An Open Letter To My In-Laws…

Dear Parents I Married Into,

I have been a part of your life for almost 20 years now, meeting your son when we were just teenagers working our first jobs.  Over 11 years ago, we married.  I have always taken my vows seriously and have seen your son go through several outpatient surgeries and his own anxiety episode.  I only love him and have always remained loyal.  How come you have not?

In the beginning, I do not remember this coldness I receive now.  The first instance of our relationship turning sour was when the wedding planning started.  Maybe you both felt as if I were stealing your little boy, instead of viewing it as gaining a daughter.  There was the push for Bible readings in a dual religion ceremony that I didn’t think much of.  What pained me the most, and the first instance that remains as such a visual in my head is that fact that you, my Mother-In-Law, would not even touch my arm as we posed for wedding pictures, as if I had some disease.  Cooties.  I get it, I am not good enough to both of you and unfortunately it seems that only your feelings matter.

Then there was the time I received a phone call from my lawyer saying  you sent him and our real estate agent a letter concerning the “filthiness” of the condo we were going to buy.  You stepped out of bounds by going over our heads.  We were grown adults, but I guess that is hard to see when you are the parents of an Only… then again, so am I now and couldn’t fathom interfering like that in Sophia’s life.  We eventually forgave both of you for that.

Things seemed to be going well especially when I gave birth to your only grandchild.  Yet, there was something… Both of you were retired and yet there was no rush to see her.  In fact it would be a couple of months until you did.  But I wonder why?  When your niece delivered her daughter you were there at the birth.  You stayed a week or two.  But your only granddaughter… It couldn’t of been because of her, or your son, it must be because of me.  Still not up to your standards.  When you did come up, I truly wholeheartedly appreciated it.  I was deep in the depths (but in recovery) of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.  We needed help and you gave it to us.  Yet, I wonder if there was an ulterior motive…

Maybe I am imagining everything but there are facts here.  Several years in, while helping us construct steps out to the back yard (a thing that was needed and am grateful for) you disregarded my years working for an architect, doing drawings, heck I went to school for this, knowledge about construction.  16″ on center… not 18″.  You believed a book from the 1960s more than your own daughter-in-law.

Then came Tyler, our former foster son.  A boy whom we loved and still love with all our hearts.  A boy I still grieve over.  You treated him wonderfully.  What hurts is after we had to return him… did we really need the snarky “I told you so!”  This is not just you… why does your niece hate me and not Jimmy for this.  A nurse and she doesn’t understand the shit I went through before myself AND Jimmy agreed Tyler needed to return to DCF.  Don’t you all realize the hell we’ve been through?!  I realize there may have been pain for your too, but it doesn’t seem too believable when you throw out “I told you so!”

And the kicker… your Mental Illness ignorance.  Yes, I am weak, I am extremely emotional, I am making this all up for attention, I want to waste my family’s money.  How can you not believe that Mental Illnesses exist when you have heard from your son what I’ve gone through.  Over 21 years!  Off and on.  Two hospitalizations, years of medication and therapy.  Do you think I want to do this?!  Do you think I want to pay the hospital thousands of dollars because of my psych ward stays?!  Do you think I want to play with medication?!  Do you think I want to spend my Mondays every week talking to a therapist?!  Do you think I want to have thoughts of running away, leaving several people I love because in my brain I am hurting them?!

It’s not physically noticeable.  Oh, but it is.  Did you see my body last winter?  Did you notice I was skin and bones.  My clavicle protruding.  My face thinned and without color?  How many crying bouts did you witness?  My blank stares?  My quietness?  Quite a show, huh?  I must be a fantastic actress.

And the latest… an argument over a parenting decision that I AND Jimmy made during vacation.  You yelling at me to answer you in a way my parents wouldn’t even yell at me.  How dare you?!  Yet, I am the only forgotten criticized one.  I suppose it is my fault that you didn’t call your only child, your son, for his birthday in October like you always do.  Sending him an email with the words, “I didn’t want to call you because I didn’t want to get between you and Stephanie.”  Nice one.  You should be proud of that (insert sarcasm).  But the worst, the absolute worst, what trumps how much you’ve hurt me and how much you’ve hurt Jimmy, is the damage you are doing to your only grandchild.  Why, why couldn’t you call her for her birthday?  She wanted to know.  Why did you have to close on your condo in Colorado her birthday weekend and miss her party?  She wanted to know that too.  She is very observant now at age 9.

Almost 5 months and you both still haven’t called our house.  We’ve called you.  Okay, just Jimmy has called you but it is obvious you do not want to speak to me.  Please realize that your granddaughter sees this.  She sees the hurt and the pain.  She’s witnessed my “non-existing” Mental Illnesses.  Know that it was me who told Jimmy to call you for your birthdays.  He didn’t want to.  He wanted to treat you both the same way you treated him for his and just send an email.  Please know it was me who suggested you watch Sophia for Veteran’s Day.  Please know I could hurt you both if I wanted to, I could stop you seeing your only grandchild, but I know that is not what is best for her.

And now, the holidays approach.  A time of year already hard on me, but you wouldn’t know, you don’t ask so you both have no idea that I have been diagnosed with a 3rd “non-existing” Mental Illness, a mild form of PTSD.  It is bad enough what I relive on a daily basis, the memories that flood my brain of last holiday season from the moment I wake up.  Now I have to deal with a holiday I can’t spend with my husband and child.  Because I am unwanted at your house.  You may never have outright said it but the feeling is there.  Asking Jimmy what he wanted for Christmas, what Sophia wanted for Christmas… not asking about me.  No mention or question of how was I, or how was my work… I just don’t exist.  By doing this, you are solidifying every negative thought I have about myself already.  That I am evil and unworthy.

I am not blood.  I know this.  But my blood runs through your granddaughter’s veins.  I’ve always been respectful and polite.  I’ve always said “Thank you”.  I just don’t understand.  Your son doesn’t understand.  Sophia doesn’t understand.  What did I do?  What did I do to cause you both to have such a hatred of me?

Your Loyal Daughter-In-Law,

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