How Do You Move on from Anger and Pain of Family Situations?

Updated on June 19, 2008
H.M. asks from Spring, TX
13 answers

Okay ladies, since I neither have the time nor money for therapy...which I'm sure that I need, I'm going to ask for your guidance. Since fall 2007 and into this year, I feel like there has just been a dark cloud hanging over my head. I have two family situations that have caused extreme stress and personal pain to me and my family. The two situations are ones that I think of daily and just can't move past. I don't ever expect to get over them completely, but I'm just so tired of not being able to not think about them, which in turn affects not just mine, but my kids and husbands happiness as well. I would say that my husband is in the same boat, but he just won't admit to being as bothered by these things as I am, though it's very apparent in his mood and shortness when these issues are being discussed. I could take up pages explaining the situations, so I'll just try to give you all enough to get an idea of what's going on. I'm sorry that this is so long.

First situation: My husband's sister and her family (youngest son will be a junior in HS) and other two kiddos are in college, moved two miles away from us about this time last year from another part of Texas. My husband, myself and my oldest were excited to finally have some family around us (both of our families are very small). While we haven't always felt like we receive the respect that we deserve from my husband's sister (she is 7 years older and is very domineering and condescending at times) we felt like this would be a change for the better in our relationship. During the summer, my husband and I bent over backwards to help them with their house renovations, babysit their dogs while on vacation, shop for furniture, helped with school stuff, and just try to make it as easy of a move for them as possible. During this time, I was also 8/9 months pregnant with our third child. To make a long story short, things seemed to be getting better with them, while my husband and I were having some issues, mostly stress of a new baby, monetary, etc. Here's where things start to get messy.

Before I went back to work, my childcare center informed me that they wouldn't be able to get my son in until December (I returned to work mid-October). I had been on the waiting list since June and they had assured me I would get in. My husband and I decided to ask my sister-in-law to watch my son during this time and would pay her for her time. This was about a six week committment. She agreed to it. Well, a few days before I returned to work, my childcare center called and said that we could get him in. We ran this by my sister-in-law to see what she wanted us to do, not knowing if she was now depending on the money since they were still buying things for their new home. She said that she wanted to watch him because she felt he was too young to be put in daycare. So, we told our provider that we would take a spot in December or January. This is a center with a wait list mind you. Well, on the fifth day of watching him, she had her first meltdown. She told us to take the daycare spot that she had already told us to pass up. Of course, the spot was filled. We begged the center to give us the next available spot and also checked some other options. Now granted, my children are high maitenance, but almost any newborn is. I would say that he was not the easiest baby, but not the worst either. Plus she knew all this before she agreed to watch him. She began to get very snippy, making demands that my husband leave early from work to pick him up, and just being ridiculous. By the third week, she had her next meltdown and just started to get ugly. She yelled at my husband about having to watch "this kind of baby", said hateful things about me, and random other family things that had no relation to the issue at hand. Needless to say, we didn't have her watch him anymore and my husband took a big risk and asked to work from home until the opening became available. Mind you, this is not his nature, so we all paid for him watching the baby. I am a teacher, so there was no way that I could take off.

Anyway, we didn't talk to her for a couple of weeks, my husband called and got an icy reception from her. She called around X-mas and my husband and two of my boys went over to give them their gifts. There was no more communication until I e-mailed my neice to get my nephew's college address to send him a b-day card. At that point my husband receives a nasty e-mail from his brother-in-law saying not to get the kids involved. Anyway, it went further downhill from there and my husband and his sister eventually met and she said she wanted to have no further contact and put him and our family down yet again.

It has been over seven months since I have seen or talked to her and I just can't help but still feel so bitter about all of this. I mean it is so hurtful that she not only says those things about us, but puts down our kids. We have never been less than 100% supportive of her family and her kids. I know that I need to just write it off, but it's hard whenever I drive by her street everyday and it's family that has hurt you. To give you another idea of the kind of person she is, when my dad died in January, she didn't bother to call, send a card or e-mail, nothing. I've known her for 15 years and she couldn't even acknowledge our loss.

