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Codependent Sibling

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12:19 pm
July 9, 2008


New Member

posts -1

hi everyone!

can anybody tell me what to do when you have a very codependent sibling? one of my problems is that i have a brother who is obsessed with me. i am not conceited. i just feel that he wants to know every single minute detail that i am going through. he wants to know my every thought and feeling. he goes through my stuff. he tries to read my emails. he stalks me (as it seems) on these social network places. i know because he'll ask me who so and so is…and bring up what they say to me on a comment on my profile. (sorry if this is too 2006)

i feel that he lives vicariously through me. and in his own ways, tries to control me. he uses criticisms. backhanded comments. he tries to undermine my own power in my own life.

one instance, (as background i'm a musician/songwriter & i release records)….i got a really bad review. (something that could probably kill my will to live. instead, i was strong enough to realize that i made the record that i wanted and perhaps it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. whatever.) so my brother calls me up and has to moan about this record review with me. instead, he wanted me to revel with him in the notion that we are both failed artists (he always wanted to write songs and make records, but doesn't have the knack). and in that, i resented him even more.

i have tried very hard to estrange myself from him. i have moved a long ways from him. i ignore his phonecalls a lot of the time. i feel that he wants me to incorporate him into my life. but the age difference and generation gap is huge (he's 17 years older than me).

essentially i feel like he wants me to fill the holes in his life. i feel like he wants me to feel sorry for him so i'll be overflowing with care and generosity. but it doesn't work that way. i feel like whenever he tries to intrude on my life – i feel like he's trying to swallow me whole.

1:36 pm
July 9, 2008



posts 453

Keep up the healthy boundaries WITHOUT guilt. If you feel guilt…obligation…then seek counseling. His behavior does not seem normal. Does he have any close friends? Are your parents still alive? I am wondering what has contributed to this unnatural dependence upon you. Has he ever married? Does he have any children of his own? Sounds like his life is solitary…and you are his only close connection. Share whatever seems relevent. We certainly want to try and understand what is going on.

- Ma Strong

2:18 pm
July 9, 2008


New Member

posts -1

Yeah i am seeking counsel.

His behavior seems inappropriate to me. As for his close friends, I am not sure that he has any. He now gets on with co-workers and neighbors, so that's a forward step. But whenever I do ask about them and how that's going – he seems not very interested in them.

Our parents are alive – however, they were pretty unavailable to him for most of his life. mine too. He grew up being a loner. He stays in his apartment and watches videos or plays videogames most weekends.

He isn't married and does not have children.

I'm curious because he talks about hanging out with his friends and then he complains more about how much money he spends going out – as opposed to how much fun it was.

I'm trying to keep a healthy distance. I am going back to visit my family this weekend. So it is going to be hard. I feel like I have made great strides in myself. I have developed a sense of confidence and worth – but when I go back home – I feel like he chips and pecks away at what I've built up.

It's a bit difficult.

2:29 pm
July 9, 2008


New Member

posts -1

Part of the problem is the fact that your brother is so much older. So not only does he see himself as the older brother, but probably feels that he also parented you and raised you. Normally, siblings aren't that involved with each other. He is taking on the overly involved parent role.

Since he hasn't gotten the hint thus far, you may need to calmly tell your brother that he needs to get a life of his own and that you are an adult now and do not need his supervision. Let him know you want to be his brother, but that he needs to respect your privacy and your boundaries. Maybe send him a book about codependency.

2:44 pm
July 9, 2008


New Member

posts -1

thank you, Loralei!

yeah – he definitely feels like an overly involved parents. i feel like my parents had him take care of me when they were too busy to do those parent things like bringing me to friends' houses and cub scout meetings or whatever.

i feel like i've tried to give him the hint to get his own life. but i suppose i should clearly (yet calmly) say that he needs to get a life of his own.

once before i told him that he needs to let me do my own thing. and then he got really combative about it. he said that he just cared…and he thought i was being selfish and asking if i'd like it if he "DIDN'T CARE AT ALL."

he has a temper. and he gets into super-rages if things don't go his own way. i don't know – i suppose i am just giving reasons as to why i don't straight up tell him that he needs to get his own life.

3:24 pm
July 9, 2008


New Member

posts -1

Like most codependents, your brother is confusing "caring" with "controlling". Since he is prone to anger and is combative when you exert your independence, it may be easier if you take a more passive approach. When he tells you to do something, thank him for his advice, you may even say you'll take it under consideration, and then do your own thing. Just because he tells you to do something doesn't mean you have to do it. Maybe being heard will be enough for him.

Also, if you remain calm and show no signs of anger, he will hear you more clearly than if you match his combative tone. He tries to get you to react, whether from anger or from guilt, because that is how he controls you. Be polite and distant when he pulls this on you.

You will always be a child in his eyes, no matter what your age. If you don't respond like one, it will diffuse the situation. But for your own peace of mind, you can't continue to allow him to intrude in your life. I think you are doing a great job at trying to distance yourself.

1:02 pm
July 10, 2008


New Member

posts -1

I don't know what it's like now. We see each other maybe every 2 months for an afternoon. I do get the phonecalls in my far away place. I notice once I take in one phonecall and the conversation is okay. I get an avalanche of phonecalls for awhile until I start not picking up.

In the meantime, I feel like I have matured. But interacting with him almost feels like a game of chess. Every move I make is meditated and based on a lot of predicting what his actions will be.

My mother also puts a lot of pressure on me as well to spend time with him and "fix" him. This alarms me because my mother (as so it seems) doesn't think I have any power to fix my own life.

The problem is that my brother is just very needy, selfish, self-centered, he doesn't have many friends. And if I was to ever complain about how it is too stressful and how it doesn't work, my mother makes me feel bad that I'm not helping out the family. Although I know I am not obligated to help him out. I still feel this residual obligation to somewhat be there for him. Even though what my brother and I have is very toxic.

In fact, I feel like the relationship I have with my family is ultimately toxic. Whenever I come back from visiting them, I feel worn down and my confidence is a bit fallen. I feel like I am full of doubt and uncertainty.

2:43 pm
July 13, 2008


New Member

posts -1

Next time your mom wants you to go "fix" your brother, remind her that you can't change someone else. That change comes from within.

You may be spending too much of your time thinking about your family members and how they relate to you. This in itself would make you hypersensitive to anything they say to you. Codependent families tend to "react" to each other. Since you can't change any of them, just work on any codependent tendencies that you may have. This feeling of obligation that haunts you is the "people pleaser" in you. If you had enough self-confidence, you wouldn't be bothered by what they think of you or what they say to you.

Your family may be too enmeshed in each other's business. Just keep distancing yourself until you can find a comfortable spot where they don't know your personal business, but that they still know you love them and care about them. It's all about boundaries.

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