Looking for a bridge over troubled water? Krithvi Shyam, our young psychologist, addresses your worst anxieties.

I have two older siblings and they are very close to each other, but I am not as close to either of them. However, I am close to a cousin whom they dislike. They think she is spoiling me since she has got herself into trouble plenty of times. They keep gossiping about us. To please them I agree with them when they humiliate her, and in spite of me doing this, I still end up getting dominated, insulted or looked down upon by them. I feel guilty whenever I do this because my cousin trusts me a lot. Moreover, my siblings always hurt me by saying things like “you are not like us”, “you don't belong here” and “you belong with that fool”. My mom keeps doing her best to unite us and I try hard to cooperate but they don’t. I feel depressed and feel like I don’t belong anywhere. I can’t confront my cousin since she is married now. Please help.

LONER

You certainly won the lottery when you ended up with those two as your siblings. Not only are they unkind to your cousin, but they’re being unkind to you as well. They are probably closer to each other than they are to you because of the age difference; but this should be helping them understand why you would naturally drift towards becoming closer to your cousin, instead of penalising you for it. I don’t think they’re genuinely concerned about you becoming “spoiled” by your cousin’s influence; if they did, they would have tried to give you guidance in a calm and non-confrontational manner (i.e., just doing their job as older siblings) instead of being petty and threatening to send you into exile unless you stopped talking to random relatives (i.e., just being weird). So learn to ignore your siblings and their taunts will eventually stop. The next time they start talking about you or your cousin, walk out of the room without a word. As for confronting your cousin, there’s no need! It’s most likely that she doesn’t really care what two gossipy relatives think about her, so just enjoy each other’s company, and remember, even though you can’t choose your family, you can choose which family members you want to be friends with.

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