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To want to send this letter to my brother (long)

(39 Posts)
baffledandupset Sun 26-Oct-08 22:19:04

Name change regular getting worked up already about family strife over Christmas. Please - don't be horrible to me. I'm feeling a bit fragile tonight.

Anyway, want to send this letter to brother about SIL after a particularly gruesome family get-together at my mum's today. Have changed names for sake of anonymity.

"You’re not going to enjoy reading this. Sorry. I’m writing it for two reasons – firstly because I’ve finally reached the end of my patience with Mandy‘s behaviour and secondly to give you some time before Christmas to think about the practicalities of who goes where and when.

I suspect that you the situation between me and Mandy as being about a clash of personalities.

My understanding is this: that Mandy took a strong dislike to me around the time you two first got together, and has played out that dislike through subtle passive-aggressive behaviour over the past decade while everyone around pretends not to notice. To spell it out: she often makes a point of not acknowledging my presence in the room , and if she does acknowledge my presence it’s without a smile or any sign of interest. She’ll engage in desultory conversation with me if I ask her about herself, but won’t go further than this. She pointedly ignores my children and always has done. She’ll say goodbye to everyone in the room and hug them but either say nothing to me or at most leave the house with a casual ‘bye’ over her shoulder. She makes a point of contradicting me and of being dismissive of my opinions, though usually only if other people are listening. Otherwise she barely responds to my conversation. I could go on but I’m conscious it possibly sounds nit-picking and a bit silly to you. On the other hand you’re aware that Mandy has a history of taking violent dislikes to people for reasons that are very hard for most of us to understand, and you know she’s behaved vindictively towards these people at work. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end of this sort of behaviour from someone you have to work with.

Apart from on a few recent occasions where I’ve become so upset and worn down by her hostility that I’ve deliberately stopped trying to engage with her, on the whole I’ve not been anything other than polite and warm, have always taken an interest in her work and her life generally, have regularly invited her to our home and shown her hospitality, year after year, despite constant snubbing and a determination on her part not to return the courtesy.

At times she’s moved beyond simple coldness to do things that were downright odd and unkind – like when ds was born, having not visited after the birth she managed to trump herself by not even acknowledging I’d given birth when I saw her the first time I went to mums afterwards a fortnight after, or looked at ds until she was forced to by mum asking her to. When mum told me about the way she’s behaved towards Mira [db's and SIL's friend, neighbor and former childminder] - blanking her, crossing the road when she sees her coming, not acknowledging or congratulating her on the birth of her baby, I had a sense of déjà vu. I wished I could say to Mira that I understood how upset Mandy’s behaviour made her feel – it’s incredibly hurtful at a time when you are feeling quite raw and emotional already. And of course Mira has more to feel upset about than most, having had such a terrible time with losing her baby before this pregnancy. I used to agonise about what I’d said or done to offend Mandy. I’m sure Mira has done the same.

I also suspect it’s not occurred to Mandy that Steph [my sister] and mum and dad are aware of how she behaves towards me and are baffled and upset by it.

Anyway – the point of all this isn’t just to let off steam ; the point is to ask you to address it. I can’t carry on behaving as though I haven’t noticed: it’s poisoning the time we spend together as a family at mum and dad’s. If I think Mandy is going to be there with you when I come around then I start feeling tense and upset on the way over. I feel really wounded by her behaviour and it undermines my confidence in myself. More to the point I really don’t see why I should be exposed to mean spirited behaviour in my family home. I’ve also had a bit of difficulty reconciling myself to the part you play in all this. I’ve heard you asking Steph to come and spend an evening with you at your home on three occasions in the past three weeks. I found myself thinking 'that’s three times more invitations than we’ve received in the past 13 years'. I’ve wondered what’s stopped you from extending the same hospitality to us as we’ve shown to you? It’s your home too. It’s left me wondering – do you concur with Mandy, or is it just that you can’t find a way of challenging her behaviour. Whatever, I can’t imagine DH tolerating me behaving like that towards one of his sisters.

