Some insight, please!
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
And life goes on.
Jack, my first husband, died 7 years ago April 20. This spring has been difficult as the weather is so reminiscent of the spring he was in chemotherapy. And, probably also because I am back in Michigan.
I feel I have stagnated in processing grief and I think I know why, I just don't know how to proceed. I will explain and would love to have insight from others, please!
Jack and I were high school sweethearts. We married right after I graduated from practical nursing school. When we had been married for five years, we had our first child, Sam. An incredible human being. A few weeks after his birth, my in-laws separated and eventually divorced. Through this time, my MIL leaned on Jack, and his sisters, for emotional support. As it should be. I had no problem with that at all. As time went on, she relied on Jack increasingly, often as one would a significant other. When we'd been married 11 years, we had another son, Ben who is a blend of our bests. I wasn't thrilled with Mary emotionally dependant on Jack but I wasn't going to make it an issue. When it did become an issue with me was when she would begin making comments to me about something Jack had said to her or something that was happening within our family. As if she were a third person in the marriage. Uh-huh. I tried to explain this to Jack, he said the problem was between me and his mom, he wasn't getting into that, I'd have to resolve it. I tried. Boy, I tried. The resentment got so bad, there was a period of time I could not be around her. She just didn't get it and kept intruding, in every way possible. I have tons of examples, but keeping points isn't the issue.
My issue is: I'm still so very angry. At both of them. Hindsight tells me what a load of horsecrap Jack gave me on resolving the issue. For whatever reason, he was unable to set boundaries with his mother. I suffered for it. I feel betrayed by it, by all this took from our marriage and my relationship with Jack as well as the rest of the family. It continues to take from me, once again I am unable to be in the same room with her. I miss my family! She is now 83 and her memory isn't what it once was. She has to take notes, sometimes, to get through a conversational phone call.
How do I get past this? On the one hand, I think about telling her how I feel. But, I'm not sure that is the best thing to do. Do I continue just trying to tough it out? This year, I am more angry than I have been previously. (I think that is because I just missed a baby shower for a niece because I flat out couldn't go - emotionally)
Sunday April 12, 2009~~~~~~~~CHAPTER TWO~~~~~~~~Easter 8:30 a.m.
Here is what I know:
The last several years, I thought I had been able to move beyond all of this. I honestly thought I had forgiven Mary for all of the hurt, not forgotten, but forgiven. I was wrong.
Prior to this post, I had written two letters to Mary and one to Jack. Within a few days I tore them al up as the emotions evolve and what was written was no longer current. In no way does this situation consume me or own me. The emotion that is the constant throughout all of it, and there are many, is the anger. I now think when I posted this request for insight, I was actually asking for 'permission' to take this face to face with Mary. I believe this remains on my mind for a couple reasons; the first being I thought I had resolved this issue by writing, praying and sharing the situation with others. And it came back to haunt me. The only thing I hadn't done is talk to Mary about it. The second reason is: why am I offering her more protection than I offer myself? I haven't talked to her about this because I don't want to hurt her. I don't want to hurt her, but not at my own expense. I am going to write a letter to Jack and to Mary, give it a day or two and make a decision. I will post again on this.
Member Comments About This Blog Post
Hugs. I have been there, similar situation.
Every one has offered you good advise. Listen to your heart and the right answer will come to you.
I am sending out the white light of love & protection to surround you and comfort you. You are in my prayers.
2722 days ago
You are in my thoughts and I am covering you in prayer! Let go and let God heal your heart and make you whole again!
2723 days ago
I know how this is too, as my husband of 10 years was that way with his family also. When he passed away 4 years ago, I was the one left crippled by the emotions and hurt I felt. Not only for his sudden passing but for never standing up for myself and saying "this is enough". I just sat by and dealt with it, most of the time I wasnt upset because of it either, but after he passed there was so much resentment because of all the time it took up in our lives and in my own head!
Dont let it take the rest of your life away. You have every right to be angry, even though some people dont think that being angry at the dead is right. For me, finally sitting down one night when I had had an awful day and just telling Walter(my late hubby) that I was so angry at him and that part of me even hated him for leaving((yeah, I knew it wasnt by choice) and that I was so angry at wasted time that we could have had being happy. After that, the anger and hurt I carried for so long just seemed to melt away. I had carried that in my head for 4 years, afraid that somehow if I told him I was angry, or let it out, that something would happen. Well it did....I got better!!
I agree with others, talking to the MIL probably wont do any good at this point in her health, and if she is like my own mother, she chooses not to remember anything that makes her look less than perfect as a mother or a person despite what really happened.
Id write, or say it out loud, or find an outlet for the anger and hurt. It is okay to be angry at Jack for what he did in life, but at the same time, you can still love the man he was all the other times!!!
I do hope that you are able to work through this and live the second half of your life with a clear peace. Nothing is worth giving up your peace of mind...nothing and noone!!!!
