When your sibling is….difficult….

Sibling relationships aren’t just difficult when you’re stealing each other’s toys and fighting for your parents attention.Sometimes, they continue to be difficult as you grow up. And sometimes you keep fighting for your parents’ attention, albeit in different, more complex and grown-up ways.
And so it is for ‘Kat’ who wrote the following email to share with you all……

Twelve years ago I was heading to a party with my brother when he announced that he was addicted to heroin.I was floored. I had no idea what to say. I would never have guessed it and almost thought he was joking. Oh boy do I wish he had been joking.
I managed to convince him to talk to our mother and from there he saw a doctor and he went on the methadone program. I thought give or take a year and he’ll be back to normal. We both still lived at home and seeing what he went through was unbearable for me. I moved out and moved far away.
He stayed at home and at the age of 31 still lives at home. He did see a psychiatrist for a while and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. But for most of the time he has seen no one and taken no medication. He and my mother spend almost all their time together. He is so needy and takes up all of her time. He goes into deep depressions and he’s also an alcoholic.
I know that my mother is barely coping but I just have felt like it’s too much for me to bare so I’ve stayed out of it a lot. I have tried to convince him to see someone but of course he’s an adult and I can’t force him. I also think my mother needs counselling, but she refuses to see anyone and has cut herself off from friends and family. Including myself. It’s been so hard for me over the years.
My mother and I were the best of friends until this and I still miss her terribly. Now I have the most beautiful daughter, who is ten months old, and I struggle sometimes. I watch other women with mothers who help and I am so jealous. I even moved back closer to my mother (who has always begged me to move back).At first she was over a lot and helping out heaps and I loved it. I love her company, I love her help and I love her. Every time she comes over my brother rings every half an hour and spoils her mood. So she’s never fully mine. She sees me as the capable one. The one who has made it. The one who is OK. And of course in comparison I am. But I desperately crave her help, her attention, her company.
I’d love my little girl to grow up with her grandma around (my dad passed away ten years ago). My husband is so supportive and so loving but he works very long hours and during the weekdays I am so lonely sometimes and I find it so hard sometimes. I do see friends and go to mothers group and swim lessons. But I really would like help with the home and with my child. I’d love to have someone mind my daughter occasionally so I can go to appointments or just have a break.
And it’s not just that.. it’s that it’s been twelve years and there’s no sign of it ever getting better. And I feel like it’s not fair that she’s put all her time and effort into my brother and there’s no time left for me. Why should I be punished for being OK? Will it ever be my time? Of course I also understand that’s it’s her son and she’d do anything to make him better. But is what she doing really helping him? I really don’t think there is anything I can do. But thought I’d write in case there is something I hadn’t thought of.
I should also mention that I am seeing a psychologist because I just feel so low about this a lot of the time at the moment. Though I don’t know if the psychologist is helping or not. Thanks for listening….

Well, the psychologist part is good news and anyone who might feel that counselling could help them with a similar problem – or any problem – you can find a nearby counsellor at the Relationships Australia website here.
Do you have any thoughts, experience or words of collective wisdom you’d like to share with Kat or anyone going through something similar?