You’ve heard it said before, social media can be a blessing and a curse. And recently I had a heavy dose of the latter.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter its possible you saw some things over the weekend that were questionable at best. Let me take a minute to add context and perspective.
I am not the only one in the universe to have conflict with their in-laws. I’m pretty sure we can say its a tale as old as time. And over the course of our marriage any issues we had have stayed private, even without extended family members knowing the extent (or both sides) of the issues at hand on any given day.
Last weekend, in attempt to not dump my feelings all on my husband, I expressed my frustration on Twitter; my reasons for this being specifically that 1) my husband’s family is not on Twitter, they do not follow me and have never interacted with me on that platform. And 2) I was not venting to shame my in-laws or hurt their feelings purposefully, I was simply venting frustrations to online friends who have similar experiences and can relate.
In short what happened was this: My brother-in-law, for reasons we do not and probably will never understand, was searching for information about me on the internet and came across my Twitter account. The top few tweets happened to be me venting about his parents. Now a stable, responsible adult would have reached out to his own brother (my husband) right away to find out what was going on. He’d also probably do this first to keep his parent’s feelings from being hurt. Because at this juncture his parents had not seen the tweets, and there would have been an opportunity for healthy conflict resolution.
But he did not do that. Instead, he took screenshots of the tweets and posted them to his own Facebook account, calling me crazy, trashy and “bipolar” and making sure his entire family and friends saw the tweets.
Now I’m no genius, but its pretty clear to me that his actions here prove only one thing; that some deep down hatred for me far outweighed how much he truly cared about his parent’s feelings being hurt. And that, is the moral of this story.
Do I regret not setting my Twitter to private before venting? Yes and no. Yes because it was an emotionally draining weekend and we all could have gone on pretending everything was fine. No because, now I know I’m not crazy after all. That all the years I felt out of place, was mistreated, disrespected, felt like they didn’t like me in general- it was all true. Visual confirmation. And it showed their true character for all the world to see. Because if you’ve known someone for almost 16 years, and decide that person is nothing more than the sum of a few tweets sent out in frustration, hurt and pain; well you couldn’t have cared for them much in the first place, now could you?
For years I have advocated for healthy boundaries and conflict resolution in relationships. So marrying into a family that is terrible at both of those has been challenging. But my husband has stood by my side through it all. He has tried many times over the years to have open, honest conversations with his parents about words or actions that have hurt us, but no real change ever comes. (Unfortunately, the odds of them denying these efforts are pretty great. So I’m not here to offer a side to pick, I’m just stating the facts as they’ve happened.)
I could not be more grateful that somehow through the chaos, he’s emerged as strong capable individual who knows how to stand up for himself. He’s determined to break the cycle and raise kids who know how to (and feel free to) talk about their feelings, and resolve conflict in a healthy way.
Everyone is different. Each with their own world views shaped by those who raised them. Different doesn’t have to mean “bad” or “wrong” but as we grow up and have kids of our own, it’s up to us to look back and see what could have been different, better, healthier. And we get to decide, as grown adults, what our course will be.
I don’t know how our story will end up. For now we have to have boundaries in place for the sake of everyone’s health. As for us and our household, chaos and toxic relationships have no place here. We will not continue to let that kind of negativity into our home. Is it sad? Of course it is. But you can’t force people to behave any certain way. All you can do is control your own response, and protect yourself, your partner, and children accordingly.
If any of my husband’s family members are reading this, and you have questions or want further context or understanding, you can reach out to my husband and I’m sure he’d be happy to have an adult conversation. I have deactivated my own Facebook account, which means the blog FB page is deactivated along with it. I may be back later on, but I don’t want to get dragged into engaging with those who choose slander and hate as their means of primary communication.
And to clarify a final time, my tweets were not coming from a place of slander and hate. They were coming from years of being disrespected as a wife, mother and a human. They were coming from a place of deep hurt and frustration of trying so hard to fit in, to understand and be understood, while maintaining my own autonomy and the autonomy of our little family unit. It’s been an impossible uphill battle, many of whom in the family do not know about. Or, as I suspect, know only one side of the story- and never thought it was their place to seek the truth.