“I could burn the house down and he wouldn’t say a word….”

May 23, 2022 | Thoughts from the therapy room | 0 comments

“I could burn the house down and he wouldn’t say a word, but if he makes a mistake, he can never forgive me for it”

“I always know when my elder brother has messed up because he sits me down and spends a pleasant afternoon shouting at me for being a failure. He blames me for things that he has done, accuses me of doing things that other people have done and generally says things which make no sense and don’t stand up to any scrutiny at all. He rarely gives me the chance to reply and if I do manage to say something in my defence he says “I haven’t got to listen to this” and leaves. If I talk to him about it when he’s calmed down, he looks outraged and says “I would never say anything like that”.

He has been doing this all my life and I sit there shaking. Hours, sometimes days later, when I’ve stopped shaking I start fuming. Then I remember all the things I would have, could have said if only my mind hadn’t gone blank. And why didn’t I leave as soon as it was clear what mood he was in?  I It’s like I’m rooted there. I would never let anybody else treat me like this, so why do I let him?

But it plagues me all the time. I spend hours lying in bed, going over what I should have said and practising what I will say next time.  When I do finally drop off,  my sleep is not restful and I wake up jittery and tired. I try to concentrate on getting through the day, but I feel so angry, and indignant and it’s just not fair. And then I start crying. I don’t know how to stop him treating me like his own personal punchbag. I really do feel as if I’ve been beaten up.

Eventually, I stop thinking about him, but anytime there is mention of brothers or arguments or injustices  or anything that remind me of him, up it all pops again and I feel that my body is completely clogged up with it.” 

NP London

So long as N is unable to resolve the situation with her brother, although her emotions will settle, she will not have processed them, so they will be available to be triggered and when they are , she may well feel that the shouting happened this morning rather than last week, last month, three years ago or when she was seven.

When it comes to her brother, N is physiologically weakened by their history. And even though she has leant not to allow anybody else to treat her in this way, she lets him get away with it every time and as a result feels helpless, hopeless and furious with herself for allowing it.

Some of the things we worked on:

  • I taught N techniques to bring her out of her childhood and back into the present where she could access the skills she has learnt as an adult. 
  • We worked on techniques to help her feel stronger and more connected with herself.
  • We worked with the Fight/Flight responses so that her body stayed strong and her mind no longer went blank
  • We looked at the triggers and worked to lessen their impact
  • We worked out a protocol for how she could better manage her brother
  • We removed the energetic links which kept her trapped in this bullying relationship.
  • We looked at her beliefs about what a sister or brother is supposed to be – and where she got these beliefs.
  • Then we explored the wider family dynamics. Who else was around and what were they doing when all this bullying was going on?
  • How did this damaging relationship arise in the first place and why has it been allowed to continue for so long?
  • We looked at who N had to support her and how she might ask for help.
  • Finally, we  looked at building new, healthier relationships with her brother and other members of the family within the bounds of what was realistically achievable.
  • We looked at what N wanted for herself and explored how she might get it.