Friday, July 1, 2011

Hope It's Happy

Yesterday, DH put a birthday card in the mail for his sister.

I asked him recently if he wanted to send her a card and he said yes. We talked about how, given that his sister and two cousins are still kids, we think it appropriate to continue sending holiday and birthday cards to them for the time being. A couple weeks ago, we sent a congratulation card to his older cousin for graduating high school.

I picked out the card yesterday, and it was a simple one. The outside read, "It's Your Birthday!" in fun shapes and colors. The inside read, "Hope it's happy." And I added, "Wishing you the best on your birthday." I signed it with a dash followed by "The Jonsi Family."

We decided not to send her a gift, mostly because in the past two years, she has never acknowledged or shown appreciation for the gifts we have given her. Last year, since we did not attend her birthday party, we sent her a gift card to some trendy clothing store in the mail. She never acknowledged that she received it and certainly never thanked us for it.

One of my pet peeves is people who lack basic manners. Please and thank you goes a long way for me. And while I understand that it is most likely the case that SIL has just never been versed in the ways of etiquette (a most unfortunate circumstance for her, as it's difficult to navigate in the world without basic manners) there is no excuse good enough for me to let her off very easy. I have three theories: 1. That NMIL, either overtly or covertly, suggested that SIL not thank us 2. That SIL pays so little attention to the details of the world around her, that she's never picked up on the fact that SOCIETY, if not her mother, says you should say thank you when someone gives you something. And 3. SIL so hates me and is so blinded by her anger, that she OPTED to forgo her manners in all capacities.

Regarding my first assertion, it would not at all be surprising to me that NMIL pre-calculated the result of such a faux pas and maneuvered SIL accordingly. Regarding the second, DH somehow managed to observe from his surroundings that manners are a necessary life skill to develop. He did so, with or without the help from his parents. If SIL came from the same place and was surrounded by the same people, and was of the same intellectual stock, one would think she could glean manners by studying, even on a basic level, her environment. And finally, I feel SIL's feelings must be taken in to account, because I know she has them, though they are so far buried and overtaken by her NM. It is a distinct possibility that SIL decided, on every occasion, to be as rude as possible to DH and to me, in the hopes of exerting whatever pinch of power she has left in her own life. Clearly, SIL has a deep and overwhelming fear of that which takes power away from her NM, because whosoever takes the wind out of NMIL's sails, has the power to upset the balance of their very fragile world. In short, my presence in SIL's life, however small, has greatly impacted her precarious position in the power dynamic upheld by her mother. In that final respect, it is not surprising that SIL might choose to ignore us completely. After all, you don't have to thank someone who doesn't exist.

But regardless of SIL's skill-set when it comes to manners, DH and I genuinely wish her the very best for her birthday, and all days. I know that DH is still hoping his sister will escape their mother's grasp someday and join us on the side of truth and light. I wish that for her as well.

I wouldn't be surprised however, Dear Reader, if SIL openly rejects our birthday wishes. I have entertained thoughts that SIL will contact DH to inform him that she doesn't want his birthday cards and to stop sending them to her. I can just see it now, the hastily written email, sent only to DH: Hi DH. You can keep your birthday cards. I don't want them. You are nothing to me anymore. It wouldn't be surprising because we've seen it before: "I miss my brother. #Waitwhatbrother" (Her status on Twitter just a few months back.) And "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." (Her email to DH in 2010 regarding his attendance at her birthday party).

I wouldn't be surprised, Dear Reader, if we saw more of the same in the days to come. I'll keep you updated if we hear any word.


  1. My younger brother has been all over the place over the years and often sided with the narcs as he is presently.

    There were times he said awful things as if he wanted to "hurt me back". That may be your SIL's motivation but then the question is how did DH hurt her? Maybe she genuinely misses her brother and feels "left behind" but is too immature to express this appropriately.

    A more likely explanation is that she's a pawn in your NMIL's game. At her age, she is probably not in a position to escape. It would be nice if you tried to stay in touch in case she wakes up and smells the coffee like your DH did.

  2. Mulderfan - I agree with your assessment that SIL is most likely just a pawn in NMIL's game. Unfortunately, I think the best we can do is let her know that we are here, should she choose to walk through the door. We can't have a relationship so long as she chooses to remain loyal to NMIL and be her "right-hand-man" but we can show her that we aren't closing the door on her completely.

    She has a lot of changes to make first (and must be in a position to escape, as you pointed out) in order for DH and I to have a relationship with her. Right now, it looks like she is not prepared or willing to do what she needs to do.

    I wish her the best of luck. Her life will be so, so difficult if she can't stand on her own two feet.

  3. Unfortunately, she seems to be working unnecessarily hard at being a pawn. -- quartz