My children are very much like your older sister and you. My daughter has tortured her brother since he came home from the hospital after a near-fatal lung hemorrhage when he was 6 weeks old. Something that happened in that week (she was 4) altered her reality so drastically that she decided he was someone to fear — I honestly don’t know what exactly triggered her. We have had her in counseling for years now, but I am at a loss for what to do.

Her brother worshiped her for years, even as she made him miserable. But there came a point where that disappeared. I tell her someday she is going to regret all of this so much.

He does the same thing you did; disappears into his room and into his books. I haven’t been able to get through to her enough to change her. She’s not ALWAYS horrible to him, but I can seriously not leave them in a room together without her immediately starting in on him.


She’s otherwise a pretty great kid. But that piece can’t be separated from the rest.

It’s so bad that her dad and I adjusted the custodial schedule so that each of us has a kid every two weeks and they are only together on the weekends, so we each have two weekends with both kids and two weekends with neither each month.

The weekends I have them are just dreadful.

I could go on; since I haven’t been able to persuade her to treat him with compassion, I work mostly with him. I talk with him when he’s so angry about whether he wants to let her actions be his actions (because what else is revenge but that? ). Oh, there’s so much more…

I just wanted to thank you for giving me one possibility for how this turns out.

You are damaged, I’ve no doubt. BUT YOU ARE NOT RUINED.

You took what she did and turned it into a reason for you to treat people with kindness and empathy. You are not ruined.

I’ve worried for so long that she was going to ruin him and you give me hope.

I love them both so much and it destroys me to not be able to fix this.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want it to be spelled right and punctuated correctly. I guess that’s something.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store