It doesn't help that my in-laws though they feel that she is in the wrong are too afraid to "rock the boat", so they don't say anything to her about it. That's probably one of the reasons she is the way she is...everybody plays by her rules and those who don't get shut out. I'm just not used to this kind of conflict and with our family being so small, it's like a large chunk has been taken away.

Thanks for reading this ridiculously long post. Maybe just knowing that others have been through something similar will help. I'll write about family situation #2 in another post.

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P.B.

answers from Houston on

I don't know what your relationship with God is, but I'd start praying for a change of heart - not only in her, but in you. The only person you have the power to change is YOU! Some people are just controlling and nasty by nature and you have 2 choices - you can either love them to death if you have the opportunity (and the energy) or you can ignore them and let the situation go on as it is. Changing your attitude may not help the situation with her - but it'll change YOU. Do a Bible study in the morning and pray that God give you wisdom for the situation. He listens, He cares and He's probably the only one that can do something about it. I find that when I pray for a person I'm not happy with, it changes my feelings about them and the situation and relieves the stress in ME. God wants to hear all of what we're feeling (even though He already knows) and He wants to know you know He can and will do something about it. When you pass her street, pray!! When you think about the situation, pray. You won't change the situation, but He can. And don't be suprised if it's in a way you'd never expect!! But be open for anything.

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D.M.

answers from Houston on

H.,
Bless your heart! It is hard to know what to say to you. I am sorry you're going through this and I will definately pray for you and your family. I'm sure your children are no more difficult than anyone elses.
I have a situation which has made me angery for two long years...my soul mate, my husband, my love of my life, my father of my only daughter - left me for another woman and wants me not to blame her and also to be his friend for the sake of our child. (Pretty tall order). I have carried the increadable anger all this time - it is awful, you are right. Very hard to concentrate on anything else with such pain. He has now asked to come home with the stipulation that I allow them to continue to be friends!!!! (You can imagine...GRRRRRRRR!!!!) Anyway - a dear friend shoved this book in my hands and it makes me see things differently and I have actually, recently moved passed my anger. It is called "The Four Agreements" and it is a short, easy read. Simple, to the point, wonderful relief. Other than that, all you can do is pray that God will lift this from you and soften your sister-in-laws heart to see what family is really all about.
Feel free to e-mail me and vent if you would like. I HAVE had therapy for this! [email protected]____.com
D.

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K.B.

answers from Houston on

Hi H.-

OK, I know this is going to sound really corny, but I think your problem is you haven't had an opportunity to just let all of your feelings out and release them so that you can move on. Try writing a letter to each person who has upset you. Be honest and blunt about everything that is upsetting you. Sometimes in these situations we're even mad at ourselves for how we handled things so go ahead and write a letter to yourself as well if you need to. Once the letters are written you don't need to mail them (that would just continue the argument) you can burn them, bury them, rip them up, do whatever feels the most therapeutic at the time to get rid of these feelings.

Again, I know it sounds really corny but sometimes it helps to come to terms with your own feelings so that you can move on for your sake and your families.

Good Luck,
K.

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K.K.

answers from Houston on

I just want to tell you that your SIL is the one who made this mess by putting you in that position, but learn from it - in the future, don't give others the control (although I would have done the SAME thing as far as asking her what to do about the child care situation, in retrospect of course you should have went ahead and taken the spot when it came up and not worried about her "situation" but I am sure you also thought it would be better for him to be kept by family - unfortunately she was not a family member you could trust). I learned the same lesson when my son was a baby and for a while I actually thought there was something wrong with him b/c my relative also gave up on watching him after a month, saying he was too "needy". I now can see in retrospect it had nothing to do w/ my son, it was her selfishness and laziness! So don't for one minute doubt yourself or your children over her craziness.

Please know yours is not the only family with such conflicts - I have had it in mine and it does get better with time. Neither of you will ever be the same as far as the closeness, but with time your relationship may improve. Don't chase her though, and just do what you have to do but nothing overboard, she is the one who should apologize but we all know that's not happening.

Hey, at least your situation is not with someone you have to live with, it could be worse!

Take care!

