How to deal with a severing of sibling ties?
February 8, 2010 9:24 AM Subscribe
I am looking for resources to help me deal with the growing realization that I was abused, physically and emotionally, by my older brother for the better part of 20 years.
Through work with my therapist for the last six months, I've realized that a lot of my psychological troubles are the result of treatment I received from my brother. He would hit, ridicule, sabotage, and betray me on a daily basis.
Throughout, my parents would either ignore the abuse or punish us both as a result. When I would protest or defend myself, in their minds our squabbles had turned into a fight, and we would both be disciplined for the same offense. When I would voice my concerns about spending additional time with my brother, I would be told that I was an ungrateful and underserving child.
This has led to all sorts of inappropriate behaviors and feelings that I have carried with me to adulthood, including lack of assertiveness, inappropriate and "fizzled" displays of anger, irritability, violent and vengeful fantasies, insomnia, stress reactions. Compounding the issue is a recent funeral where after several days of exposure to my brother I had reached my limit and refused to share a car ride back to the airport with him. I was then accused of "feeling sorry for myself", which is a constant refrain in my family. My parents express their disappointment with me for distancing myself from him on a regular basis.
He is no longer abusive in an outright sense, but the 10 or 11 times I have seen him since we both moved from the family home have not gone well. His penchant to ridicule and pious lectures remains.
I am frankly considering severing ties with him completely, and making it known to my family that their inaction and insufficient response to the situation is threatening their relationship with me as well. It may be that I am in the thrall of new emotions uncovered by therapy, but I find myself reliving the trauma and accompanying urges to punish him myself on a daily basis in a way this is interfering with my occupational security.
My therapist is very good, but I need to make better use of my time with him by appealing to a wider community that might have experience with such circumstances. He is very good at allowing me to guide my own revelations and reactions while fulfilling an important reflective role, but lately I have found myself stuck in a loop of anger and confusion when this most important subject comes up.
My question therefore is twofold.
1) What resources are available to someone who has been through an experience like this (therapy aside, what books/groups/websites would make for good reading)?
2) Does anyone have anecdotal evidence that I could consider when evaluating how harmful or beneficial it might be to explicitly cut my ties with him?