Four years ago in a coffee shop, that’s the last time I saw my husband’s brother and his wife. Calling them in-laws feels traitorous to the warm relationships I have with most of my in-laws. It was a rather mutual decision to not be in each other’s lives. They didn’t like me and that had escalated over the course of half a decade. Yep, it’s not a happy story.
We got married without them, we moved to a new city without them, and we welcomed our daughter into the world without them. At some point, we stopped talking to my father-in-law as well. My daughter doesn’t know these three individuals and I doubt she ever will. So what’s that like on a daily basis?
It’s weird. When folks ask about extended family, I talk about my in-laws as if the ones I speak to are the only ones that exist. For me, it gets easier each year, but for my husband, that means basically not referring to memories of these individuals lest someone ask – “Wait, you have two brothers?”
It’s hard. I struggle to balance my own desire to not have these individuals in my life with the fact my husband wishes the relationships were different. Every so often he considers reaching out to see if anything has changed. When he doesn’t pull the trigger, I feel relief + guilt. I’m the reason he doesn’t talk to his brother. That guilt and the feeling of being unlikable used to make me physically ill. Even now it’s still a part of me.
It’s confusing. My gosh, I have no idea how to even begin to tell my daughter about her grandfather and uncle. Should I? They are part of my husband’s story, of our story. In a way, they’re part of her story. We moved to Austin because we needed a fresh start. After moving here, I found a job with stellar benefits and maternity leave. Having a child and a career finally felt doable. So we did it.
I’m happy. In all honesty, I’m happy those three individuals aren’t in our lives. The relationships didn’t bring us joy and we didn’t bring them joy. I’m happy we removed them from our life before my daughter was born. Mostly, I’m happy that my daughter will grow up knowing love and seeing the love between the family we created.
It used to be a dark secret that we cut family out of our life but the more I open up about it the more I realize I’m not alone. So as weird, hard, and confusing as it all is, we’re happy we let go of those relationships. If anything I wished we’d done it earlier rather than cling to them as if our next breath required it.
Anyone else have a story of letting go of a relationship for your family?