I recently had an online exchange with a member from another estrangement group who reacted strongly to our estrangement videos. She accused me of an intent and conclusion that wasn’t true, despite the clarification of my thoughts on the matter. Nevertheless, there was no changing her mind. She was absolutely convinced that anger was justified, and a proper end state between her and her narcissistic sibling.
This got me to think about how some people get stuck in some phases. I seriously question whether some people want to end their relationship by saying, “and I lived angrily ever after”. If anything, once the anger is transcended, invariably, we do the inventory of our loss. Whether of our own will or not, estrangement has some casualties of war. That is, the death of what could have otherwise been a healthy relationship had the other person had the ability in doing so.
This is why it becomes important to acknowledge the feelings behind that which was never able to flourish. Much like an abandoned child who never got to know their parents, there is an existential search that continues beyond the conflict. While anger can serve as a way to recognize injustice in how we were treated, if left to its own devices, it can pour into other areas, and create a hostility that can prevent the very emotional vulnerability needed for budding and flourishing relationships to start to occur with others in the future.
In fact, it can crystalize us furthermore into the loss, as anger demands to be heard, and there is a danger that it becomes the dominant narration in our lives. Much like trauma afflicted people who recount the same incident over and over.
Letting anger define your end state to finish your story about your relationship with your sibling is failing to acknowledge the loss that’s involved. Yes, we need to look out for narcissism, but also what comes after that: The barren soil of a relationship lost due to sibling estrangement.
Ali-John Chaudhary is a Registered Psychotherapist with offices in Ontario and Quebec. He helps clients from different parts of the world going through sibling estrangement issues, and produces YouTube videos on the same subject, with author Fern Schumer Chapman. He also hosts a twice monthly online support group on zoom for those looking to empower themselves with this rarely discussed subject.