Siblings

It’s Narcissist Friday!

For son dishonors father, Daughter rises against her mother, Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.
Micah 7:6

There are some who understand this verse better than others. They know what it means to have enemies in their own household, particularly from the family of their birth. We have talked about narcissistic parents and narcissistic children. Now we have to consider narcissistic siblings.

You don’t dare express an interest in a piece of furniture at Grandma’s. If you do, your sister will ask her for it or just take it from her.

You hate getting together for family gatherings and hearing the criticisms from your brother.

The loud political or religious opinions of your sibling ruin every gathering.

Mom doesn’t trust you anymore because your sister has poisoned her thoughts toward you.

You find out a month later that your mom was in the hospital. Your sister simply didn’t let you know.

For those with sibling narcissists, the list above is just the beginning. The constant unwarranted competition, the condemnations from nowhere, the private deals and manipulations—these and so much more plague almost every thought of family. Having a narcissistic sibling has probably been a lifelong challenge.

Controlling not just mom and dad, but their finances, property, and life decisions is often part of sibling narcissism. If you are silent, the narcissist will take over everything. If you protest, the narcissist will actively work to destroy you and any relationship you have with your parents, other siblings, or extended family. Decisions are made without your input. The house is sold, the furniture gone, and you didn’t even get a chance to do anything. Guess who has the power-of-attorney.

If you do find out that dad needs help, your presence is unwelcome. You feel like you are an intruder. Your narcissistic sibling accuses you of stealing, trying to turn dad against her, and butting in where you are not needed. In the narcissist’s eyes, you are a threat. Unwelcome competition.

It isn’t that the narcissist cares about your parents, nor does she need the money or things. She just doesn’t want you to get any credit. She hovers and criticizes and complains, but you can only lose. No matter how much you give and help, it is never enough and never wanted.

And, for many, the narcissistic sibling is connected with narcissistic parents. It isn’t true that all children of narcissists become narcissists, but some do. In fact, the chances are good that one or more have chosen to follow the lead of mom and dad. It may be that you are the only non-narcissist in the family. Together, your parents and siblings can make your life miserable.

For those who do not have this kind of relationship with siblings, imagine what you know of narcissistic manipulation, anger, and superiority. Now imagine that is one of your brothers or sisters. As long as mom and dad are alive, you feel that you have to attend family gatherings and respond to emergencies. No matter how you are treated.

What are you supposed to do? No contact seems like a dream. If only. Maybe when the folks are gone. Maybe now. Boundaries seem almost trivial when they are met with cold rejection. You can tell them not to call in the evening, but they have no problem not calling at all. You can try to set some limits to the family conversation, but they just laugh. Negotiation with these people is a joke. You feel like you are stuck in the abuse.

My advice, as weak as it may seem, is to separate in your mind and heart the responsibilities you feel from the welcome and love you wish to experience. In other words, go to the family gathering if you must, but expect only what you always get. Put in your time and leave. For a few hours you can endure almost anything if you plan for it. Just remember that you can drive away. You can love from a distance, but you may not be able to do much more than that.

If you are rejected by family, remember that’s their problem more than yours. You feel the pain, I understand, but your birth family is not the most important thing in your life. Many people live full and happy lives without connection to their families.

If your access to your parents is limited by the narcissist’s control, maybe you can find ways around it. Just because you are told not to call or visit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Just because you are criticized for “disobeying” doesn’t mean you have to do what you are told. But there will be consequences. And, if that access is physically limited (maybe the parent lives with the narcissist), you may be able to tell your parent of your love even as you explain that your sister doesn’t want to let you visit. In that case, your parent may also feel trapped.

Of course, you can watch for signs of abuse. 2 out of 3 elder abuse cases are committed by family members. Physical abuse is not the only form. Financial abuse and more happen regularly. There are resources available to help those who see or suspect. (IE: elderabuse.org)

This topic is so complicated. Maybe you are the one taking care of your parent(s) and your narcissistic sibling(s) still try to control everything. Maybe you are constantly being put down and challenged. All I can say is that you should do what you believe is the right thing and remember that your siblings are not your judges. If the Lord is leading you to stay, then trust Him with your health and wisdom. As much as possible, let their criticisms and accusations roll off your back. Ignore them as much as you can.

This takes a great deal of personal strength. Don’t forget who you are and Whose you are. Look to Jesus for that strength and affirmation. Trust that He blesses those who follow Him. Then do what He leads you to do. Know that you are loved and accepted by the only One who can judge you. And, listen, take care of yourself. Get some time for you. Do things for you. Make a point of working toward emotional and physical health.

