siblings can really suck

i know i usually do a “dear sharideth” on mondays, but it’s my bloggy and i’ll write what i want to. besides this is sort of a dear sharideth, only without the actual dear sharideth part.

that totally made sense in my head. shut up.

it’s an issue that comes up a lot in conversations and is completely off topic when it comes to romantic relationships, unless you live Appalachia or were the inspiration for Deliverance.

siblings.

we love them. we loathe them. we hate it when they take our clothes. but what happens when you’ve got one who’s a real piece of work and impossible to deal with?

seriously. what do you do? i’m clueless.

ha! gotcha! JK! i totally know what to do.

boundaries.

and just so we’re clear, i’m not talking about standard sibling stuff. kids do stupid to each other every day. it’s only happened a few times, but every time i’ve heard my daughter yell, “MOM, CARTER HIT ME!” i ask her what she did to provoke him and it always ends up being something way worse than the shot she took to the arm. siblings fight. close cousins fight. but at the end of the day, they would take a bullet for each other.

but sometimes…it’s way more than the petty crap.

how out of control your blood relation is will determine if that boundary has to be a toll booth or the Berlin Wall. i’m talking abuse, addict, hostile drama and constant chaos. the types of things that actually do harm.

a friend of mine wrote to me on Facebook about her sister who has always been convinced she got shorted in the attention department and now as an adult rages and causes drama because she’s demanding the attention she swears she never got. total victim turned selfish monster. only she was never really a victim and she’s just given herself permission to act like an asshat if she feels like it.

whatevs.

my friend handled being “disowned” every time she did something her sister didn’t like with a shoulder shrug and an eye roll for years. until her sister showed up at her door last week and called her a “heartless bitch” and a “lying c$%+” in front of my friend’s children.

line crossed.

p.s. my friend is neither of those things otherwise she wouldn’t be my friend, duh.

anyway, not cool, sistergirl, not cool. but what’s to be done when the person making your life a misery shares most of your DNA?

cut her off.

you heard me. and don’t worry, i’m going to tell you how.

1. no guilt. – but sharideth! this is family! oh i know. and nobody is better at inflicting guilt than those you could possibly swap kidneys with, save one. yourself. if you can get past the guilt you will put on yourself, the family will be cake. you will have to remember that your choice to throw up a barrier between you and anyone who does damage is never cause for guilt. it is healthy. it is necessary. and the one making the healthy/necessary choices is never the one who should shoulder the blame for that.

2. no compromise. – once the boundaries have been set, anyone who dares cross, will be shot on sight. that’s the only way this works. once you define the terms of the relationship, you must stick to it or it’s all for nothing. people who will cause you harm/pain/drama/chaos will behave themselves long enough for you to drop your guard, then they go in even harder. i told my friend that her first course of action is to tell her sister she is no longer allowed to come over uninvited. period. ever. second, her sister needs to know, in no uncertain terms, that if she ever behaves that way in front of my friend’s children again, she will not be allowed to see them. define the boundaries and stick to it.

3. no grudges. – understand that you can stand your ground and be uncompromising without being angry or holding a grudge. this is your family, no matter how crazy making. you can forgive and be pleasant, but that doesn’t mean you have to cave. believe it or not, maintaining boundaries without holding a grudge feels pretty amazing. totally freeing.

4. no hostility. – do not retaliate. refuse to be part of the problem. if you have to drop a couple hundred bucks at Bass Pro on climbing gear to claw your way to that high road, do it. whatever it takes, do not add to the chaos. be above it. add as many more cliches as you need to be the one where the drama ends.

just because you’re blood related, that does not mean you have tolerate whatever nonsense your family wants to throw at you. be better than that. once you establish what you are willing to accept and what you are not, breathe. take in the free air, my friend.

ever had a sibling or a family member you had to cut off or keep at arm’s length? what did you do to build your Berlin Wall?

what else can you do to maintain a healthy barrier?

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13 comments on “siblings can really suck

  1. ClintCollins920 says:

    I’m interested to hear you expound some more on the “no grudges” concept. I’d like to hear your take on what it means to love someone in light of the gospel, while maintaining the boundaries. Especially when the family member is a professing Christian. In my experience, when you try to establish said boundaries, they look at it as if you are not showing grace, and forgiveness. How do you make it clear you aren’t holding a grudge? I know it’s not up to you whether they believe you aren’t holding one, but what are some practical ways to reassure them that you still love them, aren’t holding a grudge, but simply have to insist on the boundaries? Thanks.

  2. Jenn says:

    I have had to do it for my family to varying degrees and for periods of time as I’ve gone through therapy to deal with all our drama. I still keep a “Berlin Wall” with my mother, and it is hard, she’s pretty good at making me the bad guy. There is an epically long list of the reasons why there is a wall between us, but more importantly how it is maintained, I just ignore whatever guilt she throws my way, keep our contact via email. and try to continually and peacefully assert the boundaries that I have kept set, just as she is not to attack my father or use my developing relationship with him as a point of argument. I would also say for those who say “they are family” need to see that family is not defined by blood. I know my family is much wider than my parents and my sibling.

  3. Jess says:

    I love this line: “if you have drop a couple hundred bucks at Bass Pro on climbing gear to claw your way to that high road, do it.”

    It’s so easy to justify retaliation. I’m especially good at a passive retaliation in the form of playing up my victimness–it’s genius, because it totally looks like I’m taking the high road to outsiders, but still highlights the jerk-ness of the other person in a way that perpetuates the drama. I did this to my sister all my life and only really became aware of it a couple of years ago. Then we bought a house together, and we had to learn to actually resolve our conflict. :-\

  4. Bridget says:

    “… it totally looks like I’m taking the high road to outsiders, but still highlights the jerk-ness of the other person in a way that perpetuates the drama.”
    Good point. It’s very subtle. I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of this one.

  5. Bridget says:

    This pretty much applies to anyone we’ve allowed to have power over us. I think the victim mentality keeps us stuck in that place. For me, getting over the guilt and realizing I have a God given right to draw boundary lines was the biggest hurdle. Recognizing I’m not a helpless victim, and that I do have the power to choose, freed me to choose forgiveness and take the high road.

  6. Fantastic post S2!!! Family is NOT about genetics, it’s about love, security and consistently positive behaviors. Thousands of biologic dads abandon their children every day, while adoption champions like Dr. Jeremy Statton set the gold standard for true fatherhood. While imperfect, that analogy extends to every role in the family. Awesome post!!

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