Dysfunctional siblings




Hi everyone,

I guess I’m just wondering if anyone can relate or have a similar issue with their siblings…

We have all experienced trauma as a result of parental alcoholism from both parents and have dealt with it in different ways.

My two siblings are so toxic, always point scoring and have to have someone to “hate”. Well this time it’s me and my partner’s turn.

I’ve tried to express that we don’t need to be like this, but the response is more point scoring and a complete lack of respect or care for my feelings.

I’ve made the decision today to cut them out (at least for a while), but now I’m dreading the phone calls from my mum and dad (mum now sober, dad still drinking). They will say I’m over reacting, make me doubt myself and try to guilt me into talking to them because “we are family”. Which then makes me want to cut them out too because they also disregard my feelings, belittle me and try to start arguments.

I don’t know what to say to do this? I just want a break from them as I’m so sick of the drama. It’s all the little things, and so when I say them out loud I come across as petty.

Any advice on how to deal with this welcome, thank you.

  • listener

    Dear bbaggins,

    I’m so glad that you’ve reached out here.

    Taking a break from family is an incredibly tough decision and takes a huge amount of resilience. It’s so important that you know that there’s not really a right or wrong way of dealing with a parent with alcoholism so long as you’re making sure you are looking after yourself – and making good decisions for you. It sounds as though that’s exactly what you’re doing. Maybe writing these reasons down somewhere you can see them if you do get a phone call? You’re already being your own advocate, that takes strength and courage. I hope you can feel proud of yourself for that.

    Nacoa has a publication you might find helpful called ‘The family illness’, I’ve attached a link below but it has a section on family roles. I wonder if you can see yourself in any of these or if it might help you to make sense of the different ways you’ve all dealt with parental alcoholism. Alcohol-the-Family-Illness.pdf (nacoa.org.uk)

    Some advice to keep in mind is to remind yourself of the reasons for your break, and to keep your well being a priority in your mind. Nacoa often talk about ‘The Six C’s’ which can be a helpful mantra.
    I didn’t cause it.
    I can’t control it.
    I can’t cure it.
    I can take care of myself.
    I can communicate my feelings.
    I can make healthy choices.

    Please also don’t underestimate the value in allowing yourself to talk. Taking a break from family members can bring up all kinds of feelings, from freedom to grief. Often conflicting too. Please do contact Nacoa if you have any questions, big or small, or simply need a space to let things out. The helpline is open 10am to 7pm Monday to Saturday or you can email if you find it easier to lay things out in writing. The phone number is 0800 358 3456 and the helpline email is helpline@nacoa.org.uk.

    Best Wishes,

  • buntyh

    Hi bbaggins,

    I’m sorry you are going through this. I don’t know if I can offer any advice, but I wanted to offer some solidarity as someone who is going through similar with their siblings. So much so that I could have written your post myself.

    It’s so hard to deal with. Stay strong.

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