Okay my father has been dead a little over a month & a half, right? You'd figure the people who shared a home with him would still be grieving & trying to support each other. Apparently, that's not the case.
Last night, literally after we'd had a conversation about them visiting NYC next year, I find out from my sister that her husband was cheating on her. Or at the very least, he was considering cheating on her & doing things that I doubt any of you would stand for from your spouses/serious significant others.
He had the bright idea of messaging girls they both knew on Facebook, asking for pictures of private parts & asking for one girl in particular's phone number (as well as employing text messaging). I have no clue how my sister found out but I saw an alarming status on her Facebook page & was wondering what's up. I thought maybe it had to do with more nasty family secrets, one of her kids or even her marriage. With her marriage, though, I thought "Her husband goes to work & sleeps then has to deal with the kids. When would he have the time to cheat?"
He decided to do all this messaging while at work. Why he couldn't just get online porn or a subscription to an adult magazine, I don't know. Nor can I figure out why in the Hell he picked women that (as far as I know) aren't exactly model material. If you're going to ask for nudie pics, at least ask for them from a woman that would rank a 7 or better on a scale of 1-10 (putting aside personal preferences for hair color, ethnicity and other factors that differ from person to person).
I also don't know how my sister found out but she did & was angry. This also wasn't the first time he did this behind her back. I asked her if she had a problem with him having female friends in general & she said "No." I have guy friends & my husband has female friends.
The difference is none of my guy friends have ever asked for or gotten nudie pics from me (and since I'm not an adult model, none would be publicly available; I'm also not stupid enough to give someone something to blackmail me with, as a nude pic would certainly be).
Nor have any of my guy friends said "You know I love you" in a non-platonic way & my industry is known for beauty as well as informality. I've got no problem with taking a compliment or being told I'm pretty; that's not crossing the line with me, though my sister was also pissed about her husband doing that. Not even the guy friend my husband hates ever said "I love you" to me! I don't think I'd believe him if he did since too many people throw that phrase around like confetti.
Another reason this guy is a shithead? He decides to do this after they both get into debt on new cars. My sister obviously can't work when she has 2 little kids to care for & limited schooling to actually get a job, much less one that would pay daycare costs on top of whatever she made to help herself. She's also been out of the workforce for a good 10 years.
Oh, and he corresponded with one of these chicks on Mother's Day & the last one was a couple weeks after my father's passing.
Since this isn't the first incident, I keep thinking of the phrase "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
To make this story better, this man's mother (herself a divorced woman) has the gall to tell my sister she should put up with this shit & forgive him with no repercussions. Gee, what does that teach their kids? The woman is supposed to be a good little Stepford Wife while the man gets carte blanche to do whatever he wants? Apparently, she waited until she saw her husband in bed with someone to get a divorce. My own mother pointed out that if we didn't have social media & texting today, my brother in law would have been meeting up with these girls and eventually fucking them.
Right now, the timing of all this had me mad. But...it gets better.
My sister mentions the whole thing on Facebook & then some scum relative of my brother in law's decides to publicly insult her for expressing her feelings and views. This shithead apparently apologized before she deleted his post & I happened to see it. I was going to respond to this post but couldn't so I decided to send a private message, giving him a leg up over what he gave my sister. Sorry, you fuck with my loved ones & you're fucking with me. I illuminated that fact to this pathetic, uneducated moron who apparently didn't bother doing his homework on me. I forwarded his response to my husband, who agreed with this assessment. I later responded that this guy was out of my league & an idiot before blocking (I block as a preemptive measure since I've got no time or patience for bullshit).
Then, my brother in law makes reference to this on my feed & I commented my sentiments. After all, his relatives made public attacks at my sister with him doing nothing to tell them to butt out. Yet he has the gall to tell ME to do so. Yeah, me. The Angry Redheaded Lawyer. The enforcer. The person who's got much more education, means, charisma and contacts than this pathetic little shit who's related to Psycho Boy.