17 Comments

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17 responses to “Siblings

  1. No family

    Request for help with care met with a vulgar laced NO. Dad died.Family member couldn’t lock the door fast enough,get declared administrator and scream at me this is (name here) money.Took ALL family photos (I have none) hung those without me in their house.Heartbroken,I love them from a distance..

  2. Loy

    God Bless you, and Thank you for the article.

  3. Z

    Pastor Dave,
    I am one of those who had a family of origin was made up of BOTH parents as sociopathic narcissistic abusers-physical as well as all other types of abuses-and whose siblings all chose the path of their parents. They were extreme codependents as children (I distanced, detached, kept below the radar until I could get out.) I knew what they were. They all claim to be “Christians”. I saw them as hypocrites and counterfeits and abusers. Parents are still abusers. The violence now is threatened rather than actual beatings. Siblings now are still codependent, super-enmeshed, carbon copies of their parents. They display abusive behaviors all the time. I am the scapegoat because I separated myself.
    As an adult, I chose to get counseling, keep my distance, make a separate life and a happy marriage for myself.
    Illness of both parents drew me back into their orbit for a time out of my sense of duty and Christian obedience. They took my time, talents, compassion, forgiveness,..while they needed it. Curiously, the enmeshed siblings were nowhere to be found when needed during the health crises. Too busy. I did everything possible to help parents and make things easier on them. Many kindnesses. In the end, when they were well again, they along with siblings targeted me even more than before! I was exploited and used for my good, forgiving and righteous heart towards my abusers for their gain. Then they discarded me and the abuses started again by all of them together. Then it got violent with a criminal attack with a weapon by a sibling who lives with parents. I was not wanted at parents’ house. That was siblings’ domain. They wanted total control.
    Of course, I had to call the police for the weapon attack crime. And then No Contact was recommended by every police officer, DV agency, counselor, lawyer, as well as “abuse-advocate” pastors. No Contact in a cult-like clan like mine, with many relatives who knew about and enabled the childhood abuse, means No Family At All. Everyone stride with the criminals. I was the villain for calling the police on “family”. They expected that because none of them ever called authorities when children were being physically abused regularly and there was regular DV in my home, that I had no “right” to follow the law and report a vicious violent crime committed against me and my husband by “family”. So I’m the outcast according to all extended family.
    1 Peter 3:13-14 says: “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed..”
    And Psalm 120:7 says: “I was for peace but they were for war.”
    I helped my lifelong abusers even though they did not deserve any of my help. I did it as unto the Lord. And to be obedient to Him. And I suffered greatly at their hands for trying to be a person of peace with them. They did physical harm to me and my husband and now with the necessary No Contact I’m suffering isolation and abandonment by an entire clan which chooses to cling to evildoers. I have to start my life over essentially. The clan made sure to smear me to all church friends and leaders in my small state where everyone in the Christian community knows my family of origin and most all are duped by their “saintly” ACT. The rest know the truth of their ACT and that they are abusers and abuse enablers and they choose to abandon me or stay neutral in my time of need. They fear the “cost” to themselves of standing against the abusers. They don’t want to become targets themselves. And they get many perks from the narcissistic abusers who are lavish in their polishing and grooming of others with money, gifts, flattering lips, tributes on Facebook, dinners out…Many don’t want to lose the material gain of siding with known abusers. Well, THEY will stand ALONE before the One Who will judge the motives and intentions of their hearts. How will they explain their cover ups, lies, enabling the abuse of Christ’s little ones and His adult survivors of that abuse? I wouldn’t want to be those people on Judgment Day when ALL is laid bare.
    In the meantime, I am suffering for doing what is right. For being a person of peace. For wishing and hoping I could have a real family who loved and cared for me and kept me safe. I will have to be content that I have a good TRUE Christian husband and I am safe and loved always in the arms of Jesus. But it’s HARD and LONELY and UNFAIR!!!

    • Elly

      i am so sorry for your pain and thank you for sharing!! this is exactly my life right now!! I live in Canada and am extra isolated because of the pandemic. i am deeply depressed because of the psychological abuse!! Is there any way any of you, dave or your staff can connect with me to give me some sanity

      • Hi Elly! You are welcome to correspond with me directly. Share your story. I will answer, but it might take a couple of days. Just use the link on the Contact page of the blog.

      • Hi Elly,
        (Hugs) and prayers from a fellow Canadian. ❤

      • Elly Meyer

        thank you!! ❤ am i able to connect with you somehow? i am desperate for comnection

      • Elly, if you contact me directly by email, Beverly has given me permission to send you her email address. I am traveling and can’t do it directly, but I should be able answer an email. Dave

      • Elle Meyer

        Hi Dave!! This is Elly from the comment on Siblings. You have just replied that Beverly will provide her email to me through you.

