I should have known better.
But, in times of crisis, as we know, we revert to old patterns.
When my FIL died recently, it threw me back into a bunch of painful memories: about my in-laws, and how they never welcomed me into their family because of my MIL’s issues, and about the deaths of my own parents, and of course, all the bullshit that went along with THAT.
So I did something that in hindsight I should not have done. I broke my no-contact rule, and emailed my sister’s husband, to let him know what had happened. Being the two men married to the two Henchal women, my BIL and my husband have always had an affectionate relationship. Add to that, I have always felt like he genuinely liked me, and us. (Of course, my BIL does not have the bullshit baggage from my mother that everyone else does.)
I felt like in normal circumstances, letting my BIL know what had happened to my husband was a courteous and normal thing to do.
What I wrote to him was, “I’m only letting you know because I think you and he both liked each other a lot.” By this I meant that I intended the information for him only. I suppose the exact words I wrote were not 100% clear in and of themselves, but in the context of the whole no-contact thing, I’d think it would have been obvious that I was telling him only, and not intending for this news to be spread around my family.
While my BIL has been kind and decent and sympathetic to us through all that has happened — and I know that what has happened breaks his heart too — our lives, what happens to us, and what we choose to do, is frankly none of anyone else’s damned business any more.
My oldest brother doesn’t respect my no-contact decision. He insists on sending emails or cards or making phone calls on occasions such as holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries. Pretending nothing is wrong. Usually with an irritating remark that indicates that he is fully aware of my wish for no contact, but he is clearly and willfully ignoring it.
It is apparent that he thinks I have no right to get what I have asked for. That’s happened before.
Instead, he does what HE wants to do. He probably rationalizes it in some fashion as being because he “knows” better, but he really does it because it makes him feel better.
And because he is not used to putting aside what makes him feel better, in order to give someone else what they have specifically asked for. That’s also happened before.
The youngest brother has a habit of coming on here every so often and leaving comments to belittle me, tell me how wrong I am about it all, how paranoid or irrational I am, and how much fun they are all having without me. It’s another beautiful example of exactly the same behavior.
He knows I want no contact. If he chooses to read the blog – that’s his deal. No one is making him show up here. It would be fine if it stopped there and he took responsibility for his decision to read what I write.
But he too is incapable of respecting my no-contact decision, because he can’t deal on his own with whatever emotions my writing brings up, and he has to throw it all on me, and make me out to be wrong so he can feel better.
He cannot help himself because that would mean denying himself something HE wants to do, even needs to do. It would mean putting my wishes above his own, out of respect for me. Whoops, whoa, no can do.
Of course I could block him. But up to now, I have decided not to, because his comments are a useful reminder that the family I actually have is not the kind of family I wish I had. A reality check.
The funny part is that he has now started “hoovering“, telling me (not INVITING but TELLING me) that I should “become part of the fam again”.
Right. Supposedly he’s been reading the blog but apparently his reading comprehension is crap, too, because obviously I NEVER HAVE BEEN PART OF THIS FAMILY. And nothing about this second-class citizen attitude towards me has changed — keeping Susan and my sister from throwing a fit is far and away more important than having me and my husband as part of the family. The unreasonable person always wins with this bunch.
In fact, now that I look at that hoovering post again, I see several techniques that have been used by them. Look at #1, “Ignoring your requests to break off the relationship and attempting to continue on as if nothing has changed.“ That’s the oldest brother right there. #2, “Asking you when you’re going to “get over it” and return to your past actions.” Youngest brother, check.
And on and on. Fake apologies. Sending unwanted cards, messages, packages. Ta-da. How does it feel to see your own toxic behavior, all the bullshit you pull, all spelled out for you? Don’t bother telling me because it’s not my shit to deal with.
Although, to quote my snotty sister, “You probably won’t be able to help yourself.” (Oh, hey, another one. “Drama games.”)
I doubt it occurs to my oldest brother that sometimes these communiqués make me cry. That every damned time he does it, it is a reminder that I am not respected, in one way or another, by my FOO. That I don’t have a right to what I want from my own family – that it’s THEIR needs that always, always come first.
That it’s EXACTLY what Susan did to me that night, when she and the hospice nurse knew exactly what I had asked for but decided that they didn’t really need to do it — that it would be good enough for me if they just gave my request lip service, and then of course continued to do exactly as they pleased.
And it is another reminder of the other people who don’t call. Who have, in fact, never called. My husband has pointed out how weird it is that in the nearly 23 years since he and I met, my sister has never once called me.
Like me, I suppose my oldest brother wishes for a whole and unbroken family, for love and connection — exactly what drove me to write to my BIL.
Unlike me, my BIL has not requested no contact, and is not being disrespected every time I do it.
Also unlike me, my brother (and for that matter, my BIL) could do something about it, could hold people responsible for their behavior, but doesn’t.
You can probably guess that the news was spread. I know it was, because a couple of weeks later, a holiday card came in the mail from my oldest brother, with a few sentences saying that BIL had told them about my husband’s parents, and (despite knowing that we are not religious), that they would pray for them. Shades of the same thing, really. Praying will make them feel better. It does absolutely nothing for us.
At least there were not any actual words of sympathy. Such words coming from them, as my husband said, “after how they’ve treated you, wouldn’t mean shit.”
The card has sat around our house for a while, in a pile with all the rest of our holiday cards. For a few days, every time I saw it, it would piss me off. I got past that fairly quickly, but it didn’t seem enough to just throw it in the recycle bin with all the other cards after the holidays.
An old friend used to throw a New Year’s party every year, and she had a tradition of inviting everyone to burn an effigy in their fireplace at midnight. Your effigy was supposed to represent something that you wanted to let go of or leave behind in the coming New Year.
You can see what’s coming, right? 😀
It’s a little late for New Year’s, but what the hell. The blue bowl was once my mother’s, and I opened a really nice bottle of champagne, too.