Anyway - I would like to think that you can address this issue with Mandy. Perhaps try and put it to her that it's not acceptable for her to be rude and cold to a member of your family who's done nothing to upset her. Or if you can't bring yourself to talk to her about it then begin to think about how we're going to organise Christmas. I'm not going to let her spoil my time with mum and dad once again this year, as she's done every year as far back as I can remember"

Send it or bin it?

baffledandupset Sun 26-Oct-08 22:20:26

Sorry - should read: "I suspect that you see the situation between me and Mandy as being about a clash of personalities"

Carmenere Sun 26-Oct-08 22:23:48

I think that sounds quite rational and well thought out. Do you think he will be suprised to get it?

alicet Sun 26-Oct-08 22:24:58

Will your parents and Steph back you up on this?

I actually think it's well written - specific about what you're unhappy with without being personal and nasty yourself.

Given what I have read (and without knowing the other side) I would send it.

Be prepared for it all to blow up in your face though, which is why I would make sure the rest of your family back you up and so you don't end up out in the if your brother sides with Mandy over you

Wendyjayb Sun 26-Oct-08 22:25:09

I don't think ybu. You have the right to spend time with your family without being made to feel uncomfortable.
I hope your brother takes the letter in the right way and has words with her xx

Mum2OliverJames Sun 26-Oct-08 22:25:58

have you tried actually speaking to him on his own? i think that it is ok to send but if you havent tried to speak about it then maybe try that becayse sending a letter is a bit distant.

maybe try to get him on his own, make a few notes so you dont forget what you have to say and then if that doesnt work try the letter route

Shitemum Sun 26-Oct-08 22:27:34

I second what alicet and mum2oliverjames say.

alicet Sun 26-Oct-08 22:27:53

I actually think letters are a good way to address something like this as you can write everything down you want to say in a clear and rational manner snd not end up going off on one or missing out something crucial when you get upset.

Only thing I did think though is how are you going to make sure she doesn't open the letter before your brother and therefore make things worse between you both?

solidgoldskullonastick Sun 26-Oct-08 22:28:01

Thing is, maybe the situation between you and your SIL is a clash of personalities. You dont' like her and she doesn't like you. Your brother is going to be aware of that. And that letter does sound rather whiny: 'She did this and she did that and waaaaah! And another thing...'
Remember the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt: 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent'. Other wise words that I don't know who first said are 'you can't change another person's behaviour, you can only change your reaction to it.'
If you just accept that your SIL is a rude cow who doesn't like you and basically decide not to let her get to you, you'll find it easier to put up with her on those family occasions you have to be in the same room as her. But if you send that letter to your DB you might end up with a full-on family feud that lasts for years.

ceciliaaherne Sun 26-Oct-08 22:28:21

I know you are probabaly writing it down so that you get everything out you want to say but could you not speak to him?

monkeymonkeymonkey Sun 26-Oct-08 22:33:52

I think that your letter is well written and rational.
However I would be careful about sending it, this has potential to make a bad situation worse, and possibly a letter for you sister to wave about and show people selected higlights of.
Have you considered getting your brother alone, sitting him down, and reading out the letter? Maybe I'm paranoid (in fact I am grin) but I'd be worried about a physical record of the discussion floating about.

traceybath Sun 26-Oct-08 22:42:38

I wouldn't send the letter yet.

I'd talk to him first - can you not arrange to meet him for a coffee or something?

baffledandupset Sun 26-Oct-08 22:47:30

Yes - I'm worried about making things worse and ending up not seeing my brother who I love very much.

But I feel victimised by her behaviour and it's gone on for such a long time.

solidgoldskullonastick - I really don't think it's a clash of personalities. I have nothing against her other than that she's been so cold to me. I've really, really tried - I've made so many excuses for her behaviour, I've kept inviting her and my brother over for dinner, family parties and Christmas - mostly he comes and she doesn't but sometimes she comes too. That's despite not getting single invite to their place (twenty minutes' drive away) in 13 years. They invite other people over. Just not us.

'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent' - no I don't accept this. If someone belittles you and singles you out for cold behaviour for years on end despite you being open and friendly to them you do experience a sense of rejection which undermines your self confidence. SIL is incredibly nice and communicative to my DH - she's all smiles, kisses and hugs him when she leaves....... asks after his family and his work.... but more or less blanks me every time. I've really tortured myself asking what it is about me she dislikes so much when I've not said or done anything to hurt her, and can only conclude that it's something in my personality she hates. That makes me feel bad.

missmama Sun 26-Oct-08 22:57:09

I agree with traceybath - meet your brother for coffee and ask him to read the letter in front of you, so that you can both discuss it there and then.