2728 days ago
I feel that Jack is so sorry for what he put you through. I know that if you write her a letter and say everything you are feeling and want to tell her. Write as many pages as you can. Just get it out of your soul. It is what is holding you back, you said this yourself. Listen to that, you are the only one who can do this. You can either live with this or let it go.
Write a letter to her, write one to Jack as well. Then you can either burn them or give it to your MIL and burn Jacks. Imagine as you burn them (if you decide to do that) imagine that dark energy leaving your body letting it out of you more and more. Burning it helps release it and dissolves it out to the Universe. I have written a letter to my mom and angry letter telling her everything she did to me and how angry I was because of it. I then took it to her grave and tore it into little pieces burying it with her.
Whatever you decide to do, you won't have any peace till you get the poison out of you. I know from experience. You don't have to forgive them, but just get it out of you. They did you wrong and you have every right to be angry. You lost a lot, a big part of your life and marriage. I feel Jack is very sad about it. I feel his guilt when I say his name. I know it doesn't help but he just had no idea what he was doing to you. He was blind from his mother and her neediness. He felt guilty for his parents divorce and wanted to make up for it. I know that is a little too late and you may not believe me. That is ok, just listen to your spirit, your heart, your truth.
I wish for you peace, love, comfort, happiness and love. I am sorry this is so hard for you. You will soon see the truth and be able to let go. Lots of gentle hugs, Jetta
2730 days ago
Comment edited on: 4/8/2009 3:30:37 AM
Cath, I agree with several others about the unsent letter. Let it all out. You should feel better. Another suggestion I might make, is if you can go to where Jack is buried and let him have it with both barrels for not supporting you, and making his mother back off. If this isn't possible, either write him a flaming letter, or just "talk" to him, where-ever you feel comfortable talking out loud. Good luck. Don't let her keep you from the rest of your family. Ignore her, and surround yourself with the family. I'm sure they miss you too.
2730 days ago
Cath, u have had some really good advice here. I know from personal experience that writing it is helpful. The letters are a good idea. Even to yr late husband. Tell him how it was/is, let it rip, as we say down under! let out all yr emotions....emotional diarrhoea! It's amazing how it works.
I have done counselling & found it 2 be v beneficial. I have lost both my parents & have had lots of childhood crap to deal with 2. No, your NOT INVITED to my pitty party, it's cancelled!
Don't pitty me, but try some of the things suggested from the likes of screw balls like me!!
Some1 said pray 4 them. This has been something I have found v profound.
I went to our pastor saying how hurt I was by someone in church & I was having a hard time forgiving & forgetting. He said I needed to forgive. Not just flimsy forgiveness, but really forgive & say it & pray it with every once of yr being. Also, bless them. Bless them & wish them well. It was not what I was expecting to hear from him, but it was straight from the mouth of God. As I began to bless & forgive, 70x7 daily, I found it was me who was set free! How cool is that! Now & again I see them & grrrr...70 x 7 Helen, I say, 70 x 7.
2730 days ago
Everyone here has given you some pretty good advice. Take what you think will work for you and start there. Resentment anger issues are difficult to deal with. There is no set way to deal with it, no manual. I wish there were as I live with much anger and resentment and haven't found what works for me and like you, I want to know "HOW" to get over it, WHAT do we do. We know it is poisoning us but we can't find the remedy. Best wishes to you and don't stop trying.
2730 days ago
You have had some very good suggestions for dealing with your anger. The only thing I would add is that you really feel your anger, not just deal with it. It is very real and very painful. While you can't change the past, you can feel what you are feeling and then try to let go of it. It may be that you can only let go of bits and pieces at any one time. so be it. There is no time limit on your grief. All I suggest is that you remember that you are still alive and sstill have a life NOW. Mourn as you must, bu tremember to live now. I am here to support you. Lizzie
2730 days ago
There is a reason that the Bible says that a man will [should] leave his father and mother and cleave [hold on to, be one with] his wife. It is because being tied to mama's apron strings is a big problem for a lot of guys, or rather, for their wives!
A man's first loyalty is to his wife. Period. Exclamation point!
That Jack didn't stand up for you is disappointing, but the likelihood is that his mother crippled him emotionally long before you ever met him, because of her neediness or need for control. In many ways, he is more to be pitied than mad at!
Spouting off at his mom now will accomplish nothing good. She may not even know what you are talking about, especially if she has a selective memory, as so many people conveniently do.
I think that writing two letters, one to Jack and one to the MIL, is a great idea. Burning the letters once you are done with them can be a very freeing experience, and if you are a person of faith you could think of it as a burnt offering to God.
I have also been thinking over years of lost opportunities lately, when there could have so easily been happiness if someone was more giving and less self-absorbed. It is sad, but changing it is not an option, so somehow we have to let go. I hope that the letter idea helps you to do that!
