What do you do when your extended family lets you down? What do you do when the information that was supposed to stay private gets spread throughout the family by your mother in law? How do you prevent yourself from feeling worthless as those family members then ignore you or even worse, belittle you when you turn to them for help?
Since my husband's disclosure I have felt the immense weight of so many burdens being hoisted onto my back. I have carried those around for almost ten months now, hoping to shed a few as time goes on. One of the burdens that I carry is the guilt of knowing that I am stretched so thin mentally, physically and emotionally that I am not giving my best efforts to those that are the most important in my life...myself, my husband, my children. I have had to redouble my efforts to be a good mom and wife, despite my gloom and despair. The one member of our family that I have not been able to make time for is our dog. She is a great dog who we love but who has become terribly neglected in the last ten months. (She is still healthy and fit, she just doesn't get the time and love that she used to.) I carry that burden of guilt around with me every time I come home from work to see her lonely face.
My brother in law and sister in law breed these dogs and they sold her to us seven years ago. When my mother in law disclosed our situation to them (without our permission and against our wishes) they told her that if we ever needed help with the dog, to just call. Well, the time had finally come for me to call on them for help. I needed them to take her for a while or perhaps even help us find a new family for her that could give her the time she deserves. I was hoping that with the knowledge that they had been given of our situation, they would be compassionate and race in to help.
Instead, in a phone call last night, we got yelled at and abused. We were called "children" for not being able to handle the responsibility of having a dog. We were told in not so nice terms that we were terrible dog owners (even though we have shown this dog great care for six of the seven years) and that they would never have given this dog to us in the first place if they had known what horrible owners we were going to be. My sister in law has never liked my husband and, just like we feared, she saw his mistakes as license to punish and judge. Oh, how I wish my mother in law had kept her mouth shut.
Anyway, while I listened to the screaming match over the phone, I started to wail. That now all too familiar weariness began to set in and the burdens that I was carrying got even heavier. I felt betrayed. I came to my family for some help, remembering that they had professed to promise aide whenever we needed it, and instead was made to feel like I was less important than a dog. I am so tired of the people that I love making me feel that way.
Why do family members do that? Why is this kind of disclosure a license to look down upon or belittle? Why do family members suddenly feel like it would be too awkward to reach out and help so instead, they stay silent? This trial is so incredibly lonely. I feel like it's my husband and me against the world and I really can't count on too many other people...at least not the ones I am related to.