AnguaVonUberwald Mon 27-Oct-08 09:18:54

The thing is, if you have not been invited to your brothers house for 13 years, that means he knows this is going on and is letting it happen.

All you will be doing is making him face something he either doesn't want to deal with, or is prepared to go along with.

I am sorry to say, I can't see this going anywhere positive.

You have to think: What do you want to achieve.

Do you really think your brother, who has allowed his wife to veto your visits for 13 years, is going to turn around to her and tell her to behave differently? And that if he does it will have an effect?

It sounds like what you want most if for him to acknowledge how bad her behaviour is, but then he has to admit he has behaved badly too, and it seems unlikely that he will do this.

I don't want to sound unsympathetic, it sounds like a horrible situation, I would hate it, and it would eat away at me too. I would just suggest that you try and find practical ways around it that ackowledge the situation, i.e. you go for one year, and them the other or at different times or something.

Best of luck, it sounds horrible

AnguaVonUberwald Mon 27-Oct-08 09:19:51

Sorry, that should be: you go for CHRISTMAS one year

llareggub Mon 27-Oct-08 09:28:56

Another suggestion:

Why not tackle the problem head-on? Next time she blanks you or is cold, ask in a very concerned way, "why, what is the matter Mandy? Are you OK? Has something upset you? You were so happy just a minute ago."

Probably very childish, but it will show her behaviour up in front of your family and you never know, it may well bring matters to a head. Her behaviour is between you and her. Addressing her DH (and I know he is your brother) is a bit 1950s DH as head of the house. That makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

Are you sure you've not slighted her in some way? Can you remember how you felt about her when you first met? Were you particularly close to your brother?

babbintot Mon 27-Oct-08 09:50:33

Message withdrawn

chequersandchess Mon 27-Oct-08 09:54:33

Oh, I'm so sorry for you. My SIL is the same - esp the acknwledging everyone but you part.

Going out now but will return later, sure you will get some good advice.

LoolaBoys Mon 27-Oct-08 10:00:42

I think a letter is the best way or you may get too emotional and not get your point across clearly.

BananaSkin Mon 27-Oct-08 10:02:23

I assume you are/were close to your brother? I can only assume (if my own situation is anything to go by) that she is jealous of this and I imagine she didn't have that same closeness in her own family.

It is difficult to win with a person like this because they are always willing to play dirtier than you are.

Part of me thinks that you should continue to slog on as you are doing, accept that she doesn't like you (but that she has a flawed personality rather than there being anything wrong with you), and ensure that she doesn't manage to come between you and your brother.

Or, if you have to do something,& I understand your need, then read out the letter like someone else suggested. That way, you will be rational and well thought out, but she won't be able to grab the letter from him (she undoubtedly would manage to get hold of it).

Weegle Mon 27-Oct-08 10:06:29

that's what I wondered babbintot - two occasions you cite are directly linked to blanking a new born baby... I think there might be more to this. And I really am not sure the letter will help but only make things worse.

I would actually just speak to people like your mother and sister and say that it upsets you that they don't support you. Lay some groundwork - if they really see it then they should be supporting you. Then you get strength in numbers.

solidgoldskullonastick Mon 27-Oct-08 10:10:02

You're not going to make her like you. ANd you're not going to make her brother punish or discipline or 'control' her, either. WHether he doesn't notice her hostility towards you or has decided to let her get on with it because he doesn't want to end his marriage over it, he is not going to do anything.
The rest of your family/friends clearly like you, so it's not that there is anything wrong with you. The only sensible way forward is to keep contact with the woman to a minimum, be civil and don't react when she's nasty.

Mind you, I do think babbtintot may have a point: if Mandy is infertile or something, this may explain her bitterness towards you and other people's babies.

mankymummy Mon 27-Oct-08 10:35:25

Sorry but why is it your brothers responsibility to sort this out for you?

You need to send the letter to the person who had offended you. If you feel a letter is the best way, that is.

Have you sat down with Mandy and told her how you feel?

themildmanneredaxemurderer Mon 27-Oct-08 10:40:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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