When Sibling Rivalry Shatters

This is the story of a sibling rivalry that went to the extreme.      sibling rivalry, families, dysfunctional families

As a child, the sibling rivalry between my brother and I started out fairly harmless. 

My older brother antagonized me a lot. He pulled my hair, made a mess and blamed me, put his vegetables on my plate so I’d have to eat double, made the dog yelp and blamed me and even made me eat dog food in front of his friends.

Mostly comical kid stuff. As time passed by, it progressed.

The words, “I hate you,” became an everyday occurrence.  I observed how other siblings laughed, loved and played together. The words, “I hate you,” cut even deeper.  I did everything I could to get my brother to love me. He rejected me day after day.

Family and friends said he was just jealous and he’d get used to me.  They passed it off as normal sibling rivalry.


Age 5.  “No no no!  I want to go back to Grandma’s.  You’re smoking and I’m telling.”  We argued and played tug of war on a street corner in Reno, Nevada. I just couldn’t break free of his grip.

  All of a sudden a man pulled up in a big red car.  He got out, yanked me away from my brother and put me in the car with him.

It took over two years for the trial to be over with.  He was finally put away and I could stop being scared that he was coming back for me every time I walked out the door. 

To think, it all started because my brother snuck my grandmother’s cigarettes. But I still loved him. (If you, or someone you know is the victim of a violent crime, you may find local assistance here)


Age 7.  By this time, my older brother had gotten into enough trouble that he was in a group home. My mom packed us in the car and took him back from a weekend visit.

  He insisted on stopping at Long’s to get a model car kit. My mom told him that if he was nice to me all weekend, she’d buy him one.  He wasn’t nice, but I was too afraid to tell her what had gone on.

Mom waited in the car and the two of us went in.  All of a sudden a man came running into our aisle headed straight for us.  I still remember the whites of his eyes fixated on us.  He tried to grab us. 

Then, a police officer rounded the corner into the aisle and yelled, “Stop or I’ll shoot!”  The man didn’t stop.  The cop shot.  We were about 20 feet away.  He had just robbed the bank that was in the same shopping center as Long’s.

Here again, another two years of questioning & legal statements.  To think, it all started because my brother, whose behavior was so delinquent that he was in a group home at age 11, had to have a model right now. 

But I still loved him.


Age 8.  “You’re gonna die soon anyway.  Why do you think you had surgery?  Your heart is a defect and pretty soon you’re gonna drop dead.”  I was born with Pulmonary Stenosis and received Open Heart Surgery at age 5.  (Yes, right before the kidnapping in Reno.)  I used to worry every single day that I was going to die at any given second.

Age 10.  “Mom and Dad never wanted you.  You were an accident.”  I was 15 when I finally asked my parents if I was really an accident.  They said no.  To this day, I still wonder. 

Age 11 (or so).  “You snitch on me and you’re dead, bitch.”  “I swear to God I am going to kill you.”  “Hey snitch, make sure you look behind you when you’re walking down the street.”  “Nobody can stand you. Just go kill yourself and save me the trouble.”  I just could not get my brother to love me.  But everyone says it’s just sibling rivalry.

I Just Want to Sleep!

Age 12-14.  In between various group homes, my brother came home, supposedly changed.  It took a while, but my mom finally listened when I said he came into my room at night.  Sometimes he’d sneak friends in too.  They always had beer and cigarettes, but the cigarettes smelled funny.

  After he made me take a drink of the beer one night Mom finally put a lock on my bedroom door.  She forgot about my bedroom window.  The cigarettes they smoked smelled horrible and my arms and face would get super hot and itch like crazy.  Later in life, I discovered that the itching was hives and that I am HIGHLY allergic to Marijuana. 

But hey, it’s just sibling rivalry.

Friends at school either hated me because of my brother or were extra nice because they were afraid of him.  I still wonder how many friends I lost and how many ‘fake’ friends I had because of my brother’s reputation.  I don’t recall honestly having many friends who genuinely were my friend for me. 


The ‘harmless’ sibling rivalry continued. We fought horribly.  Sometimes for hours at a time.  He punched, kicked, scratched, yanked my hair, pinned me down and ‘Indian rubbed’ my chest until it was raw,  spat, threw things, hid my stuff, poured drinks on me, smashed food in my face etc.

 I ignored him for hours until finally exploding in either tears or anger. My mom was sick of it and just ignored us and let us go at it.  When we got older, she actually left the house.  Looking back, I understand that it had to be hard.  What I’ll never understand is all of the times that she looked the other way hoping it would go away.  It never stopped.  As time went on, the torture increased.