        Thank you for everything you do!!

        Elly

        On Sun, May 3, 2020, 11:42 AM Grace for my Heart, wrote:

        > graceformyheart commented: “Elly, if you contact me directly by email, > Beverly has given me permission to send you her email address. I am > traveling and can’t do it directly, but I should be able answer an email. > Dave” >

    • The pain of this is hard to imagine. I only hope that you can begin to see yourself as the strong one and them as the weak ones. The cost of separation is great and grievous, but the distance allows you to be healthy. Look to Jesus for your peace. Trust Him for your affirmation and vindication.

      • Z

        Thank you Pastor. I am in that process of embracing my innate characteristics of a good and open heart (that left me open to it being stomped on and broken), bravery (survival skills to keep myself alive and as safe as possible while being beaten and mentally abused regularly), discernment of evil & hypocrisy (which kept me from false Christian teachings and examples and led me to seek the REAL Jesus), ability to detach from evil (even though it left me a very lonely and hopeless little girl). I also am trying to celebrate my choices of goodness, forgiveness over and over when no evidence of change or repentance was ever there, helping my abusers when they needed it, my desire to always honor my God and my wisdom to finally walk away. The hand of God was surely on my life even when I thought He didn’t see or care. His hand that allowed me not only to NOT be utterly broken by my life’s circumstances, but to be able to now live an isolated life because I chose a life completely and permanently away from all their wickedness. And God will honor and bless me in this place. Jesus is my Savior, best friend and constant companion. The Lord has kept me alive for a reason. He has a purpose for all my pain. Therefore I declare that I will be made whole in every way they tried to wickedly break me. Thank you again for your words of support. I will “get there” (recovery) one day! The Lord is my strength and my song. 💪🏽 🎶

  4. I have 1 sibling who gaslights and “show pony”s. This sibling has a pattern of non-communication; only talking with family members who fit this sibling’s perception of acceptable. 13 months is this sibling’s record for non-communication. It hurts, particularly after the spouse became very ill and the family dropped everything to support sibling and family. Fast forward to 2019, our mother is hospitalized. The sibling trotted in, did the appropriate number of laps in front of the medical staff, then left. Thus the “show pony” tag.
    “I’m too busy at work” was the constant excuse. Yes I got angry. I am self employed, my income reduced by about 50% while mum was very ill. Our other sibling is 2IC at her work and mother’s illness occurred in their extremely busy period. But none of that mattered to the show pony.
    Family and friends commented how busy that sibling is, how it was so far for this sibling to drive to visit mother. Until I pointed out the sibling had only another 20 miles further than I did (when your nearest shops are 20 miles away, 20 miles isn’t too far).
    The hardest aspect I found with reconciling this, and feeling I was not betraying my parents, was accepting that blood/genes are not ties that should bind. Bad behavior is bad behavior.
    I needed to decide, because I did not accept gas lighting from “friends”, do I need to accept gas lighting from a sibling? I have cut ties to that sibling. Mother is well enough now I can say “X does not communicate with me, I do not know what X is doing, I do not know what X’s childen are doing. Best not to ask me about X”. Mother did find that harsh, though I think she sees now who are genuinely there to support and help her.

  5. Gabrielle

    I’m waiting for my mother to die, which sounds really awful, I know. But when she does I’m afraid my narcissistic sister will try to be in my life again. Funny, but it was my mother who told me my sister was a narcissist when she was mad at her. Later she went back to schmoozing with the sister and being cold and critical toward me. Since my mother’s aging she pretended that she didn’t remember any of it. I keep repeating it over and over in my head. I want to love my mother but it’s too frightening. I want to be at peace with all this.

