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I've been debating on posting this

...and I've finally decided to do it because it's eating me up and I just need to get it out there.

Basically, my SIL hates me.  She suffers from mental illness, for sure, though I have no idea exactly what's been diagnosed and what hasn't.  She acts like she's about 15, complete with teenage histrionics and the paranoia of people talking about her, all of it.  She holds grudges like nobody's business.  She's been holding one against me for 18 months.  Also, she's incredibly hot or cold.  One day she's fine with you, the next day she feels sorry for you, two days later she's yelling at you about how you don't understand.

18 months ago I reported her to DHS for endangering two toddlers - her own child and the child of her sister.  I am a mandatory reporter and told the whole family when we found out she was pregnant that if she ever did anything to put the child in danger or neglect the child, I would be forced to report it.  Yes, with her history I expected something to happen.

I won't go into the details of what happened, but she was in a very bad state of mind, dealing with severe panic attacks when left home alone (as in, no other adult in the house) and she was caring for two toddlers.  She made some poor and unsafe choices on how to handle her panic attacks and then my ILs called and asked me what to do, telling me all the details.  I told them I had no choice but to call it in.

DHS stepped in and helped to create a safety plan.  They never once mentioned taking the child away.  At the time, SIL told me she understood why I did what I did.  I was very open about it.  I could have done it covertly but chose to be open and honest with the family because I felt I owed it to them.  In turn, they shunned me (and H along with me, since he stood up for me and told his family they were wrong for wanting to ignore it) for months, and I think it was during that time that SIL changed her feelings toward me.

Since then, she picks fights with me, makes assumptions that I am talking about her when I am not, and makes huge leaps in logic.  For instance, H was telling her about a documentary he watched about monkies and how one monkey figured out how to deceive the others so he could get all the food for himself.  H thought this was pretty amazing.  SIL looked at me and said, "So you're saying you believe we evolved from monkies?"  I hadn't said a word, but she turned it all on me.

Then she'll do a total 180 and start calling me for help.  She's lonely, she's bored, she's scared, she calls me to see if I can come over and keep her company.  If she has questions about something she thinks I can help with, she calls me.  I never know what to expect from her.

The other night was kind of the last straw for me.  This has been going on for months, and it happened again when I was talking with my MIL.  SIL wasn't a part of the conversation, she wasn't even in the room, but she took a piece of a sentence that she heard me say, glommed onto it, assumed it was directed at her (it wasn't) and wouldn't let it go.  She also wouldn't listen to me and no matter what I did, she kept twisting my words until there was nothing I could do but quit talking to her.

It's so hard because there are times when she is nice to me, but most of the time she shoots me death glares.  She's told me it's a good thing I'm not a mother because I'd be a terrible one.  I have done nothing since that day 18 months ago but be nice to her.  I've taken her child on outings, with her permission.  I've invited them to dinner.  I've brought dinner to them.  I've called to check on her when I knew she was having a hard day. I have never said one word about her parenting to her.

I don't know what to do anymore.  I can't change her, but I also can't stand to be around her because of the unpredictability of how she will treat me.  I know she's sick, but it doesn't help when I'm the one being attacked, you know?  To not see her means no longer seeing her son or MIL or FIL since they all live in the same house and she never leaves.  She doesn't work or drive, so she stays home all day every day.

I don't know what I'm looking for with this, other than to get it out.  Prayers are always welcome.  Advice?  Sure, why not.  I'm just so frustrated and angry and...deflated, I guess.

Re: I've been debating on posting this

  • iamjoesgurliamjoesgurl member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    This is just awful.  I don't even know what to say.  On one hand, I would be done with her and if it meant not seeing MIL or FIL, then so be it.  But on the other hand, I feel like God would be telling me that I need to deal with it the best I can, but not to sever the relationships.  This is a really tough situation and I don't honestly know what I would do in your situation.

    What does your H say about it?  I would imagine that he sees it but there probably isn't anything that he can do either.

    I'm so sorry and I'll be praying for you.  That child needs you in his life.  **hugs**
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  • DramaGeekDramaGeek member
    2500 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    Oh, he sees it all right.  We were just discussing this the other night after the whole thing went down.  His eyes about bugged out of his head when she started in on me.  There's really nothing either one of us can do.  We usually host Thanksgiving, though, and we're thinking of not doing it this year for some space.
  • kipnuskipnus member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    That's really rough--mental illness is such a hard thing to deal with. Is it possible for you to hang out with your MIL and FIL outside of their home? Is SIL in therapy or on any kind of medication? 
  • DramaGeekDramaGeek member
    2500 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    Kipnus, I don't know.  I know she was on meds and in therapy at one point, but I doubt it's continued.  I'm not allowed to know.  My guess is she isn't anymore because "she's fixed."  They're very fundamentalist Christians and tend to eschew modern medicine for miracles, especially when it comes to mental illness.  MIL once told me that drinking a particular juice would cure my clinically diagnosed depression.

