Setbacks All Around

Last week was bad. Very bad.

We spent Friday night and Saturday with my in-laws, which was fine. I like them. I am LESS fond of my brother-in-law, who lives in their neighborhood and we can dodge seeing except when we see them. He wanted to hang out with us and go to the zoo with us. He’s in love with the new baby, which is great. All of this is great.

He has a long history of drug use and it’s caused his family no end of trouble. We’ve had to cancel trips up there because he was using again and unpredictable and we couldn’t expose the kids to it. He’s been trying really hard and getting better, with very few setbacks, in the past few years. And I appreciate how hard he is trying.

But he’s still a jerk. No amount of sobriety can change that, apparently.

He lived with us for a few months when he was trying to be in this part of town and kept getting kicked out of sober living homes. It was pretty awful. The kids had to share a room, and he was on the little one’s mattress so she was using the baby mattress or just pillows on the floor, and he’s allergic to all our pets so he was miserable all the time. And he was a jerk.The first time he came over, he dropped in unexpectedly and we’d been going through our papers to sort and file them all weekend, so it was papers all over the coffee table and ottoman. His first words–after we’d spent all afternoon driving him around to various sober living homes in an attempt to find him a place to live–were, “have you ever heard of hoarding? Do you think you might have that problem?”

Later, memorable moments included the time if he asked if I’d ever owned a broom, and the time that he scolded me in a grocery store for trying to keep his brother on-list, on the strength that it was his brother’s money and he could do what he wanted. I was paying for the groceries at that time, but that’s not really the point, is it?

Regardless, the entire day was filled with him being a jerk, from the time his mom was helping him clean the (completely filled with trash) backseat of his car so the older child could ride with him to the zoo and he said, “Like your house, right? Only this is cleaner!” to the time he outright refused to let us go hear the zookeeper talk because it meant going out of order on the zoo map. To the time he taught the little one that you have to dump all the remaining water out of your water bottle on the ground before you refill it. You can’t have water that is an hour old, apparently.

Not my idea of baby’s first trip to the zoo.

We had a quiet Monday, and then the chaos began. The kids had to be at school half an hour earlier than normal on Tuesday because of track practice so we started the week tired and off schedule. And then Wednesday it all went to hell.

I’d been at a small synagogue maybe five years ago. They were not nice to us. We tried to stick it out there because we loved the rabbi but after a year we had to move on. Specifically, they were mean to the children. It was a really small congregation–including my two there was less than ten children at any given Shabbat service, and usually closer to five. And the children were terrible. The two that belonged to the president’s wife refused to let mine play because they didn’t really belong. And if they did let them play, they made them be the worst things in the game, always. But when the parents started arranging playdates with each other in front of my kids without inviting mine, that was too far. The kids cried and we left. We don’t speak of it in the community (all Jewish communities are inherently small ones and its best to keep the peace) but it was bad. In point of fact, one of the mean girls was in our girl scout troop last year and went the ENTIRE year without speaking to my daughter.

They’ve been really pushing themselves as a place for new people to try in advance of the high holidays, all over social media. Which is fine, more power to them. But when they posted on Wednesday that they are specifically focused on being a welcoming place for children, that was not ok with me. And so I responded, “That was not our experience.”

Immediately the president’s wife was messaging me and calling me and insisting that we have coffee to clear things up. I said, there’s nothing to clear up. You were not nice to us and it’s not wrong of me to say that. And she went on and on about how terribly mistaken I was and how I should realize that the comment I made could cause the synagogue to fold and I don’t want to put the rabbi out of a job, do I? Not to mention, they have a disabled veteran who spends a lot of time promoting the synagogue and my comment caused him great distress and made his PTSD worse. All of this is ridiculous. That was a mild comment. If he can’t handle it, he shouldn’t be online at all. The synagogue isn’t going to collapse from that one comment unless they’re already in a very precarious place. And I’m not crazy. Those things did happen.

Also Wednesday, I had to break in the new therapist, which meant going over the worst things in my life (especially the abusive first marriage) which triggered a lot of stress. And then ALSO on Wednesday, I had to see the abusive ex at the track meet, and while he normally ignores me, this time around he saw a chance to insult me and he took it. And then LAUGHED, he laughed in my face because he had the chance to insult me in front of the coach and the other parents. Rough.

Thursday I spent almost 3 hours in the car, and was frazzled and overwhelmed and trying to keep it together for the kids.

Friday, I complained to the husband about how the synagogue woman was gaslighting me and how much I hate that, and then two minutes later he told me that I was misremembering something that had happened two minutes earlier and it was too much. I lost it. I spent the entire day crying. I couldn’t eat. I was trying to keep the suicidal ideation at bay. I’m out of the emergency short-term meds, and the doctor who prescribed them was the pre-pregnancy doctor and he’s not on this year’s insurance. I called the specialist, whom I’ve seen most recently, and begged for a short set of them to get me through the weekend and was denied.

Starting Thursday I was minimally productive, finishing maybe half of my to do list each day (and honestly, I’m impressed that I got that much done, even) and trying to keep from snapping, trying to keep from starving myself or binging on ice cream and biscuits and it has been hard. Just really hard.

It’s getting better today. I’ve done some real work this morning, I’ve done a few of the household chores. I’m only minimally shaky emotionally. My in-laws are coming over this afternoon to give us the car my husband’s grandfather gave him a month or two ago, which will prevent me from having to drive for hours at a time most days. But of course, this is not the best week for me to be socializing.


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