It is very hard for me to be any part of the madness going on with my husband’s family right now. I write about compassion and serving people like they are Jesus. I also write about boundaries and dysfunctional families.
These two things don’t go together very well sometimes.
Dealing with them is like dealing with alcoholics. It is as if I have a friend who is a drunk. I say “Don’t drink and drive, because you might have a wreck” and they think they know better, so they drink, and drive, and total their car. And then they say “Hey, I don’t have a car anymore, can you drive me around? Or lend me money for a new car?”
They aren’t drunks. They are just needy, and manipulative, and making bad decisions. They want things done for them that we don’t have the time, energy, or money for. They want things done that I told them we would not provide, yet they are getting them anyway.
The only trips they took my husband and his brother on were of the guilt variety. Lots of abuse – physical, verbal, emotional. It is hard to muster up the desire to take care of someone who harmed someone I love. It is hard to want to help them when they have not admitted to or apologized for the damage they did. They continue to manipulate and control, even now.
And I just have to get away from all of this. It doesn’t require the skill of a prophet to see where all of this is headed.
I told them not to get a house with a yard when they moved up here. I pushed for them getting an apartment. They are both old and not as able to take care of themselves, much less a house with a yard. Plus, when they die or have to move into assisted living, that house will have to be dealt with. That mortgage will still have to be paid.
I told them that my husband barely has time to take care of our yard and house, and they said that they wanted a yard because she wanted to garden, and he needed the exercise. Neither has happened. They call my husband or his brother over to work on their yard and to maintain their house. Electrical switches, plumbing issues, hedges trimmed. So work doesn’t get done at our house.
A year ago my mother in law finally started to admit to herself that her cancer diagnosis was terminal. In the meantime, my father in law’s Parkinson’s has gotten worse, and he’s starting to get dementia.
I said they need to move into assisted living, ASAP. Nobody listened to me. They are toughing it out at their house –their house which is too big for them. That house is impressive, a show. It isn’t practical. It is bigger than they need. This is normal for them, always having to impress people, always having to have the best.
She’s in rehab right now. She passed out, hit her head, got a concussion, and broke her leg. Rehab, to teach someone how to walk again – someone who will be dead in probably three months because the cancer has spread to her lungs.
They are not thinking ahead. They are about to leave a big mess for us to have to clean up.
See? They didn’t listen, wrecked the car, and we are having to pay for it.
I’m trying to be Christ-like in this. What would Jesus do? What should I do?
But then I remember that Jesus didn’t have to deal with his parents in law, or even his parents. Jesus never got married, and died before his parents did. He raised people from the dead. He didn’t have to watch them die or bury them or sell their stuff. And he certainly didn’t have to do any of that while working a full-time job.
I finally realized that my parents-in-law or my husband or his brother, or even his wife – none of them have been the caregivers for a dying person. I’m the only one who has. I’m the only one who has also handled an estate. I’m giving advice on what to do next because I’ve been there, and they are ignoring me. They think they know better. They are pretending like this will all go away.
Meanwhile, everything that I said was going to happen has happened. I can see the train on the tracks, headed right for us.
I’m trying to stay out of it. I can’t handle any of this madness.
I hate it.
I’m angry and sad and tired.
I want to do the right thing. I also don’t want to be seen as a hypocrite – someone who talks about Jesus and compassion and service and then bails when the going gets rough, when things get real.
But there is also codependency and enabling to consider too.
If I rescue them, if I essentially say that it is OK for them to screw up their lives and drag us down with them, that isn’t being very loving.
Sometimes there aren’t any easy answers. Sometimes there aren’t any answers at all. Sometimes there isn’t a happy ending. Sometimes it just sucks.