Dear Aunt B:
Im not sure how to deal with the problems I'm having with my new Sister-in-Law.
We had been best friends for at least 14 years, and I had recently
married her brother after dating for six years. Our friendship fell
apart for good when I was unable to change my wedding rehearsal date to accommodate her needs (she has health problems and is considered
disabled.) A separate rehearsal date just for her was planned but she
wouldn't accept it, it had to be all or nothing. I told her that I felt
guilty but she said I was being selfish and unreasonable and letting
down a disabled person. Eventually she ended up dropping out of my
wedding, but she attended the wedding as a guest and bad-mouthed me to her whole family and turned some of her family against me. Since my
wedding day she has further trashed my reputation and most of her family continues to be against me.
We have had many fights in the past (usually about me disagreeing with
her about something) and to resolve our issues we've ALWAYS had to use the mediation of a clergy person or counselor. She never has to
apologize, always has a poor excuse for her selfish behavior, and always
turns everything around to make it my fault. My husband, who is the
kindest, most easy-going person I know, is so angry with her and
doesn't care to see her anymore. Holidays and get together's are now
scheduled separately so that we don't have to be in the same room with
his toxic sister.
I am not willing to be her friend but her behavior has ripped a family
apart. She has done nothing to allow the family to heal. I don't want
to be the one to start apologizing because I feel I did nothing wrong,
but I think something needs to be done to start the healing. How can I
get her to make the first move? Also, am I wrong for being so hurt and
angry at this person, who was supposed to be my best friend and has
caused such unrest in my new marriage?
Thank you so much for any advice you have to give, Aunt B! I look
forward to hearing from you.
Aunt B said...
Woohoo, do you have your hands full, huh?
First, to make up, I would throw her a Pity Party, with lots of balloons and blowers but make sure it fits her schedule, of course (insert sarcastic tone).
I do not apologize for that. I've seen her kind before and it gives people with disabilities a bad name. It's actually shameful. Because you have a disability does not give you license to be a nasty person. You get more bees with honey than vinegar, right?
I am considered disabled, (our secret, nobody knows) and do not behave any less than I would want to be treated. I was hit by two cars when I was 18. Then, years later, had to have two ribs removed, the artery and nerve moved and a portion of lung removed. My step- sister, was born with Cerebral Palsy, no kneecap, one leg shorter than the other and has had so many surgeries, to try to help her, she looks like a train track. She was also placed in an Asylum when she was 5 years old. Back in the day, (my step-sister is 50+), when a child had such disabilities, that's what the Doctors told them to do. This place was so horrible, my Aunt, who wrote for 20/20 and People Magazine, did an investigative story and had the place shut down. Throughout it all, my sis rarely complained. Oh, she said she hurt but she never used her disability to get her way, use people or to obtain pity. She was released when she was 22 years old, married and now lives in an Assisted Living situation. I have worked with patients who are bitter and with do anything to grab a pocket full of pity and this is how I am able to see through it. You don't have to be disabled to be a bitter and nasty person though, huh? You don't have to be disabled to use people either, right?
Now, I am only telling you some of this, not to establish that I am mean or unfeeling. I am telling you this, only to validate your feelings. I do not believe you are wrong in this situation. I don't care if they had to bring her in on a stretcher, hooked to an I.V. pole and a heart monitor. She should have respected the event, for what it was. You did your best to accommodate her and that still wasn't good enough, was it? If you ask me and you did, I would label it...
Why, do you think she behaved as she did? I think it was because you were stealing The SIL Show. The attention was on you and her brother and not her. You were stealing her thunder. If it hadn't happened then, it would probably have happened at another big event such as a baby shower or birth and so on. Some people just can't stand to see other people happy, either. She may be quite miserable and you know what they say, "Misery loves company." She just screwed up and drove you away. I'm quite sure, she thought she'd get her way completely. You'd feel so sorry for her, you'd crumble and she'd have you exactly where she wants you and anybody that comes in contact with her and her world. I feel bad for her husband, oh my?
The question is; How can we point all this out to her?
I think you should edit this post, your answer here and send it to her, along with how you feel. What do you have to lose, at this point. She really needs someone, to point out that she is behaving rather childishly and with complete disregard for her brother, amongst others.
You can pray for Wisdom and write her a letter. In that letter, you state that you want to end this bitter feud. I am a huge fan of writing letters. When you try to talk to someone, in a heated situation with added discomfort, the letter does not allow for them to take a defensive posture and not hear what you have to say. The added bonus, is that quite often, for many people, what they read, may sink in deeper than what they've read. This is true, especially, when they'll want to come back in a nasty way. This takes away their ammunition and render's them equalized for that moment. The way you term things, the psychology of it all, will be the key.
I would tell her that, you no longer want to keep up or fuel this chaos in the family, it has been damaging and serves no purpose(She will have to look at the whole affair and if she continues, after you've made this statement, then she is the one that is not acting on behalf of the family). You tell her, that you make this gesture for her brothers sake. You state that you no longer want strife in the family over what should have been a memorable occasion for "her" brother(emphasis is taken off of your feelings and placed on her brother and how she is treating him). You tell her, that you are trying, to be adult about this, for the sake of the family and you would hope she could do the same(She will then, hopefully look at the fact that it is not a mature stance, she has taken). Tell her, that it was never your intention to offend her but you had done all you could to accommodate her and her needs (She will have to look at the fact that you did offer her a lot of leeway and hopefully see that she was acting in a pitiful manner, using her disability to get her way). State that you want to end this long, arduous and painful feud, as you know in your heart that it is not good for the family(See, now you have made it very clear, if she continues this whole affair, she must not care how her family feels). State that you no longer want to inconvenience the family to accommodate, the two of you and a bad situation or bad blood between the two of you. Why should they suffer for a disagreement between the two of you? Can we end this, for the sake of the family and especially, "Your Brother?" Then, you say, "How can we end this?"
See, you've not apologized and you've not really given in. You've kept your dinity and served up a slice of humble pie, for you both to share, of course she'll get a much larger piece than yours cause you are not the selfish one, right, lol? I think you have detoured, the whole responsibility and the weight or burden back where it belongs. It's doubtful, she'll even realize it. If after you've written this letter and sent it to her and she does not respond in a favorable stature, you can no longer carry the burden, in any way, shape or form. You have made an attempt with no admission of guilt. It will seem that you have the best interests of the family and her brother, in your heart. If she does not respond in a favorable manner, it shows her true selfish colors and she's just a waste of time, energy and you are so much better off, without her baggage on your mind. I pray, her heart will warm and she'll be receptive and maybe even read between the lines. I pray for your wisdom and words.