I stated that if HIS relative had not publicly been nasty to my sister, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But guess what, shithead? You mess with my sister, you're messing with me. He must think because my father isn't around he's going to get off easy & mess with us. He's sadly mistaken.
His pathetic family who has zero concept of the laws also tried to claim that my words were a credible threat. Ha! Any cop would laugh at you if you tried to claim that one. I live 1,000 miles away from there. I also have no travel plans to go down there & haven't made any considering I've got business stuff to do up here. Plus, I'm not going to the state of NC considering they've passed that nasty, sexist requirement on abortion clinics & essentially trying to have MORE deadbeats have kids due to lack of access to contraceptives and abortion. Aren't armchair lawyers the best?
You'd think my sister would appreciate having a big sister who didn't let anyone mess with her or treat her like shit. After all, who else would defend her? You'd be dead wrong.
Instead, both she & my mother had the nerve to tell me not to get involved but didn't say a word about the prior actions of my brother in law's relatives. My mother told me my sister said all this. I said I'm not going to let someone treat my sister like shit, end of story & he didn't call out these relatives. I also note that he didn't address my points about doing right by my sister or those kids.
I honestly predicted that reaction & it's made me come to a very important decision: disownment.
Yep, you read that right. You may ask why. You may try to claim "But they're FAMILY!! You can't stop speaking to them!"
WRONG!!! Some people are too toxic to have in your life. It's my belief that my sister & my mother are the embodiment of such a thing.
Let's examine the evidence:
1. Both tell me how to dress when I visit & have demanded me to dress a certain way before going places with them.
2. Both tell me not to speak on a matter while others are free to do so without any remarks or comment from either of them to those parties.
3. Both blame me for shit while others do far worse in a situation. My sister is still friends with the former friend of mine who tried to ruin her wedding. If I'd done that, I'd have been persona non grata for even thinking about it.
4. Both refuse to accept that I'm "the enforcer" or embrace it. Instead, they expect me to be some good little Southern Baptist who doesn't ever express a negative view, cleavage or a backbone.
5. Both refuse to accept that I'm a model or that I look as I do (which is thinner & prettier than everyone else). They wanted to "fatten me up" while I was down there. Does this sound like supportive behavior or like they want to drag me down to their level & resent me?
6. My mother even used to ask about my sex life & if I was sleeping with particular guys. This was when I was in college & over the age of consent.
As for getting gifts, I really don't care about gifts from anyone these days. I'm older now, have a lot of stuff & limited space in my home. Nor does anyone have the money or inclination to get me the things I really want like repaying all my loans or getting me stock. I don't spend holidays with my family since they live too far away & my husband can't get time off work. In fact, I wouldn't mind spending holidays with just me, my husband & our cats with perhaps a few guests who also have bad family situations and just want a nice place to go for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I'd also not mind having to buy less for Christmas. I'm not dependent on my parents & really haven't been since I've done plenty on my own. You could say I've succeeded despite my family situation.
You may say "What about your niece & nephews?" Well, I love them & don't want them to be fucked up but I've had it with this "one rule for me & one rule for everyone else" shit. How would they even respect me when they've seen their mother & grandmother step on me or refuse to let me do what I do best? They'd have to decide on that but cut me out & I'm sure there'd be resentment later on; I'm also not about to be a slave to my sister so I can have contact with them. If she thinks I'm doing that, she's dead wrong. My psyche & well being trump, plain & simple.
This has been building for years & I think now is the time to say "Enough is enough." If my sister can't be grateful for me standing up for her, I'll find someone else who appreciates me for who I am & doesn't let people shit on them. I can't care about someone & watch them get shit on so I'll devote my care & concern elsewhere.
