Creeping Toward My Side of the Story

“When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose” – Bob Dylan

Unlike what my hubby might think at times, this is not directed at him or our marriage.  It is, however, directed toward several of my in-laws.

I’m sometimes hot-heated.  I’m often opinionated.  But I’m not, and never have been mean.  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.  If someone really annoys me and I don’t have to spend time with them, I’ll avoid them like the plague.  It’s just self-preservation.  I hate that knotted-up feeling you get from stressful situations.  I don’t start fights.  I hate fights.  But I’ll stand up for myself and my kids to my last breath.

Last week, after a grueling last week of tax-season work, I’m puttering around on the computer.  And I see this typically emo, self-centered status blurb on one of the sister-in-law Facebook profiles.  Nobody knows the trouble she’s seen, nobody knows the sorrow…Yadda. Yadda.(not her exact words).   And God help me, out of nowhere (so I thought), I made a rude comment.  It was an uncharacteristically uncalled for action.  For some reason, I went beyond the usual private eye-roll and gag me reaction, and we ended up having a lovely pre-teen like cat-fight via e-mail.

It’s complicated with hubby and his family.  We were raised in completely different environments.  Hubby’s father was a domineering autocrat.  Wife and kids submitted to his every rule or else.  In my home, there was no boss.  My dad suffered from depression and slept a lot.  When we were engaged, rather than spend a summer apart before we were reunited at college, I took up hubby’s dad’s suggestion that I spend the summer with them, working in New Jersey.  It was a mistake.

Toward the end of the summer, when they got tired of feeding me and saw I wasn’t subject to control, it turned ugly.  I was told about my every nasty offense to mankind, such as sitting and reading while I watched television with them.  How I dared not march up the aisle every Sunday for Communion like they did (I’m hard on myself and sometimes thought I might want to go to Confession rather than be a hypocrite).  Big Daddy’s REALLY big intimidating daddy actually threatened to hit me, and I threatened to call the police.  I (gasp) dared to talk back.

This may have been the beginning of my position as family villain.  It hurt me at the time that hubby left me standing there alone to defend myself, but I kind of understood his position.  He was still somewhat dependent on the man.  There were years of intimidation in his history.  He was every bit as offended as me, but he was between a rock and a hard place.

What I haven’t been able to get over, and I’m surprised at this myself, is the years of slights we’ve received from a few of his siblings.  And it’s not because I’ve been mortally wounded by any of them.  I don’t have the relationship with them that you need to have to be hurt by them.  I’ve been disgusted, and disappointed, but mostly by hubby’s inaction.  He’s been every bit as disgusted and even more disappointed because supposedly he had some kind of relationship with them at one time.  And he lets them slide.  Over and over.

I may sometimes overreact.  But he does not react at all.  Except to me.  He pounds home that villain label on me, the label I feel nowhere else but hanging on the outside fringe of that clan.  It’s the one and only wedge I see between the two of us.

22 Responses to “Creeping Toward My Side of the Story”

  1. 1 stormyriver April 22, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    good on you for not being afraid to speak up!

  2. 3 sheribear9202 April 22, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I honestly don’t know how I would react. When I’m confortable in a situation, I can stand up for myself and be calm and rational. When I’m not comfortable, however, I get intimidated very easily by my elders, and end up looking very weak. I definately give you kudos for sticking to your guns, but if I were in that position, I probably would have read in my room for the rest of the night to avoid another conflict.

    I’m glad you can vocalize what bothers you. You’re definately an inspiration, whether you realize it or not.

  3. 4 robinaltman April 22, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Oh, Dude. I feel your pain. Families can be sooooo horrible. We have our share of family drama and it sucks.

    My kids had a double Bar Mitzvah 3 years ago, and it became “Bar Mitzvah-gate”. I went psycho nutso (long time comin’) on my crazy, self centered mother-in-law. It was strangely freeing. Before that, I was always sucking up and catering to her every whim. Now I’m all “Adam, YOUR mother is on the phone. YOU take care of this.” It rocks!

  4. 6 Dawn April 22, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    A true to herself chick who lets the chips fall where they may. Love it. Press on with a smile in your pocket. Hubby’s dad is a loser he doesn’t respect but won’t show it.

    Saved another family (yours) from bullshit lives. Doing a jig in your honor.

    Respect for self looks so good and I love the story!

    • 7 mamaneeds2rant April 22, 2009 at 10:36 pm

      Thanks Dawn. Once hubby and I actually married, his dad did step back and let us live our lives. But it was hell before that–and of course, at least one of the sibs felt it was their duty to take over. Strong chicks rule!

  5. 8 Evenshine April 23, 2009 at 7:24 am

    This is a difficult balance to maintain, between blood relations and husband. And it’s difficult when you’re the one on the outside. Reading this, it makes me wonder how the situation is with your side…does hubby feel the same with your family members, or is it pretty one-sided?

    In my marriage, we haven’t had much contact with his side, but I am sure that comments and interferences have been made. I know for a fact that he feels the way you have expressed here, and that I frequently take blood relations’ side rather than his. I just think we’d rather cover our own (family’s) issues than our own (hubby’s) issues.

    Now you got me thinking….good stuff! Hope you’re feeling less rant-y.

