‘Scum­bag’ broth­erin-law lays blame

Cape Breton Post - - IN MEMORIAM / HEALTH / ADVICE - Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar An­nie’s Mail­box is writ­ten by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, long­time ed­i­tors of the Ann Lan­ders col­umn. Please email your ques­tions to an­nies­mail­box@cre­ators.com, or write to: An­nie’s Mail­box, c/o Cre­ators Syn­di­cate, 73

Dear An­nie: My hus­band and I have been to­gether for 12 years. We have three chil­dren. His mother is still liv­ing, and he has one younger brother.

My is­sue is with this brother, "James." A few years ago, James cheated on his then-girl­friend, "Sheila," with whom he has a daugh­ter. Sheila also has a son from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship that James never cared for. In the midst of their trou­bles, she would call my hus­band and me and vent about the way James treated her and her son, say­ing he was emo­tion­ally abu­sive. Sheila once showed me one of James’ text mes­sages re­fer­ring to me as his brother’s "scum­bag wife" and other nasty things, all be­cause I spoke to Sheila when she was hurt­ing.

Sheila took her son to a coun­selor who told her to pack up and re­move her­self and the kids from the home be­cause of James’ be­hav­ior. Even­tu­ally, she sent her son to live with his fa­ther. Then she and James got mar­ried.

Dur­ing the few hol­i­day gath­er­ings I have with my hus­band’s fam­ily, I tol­er­ate James, but oth­er­wise, I have no in­ter­ac­tion with him or his wife. I wasn’t in­vited to their wed­ding, although my hus­band at­tended. I only re­cently re­vealed to him what James wrote about me in that text. I could see it up­set him, but all he said was, "I didn’t re­al­ize."

Lately, my mother-in-law has been mak­ing com­ments about how she doesn’t un­der­stand why "peo­ple" don’t talk to each other. I’m sure she’s re­fer­ring to me. I know James is a master ma­nip­u­la­tor and has prob­a­bly told her all kinds of un­true things about me. I haven’t wanted to up­set her by giv­ing her the low­down on James, but should I? — Hurt and Fed up

Dear Hurt: Please don’t. It wouldn’t help your re­la­tion­ship and might push James to go af­ter you with more venom. Your hus­band knows the truth, and that’s the most im­por­tant thing. Make sure he is sup­port­ive of you if James or his mother says any­thing un­kind. Be­yond that, you are han­dling this as well as can be ex­pected.

Dear An­nie: It was with great in­ter­est I read the let­ter from "Dev­as­tated in Ohio," the kind writer who is griev­ing the loss of a friend who tripped and fell while re­cu­per­at­ing from brain tu­mor surgery at a cabin re­treat.

I had a brain tu­mor and can tell "Ohio" not to feel guilty. Bal­ance and trip­ping is­sues con­tinue to plague me even six years af­ter my surgery. "Ohio" was so kind to bring the man some­where to re­cu­per­ate, and fall­ing down and hit­ting his head could have hap­pened any­where at any time. That cabin re­treat was prob­a­bly just what the guy needed, and his death was no one’s fault.

I was so moved to read how heart­bro­ken this friend is, but I wanted to say that there are sup­port groups all over where peo­ple lis­ten to sto­ries like this all the time. It helps re­lin­quish any guilt. — J.

Dear J.: Thank you for your kind words. We re­ceived dozens of letters ex­press­ing sym­pa­thy and un­der­stand­ing. Sev­eral read­ers also pointed out that hos­pice of­fers grief coun­sel­ing whether or not the pa­tient was in hos­pice. We ap­pre­ci­ate all of the ex­pres­sions of con­cern and know that "Ohio" will, too.

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