‘Scumbag’ brotherin-law lays blame
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.