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Struggling with SIL

(6 Posts)
anyonewithinsightoutthere Tue 15-Nov-16 11:24:05

I’ve nc’ed because if I were outed it would cause a lot of hurt and I really need some help. Perhaps there’s someone here who has been in my SIL’s position and can offer some insight. It’s affecting my marriage and every weekend feels fraught and stressful.

My SIL has had a tough life, difficult childhood trauma and heartbreaking infertility. I think it’s fair to say that she’s very depressed and has paranoid ideas about people being out to manipulate her and that her house is bugged. This has been going on for a couple of years now, and I don’t believe she’s getting any help for it. I feel she is angry and resentful of me - although she’s never said anything - that I’ve had life comparatively easy and have everything that she dreams of. I don’t believe she particularly likes me, doesn’t like me taking part in conversations, but she does make an effort to acknowledge me and she does spend time saying hello to my kids (her nephews). She doesn’t work and lives in another town. She travels back to our home town frequently to see her parents.

She can be lovely, and she is very close to my DH. When she and her DH visit her parents they like to visit us too, which is most weekends. For some of the time she behaves normally, chats about world affairs etc. but some of the time she talks about her difficulties and becomes very angry if challenged or asked questions that she doesn’t like. I keep quiet during these discussions because I know from past experience she doesn’t want to hear what I have to say. She sometimes starts shouting and occasionally swears which makes me upset because the kids are around and the atmosphere becomes very emotionally charged. If my DH suggests a solution she’ll say how hard she’s had it and how he couldn’t possibly know. I am always walking on eggshells. I’m no saint. I struggle to be around her and that probably shows. Without trying to judge her, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so self-centred and self-pitying (she said, judging her…hmm). She’s not selfish, she just can’t see beyond her own sphere, and this has always been the case, even before the depression. I haven’t asked the kids what they think, but when I say their aunt is coming round they seem pleased and are happy to see her.

I have talked to my DH about how difficult I find being around her. He says I’m over reacting or too sensitive. He points out that my family don’t treat me very well either. He doesn’t seem to notice how emotional or upset people are getting. He wants to provide support for his DSis and I also feel she needs family support so I don’t feel comfortable saying she can’t come round. She needs help and we should be there when things are hard. I would be ashamed if we didn’t give her support, because I would want support if the situation were reversed.

I just can’t cope anymore. I want to help, but she doesn’t want me to. She resents any help I give her mum so I’m walking on eggshells there too. We are going round to hers for Christmas because she wants us to and I don't want to hurt her feelings, but she finds cooking for people stressful and her DH usually takes over when she gets overwhelmed. The last time we went there for Christmas she really struggled for the first few hours until she calmed down again, and that was before the depression got bad. It’s going to be so stressful and I don’t want that for my children who are all under 10. When I see that she’s starting to get upset sometimes I go and spend time with the children in another room. My DH doesn't think the kids notice anything.

What the hell do I do? I’d ideally like to understand what she’s going through so I can be more tolerant and provide the support she needs from us so she can get through this, my DH is happy and we can all come out the other side. I’ve tried to give a balanced account, I’m sure SIL would present a different view. I’m not an angel - I have many personality flaws. I just want us all to get on, for SIL to feel better, and to get rid of this anxiety and dread.

Thanks for reading. I'd appreciate any thoughts...

MatildaTheCat Tue 15-Nov-16 14:25:16

If she is paranoid and thinks her house is being bugged then she is unwell and naturally can't cope with visitors. Can your dh or you speak to her dh and express your concerns for her? She needs medical assessment .

No way would I go there for Christmas. Either stay home and visit for tea or at another time or invite them to you if that might work. You should consider everyone here, including your DC and it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. If possible try to ignore her nasty comments,mshe must be so miserable. However,mi wouldn't be exposing myself or my family to her behaviour more than is strictly necessary as nobody will benefit.

Perhaps send regular texts asking after her and offer any help you can but put your family first.

Cricrichan Tue 15-Nov-16 14:35:40

I'm not an expert but it sounds like she has mental health issues and needs treatment. Her family are in denial in my opinion. Maybe speak to a professional to try and get their opinion and then soeak to your dh about it.

anyonewithinsightoutthere Tue 15-Nov-16 16:44:58

Thank you both. That is my feeling - that she needs really good professional help. I will think about how to track down a good counsellor and ask my DH to pass the info on. Absolutely no way she would take it from me! I think she'd be very offended. Although my DH doesn't think she has a problem hmm

SheDoesntEvenGoHere Tue 15-Nov-16 17:51:08

If it is the case the family are in denial and your DH doesn't think she has a problem I don't see him passing it on. This stressed me out just reading it can't imagine the level you feel it!

Definitely no Christmas dinner there! I'd also try to break off the most weekends visit. Plan stuff for the kids and be unavailable until it's around once a month she visits.

Hope you find a solution to fit! Christmas is stressful enough without walking on eggshells

Good luck OP

anyonewithinsightoutthere Wed 16-Nov-16 09:37:39

I can't see that we'll get out of Christmas. My DH wants to go (he also talks about family holidays with all his family, and even how nice it would be if one of his brothers / sisters came to live with us shock shock shock - over my dead fucking body to both of those) and if I say no then I will be painted as the bad, unsupportive cow who has really hurt the-one-who-must-not-be-upset-at-all-costs. So I'm not going to do that, but I will have backup food in the freezer in case it all goes tits up. Before we go I'll get DH to agree that we leave if things become very tense. Even just thinking about this gives me a knot of anxiety in my stomach. I try very hard not to not like her, but right now it's really difficult...

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