Staying true to self when others are angry


I had a great session with a coach today, and at the end, we talked about my anxiety with my brother being mad or upset with me. I love my brother so much, but over the years we have had a pendulum relationship – either really loving or really bad.

I set a boundary almost 6 years ago that he had to be respectful when he spoke to me or we wouldn’t have a relationship and he has so far he has respected that and our relationship has blossomed.

I am a pescatarian (and have been for almost 10 years). Recently, his 8 year old has decided she too wants to be a pescatarian. He is not happy about this.

On Christmas Eve he made a dish with beef fat in it. He did not tell me this until after I ate 3 servings (it’s usually a vegetarian dish). He laughed, saying that I couldn’t tell there was beef in it, and I wouldn’t get sick (as I have before when accidentally consuming beef or pork in the past) and it was all in my head. He said I should be grateful for food and not complain.

I was pretty shocked. I was proud of myself for not getting upset or crying, like I normally would. I instantly knew this was not about me (even though he said it was) and I could see this was his issue and not mine.

However, moving forward, I don’t want to be tricked into eating anything again. I want to ensure this doesn’t happen without giving him power and feeling like a victim. I also don’t want to spend anymore mental energy on this.

I would like to be able to ask him if a dish is vegetarian before I eat it and not have anxiety or fear over his response. Right now, I have anxiety that he will get mad at me, say awful insulting things (crossing my boundary) then I will want to step back from the relationship and it will be so much drama. I want to love him but not give him so much power, but I don’t know how.

This is my current model:

C- Brother mad at me (for asking about the food)
T – He is going to punish me with his words and or actions
F- Scared
A- don’t ask about the food
R – very anxious