I suspected that my sister, like my parents, was a narcissist, too. Then one snowy winter day she asked me to dinner.
She said she wanted to talk about my mother’s health, which had been failing lately.
I was wary. There was no way I was going to contribute to costs for care or let my mother stay with my family.
As the two of us talked while looking over our menus, I was given a gift.
I looked at my sister and sensed the emptiness inside her. Her personhood was an empty shell. There was nobody home.
I was given insight to her false self. It was both fascinating and horrifying.
Filled with gratitude for what I saw, I knew at that moment she was, indeed, a narcissist. I was thankful that I had been spared her fate.
Signs Your Sibling Is a Narcissist
I should not have needed to see my sister in person to ascertain her narcissism. The signs of it were plain to see.
Here are some signs your sibling is a narcissist.
- He always has to be the center of attention whether it be Christmas or a funeral. He will always draw attention to himself and have scathing remarks for anyone who diverts that attention.
- She constantly seeks approval and praise. This is her harvesting narcissistic supply from those around her.
- Never accepts blame even when it is evident to others that he is responsible. Accepting blame would lower others opinions of him. He seeks to remain grandiose in his eyes and the esteem of others.
- She lacks empathy. She may act like she understands your pain, but quickly brushes it off and moves on to the next topic—which is probably about her.
- He does you a favor and then makes you feel forever beholden to him. You may begin to feel if the favor was a transaction and you’ll always be in his debt.
- She often interrupts conversations turning the subject of discussion to her favorite topic—herself
- He refuses to admit his weaknesses or areas where he needs improvement, even when they are negatively affecting his life.
- She does not respect your wishes when you say no. She continues as if you said nothing.
- Reacts with anger to criticism, he often tries to accuse others of the same fault. He will often redirect the focus to others by attempting to humiliate another person.
- She will often exaggerate her achievements, making them seem larger and harder to attain.
- He exhibits envy towards others with more power or wealth. At the same time he believes others are envious of him.
Your narcissistic sibling is likely enmeshed with your narcissistic parent. He is the family’s golden child. Compared to you he can do no wrong in the eyes of your narcissistic parent. Your parent showers him with praise, gifts, and probably money as well.
A narcissistic parent will pit the golden child against the non-narcissistic children. This means he probably takes part in your parent’s verbal and emotional abuse against you.
This is a painful experience, especially if you have no other siblings. Most likely you have spent your whole life being bullied by him.
At the least you watched, silent as a ghost, as he was rewarded for the smallest things while you received severe punishments for minor infractions.
And now your sibling keeps butting into your life like a nosy neighbor. He keeps trying to stir your emotions. He tries to make you feel guilty and ashamed.
He and your parents may coordinate their efforts.
They leave you no peace.
You just want to be left alone without guilt.
Dealing with Your Narcissistic Sibling
Dealing with a narcissistic sibling is not simple. But it is easier than avoiding the issues.
A narcissistic sibling will attempt to cast you in role that’s to his pleasing. That role will always be subservient to his and will leave you providing him with narcissistic supply and feeding his grandiose fantasies.
Don’t. No matter how hard it may be, do not follow her script for you.
You need to take a stand and live your own life. It is never easy to stand up to someone who has bullied you. Especially when that bullying lasted nearly your whole life.
But you have to do it. You cannot change or repair him, so you’ll need to manage him.
Which means setting some boundaries between him and you.
The best boundary between you and any narcissist is “no contact.” However, many find this method too difficult to start off with. If you feel breaking contact with you narcissistic sibling is further then you want to go right now, read on. If you do want to go no contact, I’ll cover that in a bit.
Start setting boundaries by limiting the amount of information you give your sibling about yourself. I recommend giving him none since he doesn’t really care about you anyway.
He will only use your information to manipulate, control, and damage you.
Next, limit your involvement in his life. Look at how you are involved now. Do you find yourself frequently doing things for him, even when it inconveniences you?
My sister used to use me to solve her tech problems. She’d stroke my ego by telling me what a genius I was. Once I started listening I detected the insincerity in her voice. I realized I was being used.
Don’t let yourself get used. And don’t let him guilt you into being involved in his life.