I think maybe classism is figuring some into this. My family has the poor person's mentality; I do not. I never did, in fact. Would a 15 year old with poor person mentality have called up the EEOC like I did when I was applying to work at JcPenney? Would a 22 year old with that mentality have fought to apply to law school at the same time as everyone else? The answer to that is "no"; I never gave up on things I wanted while my family will give up in a second & not bother to assert themselves on important things.
Another way I think they're toxic? If I'd listened to them on things, that former friend who behaved like an asshole & is now the living embodiment of a Jerry Springer guest would still be in my life. My father would have had more opportunity to hurt me & emotionally abuse me and I'd be a stunted human being. I'd have also submitted to Psycho Boy & probably gotten a divorce after his coming out, complete with a body destroyed by childbirth and a psyche destroyed by children I didn't really want.
As an adult & getting far away from that influence, I've seen lots of things that make them not very good people to rely upon or take seriously.
Since my father's death, there's been serious thought going on in my house. My husband has been spurned on to do lots of things to improve himself & live life to the fullest. I've also had time to think very carefully about who I want in my life as I'm on this journey in my field.
For me, if someone's causing conflict or a problem now it's just going to get worse later on when I get a higher public profile & do more things. The resentment my family seems to have for me will only get worse. It's probably why my friends these days are industry peers, attorneys or folks with some money though I never really befriended the neighborhood kids like my sister did.
A great analogy for my feelings about my past are old clothes I had in high school that are too big on me now. The new me just doesn't fit into them & no matter how hard I try, it's just not going to. I have to face facts that I've become part of what Nietzsche would call "the great." One of the "beautiful people," someone who has goals & is going to do great things in life. That's something I have to insist on for people who are going to be around me at this stage of my life.
The saying "birds of a feather flock together" is very true. I can't be hanging around people who are going to sabotage me, resent me for my success or otherwise bring me down. I'll have enough people outside my circle trying to do that. Why let the haters eat dinner with you? You might as well just roll out the red carpet for them.
I even told my husband that I want that for him; he doesn't need to be around people who are only going to have class envy sooner or later & not really care about his success in life. I want people around who inspire me to be better, who make me feel good about myself, who support what I do & would have my back in a second.
I feel like my sister & my mother have instructed me to not give a shit about my sister at all. Like I shouldn't even bother dialing 911 if some rapist attacked her in my presence. Being away from it, I can see this poor person mentality shining through.
One note about poor person mentality: not all poor people have it. Some people who grow up poor DO give a damn about moving up & have the drive to do it. There aren't many but they do exist.
So in this quest to surround myself with positive, driven & good people who will have my back no matter what happens to me, I feel you can't keep people around just because they share DNA with you. You need more than "they're FAMILY" to convince me someone's presence in my life is necessary or helpful to me. Having bad people around could damage my career, my psyche, my sense of self; I just can't have it. People can tell when you're upset about things & when I can predict my family's response to things, I think it's time I no longer cared & the only way to do that is to have a very limited relationship if any relationship can exist.
I like Dear Prudence's advice on bad behavior from family members. Essentially you leave the situation or end the conversation when the family member in question is doing the offensive act. The problem is that wasn't feasible when I was staying in my parents' house & had no car to drive off in when they were playing Fashion Cop.
I would LOVE to meet a family where the members are functional, support each others' dreams, don't act like little children & aren't infantalizing anyone. My husband says that doesn't exist. Today's little drama made me see the wisdom of a family friend's requirement for a husband that his parents be dead. I thought it was a good idea when I first heard of it, honestly. Mine was that I wouldn't tolerate disrespect & wouldn't be with a man who wouldn't stand up for me with in-laws. I also refused to be with anyone whose family behaved like assholes to me.
Family is what you create, not the DNA you have. Don't let DNA blind you to people's failings or permit you to put up with shit you'd never tolerate from the general population. If everyone followed that basic life advice, we'd have far fewer problems.
On the "eventually you'll be all alone point," I have this to say: we all die alone. Why not respect yourself while you're alive & damn the haters who want to shove you down to their level?