results in a poisonous argument. Please advise me.
Adult Sibling Bullying
As a full-grown individual, you shouldn’t have to engage with anyone whom you find toxic to you. You have free will to walk away from situations and/or arguments that affect you negatively and so strongly.
Disengage. If you must be in contact with this difficult brother, reduce it as much as possible. If you must communicate for some important reason, do so only through email (if possible).
If his bullying/disrespect persist, end connections that bring you together. However, if this conflict exists within a family setting, explain why you must totally avoid your brother.
Frankly, if nobody else is around to back you up or change the atmosphere, then this sibling connection is more harmful to you than any reason for trying to seek improvements in his behaviour towards you.
Repeatedly toxic relationships often become more harmful the more you try to improve them.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the husband who can’t fall sleep as early as his ill wife who resists having separate bedrooms (January 29):
“There seem to be other issues going on here. It’s very difficult to reconcile sleep differences. Also, I sense resentment going on – if she’s turning on the light and noisily opening and closing drawers, it implies that she resents him being still in bed. But that’s because he went to sleep later.
“There’s nothing wrong with sleeping in separate rooms. Their daughters are old enough to understand that they need to do this, for them both to get a good night’s sleep given their different work schedules.
“Since he’s working from home, does he do things around the house, e.g., get groceries, make dinner, so that they have time to enjoy each other’s company?
“He could join her in bed to snuggle (maybe it would lead to sex, depending on her health issue) and then get up when she goes to sleep. Sex or cuddling doesn’t have to be connected to sleeping afterward.
“The daughters are old enough to look after their own breakfasts and lunches. Is she doing those and then resenting he’s not up?
“If they want to stay together, they need to talk this out and agree on a division of labour. But telling him to go to bed earlier isn’t a solution. What time is she going to bed – 8, 9, 10 pm?”
Reader #2 – “My husband’s and my sleep schedules have always been different. Common courtesy makes it work. He gathers everything he needs to get ready for bed and takes it downstairs, and I rarely hear him creep into bed. Similarly, whatever I need for the morning is readied and stored outside the bedroom before I go to bed so I can be as stealthy as possible when I get up. I believe it has helped to teach our children respect for others.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman feeling intimidated by her two adult sons in her home (Jan. 22):
“This is Elder Abuse. I was involved in a program visiting Senior Centres and giving information/advice to seniors. We advised what to do if they thought abuse was happening to individuals in their neighbourhoods. Police representatives gave information.
“Our police department looks after approximately one million people, with two female officers and a social worker dealing exclusively with seniors.
“One officer had heard of a woman who was terrified of her family. This officer then wore street clothes and drove her personal car so that no neighbour knew that she was a police officer. She was able to help the woman.
“Also, “CHATS” is presently giving seminars on Elder Abuse in York Region, Ontario. It’s a serious problem for the elderly who are confined to their homes.
“I’m 81, not an abuse victim, but I know what to do if it happens!”
Tip of the day:
Never accept bullying. Trying to change your own responses to someone who’s toxic towards you, gives license for them to persist. End contact or stay distanced.