Narcissists are highly skilled at using guilt to get what they want. You are particularly vulnerable since you were raised by a narcissist. You’ve been conditioned to respond to guilt. So stay alert for guilting and manipulation.
Setting Physical Boundaries between You and Your Narcissistic Sibling
Besides the boundaries mentioned above, consider setting some boundaries in time and space.
What I mean is put boundaries around you in physical space—i.e. when he can be near you. And set others in time as to when he can call you, email you, or approach you on Facebook.
Approaching you via the phone or computer is just as obtrusive as coming in, plopping himself down on the couch, and putting his feet up on the table.
It’s important to set boundaries around yourself. Narcissists think they’re entitled to your full attention any time they need it. As many of us know, they need our attention for the stupidest things.
So what do you do?
I recommend a letter—return receipt requested—or an email with a return receipt when opened, stating your rules for him to see you.
I recommend you meet in a neutral place with a lot of people—not in your home. You don’t know how he’s going to respond. He may be unstable. If so, you don’t want to be alone.
State what day of the week he can see you. Also set a rule for how long you will be together. You may want to make a rule that neither of you will touch the other.
Explain that he will not visit you or call you at work, or follow you around town. Should you encounter each other by chance you will each go your separate ways—like two strangers on the beach.
Outline consequences for violating the rules. Perhaps no visits for the month. You know your narcissistic sibling best, so you have an inkling what consequences will be most effective.
The important part is that you enforce these boundaries once communicated. Think of your sibling like a kid. He is going to push the boundaries like a teenager. If you give an inch he will slip past your boundary a wreak havoc in your life.
You must enforce the full brunt of the consequences once a boundary is violated. No second chances. Stand up for your rights. Your narcissistic sibling and parent have been beating you down your whole life. You have to follow through with the consequences you set.
If you don’t mean it, they’ll keep attacking you.
And you deserve so much better.
So stand up.
You can do it!
No contact is the chemical formula that rids yourself of those pesky narcissists in your life. Basically, when you make the decision to go no contact, you are forbidding the narcissists in your life from having any contact with you.
This is a decision that people don’t take lightly. They know there could be some pushback. But I’ve never heard of anyone regretting going no contact.
How you communicate your desire is up to you. I recommend the receipt requested letter. Some prefer to do it in person. In that case, do it in daylight in a public place. Always exercise safety first.
They’ll probably try to get back into your life.
Block their numbers from your phone. Throw out any letters that come. If they show up at work tell your coworkers to say you don’t want to see them.
Take a good look outside before you leave your house or apartment. Look for cars parked along the street with people sitting in them.
Check your rear view mirror frequently as you drive. If they follow you pull up to a police station and say you are being followed. If you have to, get a restraining order.
You may come home to find gifts on your doorstep. The gifts are just an attempt to buy your allegiance. There is no remorse attached to the presents. Throw them away. Use a garbage can visible from the street. Let your sibling know you see through his ruse.
They will use other people’s phones to text and call. Simply don’t answer text and calls from stranger numbers. Delete the texts and reject the calls without a smidgen of guilt.
They will eventually leave you alone. Their narcissistic sensibilities will not be able to handle being rejected over and over again.
Imagine how sweet life will then be.
Healing a Lifetime of Pain
You have some healing to do. All your life you were part of a triangle consisting of you, your narcissistic sibling, and your narcissistic parent.
Your parent and your sibling joined against you.
They heaped abuse on you. Your narcissistic sibling received gifts and rewards that you did not.
When your sibling became an adult, he carried on the abuse by himself. He demanded things from you. Rather than thanks he heaped emotional abuse on you, reinforcing the negative actions and words of your parents.
Now you are pushing them all from your life.
Now you can heal.
Find people who will love you while demanding nothing in return. People you can laugh and cry with without judgement. Their positive energy will be like a salve to your wounds.
To close the wounds for good, I recommend seeking treatment from a licensed mental health professional—either a psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker.
There are layers upon layers of pain within you. Those who were supposed to nurture and protect you, turned on you and used their claws to wound yourself. You need the attention of a professional healer now. Seek out one that understands your agony.
Trust me. The world is so much brighter when you begin healing.
I wish you inner peace, and mental and emotional health.
May the sun shine on you and may you know the happiness of good friends and laughter.
Till we meet again.