I had a fight with my brother and we haven’t talked in a week. He was joking around with things I’m sensitive about. I ignored him for several days because he hurt my feelings. Then he got angry and he stopped talking to me too. My mother thought I was at fault for escalating a simple joke and that I should lower my ego and apologize. But I don’t want to. Is this an act of self-entitlement? He never apologized for hurting my feelings. So why should I?
Hi sweetparker –
Your question is so important, and so open, that I can’t give an exact answer to it. There are so many questions I’d have about it – are you just a little sensitive about those issues or are they huge and devastating to you? Did he know how much his joking would hurt? Does he do this all the time? What made him so angry (as opposed to any other time you’d gotten upset with him)? Does your mother always take his side? How would she be if he made jokes like that about her? And do you often react this way? – so many questions that I can’t remotely offer an opinion.
What I can talk about though is what happens next. It sounds to me like you’d like the issue to be resolved, and for you and your brother (and mother) all get along. But it sounds like you also need to have your feelings acknowledged. So, in other words, you don’t want this to lead to you and him never speaking again, but you also need to know that he understands what he did that bothered you so much.
My best advice is for you to write him a letter. Yeah, I mean old-fashioned, where you write in pen on a piece of paper. And explain three things:
First, explain what he means to you, and how much you want to have a relationship with him, even a better one than you’ve had before.
Secondly, explain what it was about his joking that hurt you. And that while you are okay with him joking (maybe you even really like it) sometimes, this was a special case where it bothered you too much. And – and this is the most important part – that you feel you can’t trust him the way you need to until he shows you that he understands the difference.
And third, tell him what you need. What he can do to make it all okay, so that you two can have the relationship you want. And that you really hope this is possible.
Now I can imagine you reading this and saying “Why should I spell it all out for him? Isn’t he mature enough to realize all this on his own?” Well, maybe he’s not! And if so, how great for you to teach him how to deal with this issue – because it will come up again for him. Maybe with a co-worker, maybe with a girlfriend or wife, and maybe even with your mom! And his life will get so much better if he knows how to handle situations like this!
So that’s my best advice for now. But if I’m missing something important, and can help with that, please let me know.
And to your question about entitlement, yes, a family member IS entitled to being treated fairly and caringly by her family. And the others are entitled to be treated right by you too.
After all, when I’ve done something I think is funny and my human friend Handsome doesn’t – like biting his ankle – or he’s done something he thinks is funny and I don’t – like teasing me with food and then eating it – we’ve had to teach each other what’s okay and what isn’t. And from doing so, we’ve got about as great a relationship as any I’ve ever seen anywhere.
I’m hoping for the same for you, your brother, and your mom. Forever!