Thursday, February 16, 2006

People really suck sometimes

Well, it figures that after a glorious experience, there follows a really crappy one. This time it comes in the form of a grown step-daughter who is selfish, clueless, and now about to sever the relationship with my husband and me, though I doubt she's aware of that quite yet.

The background: July 2004 -- Hubby and I are scheduled to attend his 40th high school reunion in Virginia, and attend a "jam" party being thrown for us by his musician friends there. Monday of that week, I am still awake at 4:30am, after working a late shift, and receive a phone call from my husband's ex. Their daughter and daughter's husband had an altercation which prompted the husband's arrest for domestic violence, and a 72 hour mandatory restraining order. I spoke with frantic ex-wife for a while, and offered to help in any way we could. I suggested she have daughter call back when her father would be arising for work anyway, and she did. Before daughter called, I spoke with Hubby and offered to go up there myself to babysit while daughter took care of getting a permanent restraining order and child support, but in the end we decided we'd both go, as it was his daughter, after all, and I'd only met her once anyway. So, off we go, me taking off without pay from my job and Hubby burning up precious vacation time. I babysit the grandchildren and the two other children daughter keeps for pay, and Hubby and she go off to file for the RO. He also accompanies her to do several other things, and we warn her about checking her bank account, which she does not do until the day the TRO was to expire. She discovered that he'd cleaned out their bank account, including the $25,000 home equity loan check they'd just deposited. (What a surprise...) Naturally, she freaked, but we'd tried to tell her. At 20 minutes before the TRO was to expire (we learned previously that they were having difficulty locating him to deliver the PRO because she gave them the address of someone she "thought" he'd be staying with instead of her own home address), enraged son-in-law returns to the home and tries to come in the door. Daughter is freaking, doesn't want him in, and is calling the police. Hubby is physically holding the door close, telling SIL that the order has not expired yet and he is not allowed in the house. There was verbal repartee, as you can imagine, though Hubby did keep his cool and used the broken record technique, reminding SIL that the TRO was still in effect. Meanwhile, as I'm trying to prepare dinner, the children are witnessing this and are becoming more upset and agitated by the minute. Grandson stated, with great wisdom for such a young child, that "I don't think saying I'm sorry is going to work this time", in reference to his Dad returning home. When the 20 minutes were over, the police had arrived and SIL was allowed in the house. He was still enraged, and the children were upset, as both their parents were now hollering at each other. I took them downstairs to the basement and tried to comfort them as best I could, but SIL stormed down the stairs to get the kids. I was petrified, but determined to protect them if necessary. I told him that his behaviour was scaring his children and he needed to calm down, to which he replied that I was new to this family (7 months of marriage to Hubby at this point, second time I've met these people) and didn't know everything that has gone on. I pointed out that I knew enough to know that his behaviour was not acceptable and that he was freaking out his children. He then took them outside to talk with them, and the police and Daughter followed. Daughter was hollering at SIL, SIL was hollering at Daughter, Hubby followed Daughter but did not engage in the argument. Then, SIL stormed back into the house and ordered Hubby and me out, saying we were not welcome there. He followed Hubby at a very close distance, as if to provoke a physical altercation. He tried to incite violence verbally, by implying that Hubby was too old to lift the suitcases, etc., and would not leave the room we had been staying in until he got our things together. Then we left the house. Needless to say, we felt pretty crappy, and decided to go on home, instead of attending the reunion and party, forfeiting our deposits, not to mention the 'vacation' we were supposed to have had.

Fast forward to the holidays, 2005: Due to a similar situation with my own sister, where we were called to help an abusive domestic situation, combined with job stress, and probably years of unresolved depression, anxiety, and trauma issues, I felt it was necessary to resign from my job. I began to see a therapist, and saw my family doc for an increase in my antidepressant medication, which turned out to be a bad idea. My depression increased, as did my recollections/dreams about previous incidents, including the one with SIL, when I truly felt endangered physically. Though Hubby had been calling his daughter weekly since this incident in 2004, despite her basic lack of response to us, he had never actually confronted her about what happened. He did just after Christmas, though, and told her specifically that SIL needed to apologize to him and to me for throwing us out and telling us we were unwelcome in their home. She responded that SIL "didn't hold a grudge" (what grudge would he possibly have, especially with me???), but indicated that she would speak with him.

