Friday, May 20, 2011

Broken Crayons

The past few days have proven to contain perfect reasons for distraction from my recollection of the events that lead up to DH's estrangement from his FOO. In order to get back on track, I'm going to bring us back to where we left off, which was June of 2010. In early June, DH had called his sister to ask about her birthday plans for the following month. Because her birthday falls on a major holiday, and we had other invites to respond to, he wanted her to know that her special day was a priority for us. He called about a month prior to her birthday and left a message along these lines, "Hey! I just wanted to know if you were planning on having a birthday party this year. Please give me a call back so I know what you're plans are for that day. Talk to you soon."

No response.

Two weeks passed with no word from his sister. As a result, we accepted our other invitation to spend the holiday with my brother and his family. The day after we accepted the invitation, DH (and DH only) got an email from NMIL. Though we did not save the email, I recall that it said something very similar to the following, "Hi [DH's childhood nickname]! We are having SIL's birthday bash at the house on such-and-such a day at such-and-such a time. Can't wait to see you!" Again, I can't say for certain that these were the exact words, but I have a vague recollection that the "invitation" was more an assumption that we would be attending, than a request for our presence. I know for certain that it was sent to DH only, as nearly all the communications from NMIL always skipped me. And I'm pretty sure she concluded the email with her signature superficiality: one hundred x's and o's comma mom.

I remember reminding DH that he had originally called HIS SISTER, rather than HIS NM about the party for several, very valid reasons: Because he wanted to convey to her that her birthday was important to us, and therefore it took precedence over our other invitations; because she is old enough to deal with directly when it comes to special occasions and events given in her honor; and because it was long past due for him to communicate with HER, rather than with his mother, about important things pertaining to her life. Thus, it made the most sense to ignore his NM's attempt to insert herself as the Master and Commander of their communications, and instead, go directly to SIL.

I feel that it is only fair to tell the truth here, Dear Reader, as sincerity is so important to me. I will tell you what I told DH at the time: I did not want to go to SIL's birthday party. I did not want to surround myself, or my loved ones, with people who I knew did not have our best interests at heart, indeed, who were doing everything possible to try and hurt us. I made no secret of this to DH, when we were talking about our plans for that day. I wanted to spend the day with my family. I also made it clear that, although I understood the importance of his sister's birthday, it was not anyone's fault that it fell on a major holiday, and in future years, SIL would be faced with the fact that she no longer came first in DH's life, his children do, and we would be celebrating the holiday accordingly. However, although we would be celebrating differently in future years than we both had in the past, that did not mean the holiday would have to be ruined, or that we would be ignoring his sister's special day. After discussing all of that with DH, I told him that even though I did not want to attend her birthday shindig this year, I would overcome my own discomfort enough to do so, for him. Even after we made plans for the day, I was still willing to deal with my discomfort, enough to spend our morning with her.

So once again, he called SIL to speak with her about the plans for her birthday. Since we had already accepted another invitation for the day, DH and I thought it was fair to offer to spend some time with her that morning even though we would not be attending the actual party. When DH called her, he told her that we would be unable to attend her birthday party because when we didn't hear from her, we assumed that she wasn't having a party and accepted another invitation. He asked her if we could come and spend the morning with her instead, since he still wanted to see her that day. She agreed. When he asked her why she never called him back when he called two weeks prior, she said that she had never gotten the message. Neither DH nor I believed that: SIL is a mini-NMIL, and NMIL wears her phone like a cowboy wears his gun in an old Western. It's a guarantee, they've gotten every communication the second you hit "send."

Moments after DH hung up the phone, his NM called. As per usual, she called his cell phone, because she's too cowardly to call our house phone, where there is any possibility I might pick up and tell her like it is. She left an absolutely disgusting message in my husband's voice mailbox, that was dripping with so much disdain and guilt-inducing drivel, you could have ladled it into a bowl and eaten it for lunch. She said, in a sinister-sounding whisper:

DH's childhood nickname. [Pause]. Your sister. [Pause] How could you do this to her? You're her brother. [Pause]. What did that girl ever do to you? [Pause] When is the damage going to end? [Pause]. Goodbye.

