Dear Papa Bear,
Once again I find myself turning to you for some advice. I’ve written to you before and all your advice has worked so far so here goes. I have pretty low self esteem as it is, but my brother doesn’t really help. He is always calling me stupid or an idiot or putting me down in some way. Granted, he does this to everyone in my family, but I have trouble taking it from him. I have Aspergers and think that might be part od the problem, but at the same time I find myself actually believing him when he abuses me this way. That can’t be normal.
It’s gotten to the point where I start lashing out violently and that just makes my problem worse because he is my younger brother so I could get in serious trouble with the law, but also, even though I’m older, he is bigger and stronger than me and will literally kick my ass if I try to hurt him. I’m 22 and having my ass handed to me by a 16 year old. I’m so tired of the abuse I receive daily and want to know if you have any advice on how I can ignore it. Sorry for the rant. Any advice?
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Dear Nite Mastr,
It is not you who has a problem but your brother. As you said, he is lashing out not only at you but everyone in the family. So, my first question is, “What’s HIS problem?” Clearly, he has anger issues that should be addressed. The solution, my furiend, would be much more thoroughly addressed by answering that question and getting him some help so he stops acting like a butt munch.
Secondly, I wish to tell you that your reaction to his verbal abuse is actually perfectly normal. Anyone who is repeatedly told by a family member that they are “stupid” and an “idiot” would, after a while, begin to believe it. I had the same trouble when I was younger and my father’s favorite phrase for me was “You’re as useless as teats on a boar.” Still hurts even today, and he’s been dead for years.
Next—and I just advised another reader on this recently—if you are fretting because you are weaker than your brother, there is something you can do about it: work out. Go to the gym and train and get stronger than your younger brother so you are no longer physically afraid of him. This has the added benefit of making you healthier :-)
Finally, have you talked to the rest of your family? What is their take on your brother’s behavior? Why are they doing nothing about it? Why are they letting him push everyone around? Including your parents? Talk to your parents and tell them that this has to stop. Either they need to discipline him or, as noted above, they need to get him some therapy to figure out why he is so angry and abusive.
My advice, then, is not to teach you how to “ignore it,” but, rather, to do something about it. Your brother’s behavior is harmful and unacceptable and needs to change.
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