  I was scared to death of him.  I remember wondering if tonight was the night he was going to sneak in my room and kill me.  That’s how I went to sleep many nights.  The horrible, disgusting things he said to me echoed in my head.  The only time I had a reprieve was when he was sleeping, out with friends, or frequenting another group home or Juvenile Hall.

Age 15.  My parents got back together after being divorced for 10 years.  From age 15 to age 26, I had the protection of my dad.  My brother couldn’t so much as give me a dirty look when my dad was around.  It was almost as though my brother’s hatred for me increased because of my dad’s protection.  My brother excluded me from his life.  It was like I didn’t matter.  I considered this a more subtle form of his bullying tactics.


Age 26.  My dad died.  My brother lost it. He moved back in with my mom. Both Mom and my brother were hurting.  One day Mom’s next door neighbor called and said my brother had freaked out and was running through the corn field saying he was going to kill my 3 year old son and I.  3 days later we moved away.

This is when my intense ‘sibling rivalry‘ was born.  My whole life I had feared my brother.  My mom looked the other way.  Now my dad was gone and I had to deal with him.  He was embarrassing, hateful and disgusting.  I began throwing things in my mom’s face of what he’d done.  She defended him.  It placed such a wedge in our relationship that I finally packed up and moved out of state.  I stayed away for 5 years


Upon returning, the relationship with my brother was the best it has ever been.  All of the past was gone.  No more sibling rivalry.

Then, almost overnight, it changed.  He wouldn’t let me or the kids go over there anymore.  He was angry and I didn’t know why.  As it turned out, he and his girlfriend slipped into heavy drug use.

His hatred toward me, once again turned violent.  Death threats, pounding on my door, crank calls, and vicious words.   As drug users’ sleep patterns are abnormal, this occurred around the clock.

My kids and I were on alert 24/7.  Nights were horrible as every single time we heard a noise, saw car lights or heard a dog barking, we were peering out the window, phone in hand, ready to call 911.  We did call 911.  A LOT. 

The police know us well.  Some treat us with empathy, and some treat us horribly as if we are a pain. Even my mother had to get an alarm, have the locks changed and  install a security screen so she could have her door open once in a while. 

She covered the windows that were in her front door and in her garage so my brother couldn’t tell if she was home or not.   Finally, after 18 months, one officer finally filed charges.  My brother served almost a year for  ‘Terrorist threats.’  My mom swore that she’d never put us through that again.

Siblings & Leopards Don’t Always Change Their Spots

About 11 months later, she disappeared for a day.  My brother was released.  She picked him up and took him to her house.  That was almost two years ago.  He is still there. 

Last fall, she had an outpatient procedure done.  I took her home and was going to stay with her for a while.  My brother showed up, made a scene and called the police. 

I begged him to just put our differences aside, like I’d previously begged many times before.  When the police got there they informed me that since he lived there, if I didn’t leave I’d be arrested. 

I had to leave my mom there to fend for herself…for Thanksgiving as well.  It doesn’t matter that every chance he gets he threatens me.  It falls on deaf ears. 

He says things like, “Cop callers end up pushing daisies.”  “Hey Mildred, (that’s his nickname for me) did you know bitches who are snitches get stitches?” 

This saying is always followed by an evil, bone-chilling laugh that haunts me.  Another popular one is, “Kill a bitch?  Oh, oh, sorry ’bout’ that…had a scratch in my throat.”  He is 47 years old.

Panic Still Ensues

On days when my mom doesn’t answer her phone, I panic.  Did my brother finally snap and kill her?  I have no way of knowing because I can’t go over there.  I’ve called the neighbor a few times to have her check, but this infuriates my mom. 

His sobriety fluctuates in 3 month spurts.  He’ll go up to 3 months and appear relatively sober.  Then, he disappears and returns in a rage.

This is when the threats, the calls, the drive by’s, the accusations of hiding cops in the closet all start in.  Then, it is back to jumping at every noise, car light and dog bark we hear for several nights.

So I go to sleep every night wondering things like:

Why has my brother always been so jealous and hateful toward me?

Is tonight the night he will snap and kill one of us?  All of us?

This is how I live.  This is my story of sibling rivalry.  If you have a sibling, please, don’t go to sleep tonight without telling them you love them. 

The author of this post is a regular contributor of this site and will personally answer any question or comments received.

The next post will include proven strategies that squash sibling rivalry and nurture an unbreakable bond between siblings. You can read it here.  Be sure to sign up for email or check in the side bar for more information.  One more thing:  if you like what you’ve read please share this.  It’s easy and it could help someone who is hurting from something like this.  Thank you and see you soon.  Or if you like, comment or contact me personally.  I always respond.  

Approved and Edited By Lynn Silva

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