Offering trauma therapy in Burbank, a topic that occasionally comes up is the pain of losing the connection to a brother or sister.

How do you make sense of a sibling that does not now, did not then, and may not ever care for you? Like you? Love you? Chaotic households have a way of either forging protective, lasting bonds between siblings, inspiring unique levels of cruelty, or abject alienation. You and your sibling may have lived in the same home but interpret the environment in fundamentally different ways. Every family has that which it uniquely values – intelligence, athletics, beauty, obedience, etc. Limited family resources – time, love, money, etc. – are then allocated to the family member(s) that deliver “the goods” and are withheld from those that do not. While it may not be overtly stated, the child that does not deliver “the goods” can easily connect not delivering “the goods” to a reflection of self worth. For example, “My parents expect me to get good grades.” “My brother gets better grades than I do.” “My parents love my brother more than me.” “I am not good enough.” If these beliefs are allowed to grow they form a wedge in the sibling relationship rooted in jealousy, righteous anger, superiority, insecurity, grief, and a range of other possible emotions.

So faced with the weight of a painful childhood and the complex, twisted sibling relationship that grew out of it, where do you go from here? First, understand that individuation from your family’s values is a natural part of growing up. One of the greatest perks of being an adult is you get to decide the value of the “the goods” as they resonate authentically, or not, with you. Second, make peace with the fact that there is always hope for change. You never know what circumstances may conspire to open a new door towards reconciliation. Most importantly, live your life. Being stuck in “trauma time” with your sibling holds you back from finding your chosen family when your biological one cannot give you what you need. Sisterhood and brotherhood is not limited to a blood connection. Attachment by choice in some cases is a tighter bond than that which was forged while fighting for emotional survival.

If you would like to discuss this or other issues related to trauma therapy and are in or around the Burbank area, please feel free to contact me for a consultation.