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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 124 Too Much To Do? > Sibling fallout

Sibling fallout

A hostile relationship with an adult sibling is a heartbreaking reality for many people. After 20 years of frostiness, Sophia Smith went in search of a solution

Her voice sounded so full of vitriol that I could barely make out what she was saying. ‘Hate’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘never want to see you again’ featured highly, though, as did other choice descriptors for me. When I put down the phone, I was trembling. The shock of being told – no, screamed at – that someone despises you so much that they want to cut you out of their life for good is upsetting enough. The fact that the someone in question is your sister is even harder to bear.

I remained in shock for a few days, playing the phonecall over and over in my head. Waves of anxiety and anger tore through my body as I recalled the sibling venom. I meditated. I cried. Then I got rational.

My sister’s attitude to family has been pretty negative for the last 20 years, even more so since meeting her husband a few years ago. From our teenage years, she started distancing herself, keen to bow out of landmark occasions and holidays, with my other sister and I picking up the pieces of her often-hurtful behaviour. Our interaction since then has been transactional and perfunctory. We don't even bother to send cach other birthday or Christmas card any more.

PHOTOGRAPHS: GETTY IMAGES, CORBIS, ISTOCK
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Psychologies January 2016 - Too Much To Do?
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