HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE A NARCISSISTIC SIBLING?
Do you enjoy being around them?
This is usually the first sign you know something is wrong. Many sibling victims do not enjoy time with their siblings. It’s exhaustive and takes so much energy to keep up the charade of playing the game of “I know” what you did and who you are, but I will still sit and eat Thanksgiving dinner with you. Anxiety before you see them in anticipation and dread of the depression you will have at yourself for allowing this to ruin another holiday is another tell-tale sign. The non-narc sibling often feels obligated because they do not want to risk isolating themselves from other family members, so they break bread and endure another holiday.
Is it hard to talk to your sibling?
Does your head spin like you are being served “word salad”? Word salad is a term for conversations that go around and around in many directions with nonsense arguments that just don’t make sense. Think of Gaslighting and mix it with a dash of confusion, lies, and crazy and you have word salad. Do they always bring up things from the past to use against you? Are your conversations blame-game conversations?
Are you always the loser?
Is your role to never win when arguing? Narcissistic siblings always need to win, so by default that means you always need to lose. Even when evidence comes into play, perhaps you got a better grade or job, expect that they will seek to devalue your achievements. Narcissistic siblings will often put you down and tell lies about you to take away “your win”. If the spotlight dances on you and you gain praise from parents and family, expect them to toss out an old argument or thing you did when you were six. They are happy to smear your name whenever that light shines. This leaves a sibling victim always feeling they need to compete for any attention, depressed and never being able to measure up.
Is your sibling unable to accept accountability?
Nothing is ever their fault. Think back to childhood. Did your sister always blame you for things she was doing? Did she leave the dog outside and then blame you? Does your sister still today blame everyone else for her own choices? As an adult, the narcissistic sibling has not learned that it’s okay to make a mistake, because to them making a mistake and admitting it will make them less then perfect. Perfect is the mask they want to world to see.
The secret dance
When your brother first asked you to do his homework but not tell anyone, the dance began. From that point you were probably covering up so many secrets you couldn’t keep track. If you did tell the secret, you probably paid the price of possibly being physically abused or verbally tortured, so you learned it was easier to go along with their lies to keep the peace. Later in life the secret game masks their fails and protects their lies.
Are you dealing with sibling rivalry?
Are your narcissistic siblings always in competition with you? In childhood and in a dysfunctional home, rivalry amongst siblings is encouraged as sort of a competition to push the weaker one to be more like their stronger brother or sister. Competition in sports among rival teams is in many ways accepted practice. Sibling rivalry can drive siblings to no longer want to spend time with each other because it is so painful to live in this role.
Are you the crazy one?
To make themselves always look like the perfect child they will create stories about you to make you look like the crazy one. This can be overt where they are outright smearing your name and telling people you are crazy, or they could be more covert and be very subtle using tactics like creating an argument to make you look unstable or telling complete lies about you to people. This tactic is crazy making because victims are forced to defend themselves against these false accusations.
Do they honor your boundaries?
Most narcissists are boundary violators and the reason for this is quite simple – they are entitled not to need to comply with your wishes. It probably started early in life where you didn’t even understand you were setting boundaries. For example, if you picked the chocolate cupcake and they picked another flavor. Later at night after dinner they decided they wanted the chocolate cupcake, they created a fuss and mom or dad ordered you to be nice to your brother and let him have the chocolate cupcake. It starts off slowly and you were trained that giving in is the easiest way to get through life.
Has your narcissistic sibling betrayed your confidence?
Personal example: During my divorce, my sister had stepped up to be there for me against my husband. She was uncharacteristically friendly, open, listening and caring. This built trust in our sisterhood again and I conveyed what my lawyers were planning to do and what information I was being asked to disclose. I should have suspected something because she hadn’t been nice in years, but I was vulnerable and in great isolation being 2000 miles away from my core support system, so I trusted her again. I never suspected that she was playing double-agent, relaying my secret divorce tactics back to my husband. They were never close, in fact, he really hated her, so I would have never believed they would team up. I never saw it coming when my lawyer informed me that she had offered to testify against me. She was after his money and hoped that being a snitch would give her some financial gain. She never made it to the stand or (to my knowledge) get anything out of him. She didn’t realize she was up against a sociopath mother in-law that was just using her to extract what they needed and then she was discarded. Her lies and efforts went to good use in ruining me and giving them advanced knowledge so they could counter attack.
Can you think back to times your brother or sister betrayed you? How did it feel? Did you trust them again like I did? If you did, please don’t blame yourself. You were fooled by a con-artist that knew more about you then you did. Going forward you will need to decide if they are trustworthy and even then, you need to always be careful to trust or reveal any information. Keep it light and remember to give them as little personal information as possible so you are not giving them data that they can betray you with.