Ties That Bind

Sunday is going to be an interesting day and likely long, stressful, and extremely uncomfortable. We are having brunch with my brother-in-law and his family. Now this might not seem like sufficient cause for internal panic, but there is a lot of murky water under this bridge.

Nearly seven years ago, my sister-in-law went a little psycho and unleashed a tsunami  of hate my way. She included the entire family in her outbursts, but I know that her words were generally intended for me. A few years prior to this, my brother-in-law had told my husband all sorts of reasons why he and his wife would never, could never like me or want to have a relationship with me. Those reasons seemed quite small and petty and indeed they were. The fact that I am not as chatty as my sister-in-law seemed to be one of the biggest flaws in my character. They just couldn’t see themselves having a relationship with me unless I changed to be more like them. Between that revelation and my sister-in-law’s ultimate blow-up a few years later, I did my best to pretend that I wasn’t aware of their feelings towards me and tried to treat them like the family they are. But then the sister-in-law went psycho…

Her hate spewed forth like acid. I hurt inside for a long time and sometimes I think there are still tender spots lurking in the dark corners of my soul. It’s been a lot of years and I’ve done a lot of forgiving, letting go, grabbing back, stewing, forgiving and letting go. I think I’ve moved on, but I really don’t have any interest in having a relationship with my sister-in-law…or my brother-in-law. They are not people who I would want to spend time with for any reason. In fact, I have not even seen my sister-in-law since her not-so-little tirade in June of 2008! I did mail her a letter once to let her know that I had forgiven her. She actually did reply with a typed, formal letter telling me that she didn’t regret a single thing she said, didn’t think she was out-of-line, and that she certainly didn’t need my forgiveness. It’s a good thing I have the maturity to realize that my letter of forgiveness wasn’t really for her benefit anyway!

So, I’ve been content these past seven years to mail birthday and Christmas cards and maintain no other contact or familiarity with these relations, even though our own birthdays are seldom acknowledged. Of course, I do hear through the grapevine if I have almost forgotten a birthday. I have to be the perfect relative, even though they don’t hold themselves to the same standard.

Kane has maintained some semblance of a relationship with his brother, although he seldom enjoys being in his brother’s presence because there is so much bitterness towards everyone and everything. Kane’s brother wants our families to have brunch together this Easter. We half-expected that it would never actually happen, but now things are set for Sunday morning. Oh joy.

Kane and I are placing bets on whether or not the sister-in-law will actually attend. She’s had a long-standing tradition of finding reasons to excuse herself from family gatherings even before the family rift. I am pretty sure my kids aren’t looking forward to this, and I know I am not. I’d rather do burpees for an hour or give up salted caramel forever than be forced to enjoy a meal with people who actively hate me. I will go on Sunday. I will do my best to be friendly, but I could never, not in a million years, be chatty enough to make my sister-in-law happy. I will try to smile, even though my insides will be churning and anxious. Thankfully it is brunch! If I put only small amounts on my plate, then I can always excuse myself for more when the tension becomes too thick!


2 thoughts on “Ties That Bind”

  1. Oh, Angela, I don’t know what to say, but I feel for you and I’ve been there too with certain relatives. Just think about the relief after it is all over.

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