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.
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.