Q: I hate my brother, Mike. I know I shouldn't but I do. Everything he does he's so good at. Everything I do I flop. My parents are always bragging about him—he has the best grades, he dates the most wonderful girls, drives the fanciest car and has the greatest job in the world (he's a lawyer). I had so-so grades, went through a Goth stage where the girls I dated wore black everything. Now I guess I still lean toward the edgy rather than sweet and sunny…like Mike. My job is okay (I work in a local factory). I make decent money and support myself. I'm just sick and tired of hearing how great Mike is, I don't want to hurt my parents' feelings. how can I deal with this?
Anne: Well first, you didn't tell us how Mike handles all this adoration. Is he snooty, full of himself and generally obnoxious? Or does he take everything well. Do the two of you get along when you're by yourselves? If that's the case, maybe you could talk to him about how it makes you feel when your parents go on and on about him. If he's loving it, though, and hard to bear even alone, maybe you either have to tell your parents how you feel in such a way that won't hurt their feelings. You might find your parents don't even realize they're praising your brother so much. If you can't do that, you'll have to learn to deal with it. Hating your brother isn't the answer, though. In the end, that only hurts you.
Dee: I can answer this question from experience because all I ever heard growing up was how wonderful Anne was.
Dee: Yes. Mom and Dad bragged about you like you were a saint.
Anne: Did not.
Dee: Did too. But did I ever hate you? Well, maybe a little, between the ages of 4 and 16, but I eventually learned to get over it. And so must you, Writer. Hating your brother or sister—
Anne: Oh, for pity's sake, I don't believe this.
Dee: —doesn't bother them at all because they usually don't know you're hating them. Even when you throw their favorite doll into the toilet or tell their blind date that she can't go out because of a sudden flare up of herpes.
Anne: I'm going to kill you…
Dee: So the best medicine is to go with the flow. If your parents say something nice about Mikey, just agree with them. If he gets a new car, tell him it's great. It isn't going to kill you, but that bitter jealousy will.
Make sure when you do good things you let people know, too. Don't expect everyone to be mind-readers. Blow your own horn or no one will. I truly believe that once you let go of your negative feelings, you'll find things aren't as bad as you thought—and you will feel better yourself.
If not, well fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
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