Overly Sensitive writes:
In my current situation, I would classify myself as the mouse, but with the upcoming holidays approaching, I’m sure I can easily become the cat! Let me explain…. I often try to let things go. With saying that, I am also a woman, and tend to hold a grudge. I did say “try”!
I recently had our third addition to the family, a beautiful baby girl! Here is where the problem is…my sister-in-law has not contacted me one time since I have had the baby! Not a visit, call, card, or even a text! Not a big deal, right?! Our girl was born in September!! Wait, I did receive one text 3 days after our baby was born, our first day home from the hospital, it was a picture of her daughter and a boy going to a school dance. I replied how pretty she looked, then never got a response. When our baby turned 7 weeks old, I contacted my sister-in-law to let her know how hurt I was. She said she was not proud of herself, but has been too busy. Really?!
Did I mention that we have been family for over 15 years now and she only lives an hour and a half our house? Am I over reacting, or is this how families are? And how do I get through the upcoming holidays, when we will be forced to see each other, without displaying my hurt and/or catty tendencies?
Well, Overly Sensitive…
To answer your questions: yes. This is how some families are and yes, you might be over reacting just a little. But you did just have a baby. You said you were overly sensitive, and hey we get it. Hormones are evil, evil things — you let things go but you tend to hold grudges… sounds about right to us. But to address the bigger issue of how to get through the holidays without staying hidden under the bed or lunging – claws out – for your SIL like a threatened feral mama cat, we do have a few insights to offer you.
1. First and foremost: Great job being honest and telling your SIL that your feelings were hurt. Passive aggressive is definitely the wrong way to go, and you seem to be comfortable being upfront with her about how she has made you feel. This is good. Especially if you arrive to the family Thanksgiving and feel like the distance between you is growing even larger.
2. The AIBC Team tossed around the idea that some of us are just better at juggling and acknowledging life events, both those of others and our own. In our catty circle, we range from having the time to say goodmorning to each other every single day to barely finding a minute once a week to make sure the rest of the crew is still breathing. Are you measuring your SIL against yourself? She might not be as well versed at time management, or she might not be as good as you are at expressing/communicating her feelings.
3. Or there is the possibility that she could be jealous. You have baby number three, and it sounds like her kids might be teens. Maybe she is dreading the attention that you and baby girl will draw at the family festivities. Maybe she is a seasoned member of the AMA Club (advanced maternal age) and she currently finds herself pining for another bundle of joy that she realistically cannot have.
4. And that leads us to our next point. The two of you have been family for 15 years. Does your SIL normally acknowledge big life events with flourish (gift boxes and ponies) or is she usually more low key (email or Facebook message)? We all agreed that her behavior warrants more of your concern if this is out of the ordinary. Something more could be going on.
5. Which leads us to say that we completely understand why your feelings were hurt (no one likes to feel forgotten), but you have already talked to your SIL and whether or not you are happy with her reasons for not calling or visiting, she did admit that she was not proud of how she had handled the situation. It might just be time for you to let go of the insult because you will only be hurting yourself if you hold a grudge.
OS, only you can control how you act toward your SIL during the holidays. If you are still feeling a little hurt then you should absolutely take her aside and have another chat. Face-to-face communication gives you the chance to read her body language. Get all Crucial Conversations on her, and start out by letting her know that something is weighing on you and you want to clear the air. Tell her again that your feelings were hurt, but stress that you have been wondering if there could be more going on that you have been missing. If it isn’t like her to barely acknowledge that she has a new neice, you will be encouraging her to open up by showing concern for her and what is going on in her life. It will start things out on a more comfortable note and give her the opportunity to explain why she has been so busy. There is a pretty good chance she has a reason for not being proud of how she has behaved. Maybe you will learn there are things going on in her family/work/home life that have prevented her from being the type of family member that you wanted/needed her to be the past few months. Listen with an open mind and an open heart. You may both get a huge return on the investment. But there is always the possibility that you may not get anything more from her than you did the first time you talked. You have to be prepared to accept that and know that you tried. You will enjoy the family holiday a whole lot more if you can make peace with yourself and treat your SIL the way that you want to be treated. That’s really all you can do. Let us know how everything goes.
Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck!
The AIBC Team