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Sibling exploitation

Basically, I'm in my 30s and very happy, (relationship-wise and with my career and family) but something that happened in my childhood recently popped into my head and it's made me very uncomfortable.

To cut a long story short, I have a younger brother who is 8 years my junior. I love him to bits and we're very close. However, something that I had forgotten about (for decades) popped into my head a few months back. When I was 11 and he was three I used to practice kissing on him. It didn't seem wrong at the time. Much like playing with dollies. It never went beyond that, apart from one time, after seeing something on television, I got him to fondle my breast area. I was just copying what I had seen and wanted to know what it felt like. I guess it was just experimentation.

I had completely forgotten all about this and suddenly it came back to me a few months ago. I was devastated about it and felt physically sick. How could a person be so awful? That's all I keep asking myself. I keep thinking I might have damaged him. I guess what I'm asking you is, did I abuse him or was what happened fairly normal? Through looking at your forum I see some people have had similar experiences. I know I was a little girl, but this doesn't comfort me. I just want to stop feeling so terrible. Please can you offer some insight into this and explain it to me so that I can move on with my life and stop feeling so hideously guilty.

Also, it's probably worth mentioning that I come from a very religious family, so I attach a lot of guilt to anything to do with sexual behaviour. This may have added to my stress about the situation. I also don't feel like this is something I can discuss with him. I don't even know if he remembers it and I think that bringing up something like that would destroy the great sibling relationship we share.

Re: Sibling exploitation

I very much doubt it harmed him. If it helps, a couple of my younger siblings used to kiss each other. When we caught them doing it, they said they were going to get married when they grew up. Dad just laughed, explained to them that siblings couldn't get married, and told them not to kiss each other anymore. They were very embarrassed for a while afterward, and it's still fun to tease them about it, but I don't think it was any big deal. Neither, apparently, does my dad, even though he's a pastor.

Re: Sibling exploitation

It's funny - just reading that has made me feel better about things. In a way, I think I maybe have blown this out of proportion in my head. I have to remember I was 11-years-old at the time. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to me.

Re: Sibling exploitation

You did nothing wrong. Certain things happen at that age that make us react in a way we probably we wouldn't not now. Because it's pre-knowingly and has nothing to do with adulthood. An expert who is unlike Dr. Robert, and is more conservative on this issue, would tell you that you have tendencies to dominate in a inappropriate way. The sole acts weren't that concerning but the age gap would be. It could be seen as molestation from your brother's point of view. And there fore you should admit, go to a life long psychotherapy and hope one day someone somewhere decides you are guilt free.

Now let me tell you what I think. Those feelings are natural, exploration is natural. It is tricky when one child is something younger then the other but it's life. Children often have such explorations with sibling because they feel closer to them, the fact of living in the same house and so on. Some even think that it is better that it happens between siblings then unrelated children. I am a christian catholic. At least I use to be. But growing up i felt like a piece of shit when i would hear i sinned practically from the moment i was born. I remember humping my bear when I was about 3 or 4. Bead and chairs also. Used shower stream also. Rubbing against my 6 years younger brother during our childhood and letting a dog lick me when I was 14. I'm on a highway to hell. So don't worry, you did nothing wrong.

You are just doomed to be human. Forever imperfect, forever learning, forever questioning. Find your comfort. Here, through your religion or even some kind of counseling but learn that you can not blame yourself for not knowing. Best to you.

Re: Sibling exploitation

I have written about this kind of thing often, and I assume that you have searched my website (search box above), read what I have said, and still are not satisfied. OK. If you still feel guilty, nothing further from me can possibly help, so I would suggest that you consult a counselor in person who might be able to help you to deal with your guilt. Of course, as BT points out, there is a risk in that procedure: you could stumble upon a counselor with his or her own guilty ideas about sex who will tell you that you have done wrong, and then you will be burdened with that opinion in addition to the ones you already have which are tormenting you so severely.