Not many words. But, Holy Hell, what a message. Each drawn-out pause was a demand that DH bask in his own guilt. Every breathy tone signified control. The statements were short, concise, and at times, not even full sentences. They didn't need to be: Your Sister. Two measly words that spoke volumes. By using his childhood nickname, she was attempting to put him in "his place." She wanted him to feel as small and insignificant as possible while simultaneously placing a world of blame on his shoulders. Her words aimed to injure, each syllable a piercing arrow. Between each line, an accusation: How could you put your sister second? How could you marry that bitch? How could you leave us? What did we do to deserve this? What did your sister ever do to you? What did I ever do? When are you going to stop this? When are you going to come back to us? When are you going to come back to me? Me? ME? You asshole. You jerk. I revoke my love from you, though it was puny to begin with. I revoke it because you have cast us aside, you have deserted us, you have chosen someone else. We need you. I need you. Come back to me. Or else.

There wasn't much time to let NMIL's voicemail sink in, before DH got an email from his sister, the next day, which also happened to be DH's birthday:

Tue, June XX, 2010
From: SIL
To: DH

Happy Birthday, [DH's Nickname].

After talking to you yesterday I have been thinking a lot. I decided that I do not want you to come on my birthday. I was completely surprised that you had made other plans on my birthday. Literally, since the year I was born, we have had a party. You are WELL aware that we don't send out invitations or anything to "the usual" people. You are WELL aware. As my brother, I guess I just assumed that you would come to your sister's birthday that has taken place every single year. Who knows, maybe I'm just crazy for thinking that. So don't bother coming to my birthday. I don't want you there.

Thinking a lot? Or being controlled? She decided? Or her mother did? SIL's response to the situation was pathetic in it's immaturity, and obvious in it's source. It rather reminded me of what a kindergartener does when a friend has broken her favorite crayon and refuses to repair the damage by offering a crayon from her own box: "Fine then! Be that way. I don't like you anymore. And you can't come to my birthday party!"

Bam. Invitation revoked, bitch! And I don't like you anymore.


  1. WOW. The voicemail is worthy of my narcissistic grandmother!

    My father never would have done that. He always said things like "Don't worry about us, do your own thing" with body language that didn't quite tell the same story, so I took him at his word, but felt guilty. That's why it was possible for me to think for so long that they were so selfless and wonderful as parents.

    Your NMIL is quite a piece of work. NSIL too.

  2. I think it is wrong and obviously unhealthy for your DH's FOO to think that every year you 2 will always attend the same events. Don't you 2 have 2 children? What narrow-minded N's to think that just because birthdays have always been celebrated a certain way that there is no room for anyone else to ever "be allowed" to make other plans. I see nothing wrong with reaching out to find out the game plan weeks in advance and I see nothing wrong with wanting to do something else on the afternoon/evening of this major summer holiday.
    My DH is from a large family and we had moved hours away from the majority of them and there was a SIL who had a little problem with us not always be there on major holidays. But the majority realized that siblings grow up and although have their heart there, need to do what is best for their own family.

  3. ME and MINI-ME are unworthy of a place in your lives. Good riddance!

    BTW How old is Mini-me that she has to have her birthday celebrated on the exact day? Most of us (adults) are happy for the recognition regardless of when it happens.

  4. PA - I'm thinking of going through and changing all my references from "SIL" to "NSIL." Thanks for pointing that out.

    WRB - We do have two small children (under the age of two) and they come first in our lives, not DH's N sister. Obviously a hard pill for her to swallow.

    Mulderfan - Mini-me was turning 16 at the time. She'll be 17 this year. Believe me, I've had so many discussions with DH about how she is VERY immature for her age. I realize that 16 year olds are not adults...but they shouldn't be behaving like 5 year olds either. Again, VERY reminiscent of kindergartner antics. Good riddance is right.

  5. TRY BEING GRATEFUL ANYONE REMEMBERED YOUR BIRTHDAY AT ALL! Yes, I'm shouting, on purpose. And that voicemail is simply creepy.

  6. I can't believe she had the nerve to say she never sends invitations, as if the day is solely reserved for her as long as she lives! Especially since she never called you back! She's really going for the Princess vibe. And to send such a fuck-you email on DH's OWN nothing sacred?