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In-laws

Friday, August 20, 2021

Nightmare (ish) Situations.

I have been contemplating writing this for months. When we get married we have our own family support, the man/woman that we love, and then there's this new family -- your spouse's family. For the majority of my marriage, my in-laws have always lived at least one thousand miles away. We'd always make sure to fly Justin's Nana in to join us on vacations or just a trip down to wherever the military decided to station Justin, and his brother and mom have flown out on isolated occasions, but other than that, if we weren't in the state of New York, we didn't see anyone. This has made for a fairly easy dynamic, for me, at least. I married a man who isn't big on keeping up with his extended family and really focused on honing in on the family we made together. I didn't understand it, but I was okay with it because it was my husband's choice. There were one or two occasions in which my opinions and need for honesty had gotten me into situations that were uncomfortable but nothing major and I soon realized that talking about feelings in uncomfortable situations wasn't the norm where my in-laws were concerned. We didn't have to deal with this on a regular basis, so I chose to take it for what it was.

LIVING WHERE YOUR IN-LAWS LIVE IS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT BATTLEFIELD. 

Did you read what I said? Read it again for good measure.

We have been in New York for a total of 7 months and already I have found myself in therapy again, in a brief and (not so proud) moment -- I was questioning my own sanity or conclusions, AND I have found that it doesn't matter if you are an initiator or not, people will absolutely come to you with literal bullshit just because they can. I should have prefaced this post by saying -- this doesn't pertain to every in-law for me, heck it may not even be relevant for you. There are people in Justin's family who have always shown up for us with their kindness, acceptance, and love. The point of me sharing this raw and honestly, embarrassing truth is highlighting that getting married doesn't mean it's a happily ever after with your in-laws (all of them). I know there are people who feel similarly to me but will never allow themselves to share it or dare write about it. But, I have to remain true to who I am, and if you know me, this isn't a far reach out of that spectrum. 

I know I'm not perfect in this equation either. I also know that what I say has gotten me into otherwise preventable conflict. I spent the first four months of our time in New York comparing, complaining, and generally lacking a happy disposition because of the transition from home to here. That bothered some of his family and I own that. Bashing the region your husband and his family were raised in is probably not the best way to get close to them. I've made social media posts regarding race that ruffled feathers -- speaking my own truth and my own experiences. I own the fact that my brash nature and my constant need for transparency get the best of me. It seems like my need to exploit all things uncomfortable, questionable, and out of sorts is where I hit a wall here. I can't be someone else for the sake of mending fences or getting along with people who are truly, newly a part of our lives on a more regular basis. I also refuse to stop putting up boundaries where boundaries are necessary for my own mental health and for OUR KIDS. I have a better understanding of my husband and why he chooses to do or respond the way he does. Justin is about self-preservation every single time. I get it now. I used to think explaining yourself and your motives was surely enough for people to understand you and see where you are coming from. That is not the case. Even in explanation, my words are twisted, repeated, and brought back to me with accusations. 

THIS IS HARD.

I see the classic signs of gaslighting, victim behavior, really abnormal family interactions, and a lack of boundaries/allowance of toxic relationships (family or otherwise) and everything I am is screaming WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? I'm so tired. Even after conversations of what I believe to feel like resolve or resolution or understanding... I think back and say, "WOW" ... it's funny how I'm being highlighted for what they don't like about me or things I have done (which feels SO small in retrospect) but never about any good I've done? Maybe they don't care.. I filter my thoughts and immediately think to myself -- BUT,  I'm the person who's always remembered birthdays, births, deaths, holidays, mental health checks, countless phone calls, invitations to fly people out, etc. I'm the person that never forgets trivial memories about them from their adolescence to now even when my own husband has forgotten them about his own family. I'm the person that has made New York the annual vacation destination instead of traveling elsewhere or just being greedy and visiting my own family. I'm the person who decided this move still needed to happen even after my mother-in-law passed away. I AM THE REASON WE ARE HERE RIGHT NOW. I thought I was trying my hardest to keep the connection between Justin and his family going but now I realize...it wasn't my place and it should have never been my place to try and bridge bridges that weren't mine to tend to in the first place. And no matter what you do -- even when screaming it from rooftops, people either don't care or aren't reminded of those things when they are attempting to berate you or hold you accountable for things that don't make sense. 

I guess the point of me sharing my clearly troubling situation is this: Do not lose yourself in others that don't know you, don't care to get to know you, and who bring such heavy and uncomfortable feelings out of you. Do not defend yourself with people who are not for you but against you. Do not defend yourself, period. Don't allow people to make you question yourself. YOU SAID WHAT YOU SAID. YOU DID WHAT YOU DID. Even if it was the wrong decision, it was yours. Address it accordingly. Place healthy boundaries wherever necessary and don't let anyone question it or make you feel bad about yourself. Protect your peace, your family, and yourself at all costs. Lastly, TALK ABOUT IT. Why is it such taboo to talk about situations like this? Like I said before, this (hopefully) won't apply to every in-law you have but it's an overwhelming experience and I wish I would have been prepared for it. 

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