2730 days ago
i haven't got any answers as i have the same issue with my ILs but i just wanted to let you know that i read your blog. it's such a difficult position to be in. i think your feelings are normal.
i wish i had the words and knowledge to help.
2730 days ago
cath, what a bummer----males do seem to have issues with setting boundaries with their moms---my dh had a problem with it---he just ignored her and I had to listen to all the crap from it---but I finally made him see the light when our son was almost biten by her stupid dog---which she knew was not good with children but she still took it. Have you talked with anyone professionally about it? I did a bible study at Church with just ladies---we all had issues and yours was one of those kind---it really helped me deal with some issues from my past and helped me to heal from them---If you like, email me and I will give you the name of the book or even send it to you as it has been a while. It might come down to confronting her eventually, but you need to work out the issues in your mind first before you confront. Love ya!
2730 days ago
I am new to Sparkpeople but not to depression or weight struggles or resentments. I am currently in a 12step program and there I learned that resentments are poison in your system. The person you resent is out there happy maybe not knowing the hurt and grief they cause you and if they do sometimes they do not care. This is very hard but 12 step programs taught me that you pray for the person you have a resentment towards. Most of the time I am not able to do it but when I do it helps.
If you are not religious then the unsent letter seems to be a great way to release anger and hurt without causing hurt to other people. I would think that confronting her would hurt her which in turn would make you feel even worse.
I do not know what else to say except that for me the people you love the most are sometimes the biggest resentments that you have. For me it is with my mom.
Wishing you the best and hoping you feel better soon,
2730 days ago
Each of us deals with grief and anger in different ways.
For me, it was writing a letter that never got sent. The act of writing out all my hurts, disappointments and anger helped me deal with the issues.
When my grandfather died I was so hurt and angry! I wanted him back so much!! I went to his grave and talked it out .... it eased the hurt.
Have you considered grief counsiling? It may help.
Whatever you decide to do, search with an open mind and heart. I wish you the best and pray that you are given peace.
2730 days ago
I would like to suggest the "unsent letter". I think you need to express all the ways their relationship hurt you and your family. I have seen this suggested more than once. You write a letter to each of them and tell them how much their action or inaction hurt you. If you are not a big writer, you could also record a one sided conversation with them. Either way by writing down what you felt you can put a boundary on it, set it in the past and leave it there. i.e. "This is what you did...and this is how I felt about it." In your mind you can finally have your say. It sounds you were either ignored about your feelings or you were trying to empathize with your MIL out of respect. Confronting her now would do neither of you any good. You do need to take care of yourself.
For this to come up now and effect you this much; has there been some trigger in another relationship that is bringing back these feelings. Maybe you are feeling that someone else is doing this to you again. Now is the time to set your boundaries with them and stand up for yourself.
2730 days ago
Incorporate this into you as part of what you are now. Towards the end of my mother's life the dementia was quite bad , but on one had waht she said and the things that she made were funny and my brother and I laughed with and at her. or we ignored what she said. It is hard. I had inlaws that I finally convinced my husband to spend very little time with as they were toxic to us. Incorporating and letting go helped me with many aspects of in-laws, ex-husbands and death of loved ones.
Keep smiling, keep moving, take care of YOU!
2730 days ago
What a difficult thing to go through the loss of a loved one, and we are often faced with reminders of life together. I am sorry for your loss and pray that you have the strength to make it through.
I've been married 8 years, and I understand what you feel, or at least think that I do. I have a MIL that has relied on my husband as his dad died 20 years ago, and my husband made a death bed promise to his dad to take care of his mom. It has at times come to the point that things are let go around my house so he can run and take care of things for "mommy" When we have family get togethers, she makes snide comments to me or the way that I take care of my kids, like a don't do it well enough, and a recent favorite is to call me by my husband's ex-wife's name, not even close to mine. It does start to wear emotionally and burns a person out, but at the same time I have learned that for me it is not healthy. When she makes her comments to me, I simply go "hmmm" and walk away, people are seeing the comments for what they are and it doesn't do me any good to feed into her, it just makes me look bad. I have also put my foot down with my husband and told him that our home has to come first and our family first.
I think the best way to get past this is to go to family gatherings or host one of your own. Be respectful of your MIL and say hello, reminise about a happy story that your family shared together and then continue on with the rest of the family. But let go of the anger the best you can and life will be happier for you, as these feelings simply burden us. I realize it is harder then it sounds, but I've had to do it. I give the anger to God and a sense of relief washes over me. It seems that you'd really enjoy seeing this side of your family, MIL is a speed bump just drive around it. Take care, and I hope that I have helped you. If you need anything, let me know.
2730 days ago
I know it maybe very difficult for you but let it go. it's in the past. leave it there. forgive them both for your own sake and move on. the only person you're hurting is yourself. you need to move forward and take care of yourself now.
2730 days ago
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