Yesterday Hubby received a box in the mail from their family for his birthday/Valentine's day. It contained photos, candy, drawings from the kids, and a hat that said "Old Dude made of achy breaky parts" and a coffee mug with a charicature of a frog on it with the wording "Old Croaker". Again, needless to say, these last two "gifts" tremendously hurt my Hubby's feelings, and really pissed me off. I knew instinctively that these came from the SIL, and I have since learned that I was right. Hubby at first didn't want to admit his hurt, but I told him that I was hurt and upset by this slap in the face, after which he admitted he was terribly disappointed. Further background: his own father died at age 57 while shaking Hubby's hand on Hubby's 25th birthday, so the "old croaker" thing was incredibly innapropriate. I hid the offending items as soon as Hubby was out of the room so as to not allow reminders to dominate our space.

Today Hubby responded to Daughter: "Your package arrived yesterday. Thanks for the great pictures of the kids. I loved their drawings and Harry Potter Valentines." Daughter then responded with this:

I'm glad you liked everything. I thought you'd like the pictures especially . . . SIL put all those together . . . sorting through about 5000 digital pics on his computer since July 2005, then we had the rest on CD's from our 35mm camera for the beginning of the year, then he narrowed it down to 108 that we looked at together on indexes that he printed, then chose about 30 to print on kodak paper, then he cut all the pictures out while I labeled them and put them in chronological order in the album with some extras that we thought you'd like. Also, it was SIL's idea to go to the party store and get the silly "over-the-hill" stuff with the kids. Honestly, my idea was to at least get a 60th Birthday card in the mail since we're so busy, but SIL insisted that we needed to do more than that, especially for your 60th Birthday.

I know SIL pretty well and these actions speak volumes. I also know that he will not call to you about something that happened so long ago and he's never e-mailed anyone for any reason. I know you're looking for a formal apology from him somehow, but I honestly don't think it will happen and I don't think I need to dredge-up the past with him when things are going so good for us now (it puts me in a very difficult position). I've thought about it several times, but there never seems to be a "right moment" and I simply think it wouldn't be helpful at any time. I'm sorry for the way you feel, but I hope that you might consider that SIL's "actions speak louder than words" and call it "water under the bridge." It's my desire to have you & WIP be able to visit sometime (regardless of Son's wedding?--I've heard nothing from him) and feel welcome.
"Life is too short . . . " Love, Daughter

So, there we go. Hubby is seeing his therapist tomorrow to discuss his potential response to this email. I was also included as an addressee on the letter from Daughter, so she clearly wanted me to know what she'd said. My therapist says this is not my issue, it's Hubby's, though I feel traumatized and reminded of the trauma when I have to deal with things like this. I guess that's why I'm in therapy to begin with, huh? Hubby at first did not want to respond, but now has written a draft of a message to her confronting each crazy statement, and will be talking with his therapist about that tomorrow. One of the things he mentions is how this has affected me -- and I really, really appreciate that. I have had tremendous difficulty dealing with this sort of issue in my own family, and have finally cut myself off completely from my sister, as she is not capable of making any kind of rational decisions, and this has way too much effect on me for MY own good. Apparently, I am just a crazy-bitch-in-an-abusive-marriage-who-can't-function-healthily-and-expects-me-to-collude-with-her-delusions magnet.

I hate people.


1 comment:

Purr said...

Ugh.. How utterly insensitive of them. (((Big hugs))) to you both and I hope he had a nice birthday. He's not over the hill! He's vibrant and sexy!

And I'm with ya on hating people. My gawsh I'm a hatin' lately.. I can't seem to get over myself..