Woman can­not get over ‘you’re stupid’ re­mark from sis­ter-in-law at din­ner

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL/STATE - AN­NIE LANE “Ask Me Any­thing: A Year of Ad­vice From Dear An­nie” is out now! An­nie Lane’s de­but book — fea­tur­ing fa­vorite col­umns on love, friend­ship, fam­ily and eti­quette — is avail­able as a pa­per­back and ebook. Visit http://www.cre­ator­spub­lish­ing.com for

Dear An­nie: My hus­band and I went to din­ner with his sis­ter and her hus­band, who live in an­other state. We are all in our 70s. We have never been “fam­ily” close. We have chil­dren and grand­chil­dren; they do not. We have pets; they do not.

We run in dif­fer­ent so­cial cir­cles. They are wealthy; we are com­fort­able.

While at din­ner hav­ing ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion, my SIL in­ter­rupted me and, with a sneer on her face and a nasty tone, said very qui­etly so our hus­bands couldn’t hear, “You’re stupid.” It was like a slap in the face. I have not been able to over­come the in­sult. I have spent the last sev­eral years, with pro­fes­sional help, liv­ing with de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and low self-es­teem and had made good progress — un­til her re­mark.

I know I’m not stupid. I worked long hours at a chal­leng­ing le­gal job for 40-plus years. I raised two chil­dren as a sin­gle par­ent; both are very well-ad­justed adults do­ing well in their ca­reers. While work­ing long hours in the le­gal field with a very de­mand­ing boss, I was also care­giver to both my par­ents and my hus­band’s step­mom. I am my hus­band’s fourth wife and, af­ter get­ting mar­ried, dis­cov­ered he was ver­bally abu­sive which con­trib­uted to my low self-es­teem. But I took the “bull by the horns” and fixed that prob­lem be­cause I didn’t want an­other di­vorce. He is no longer ver­bally abu­sive, and we are happy.

But the “you’re stupid” re­mark is some­thing I can­not for­get. I told my hus­band when we left the restau­rant what she said and told him I would not go with him to meet them again. He called her the next day while I was out, and then she called me (cry­ing) to apol­o­gize. But a forced apol­ogy can­not erase the words or the dam­age they caused. I am not in­ter­ested in a re­la­tion­ship with this SIL. But I do need to get that re­mark and how I felt — and still feel — about it out of my head. It has brought my de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety back in full mode. I had to re­new my meds be­cause of it, and years of progress have been set back. Why does an adult woman who sup­pos­edly has bet­ter so­cial skills than I do say some­thing like that? And can it be for­given and for­got­ten? Be­cause I’m hav­ing a hard time. — Feel­ing Stupid

Dear Feel­ing Stupid: Your sis­ter-in­law might as well have been talk­ing to a mir­ror. Her re­mark had ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with you and ev­ery­thing to do with her. A men­tally sta­ble per­son with nor­mal self-es­teem does not go around telling peo­ple, “You’re stupid.” She must, deep-down, feel pretty darn bad about her­self to say such a thing to an­other per­son (let alone a fam­ily mem­ber). What­ever the rea­son, if this is the first time she’s said such a thing, and since she’s apol­o­gized, I think you should try to find it in your heart to for­give her. As you showed in your let­ter, you are an in­cred­i­bly strong, in­tel­li­gent woman. I ap­plaud your re­turn to ther­apy, rather than just re­sum­ing med­i­ca­tions, as well. Hope­fully, your sis­ter-in-law will also seek coun­sel­ing and sort out what­ever would cause her to say such a thing in the first place.

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