  6. Kathleen A Chapman

    I have no one to share this with so I will share with whoever reads this. I have just lost a 30+ year friendship due to) who I’ve come to realize after 50+ years is ) narcissistic younger sister. I am divorced 4 years from a narcissist. I have a 14 yr old son who I have been trying almost desperately to encourage to have a relationship with my family. Mostly, they have busy lives and forget to involve us as we were never able to be apart of anything when I was married. I have on several occasions talked with my sister about my anxiety/fears about my son needing to connect. She’s agreed we’ve talked about getting together. Never happens. I understand. What I don’t understand is how she has time to visit MY friend who has a lake house without asking me and my son to join or even letting me know she’s going to be there. On several occasions, I have told her how hurtful this is to me. She tells me she’s sorry and won’t do it again. Well I found out she did it again and I lost it. First, she ignored me for 2 weeks then apologized for my pain not for being the cause. She then said she did not care. We then spent the day together for my father’s birthday. Afterward, she texted me about wanting me to do something for her. I really lost it and asked how she could ask for anything after what she had done. She played innocent and I threatened her.
    I told her I did not want her visiting my friend or I was going to make her feel the same pain she made me feel. She asked what she should do as her family and my friend kept asking to go. I told her to tell them I said they couldn’t because it caused me too much pain. Well, apparently she told everyone about me threatening her now everyone thinks I need help (I am seeing a counselor. They think I need a new one) for my anger issues. I texted my friend this past Tuesday about visiting in July and was informed I was not welcome and I needed help. Another sister called after talking with the sister I was upset with and said she thought I needed help. My friend will no longer speak to me. All I could do was pray. I yelled at God and screamed at him. I asked him to help me understand. I asked him to let me know if it was me that needed help, was I angry? I had told my other sister I was not angry I was upset and very hurt and needed my sister to acknowledge what she had done was hurtful. I realize now I was tired of her not taking responsibility for her actions. 3 things happened to me right after this. A co-worker came into work very upset about her boyfriend breaking up with her and how her ex makes her feel worthless. How after everything she had done he just left. and how he is telling everyone all these lies about her. I told her I understood as I had the same experience with my ex and now I felt like it was happening with me and my sister. It was really hard as no one truly understands why you are still suffering. Speaking with her gave me a sense of peace. I thought maybe I am the narcissistic one. I googled symptoms and found a self-test. From the test and list of symptoms/traits, I am not narcissistic but my sister does have covert narcissistic traits, As, I liked back to our years of growing up I can definitely see it. I then opened my email and there was Grace for the Heart and it was talking about no-contact. Somehow I also found myself reading about what a child goes through when his parents are divorced and one is narcissistic. It said everything I was trying to share with my family and therapist about my son but did not know exactly what I was trying to say. Oddly, I am at peace right now. Through God I have answers. I will continue to pray for healing with my friend and will no longer put myself in a position to be hurt by my sister or ex. I know now they will never try to reconcile or work with me. When they come to me it is only about them. Thank you .

    • Z

      Dear Kathleen,
      I’m so sorry you have to deal with a narcissist sister and now the smear campaign that’s making YOU out to be the one who “needs help” for confronting it in truth.
      I just wanted to weigh in on one aspect central to your larger problem. Your sister befriended YOUR friend behind your back and excluded you on purpose. My sociopath sister always did the same thing. She co-opted almost everything that was unique to me. Pretended to have hobbies and interests and take classes, etc..that were all lies. Those were things I did! She was almost trying to assume my identity. Then she got a narcissistic, jealous sister-in-law to do the same. I felt I was having my very blood sucked out of me by vampires! Like they wanted to “wear my skin as a suit”! Narcissists have no self-esteem or sense of identity. So they glom onto someone who they want to be. They copy every move and then they hate themselves because they know they are frauds. Then they project that self-hatred onto the object of their obsession, knowing they CAN’T really BE YOU. And the cycle goes on and on. Targeting, lies, smearing, ostracizing…All because THEY are abnormal, jealous and desire to possess your unique, admirable, good and REAL qualities. And they can’t. No matter how they try. It’s fraudulent. Counterfeit. Empty. So they try to destroy you to erase your knowledge of what they are trying to do.
      I had to go No Contact for my safety and well-being. My family are violent criminals. They mean to destroy me. I can’t give them any access to me. But the game of narcissists trying to BE ME was also part of a game I won’t play. And I lost my “friends” to these narcissist frauds. Because I wouldn’t play the game. I lost all my extended family who sided with my abusers. And church people too.
      But I now have safety and peace. And Jesus is enough. The best friend I could ever want. I’ll chase after Him and no one else!
      I’m saying prayers for you for clarity, wisdom and the peace of Christ.

      • Kathleen A Chapman

        Thank you. As soon as I realized this about my sister It gave me so much clarity. I will never allow her to do this to me again. I love my sister and will be here for her but I will definitely keep my distance. Honestly, I have prayed for clarity and I then found this answer and I am really at peace. I am going to trust in God. I am so sorry about you and your family. I will pray for your continued safety and peace. Unfortunately, I cannot go no contact as I would miss my nieces and other family members. I will not let my self be put in a position to be used or maligned again
        .

      • Z

        Yes, Kathleen, the Word of God says, “ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART”. So though your circumstances don’t warrant going No Contact because there’s been no danger or violence visited upon you, you are wise to be on the alert and to protect yourself. I’m glad if I was able to offer a bit more clarity on my experience with Narcissistic behaviors and the reasons behind them. I pray God will strengthen you. 🙏🏽

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