Sunday, February 28, 2016

Doing What's Right Shouldn't Require Applause

My dear husband finally got his reply from his brother over why we were were treated like the Hitler/Stalin/Mussolini family over Christmas. It was a list of offenses I'd supposedly committed. There's just one problem. Neither Jim nor I recall any of those occurrences, most of which took place over the holidays five or six years ago. That particular holiday when the new sister in law was still the fiance and I was meeting her for the very first time, a holiday where I had bronchitis and a 102 fever, where I rarely left the hotel room. When I did leave the room I was barely functional much less fawning over anything or anyone.

So I'm being judged on the few short hours she spent with me over things none of us in this family remember?? How petty and small all the complaints on the list were.

After careful consideration it sounds to me as if she had decided before meeting me to dislike me and take offense at everything I did, my personality, etc. Why? The only thing I can come up with is the possibility that she was intimidated by the fact that I'd been a family member for over twenty five years and being that she's one of those women that loves to control everything she was afraid if she didn't demonize me immediately to her husband and self that I might actually try to control her, or lord gawd himself knows what over her. Which is so not my style at all. That would require me actually giving a rip about the things she considers important that are meaningless and inconsequential to me.

I'd predicted to Jim during the trip that due to the years of his brother blaming him for everything short of WWII that I would likely be the next one blamed for the family dysfunction.'

Passages of the list clearly illustrate that neither of them 'get' the picking and teasing that Jim and I do between us. Which sometimes involves shenanigans, mock outrage, tons of laughter and the rare rude words. But the brother never did get Jim's humor at all.

They claim we're angry, dysfunctional and fighting. Again, they're missing the comedic aspect and silliness we sometimes engage in. But if you are determined to be offended in the first place everything is merely going to piss you off. Particularly a marital relationship not built on a romantic false facade.

Once that insane surge of oxytocin and love fade you better have some other things going on in your marriage, like friendship, companionship, common interests and the like going on or you're going to be pretty miserable. I suspect they may well have hit that point in their marriage and are lashing out at others as a result. Marry in haste, well you know the rest. 

Yet again much of the anger is because we have never fawned over the sister in law and constantly propped her up with compliments and thanks over ever breath she takes or slight thing she does.

Again, you cannot dictate the gratitude of others. Adults push forward to do what's right without expecting cheerleaders.

I was thinking about this in the sunshine of the afternoon as I worked in the yard. The first semi-warm day in the winter found me planting winter primroses and a few pansies that are winter hardy and trimming back some of the deadfall that autumn left. After the planting and trimming I did like I always do after yardwork, I got out a small trash bag, picked up whatever refuse has drifted into our yard, followed by picking up next door neighbor Betty's yard and the lady who's name escapes me who lives on the other side of us. It's just as easy for me to GI their yards when I do mine. One lady is a single mother that works two jobs and is rarely home. Betty has trouble getting around as she's elderly and very heavy. She cannot bend down and pick up things.

So why am I picking up blown in pieces of paper, a styrofoam plate and assorted other trash out of my neighbor's yards? Again, just as easy, plus I know Betty physically cannot do it and the other lady has a lot of her plate. I do it because it's the right thing.

Betty knows I do this and she's never thanked me, not once But I never expected her to and I am not miffed. I know how she is, she's cantankerous and not friendly with non-Catholics. But I still do it. It's not about the thank you.

I also sometimes bring her produce when the garden is overflowing and Jim will shovel her porch and steps after a snow another with the neighbors on the other side of us. Again, it's the right thing to do and if she thanks any of us is her business.

She did bring Jim homemade soup once. We're okay with that.

Back to the sister in law. I think she's trying to make us do what she wants, compliment and fawn all over her. Not happening. In fact I'm not open to anything more than a distant politeness should we all be thrown together at family functions.

I'm going to keep doing what I do to do the right thing without expecting a chorus of well wishers giving me a participation trophy. I am fully an adult. But I am standing my ground on this one.

Oddly enough before this Christmas trip two different people, one I know that is psychic and one I never thought was warned me that the in laws were going to try mightily to bully me this trip and to stand solid and not allow it. I did and I am.

If Jim wants to keep in touch with his brother and try (likely fruitlessly) to have a relationship more power to him. He has to do what he feels is right, which is try to stay in touch with his brother.

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