The choice is yours really. Either understand right now in this moment that you are not the same person now who did those things then, and just let it go, or else begin a voyage of assisted healing. You decide.

Be well.

Re: Sibling exploitation

Hi Dr Robert, Thanks for taking the time to reply to me (and to everyone for their helpful insight). I just have one question. When you say 'you are not that person anymore' do you mean that I was a bad person back then and what I did was bad? I guess I just want to know - was what I did a crime, or is it fairly common among siblings?

Re: Sibling exploitation

What he meant was.. Even if it was, bad how can you expect to judge yourself for it now?? He also meant that a child is a person who develops, and therefore can not have the same perspective on the world as an adult, so you truly are not that person anymore. They way you developed into a person you are now separates you from anything you were before. Your body, your mind, are not the same.

I see you crave comfort in someone telling you, you didn't do a bad thing. And Dr. can tell you that. Butt... here's the trick. The point is not for him to tell you that, you should realize that from the sole attitude of his posts and replays. You need to tell yourself by yourself that it wasn't anything filthy or criminal but perhaps just inquisitive and if anything bad, perhaps naughty. That is the only thing that will help you on the long run. If you yourself believe it.

Who is the one who decides what normal is?? There is no such point in human behavior that can be claimed normal. There is just a spectrum of behavior that we accept and find not intrusive or harmful. Of course that for a person who was a child completely uninterested in anything sexual or etc. every story like this would be grouse and weird. But who are them to decide you are not normal and they are?? I actually find them not normal and kind of concerning. It's simply unnatural and completely not human to me. Who knows what your brother did?? Maybe he read dirty magazines. He most certainly masturbated. Maybe he peeked through a door when you were at the bathroom. Do you understand me? It happens. It's human. And i find it better that a person does it at a child's age and learns from it then when they are grown ups. Then it becomes something completely different.

Hard core religious people and moral prudes find homosexuals disgusting and completely not normal. They say it's against nature and God. But we know such behavior happens in the animal world and there are evidence that many historical figures have in fact had homosexual attachments. Why should I care what someone does between their own sheets or does he push it to a woman or a man. What's the point in me concerning with that??? I read that research showed that most people are actually somewhere in the middle and although not practicing it, it is hiding somewhere in most of us.

Also, sexual experiences with animals. Horrible for most people. And I indeed love animals and don't think they should be exploited. But we are doing that every day. They don't moralize when they put chicken or pork on the table but do when it touches anything sexual. Although some research showed it is far more common then people care to admit and it is one of the oldest perversions, found on many ancient monuments.

So you tell me now? Who you're gonna listen to. Those who are paranoid sex-hating and unrealistic or Dr. who sees people how they truly are, by nature, not by standards of some book or a preach. Neither I would say. Listen to yourself first and the most. If you feel guilty it means you feel sorry. If you feel sorry it means you are a good person and want to make an atonement. And I bet you wouldn't get so much guilt if you beat someone up. Or stole something. It is only because it's kind of sexual but it wasn't that much in your case. Mass hysteria. That is all.

If you are a mother, or are going to be one day, please do better than most people are these days. It doesn't mean you shouldn't be a good Christian (or whatever faith you are) but trust your own judegement first and fore most. And do not demonize or overreact and pretend like we are so much better then we truly are. A girl kissing her brother. Please. Is this what we are coming to?? Let's all be sick and in pain and have mental problems, because we are all abused by someone in a way. That is, if we choose to call it abuse. We are only abusing ourselves and our own mind in my opinion. Best to you.

Re: Sibling exploitation

Thanks so much for all your great advice. I feel so much better about things having read your comforting posts.

Re: Sibling exploitation

BT - Thanks for all you said. I am curious to know, have you found a way to deal with your own experience. I notice you said a while back that you confided in your mother. Are you feeling better about things?

Re: Sibling exploitation

Thanks so much for you reply. You really helped me understand things a lot better. It's amazing to know I'm not the only person who has felt this way.