Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Drama roller coaster

Today while I was sleeping, DH woke me up to tell me that his brother (my Brother In Law [BIL]) had found out that his wife of three years had been having an affair for two of those three years.

I have to say, we were all pretty surprised, I don't think any of us had her pegged for something like that....but she has always been pretty hard for me to take.

When DH's brother announced that he was getting married, we were shocked but happy--we didn't even know he was seeing anyone. I was very excited to meet her, because I have always gotten along incredibly well with all of DH's friends and family, so I just assumed that since I got along so well with his brother, I would probably find a new friend in his wife-to-be. I invited them over for a celebration dinner.

That first impression really did color all of my future thoughts about her, though, sad to say. At the time, our 15 year old cat was dying of kidney failure and I was trying to prolong his life until the quality was gone. But he was pretty skinny, and I didn't want her to think that he was skinny because we weren't feeding him or something, so I explained that he was dying of kidney failure and that I was trying to do whatever I could to keep him more comfortable. Instead of saying something like "oh, that's too bad" or even "I'm not really a cat person" or whatever, she gave me this condescending look and said "Everything dies."

That's it. "Everything dies." Because I didn't know that, I was extremely grateful to have that explained to me. Duh.

Ok, so maybe she got off on the wrong foot, right? Maybe she was nervous and said something stupid, right? I really tried hard to give her the benefit of a doubt. They were having trouble living within their means, so BIL wanted me to go shopping with her and show her how I kept our food budget down to a very manageable $125/month. We went to Aldi. That's where I buy a lot of my canned goods, because canned veggies are often $.25/can, and canned soups are .40-.85 a can. And milk at Aldi is about a dollar a gallon cheaper than anywhere else. The catch is that everything is "store brand", meaning not name brand. She would say things like "I only buy brands I've heard of". Ok.

We went to Walmart, where I bought the big bags of Malt-O-Meal cereals. "They're kind of generic, aren't they?" she said, as she stuffed a few $6 boxes of organic name-brand cereals in her cart. Last but not least, we stopped at the local scratch-n-dent store, where I splurged $2.00 on a pound can of coffee (an off brand, of course, but sometimes we don't have coffee at all, because it's really a luxury, isn't it?). She told me that she was sure it wouldn't taste good, she only buys the beans and grinds them herself.

So, my attempt to be frugal with her didn't work. I probably wouldn't be getting any phone calls saying "Carol!!! Did you see the paper??? They've got hamburger on sale for $1.25 a pound!!! Do you wanna come with???" Sigh.

And that was kind of how things went. She was not only condescending to me, but to DH's mom and brothers, too. It got really hard for me to say anything, because I was afraid one of my little sarcastic jabs would pop out, and then the family would think I was trying to start something. But I really had a tough time finding anything to talk to her about, as she knew everything there was to know about everything, and that was that.

And she was not shy about pointing out that she knew everything about everything. Someone would complain about the price of gas. Someone else would say, "Just be glad we aren't in Europe. Gas there is like $10 a gallon." And she would say, "Actually, it's only $9.45 and they buy it by the liter there." "I know because I was there three years ago." So there.

So I didn't like her, and I think that most people who gave her the benefit of a doubt as to what my BIL saw in her, found it difficult to like her, too. My thoughts about the whole thing were that when he started thinking with the upper brain instead of the one in his pants, he would realize what the rest of us already knew, and he would get sick of it and leave her. I would've put money on that scenario. My BIL changes careers and religions at the drop of a hat. I had no reason to think that he wouldn't change wives too :-) Despite the things about her that I just couldn't find a way to like, I never would have dreamed that she was lying to him for two years. But I have to say, I guess it's good that at least I didn't have much love invested in her!

DH, on the other hand, is just devastated for his brother. His brother is planning on getting an apartment and just ending the marriage. DH is almost suicidal over it. He wants to go and tell my sister in law off. He wants to go to his brother's house, even though his brother has not requested it or even hinted at that. I keep telling DH that a situation like this isn't one where most people want their brothers or sisters in law to get deeply involved, except on the support side. "Be there when he needs a shoulder, or someone to help him move, but putting yourself in the middle of this is not going to help things." And he agrees with me, and then starts in again. I do feel bad for my brother in law, I really do. I like him a lot, and I was hoping that he had found the same thing that I had found with DH prior to the bipolar rearing its ugly head.

But he's a big boy, and nobody has a life that doesn't have problems, and he has a plan to get through it, so I think he'll be ok. And if we continually offer love, support, and assistance, maybe if he really needs it, he'll ask.

DH spent the entire day being as upset about his brother's marriage as I think he would have been if he had found out something like that about me (and I am as faithful as they come). He is just devastated. Just going on and on like the world was ending.

I get so tired of all the drama. Sometimes I just let it roll right off my shoulders and don't even react to it any more. Yeah, it's terrible, what's going on with BIL and his wife. Ok, what should we have for supper? There's not much I can do about the situation, so I am not going to waste time stressing out about it. But sometimes I still manage to get sucked in, mostly because on some level I still respond to DH as if he had rational thoughts. So when a rational person, who has always been rational before, thinks that the end of the world is here, sometimes I start thinking that it must really be awful, and I start acting as if that is the case. But not as much as I used to.

OH. And another thing. He TOLD dd about it, too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Repeat after me: Not her business. She's 14. She should not be involved in any way in grownup problems. Especially ones that involve sex. All she would ever need to know is that her uncle and aunt had problems and split up. And she wouldn't even need to know that today. Probably not until Christmas, when BIL's wife wasn't there.
I'm angry about that. He has a hard time drawing the line between "the parents" and "the kid". In other words, if it's something he would discuss with me, he has a hard time not telling her too. And that really wasn't a problem until the bipolar stepped in, either. He used to have a pretty clear idea that there are things you don't share with the kid(s). Argh.

There are all these little things that the "books" don't tell you about mental illness. And I can't begin to put them all into words, but I'm getting better at that.