    As far as seeing them outside their home...yes and no.  If we invited them but didn't invite her, it'd be pretty obvious we were excluding her on purpose, you know?
  • mrandmrsbristmrandmrsbrist member
    1000 Comments Second Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    I don't really have advice. I tend to cut people like that out of my life, but I can see why you can't just do that with her. It also doesn't sound like something you could even take to your IL's, if you wanted. This blows. I'm sorry.
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  • edited December 2011
    I am so sorry and will be praying for you. I wish I had something wonderfully helpful to say, but I don't.

    I have a couple thoughts that I hope may help.
    1. Forgiving does not entail a wonderful relationship. While you do need to forgive (which in your case sounds really tough) reconcilation requires two active parties, you are not required to do double work to make this relationship work.

    I understand you want a relationship with these kids, which is wonderful and natural. However, if your sister-in-law is not interested in a real relationship with you and her parents are less than interested as well, maybe you could stop focusing on your relationship with her and just focus on the relationship with her kid, i.e. invite them all on things kid-related, not so much adult activities.

    2. You don't need to answer her every time she calls. In fact, it might be really helpful for you if you didn't.

    3. Maybe you shouldn't be quite so open with everyone in the family about your concerns about her (if it makes her feel like you're blasting her parenting to everyone). Maybe, I'm not sure, and obviously involved parties would need to know, like her parents since she's living with the them and the sister whose kids SIL looks after.
  • edited December 2011
    wow, I am so sorry you are going through this.

    I agree with you that you needed to report her to DHS. There are too many instances in life where people "should've, could've, would've" over things like that and the kids are the ones that get hurt.

    I recommend staying in the kids lives and being a good role model to them like you have been

    I will pray for you as you deal with this.

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  • ravenrayravenray member
    5000 Comments 25 Love Its Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    Wow that is really tough I am so sorry! *hugs* 
    Sister2groom had a lot of good things to say.
    I would personally distance myself from them, I know sucks but if the family is shunning you anyways why are you holding on so hard?  I don't think you have to cut them out completely but maybe not spend so much time with them.  I'll be praying for you.
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  • edited December 2011
    Yikes! So tough! I have a friend that has some of those same tendancies as your SIL and a relationship wtih her has been difficult to say the least. I couldn't imagine if it was my SIL. My best advice would be to get a little bit of space, and try to keep in mind when you're together that she is sick, it is not her intention to attack, it is her sickness. 

    So much easier said than done, I know. Hopefully soon the fam will see that she's not "fixed" and get her some real help! 

    So sorry you're going through this! 
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  • DramaGeekDramaGeek member
    2500 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    I definitely don't answer every time she calls, but since she lives with her parents I can't tell if it's her or one of her parents calling.  I do typically screen their calls, and I rarely go rushing to her aid because I don't really care to spend time with just her.  Even when I don't answer, she leaves me messages that I have to listen to at least partially to make sure there's nothing important.

    As far being open about concerns, when I say "the family" I simply mean H's immediate family - his parents, and sometimes his other sister and her family.  H and I told his parents, alone, our concerns about her being a parent and that I'd have to report anything prior to our nephew being born.  He attempted to talk to them about adoption (I wasn't even there for that one) but it didn't go over well.  After that, the only time we talked about it was when ILs brought it up to us.  For some reason, H and I are viewed as the fixers in the family and they call us with everything and ask us to fix it.  Any kind of family dispute, any problems they're having with their children, any financial problems, ILs call us.  So when they called and told me all these things that happened, I found the number for our county mental health services and had her call them.  Then I tried to get her to self report but she wouldn't do it, so I told them I had to report it and I did.  We haven't discussed anything since then.  The only people I told about reporting her were H, MIL and FIL, and SIL herself.  I did not mention it to anyone else in the family, but they did.  To my knowledge, MIL told H's grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  I wouldn't be surprised if a few family friends were told to.  Obviously the other SIL and her H know too because DHS had to talk with them about the situation.

    I just hate feeling like I have to quit being around the family.  Nine times out of ten she won't let us take her kid somewhere unless we invite her too, so we spend most of our time with him at their house.  I've quit being around as much; we used to see him every week and now it's more like once every couple of months for me.  I'm seriously thinking of just not being around at all anymore, since her behavior toward me is so unpredictable.