    • 9 mamaneeds2rant April 23, 2009 at 9:37 am

      My family is the only family we really have (with a few exceptions), Evenshine. They’re the ones that are there for us when we need support, and they’re the ones that share our joy when good things happen to us and the kids. Yes, they’re even the ones who get on our nerves sometimes, like family members do. I’ve realized lately that this hasn’t been my fault, even though hubby has been willing to let me take all the blame. The hurtful thing is the sense of abandonment, when your spouse agrees with you, knows you’re right, but is willing to abandon you and throw you under the bus because he doesn’t want to make waves. If you have a committed relationship, I think your first loyalty should be with your spouse (unless they’ve clearly done something wrong), and with your own children. I truly believe that had he stood up for me and himself a long time ago, we would have gotten a little more respect and things could have been different.

  6. 10 Cyndi @ So Much More Than A Mom April 23, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    This is tough. My in-laws are lovely people, for the most part. There have been a few occassions over the years when I’ve felt hubby could have supported me when dealing with conflicts between me and his family members. I used to make excuses for him but now firmly believe exactly what you said. Me and the kids come first and if he is in agreement with whatever my side of any given argument is then he needs to back me up. No more cow-towing to anyone from his family just to keep the peace. You go girl!!!

  7. 12 myra36 April 23, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Family conflicts suck. Kudos to you for standing up for yourself!

    • 13 mamaneeds2rant April 23, 2009 at 9:31 pm

      Yup. They do suck, and thanks to you guys for your kind words and support while I had to get things off my chest. Now–onward to bigger and better drama-free posts for the near future!

  8. 14 poietes April 24, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Hey, I’ve read your posts before on Condron, but this is the first time that I’ve felt that I really had to comment.

    The bit about different familial backgrounds really hits home for me. My husband’s family, specifically father, is very unyielding and religious. Believes all of that crap about a woman’s place, ya da, ya da, ya da.

    I am very opinionated, have a mind of my own, have been a single mom, etcetera.

    I really hated to make the long drive to visit them initially because I had to spend so much time censoring myself. Finally, I decided that if I were truly in this for the long haul, I had to be myself. Made me happier.

    The other thing is that as soon as my husband was with me, he began to become his own person. At first, there was the usual tug of war, dad says, etc.

    But about four years ago when they were in our home my husband completely surprised me in the way he stood up and talked about “his family,” and I truly knew that he meant the kids and me.

    I suppose what I am saying is that I can feel your pain, but stand your ground. Your husband married you for a reason, he just has to realize it.

    • 15 mamaneeds2rant April 24, 2009 at 7:31 pm

      Yes, poietes. Exactly! I think it’s as important for my husband to be true to himself as it is for me. If they don’t like it, at least his family will respect him. Thanks so much for your comment. And we had that awful woman’s place crap to deal with too!

  9. 16 hubbysbrother April 26, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    pretty sure you’re not painting all your inlaws with the same brush but had to have my say. Hope you’ve never felt slighted by Joe or me. you’ve always been welcome, (maybe not the dog, but definitely you!) Love reading your blog and feel I’m getting to know eldest son a little more by reading his

    • 17 mamaneeds2rant April 26, 2009 at 7:01 pm

      Hey bro. Definitely not–notice I said “with some exceptions.” I’ve always felt comfortable around you guys. A lot of this is hubby himself, and now I feel a whole lot better having gotten it off my chest. Thanks for commenting. I didn’t even know you still stopped by to read!

  10. 18 John May 25, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Usually, you’re on target with most posts. On this one, however, you have missed several marks.

    • 19 mamaneeds2rant May 25, 2009 at 10:43 pm

      W-w-w-what?? You are much too young to remember or even know anything that went on, and what you do know has been provided by YOUR side of the family which would have tainted the information. You don’t even know the half of it, and I didn’t bother writing about it.

  11. 20 John June 27, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I didn’t say you were completely wrong. I said you missed a few marks. The image that you have portrayed of our father is not the whole of the man. While he was known to be as you have described him, he was not always like that and he was also so much more of a compassionate man than the brute that you have described. The man I knew also provided well for his family, loved his wife and had a genuine concern for the welfare and success of his children; much like your own husband. Yes, we boys (and girls) all have some of our father’s traits – it’s what makes us such good catches. I think it was his deep-seated beliefs and emotions on most subjects that brought about his more aggressive nature. Belief systems do that to a lot of us; even you and I.

    I guess I just wish that you had been more all-encompassing in your depiction of your own husband’s flesh and blood (mine too) and a man we loved. While I understand the hurt and anger you went through, it is unfair to paint an incomplete picture.

    I regret deeply that you were not able to get acquainted with the man that some of us had the privilege of knowing. But know this, your boys had a very admirable grandfather, despite his many shortcomings.

    • 21 mamaneeds2rant June 27, 2009 at 6:12 pm

      I never tried to portray a complete picture. I was only telling the facts about a particular instance. And you don’t know the HALF of the stuff your brother and I dealt with for a while–and I chose not to delve into that. And belief systems are NEVER an excuse to bully someone. Your father was a good grandfather to our kids and for that I respect him. He also didn’t interfere in our lives once we got married, and for that reason I made my peace with him.

  1. 1 I DO Appreciate Him « Mamaneeds2rant's Weblog Trackback on September 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm

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