Come on down!

My brother in law has a habit of casually invalidating me and my husband’s lifestyle.  Most recently, he proposed a get together for “everyone” (all siblings in a several state area) on a possible date.  Was that date good for us, he wanted to know.  My husband conveyed it to me and I explained that no that date was quite bad, the start of finals (they start on a weekend) and that not only could I not do it, but if there was wiggle room on the plans, I’d prefer he not go since his going would leave me here to manage the household stuff on my own during a time when more 150% of my resources would be going to the crazy end of the semester work marathon that is final exams.  It’s the single busiest time of the year at work for me, followed by Spring finals, followed by midterms.

So what about the weekend after, my husband asked me.  Maybe, for me – it’s always a maybe with me.  But I told him that even if it turned out I can’t make it, he was welcome to make plans and go solo.

He discussed this with his brother yesterday.  In that call, brother tells him that actually, it turns out that the initially proposed weekend is the only one that works for “everyone else”.  The rest of them are going away to various places the weekend after (i.e., the one my husband proposed).  One of those intense discussions ensued, between my husband and me.  My issue being why his brother, brother’s wife, and their half sister routinely “forget” that I have limitations – and my concerns that this will add up to resentment on their parts.  My husband saying that he didn’t get the sense that his brother was cranky about this particular time (he has been cranky and whiny in the past when he invites us to some last minute shindig two states away that I or both of us can’t make) and that he (husband) thought that his family understood the limitations in this particular case because they were work related and not health related.  “It’s something they share, so I think they get it.  They have a point of reference that they don’t have when it comes to the health thing.”  I told him that I wasn’t angry at him (because my tone and mood was shitty) and explained that I’ve had this happen before with a partner’s family, specifically the summer I first had Lyme and was getting treated and retreated and feeling terrible.  The family of my then partner wanted to plan to go on a summer vacation I had gone on the year before and my illness was holding everything up.  “Just go without me” I told my then partner.  No, that wasn’t going to do.  I had to be a part of this, whether I wanted to or not.  The truth was, I truly wanted to go.  I wanted not to be sick, I wanted to head off to the beach cottage with my sweetheart.  I wanted to sit in the sun, go swimming, make s’mores late at night and drink vodka collinses on the deck with the sea breeze floating through my hair while my sweetie and I looked over shells and rocks we had picked up from our stroll on the beach earlier in the day.  But I felt terrible and had been sick for over a month.  I was on my second course of oral antibiotics, which also made me feel awful every time I took one.  His family was unrelenting.  I don’t know the details of the dynamics of what went on behind the scenes on that one and I will never know them.  I do know that they set the stage for his family deciding they did not like me, that I was a party pooper, and that I was inappropriately foisting my agenda on my ex.  When I failed to recover fully from the acute lyme disease, things only got worse with them.  The worst part of all of this was that back then, I did eventually cave and go on the trip. I was so sick and so overwhelmed physically and emotionally.  It sucked horribly and was a big part of why I now don’t go places with people who’ve demonstrated a certain level of inconsideration or disrespect of my physical state when I’m not feeling good.

My husband knows this history, so I didn’t get into this level of detail last night.  I just explained the high points and concluded by saying that I was apprehensive about his brother’s continuing “forgetting” or discounting of my physical limits.  I told him that I know his family wouldn’t appreciate being held accountable for someone else’s screw up, no one does, but that there it was.  I had a long history of people who were supposed to be nice and sweet and loving doing rotten things and that as much as I’d like it to be otherwise, there is just a point where I am not able to place my faith and trust in people that they won’t be like that.  Especially not when I’m seeing early evidence that they will.

And literally just as we were finally getting to a resolution point, just when I was reluctantly but desperately trying to agree with him and give his family the benefit of the doubt, believe that they are not that kind of asshole, believe that they would not presume to question to that level, my husband’s cell phone chirped announcing a text message from his brother asking if my husband could just come solo on that first proposed weekend.

And poof.  There went all that wanting to feel like this would be ok down the drain.

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  1. queenofoptimism

     /  November 15, 2010

    Shitty shit. I don’t even know how to put my feelings about this into words. So inconsiderate. So downright rude. neither cover it. Selfish. That’s more like it. You’re busy and sick just to ruin the in-laws’ plans. I knew it!!

    My guess is your husband doesn’t want to view his family of origin in a bad light. Doesn’t want to believe they would have mean motives. I say this because I go through this with my husband. So recently, that I left the house for a few hours this weekend to cool off from what I consider a betrayal – he broke a promise related to this subject.

    I’m projecting too much of myself here so please know what I am trying to say is – I get it and I know you don’t want to be sick and I wish I could take your sickness away.

    You again put into words something I can never quite express…
    “…had a long history of people who were supposed to be nice and sweet and loving doing rotten things and that as much as I’d like it to be otherwise, there is just a point where I am not able to place my faith and trust in people that they won’t be like that….”

    Wish I could be around to help around the house and help with Max while you study. Maybe someday we'll find a way for me to help.

  2. You help by reading, by being here, by writing. I can’t tell you how strongly I feel that.

    A friend just sent me an informal summary of results of a research study done by “Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness” and the Center for Managing Chronic Disease at University of Michigan. She participated and she got this write up now that they’ve finished with a little of their data analysis. I can’t quote the document directly since it’s still rough, informal descriptive summary of the results (and says “not for quotation” right on it) but in the category for “challenges” for people living with a chronic illness, just over a third of the respondents felt that the greatest challenge in getting support from family and friends was a lack of understanding. I am guessing that this is the sort of “understanding” that is meant.

    I know exactly what you mean by betrayal. This is the same feeling I have. Betrayal and apprehension. My husband told me that he thinks of his brother as an over-excited puppy, implication I should think of him that way too. I explained that in this case, they should think of me as a rehabilitated fighting dog. Sure, I know I’m in a happy loving home right now. But once you know how bad people can be, you just cannot unlearn that. It’s in your bones.


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