    ETA - the DHS incident was not the first time H's parents called to get my help with her poor parenting.  She's been neglecting her kid since he was at least 3 months old, refusing to change his diaper, leaving him unattended on a twin bed after he was able to roll over, etc.  They have called me about it multiple times over the years.  I think the first time was when he was 3 or 4 months old.
  • edited December 2011
    It sounds to me like your H's parents are enabling this sister big time.  They are enabling her to continue untreated in her possible mental illness, they are enabling her to neglect her child (and yet keep him), they are enabling her to be irresponsible by letting her live with them without working, they are enabling her childish behavior by not stepping in when she talks to you the way she does, etc.  As much of this is your SIL's fault, I think your FIL and MIL should be doing way more about it.

    All of that being said, it sounds like you are following biblical principles on the matter.  If you have an issue with someone, take it to them first, then to fellow Christians, then to "elders."  If the issue is still unresolved you have the right to cut that person out of your life.
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  • DramaGeekDramaGeek member
    2500 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    Sessions, I can't tell you how many times H and I have had that exact conversation about the enabling.  He's tried to talk to his parents about it.  I can only imagine how they're feeling - FIL has said he feels like this is somehow his fault, they're reluctant to admit that she does have a problem because, to them, it means they failed her somehow, and their beliefs tell them that this is something that should be fixed through prayer, which isn't helping.  MIL has said in the past that they're afraid to give her an ultimatum because she won't follow through and then they'll have to kick her out and they don't know where she'd go.  They've specifically said they can't turn their grandchild out on the street, which I understand, but I also know that what they're doing isn't helping her (or him) at all.

    At one point they did tell her she had to get a job.  She applied and interviewed at a fast food place and was offered one of the night shifts, but her parents said no because they didn't want to be responsible for her child at night.  So yes, they're doing it to themselves and completely enabling her.

    I have tried to talk to her, but it doesn't work.  I've thought of asking H to talk to her but I don't know how well that would go over.  He kind of vascillates between wanting nothing to do with her and feeling sorry for her and right now he's in the nothing to do with her phase.  As far as MIL saying something to her, she actually did try this last time, but SIL wouldn't listen to anything any of us had to say.  It was like she had an agenda and saw a slight opening so she took it.

    It's just a frustrating situation that would probably be easier if they lived a ways away, but their house is less than a mile from ours.  To make it even harder, her son calls sometimes and asks us to come over if he hasn't seen us recently!  Talk about tugging at the heart strings!
  • FaithCaitlinFaithCaitlin member
    5000 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    I have no advice but I'll be praying. ::hugs::

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  • edited December 2011
    This IS a really difficult situation.  I'll be praying for you.  *hugs*

    ETA:  Have you guys suggested (or tried) family counseling?
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  • DramaGeekDramaGeek member
    2500 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_christian-weddings_ive-debating-posting-this?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:464687ae-7bc1-4360-9aea-999e11f1e1adDiscussion:d05c5a64-c0c1-42d1-9c06-4483d307d432Post:5339b0c1-1151-4623-812c-83d4b60a9d27">Re: I've been debating on posting this</a>:
    [QUOTE]This IS a really difficult situation.  I'll be praying for you.  *hugs* ETA:  Have you guys suggested (or tried) family counseling?
    Posted by sessionswedding[/QUOTE]

    <div>Suggested, yes.  They're not big believers in traditional counseling.  SIL went twice after the whole DHS ordeal and when I asked how it was going and when her next appointment was, she said, "oh, I don't have to go anymore, we got everything worked out."</div>
  • edited December 2011
    I am so sorry to hear this! I don't have advice, but I will pray for you and the family. 
  • mattycammattycam member
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    This is tough and I hope this storm in your life will pass soon *hugs*.
  • edited December 2011
    Wow; she sorta sounds like my brother's wife.  But they live far away and I never see her.   I'm so sorry you have to deal with that.  I have no advice, I think you did the right thing in reporting her, and I just said a prayer for you.  I'm glad you have your husband to stand with you!
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  • edited December 2011
    i am sorry you are going through this. im in the field of psych, some of the things you have said suggest bioplar disorder and some personality disorder, perhaps histrionic or paranoid. but, obviously, this isnot medical advice, in fact i shouldnt even be trying to name it anything since i know so little. im just trying to think of ways that could help. for one thing i definitely think that someone like that needs to be properly diagnosed and treated. maybe the way to go about it is through your family in law. they need to understand that with proper care your sister in law could be able to manage herself better. it would improve the quality of life for them, for you, for your sil and perhaps most importantly her children. and when i say treatment i dont neccessarily mean medication. behavioral therapy can go looooong ways. 
    meanwhile, i hope you can stay strong. it is amazing that you have been able to stay that calm for so long. i probably would have snapped much earlier. i think it is fair for you to pull away for a while and let yourself breathe. you need to take care of yourself as well.  

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