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M.B.

answers from Houston on

I am so sorry for the pain that you feel. I am not sure that I can offer any solid advice here (I sure like the 1st response - to pray about it!). What came to mind while reading your situation is that it really might not be about you, your baby or family. Maybe your sister in law is having a tough time with the move and transition to a new place. Perhaps all the anger and stress from that was funneled toward 'watching the baby'. Maybe that was just too much and pushed over over what she was mentally able to handle. Now it has snowballed into a big mess - when in reality, the underlying reason for it all is not 'watching the baby' but her sadness, anger, pain - whatever - from her move to a new place. Unfortunately it was easy for her to make you and your family the target of her emotions. I hope that things get better for you and I am very sorry for the loss of your father.

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D.P.

answers from Houston on

I won't get into detail but I have both in-laws and my own sister who are very difficult. My own sister is much like your husbands sister. I had every right to be angry with her for her behavior and would work myself into a lather every time I heard she was coming to visit my parents. What I do now gives me a lot of peace about her. I pray for God to bring her to her Highest Love and ask for His forgiveness for holding on to a resentment. This really takes the anger away from my heart and allows me to let it go. I no longer get anxious when she is coming and have even been able to have one nice visit to show her my new son. Every time I find myself thinking about her, I do this prayer. And I quit talking to my husband about his family and started doing the same for them. Now we have infrequent but nice contact and everyone is getting along better. This is after several years of leaving the situation alone and praying so that I got relief from carrying the burden of my resentments. Unfortuatly there is no way to change others bad behavior, but I don't have to carry their garbage around anymore.

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H.R.

answers from Houston on

forgive, forgive, forgive,and keep being kind to them.Remember the Lord says,I didn't say everybody has to love you,He says you have to love everybody. Also, ask them to forgive you. The Lord says, when you take your gift to the alter and remember your (bro. or Sis) has an ought against you leave your gift on the alter go to your (bro.or sis)ask them to forgive you although you not have done anything to them. you are releasing yourself and them if they choose to accept your apology or not you are FREE.If the things they say are not true don't be bothered.

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K.O.

answers from Houston on

I know it hurts and I know you husband is in pain also. But men are mostly taught to kind of have a "no need to worry attiude". My sister-in-law acts the same way and everyone always acts as if she is the victim. Try to focus on your three children and what you can do to make them stronger,wiser, and better people. Your in-laws will have to be the ones to break her down. Sometimes if the wife or someone else does it many times it backfires and you end up looking like the bad guy.

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S.O.

answers from Houston on

H., sweetie don't apologize for your post no matter how long. I haven't looked to see who has responded, how many or what but i'm sure you have them pouring in. First off she isn't a happy person, trust worthy or respectful. Its funny how she turns the table when you should be upset with her instead. Anyway the only thing to do sometimes is pray. God cares about our every need, he made us with emotions and knows we will use them. Sometimes he's our last resort and thats why he is a jelous God because he wants to hear from us. Nothing is to silly, you'll see when you talk to him
about it. He just wants to be the one you come too. Sometimes we talk and talk to everyone and the only answers we get is when we cry and pour out to Him. God will comfort you, soften hearts and smooth things over. Sometimes the people want change but we'll change on how we'll handle it. I'm sorry that this happened to you. You and your husband have the tools to have really made this exciting to have a family all around. I just started reading one of the other ladies responces......look you were trying to do the right thing by your sis in law by letting her keep the baby. You didn't know she'd bail. You will be blessed by God for your good heart. For her though her days of turmoil are not over, they never are when you do people this way. Do your self a huge favor and ask God to help you get over this because your not in the wrong here. A friend is who calls you when your father passes even when your at odds, usually the reason why you start talking again. Shake it off babe your way better off than her. I wouldn't want the negative energy around my kids. Seek friends that have your interest at heart.
Oh yeah and one of the ways to move on after hurt and pain is to recognize what you can change and what you can't and learn to know the difference then you'll know in your heart you have nothing to feel bad about and you'll smile and move on. Remember to pray for her too. God acts on obedience just seeing you put your feelings aside and pray for her God is going to bless you.

