My twin sister is always beating me down

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m 16. My twin sister is always beating me down in public. She will purposely make me look bad, or mean, or stupid in front of our friends and my boyfriend. At home, she’s absolutely awful to me. She’ll call me fat, tell me I’m nothing, that I won’t ever go anywhere in life. She’ll say that everyone at school hates me. She says that they all say “Is your sister the devil? She never smiles.” or “Why doesn’t your sister ever talk? Shes weird.” And she’ll tell me all these things, I don’t know if she makes them up or if they’re true. But I do have Social Phobia, and she knows that. She will say these things in front of other people because she knows that I won’t say anything to her in front of others, mainly because I don’t want to be like her, and make her feel bad.
Today, I just lost it. I couldn’t take it anymore. She woke me up when I had just fallen asleep, so I was cranky, and kept badgering me. I started yelling at her, telling her she makes me FEEL like nothing, and she started calling me fat and all that again…and then she grabbed something of mine off the kitchen table and crumpled it up/ripped it, and I lost it. I grabbed the first thing that was closest to me of hers, which happened to be this Biology poster she worked really hard on, and I ripped it in half.
And now I’m the one that feels bad about doing this, because I know how much it meant to her, and I wish I could take it back, but I can’t. I was wondering what I could do to control my anger? And possibly learn to positively defend myself?

A: In my experience, this is very, very unusual behavior for a twin. It’s as if your sister is trying to push you as far away from her as she can. It makes me wonder if people have made such a big deal of the twin thing while you’ve been growing up that she doesn’t feel like she has a separate identity. If you were seeing me in my office, I would want to call in your whole family for a consultation. Your sister needs as much help as you do. Only someone who is feeling terribly hurt herself goes out of her way to hurt her sister so badly.

If your parents haven’t tried to intervene, my guess is that either they don’t know how or they write it off as normal sibling rivalry. It isn’t. Your sister’s efforts to make you feel bad are too constant and too extreme. I hope you will talk to your parents about getting into some family counseling. A few months of therapy now may mean a lifetime of a better relationship between you and your twin.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Dec 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). My twin sister is always beating me down. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/12/10/my-twin-sister-is-always-beating-me-down/