I Hated My Domineering Older Brother for Years Because He Bullied Me
He was so bossy and controlling, I often wished I was an only child
My older brother was a bully. In recent years, I’ve become more aware of how that affected me growing up. Here is a breakdown of his behavior towards me.
He teased me and called me names
It seemed that at every available opportunity he would criticize or poke fun at me. It would be about all kinds of things:
- Wearing the wrong type of clothes
- Listening to the wrong type of music
- Having the wrong friends
- The way I walked
- I was too skinny
- How I got too excited when I was enjoying myself
He bossed me about
- He was always telling me what I should and shouldn’t do:
- I should wear skin-tight jeans instead of the comfortable baggy ones I liked
- I should listen to rock and heavy metal rather than the dancey pop music I enjoyed
- I should go to Army Cadets even though I tried it and didn’t like it
- I should accept being punched on the arm because it was good for me
- I should go to music festivals even though I didn’t like noisy crowds
- I should lend him money even though I knew I would struggle to get it back
- If I didn’t let him borrow my things, I was accused of being selfish — even though he didn’t take good care of them, for example, my CDs would come back scratched.
He also had this bossy way of talking. Almost every time he spoke to me it contained the words “you should”. You should do this, you should do that. If ever I pushed back at him on this, it would lead to big fights between us. That made me not want to be around him.
He stole my friends
If I had friends come round to the house, sometimes he would lure them into spending time with him rather than me. This caused me to feel like there was something wrong with me.
If my friends prefer spending time with him, perhaps he’s better than me?
He would often hit me. But instinctively I would hit back to defend myself, so we would have full-on physical fights. We often had to be physically pulled apart from each other.
Whenever we went on vacation, our parents would put a physical barrier of sleeping bags between us in the back of the car. Sometimes my dad would be dangerously distracted from his driving because we were going berserk hitting each other.
We were sent to stay with different relatives
By the time I was 8-years-old, my parents realized we all needed a break from each other. So, they sent us away to stay with different relatives. They sent me to my mother’s parents and sent my brother to my dad’s sister and her family.
It was a relief to spend quality time with my grandparents without my brother around. I was much happier and able to just be myself.
Later psychological attacks
As we got older and well into our teens, our parents made it clear that if he hit me anymore he would be thrown out of the house. So, our fights shifted to being psychological instead.
He always knew exactly what to say to wind me up. He knew my buttons and he would press them ALL THE TIME. He would deliberately say something to annoy me, then blame me for getting annoyed.
He would always make it seem entirely my fault. But I never had these problems with anyone else in my life, ever.
Was that a form of gaslighting?
Hatred, anxiety, and upset
By the time I was coming to the end of my teens, I absolutely hated him. And I don’t mean he just annoyed me a lot. I properly hated him. I wished he wasn’t my brother. Sometimes I wished he didn’t even exist.
When he went away to university, I felt a powerful sense of relief. It was like the heaviest weight was lifted from my shoulders. Finally, I was free from his bullying and overbearing domineering bossiness.
When he would return from university during the summer holidays, I would feel anxious. And within a short time of him being back, we would be crossing swords once again.
One time, I actually told him I hated him. It devastated him. He seemed to desperately want to be friends with me. But why would I want to be friends with someone who mistreated me for so many years? Why would I want to be friends with my abuser?
And that’s the thing I have started to come to terms with. I was abused. Both physically and mentally.
I’m not saying I’m completely innocent in all this. I’m sure I did things that annoyed and irritated him too. I’m just acknowledging the seriousness of how things were between us.
Trying to make peace with him
A few years later, after we reached a crisis point, I decided things needed to change. I went on a journey of self-improvement. Eventually, I came to a point where I felt much calmer and happier with myself.
I found that I was able to better get along with him because I had improved my own physical and mental health. I had built up enough inner resources to be able to cope with many of the difficult situations between us.
But as the years went by, I began to realize it’s possible to be too nice. It’s not always good to take on the role of the peace-maker. If you’re always nice to other people no matter how they behave towards you, you give them no reason to treat you well.
Finding the middle ground
More recently, I have learned that sometimes I do still need to stand up for myself. Over the last few years, we have had some difficult conversations and confrontations. I’ve had to firmly put him in his place a few times.
I think the best approach is to not go looking for trouble, but not stand for it either. Be nice to people, but don’t put up with them not being nice to you.
There are calm and measured ways of being assertive. You can learn to calmly say to someone, “Please don’t talk to me like that” or “You’re being too bossy”.
I’m not saying things are perfect between us. We will never be best buddies, and I’m happy that I rarely see him. But things aren’t as bad as they used to be.
Put it this way: if I was to see him in a fight, I would dive in and help him fight them off, but I’m not going to go camping with him.