Disclaimer: This post is seriously long. I 'm not necessarily looking for responses, it was just more therapeutic than anything.
My father passed away almost 16 years ago. He was the "glue" that held the extended family together - always organizing family gatherings and celebrations. I was 8 years old when he died. I grew up around his family and felt loved by them.
About 2 years after he died, the rumour mill started churning about how none of them actually ever liked my mother in the first place (she had already been alienated by 99% of their "mutual" friends, who apparently were never mutual to begin with). They criticized her parenting, as if any of them had raised 3 young girls after the sudden death of their husband. Invitations to family gatherings trickled about 2 years after his death. My grandmother still hosts us at her house and genuinely cares to see us (and she's 90 for pete's sake!), but I've only ever gotten judgement from the rest of his family.
Things got even more tense once I got to high school. I avoided even going to my grandmothers house for fear of running into one of my aunts or uncles because they always had something to say about my life choices. It didn't get any better once FI and I had 2 children, back to back, out of wedlock. It's fine if they don't agree with our choices, but I felt completely pushed out of the family at that point.I got the sense that they thought I "tarnished the family name". It's not like I was doing crazy things, or ruining my life. Yes, things were harder because we were young, but it made us better, STRONGER people. We were incredibly responsible people and parents, even if we were young.
I have harboured ill feelings towards them because of their judgements, but still have always made an effort for "the sake of family". However, things have just continued to go downhill. I've been made to feel that "I'm not good enough" by them. Their daughters went to elite universities, didn't have babies unwedded, etc. I don't think our lives are comparable by any means. They have their fathers. They had a paid university education/paid weddings/paid vacations/paid everything. I've worked for every.single.thing I have because my father was the breadwinner in our family when he died. I think it makes me a better person, not "underprivileged".
To top it off, I was ripped off financially by two uncles for the ONLY thing I was specifically left by my father, which I didn't even know I owned. When I do see any of them once in a blue moon, it's the 3rd degree about what I'm doing with my life, who I'm working for, where I'm living - but always in a condescending way- as if to make sure that I'm "doing life right" as opposed to asking how I'm doing.
For the sake of preventing animosity (not that they love me now or anything), I invited them to the wedding. I went back and forth a lot about it, but I thought it would cause more drama if I didn't. I think this was a poor decision, because it's just given me more reason to feel left out from their circle.
Now I've found out nobody from that side of the fam can make my shower, and I haven't heard from any of them about the wedding except my grandmother. There's still a few days until the RSVP deadline, so we'll see.
I'm just feeling a bit sad, because I'm an aunt myself and I could never imagine pushing my nephew out of my life if my sister died. If anything, I would be concerned that his quality of life wouldn't be as good as before and I would do everything I could to support him.
I've come to the realization through this lovely therapeutic post that I was never truly loved by them. If you love someone, you don't judge as hard and as obviously as they did. You don't push a CHILD out of your family functions just because you might not like her mom much. You embrace that child with as much love as possible, because even if you can't replace to love she's missing from her daddy, you can help fill up her cup a little bit.
My dad is probably rolling over in his grave with the way they've treated my sisters and I over the last 16 years because it goes against the definition of family that he instilled in me. Le sigh. I think I'm done trying with them. It sucks, but I don't think it was really my choice. I wish things would have been different.