Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Am Venting Today

The free dictionary defines venting as, “to express (one’s thoughts or feelings, for example), especially forcefully.” Well, today I am venting, hoping to express my feelings and move on, expelling some pent-up anger and frustration.

Today I am venting - letting off steam, as the saying goes.
I previously wrote about my brother-in-law.  I have been lucky not to have direct contact with him for over a year because my husband and my BIL were not on speaking terms.

It is said we can choose our friends but not our family. I married at 21. Who knew about family baggage – good or bad? Not me. Perhaps today young people are more aware of what goes along with marrying a person. But they say love is blind.

Not that, knowing the baggage, the marriage should not occur. It only means the individuals go into the arrangement eyes wide open, with at least some idea of what the future bodes.

It is interesting to speculate on what I would have discovered concerning my hub’s family way back when. Fourteen years separate my hub and his younger brother, who was eight when I met him.

On the other hand soon-to-be-BIL made an impression on me, and it was not exactly positive. He was much younger than his two siblings (14 and 10 years older), and was brought up as if an only child. He was spoiled when I met him. I later realized he is probably the most selfish and self-centered individual I know. I recognize that may not be fair because I do not know too many people as well as I know my BIL.

My BIL is married with two teenagers. He is a lawyer by education but does not work. He has been a househusband his entire married life and has never held a job for as long as one year. He believes he is always right no matter what the subject. His philosophy of life is based on the fact that (he believes) most people are idiots.

My mother-in-law celebrated her 86th birthday this past weekend. It took a lot of persuading, but BIL finally agreed to join his sister and brother and take his mother out to lunch. The idea was this would be the best present for Mom – all three kids together and talking to each other.

Sunday afternoon rolls around. Mom, sister-in-law, hub and I are sitting outside, talking and waiting for BIL. He arrives and he and the kids get out of the car. His wife stayed home. The three travelers did not greet SIL, hub or me. They did not look at us. BIL announces he does not want to go out to lunch.

SIL: Mom wants to go to a Chinese restaurant. This is not about you. This is about Mommy. We are going out.

(Side note: SIL got along with BIL until a couple of years ago when the relationship began to deteriorate. But they are still on speaking terms.)

Two cars leave for the ten-minute drive to the restaurant. We all pile out, walk in and sit down. BIL announces he and the kids are not going to eat. They sat through the meal in a huff, hardly smiling, barely talking or initiating conversation. The kids insisted they were not hungry, having had breakfast five hours earlier. This was not the festive occasion envisioned or desired for Mom.

After lunch I said: I am going home. It would be nice for the three siblings to be with Mom. You guys do not need me.

The three siblings, two grandkids and Mom went back to the assisted living facility and spent the rest of the afternoon in her studio apartment.

SIL went to the café at the facility to round up silverware and paper plates for the birthday cake she had purchased. There was an event going on and small platters of food scattered around the tables. She filled a plate with finger food and returned to the room.

The kids devoured the food immediately. They were starved.

There are a lot of stories like this about my BIL. He does not compromise and will spend hours attempting to convince you his way or opinion is the right one. He sulks when he does not get his way. We – the rest of the family – rarely discuss anything with him anymore. He does not debate alternatives or ideas but tells you what he wants to do or what the right answer is. He has a unique talent of turning anything into an argument.

But maybe I am the crazy one. Why have I put up with it all these years?

I understand now why some family members become estranged. Maybe it is the best way to handle oil-and-water relationships.


  1. Wow, he sounds like a real prize -- all the charm of a lawyer, with none of the income! I wonder what his mother thinks of him?

  2. He sounds like someone I'd like to avoid at all costs. I am really wondering how come he gets away with all his disruptions. Nobody calls him on it, apparently.

  3. Talk about "toxic personality." I have to feel sorry for his wife and kids.

  4. Thankfully, he is your husband's problem.
    I work with my relatives. My hubby deals with his.