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“It happened decades ago.” Why do relationships between siblings sometimes get complicated in adulthood?

“It happened decades ago.”  Why do relationships between siblings sometimes get complicated in adulthood?

CERTIFICATES – The gulf between the brother and sister widens over time. If natural alienation occurs after childhood, then in other cases the relationship suffers from childhood rivalries and grievances that are not mentioned.

When 63-year-old Adele talks about her younger brother, her voice radiates sadness and disappointment. He also seems troubled, faced with this blood bond that has been stretched and damaged by misunderstanding. “Sometimes I get the impression that we didn’t have the same parents,” he admits today. The siblings have little in common and therefore have very little to say to each other. “He’s a homebody, I’m more the type who crosses town to go to restaurants; he is not curious, I like to go to the museum or the cinema; we have nothing to unite us,” sums up the Parisian. Despite this distance, Adele is confident and confident in the strength of their bond. “If he calls me tomorrow and tells me about any problem, I will come right away. and I know the opposite is true. A brother and sister live 5 minutes apart but rarely see each other. After the death of their parents, however, he became their “only family”.

Many siblings whose mechanisms are practiced in adulthood. In her psychoanalyst’s office, Virginie Magle (1) says she sees this every day. The professional thus listens to suffering related to arguments, jealousy, possessiveness. “Sibling relationships seem timeless and intractable,” comments the psychoanalyst. Many of my patients find it difficult to accept that they are not doing well.” And for good reasons. how can we be united in childhood and not understand or no longer understand in adulthood? To share little or nothing with one with whom we have lived and yet shared everything?

Natural distance

At the end of childhood, a healthy distance is established between brothers and sisters, the psychoanalyst immediately reacts. “Siblings and brothers are not created to live together all their lives,” emphasizes the specialist. It is good for the development and independence of every person to separate after childhood. This distance develops naturally and gradually. one goes to study in another city, another starts a career, another becomes a parent… In certain configurations, this distance can destroy family relationships. “Our experiences feed our thoughts and sometimes create a gap with our family of origin,” comments clinical psychologist and book author Monique de Kermadec. Dare to be angry (2). A life partner can also open our eyes and let us know how we are treated in our family. “A simple phrase uttered by a partner, for example, ‘I wonder how you can stand it,’ can be a real boost,” explains the psychologist. When we realize we’ve failed to set boundaries and still can’t succeed, the first instinct is to walk away.

Siblings are not meant to be together all their lives

Virginie Megle, psychoanalyst

As an adult, it is also childhood that can be repeated, and with it jealousy, resentment or everything that was never said. “Being small, we activate survival mode, neglecting our mental health to promote family harmony,” explains Virginie Megle. As we grow older, the number of disappointments and unhealed wounds increases, and it is time to settle scores. “We believe that we are currently communicating with our brothers and sisters, but in reality what we are experiencing now happened decades ago, everything is unconscious,” the psychoanalyst continues.

And although we live together, our story is not the same as the story of our brothers and sisters. “We have the same parents, but each has a different childhood,” recalls psychologist Monique de Kermadec. At each birth, the father and mother behave differently depending on their experiences and availability at the time. Our place among siblings is also decisive. The elder, for example, parenting each member of the couple, has a very special place, a meaningful role. Then the youngest wants to dethrone the elder in order to keep his place in the mother’s womb… “Everyone can, from his own point of view, feel that his territory is being encroached on,” comments psychoanalyst Virginie Megle. And if during childhood parents did not ensure that everyone really has their place, childish jealousy, competition and vulnerability are perpetuated.

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Rejecting the ideal of a united family

It’s enough to hurt everyone. “When we get together, every relationship with my siblings is emotionally abused,” describes Dieneba*, who is in her thirties and the youngest of 12 siblings; old stories from childhood… It’s as if we were children, living in the apartment ever since.” Today, the young woman finds the roots of her illness in her history, which is different from her brothers and sisters. He was three years old when his parents divorced and his father left the family. He grew up rejecting it, including his Malian culture, unlike his siblings who made it their identity construction. “They share solidarity and memories with each other that I don’t have, and they think I’m more privileged than they are, as if they’re berating me for my position for the last time. I never feel taken seriously and above all, I’m a stranger to my own family, to the point where I tell myself “I’m adopted, there’s no other way”.

I used to force myself to spend time with him, but the effort cost me dearly

Amelie, 32 years old

So what to do with suffering? Should we cut ties to protect ourselves? Dieneba thinks about it after every family meal, she assures. “But I am also consumed by the guilt of those who put them at a distance when we are bound by blood ties. In fact, I think it will be more expensive for me to cut ties with them.” So the solution to rest may be to establish a healthy distance from others or begin mourning childhood and “abandon the ideal of a united family,” adds psychoanalyst Virginie Megle. At 32, Amelie decided to take it easy, accepting that her sister, 20 years her senior, would never change. “I used to force myself to spend time with him, I went to his house on Christmas, I had dinner with him to please my mother, but this effort cost me a lot,” he admits. The two women have opposite personalities. Amelie describes her big sister as “not like a stranger, but almost.” Over time, the young woman learned to know herself and what she was willing to accept from her sister. Today, a more “peaceful” Amelie says she has “learned to love” herself, being able to “accept her for who she is”. And cherish the rare moments shared more.

*Names have been changed.

(1) Brothers and Sisters: Healing Childhood Woundsby Virginie Megglé, (Ed Leduc), 224 pages, €17.
(2) dare to be angry by Monique de Kermadec, (Ed. Flammarion), 320 pages, €20.

Source: Le Figaro

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