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C.W.

answers from Houston on

Some people are there for a reason, some for a season....In the grand scheme of things, she has obviously outlived her usefulness to you. Just ignore her and stop trying to make nice. The issues are on her side not yours. As long as you are getting upset about HER behaviour, then she will "win" by her rules. Play by your rules. At some point she will either see the light and apologize for her behaviour or you will never see her again. Either way your life will be happier.

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K.B.

answers from Houston on

H., I second the person that said "play by your own rules". I had in law issues that would eat at me and tear me up inside. I did a lot of crying and soul searching and finally identified my priorities. My priorities were to take care of my immediate family first, and everyone second! That was a hard conclusion to come to because you don't want to distance yourself from family. But, at the end of the day YOU need to decide who and what is most important to you. When I finally came to this conclusion and started living my life this way I became much happier. Things were tense for a few years and yes we were distant from the inlaws. We only visited on the mandatory holidays and then tried to minimize that time together. But after several years, things changed, people began to focus on "family" and we all came around to a much better place. Today we have a great relationship with our in laws but only because we know what rock bottom looks like. Eventually one of the family members told me "they knew something had changed" because I wouldn't call as much and acted differently. I have this saying taped to my computer where I see it everyday "There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way" (Christopher Morley). Do this and don't look back!!

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P.G.

answers from Houston on

First off, you shouldn't have let her keep the baby because she was only doing it for the money. If a daycare does not initially have a spot and then calls you with one, you should've taken it without any hesitation. You could've called your sister-in-law and told her that the daycare called with a spot, and because they are hard to come by, you decided to take it. Apologize to her for any inconvenience this may have caused her and that would've been that. If she got mad, and I'm sure she would have, so what. You would've done your part and God would've been please. But God ain't pleased with her, though.

Now you and your husband have to suffer because she changed her mind. It's not like she would be out of anything, anyway. Like you said, she agreed to it. You didn't pull her hair or any strings for her to do it. She wanted to do it. So because this is income that she would no longer be receiving - she was the one decided not to do it anymore, so why is she mad at y'all. She outta be mad at herself. And her stupid husband...he probably don't know the entire story. She did this to herself!!! Because she couldn't handle the baby, and I'm quite sure she knew before-hand, she blew that tire, not you.

Believe it! Family members are always the ones to do you wrong and hurt you. Get used to it.

Because she didn't call or send a card when your father died makes her very juvenile. She's playing immature and childish games and if I were you, I wouldn't even waste my time even thinking about it. I could care less if she called. She might have her bluff in on the other family members and that's probably why they don't want to get involved.

Don't say a large chunk of your family has been taken away based on their ignorance. I wouldn't even let her see me sweat, darling! Don't let her know she has the best of you and it seems that's what you're doing. She knows she can treat you and talk to the two of you any ole' kinda way and y'all keep on running back. Give it up - turn it loose!

If she comes around and admits her wrong, she does...if she doesn't, she doesn't. All of that insignificant stuff will have you not able to sleep, not able to eat, taking the simpliest things out on your husband, your child, and even your students. It ain't worth it...it ain't worth jeapordizing your relationship with your immediate family and right now, their the ones who really matter.

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J.M.

answers from Houston on

Hi H.,

I am so sorry for the pain you are experincing. I have 2 SIL's who act the same way, everything is always about them and their feelings. It makes me sad that I don't have very close relationships with my brothers or their children.

First of all realize that your SIL is a unhappy person. Happy people don't do this. It sounds like your SIL feels the need to be SUPERIOR to put everyone around her down to make her feel better. Does she act this way within her own family? Maybe part of the problem is your SIL has very low self esteem .My SIL's are ALWAYS right, they never acknowledge their part in any conflict. They don't take responsibility for their own actions. It is so disheartening.

Second remember you can't change anyone but yourself. No matter what you do or say it really won't make difference to your SIL. She decides how she is going to act. I am still learning this myself, I get so upset when they start going on the war path, then I realize that I am only hurting myself when I react to my SIL's temper trantrums.

Lastly I pray for guidance to help me get through the hard times. I have learned I can't do this alone.

I pray for my extended families to have peace, comfort, kindness, understanding, love in their own homes.

Hope this helps,
J.

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