Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “I’m Obsessively Jealous of My Sister-In-Law”

canstockphoto12061968I’m finishing up my vacation visiting family in Missouri and heading back to Brooklyn this morning, so I’m leaving this one up to you guys:

I have been struggling for the last five years with feelings of jealousy and inadequacy when comparing myself to my sister-in-law. She looks great, has a great sense of style, and always has lots of friends. Her life has been held up as an “example” by my husband’s family because both my husband and I are introverts and don’t really have any social life. I am decent looking (I’m trying hard to shed some pounds), but am not stylish at all. Secondly, we have been married for seven years and are childless. We only started trying a year ago (due to professional instability, a long-distance marriage for two years, etc., etc.) and we have realized I have serious medical issues. We are starting IVF this month but have kept this a secret from everyone. She has a kid (she got pregnant within one month of trying) who is the first grandchild of the family and so is the center of attention.

My jealousy has become obsessive recently. I deleted my Facebook account because I can’t deal with everyone else having beautiful families and successful lives, but now I have started stalking her online through my husband’s account. Publicly I have tried to always be stand-offish and prevent them from visiting us. This feeling is completely destroying me, it is sapping all my energy, and I am unable to sleep sometimes at night. Please help me. — Jealous of Sister-in-Law

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47 comments… add one
  • coconot

    coconot April 28, 2015, 8:10 am

    I say this with the kindest intentions, but you should probably consider professional therapy, since this is preventing you from sleeping and taking over your life. In the meantime, you need to focus on yourself and people other than your SIL and “happy families”.
    .
    Style, good looks, lots of friends, and a cute baby are all great, but not the only good things in life worth pursuing. If you really want those things but are having trouble getting them for now, focus on other things that are worth having. Learn something cool from a night class. Start kicking @$$ at your job, or work towards a new career if you don’t like the one you have. Get really healthy mentally and physically: take walks, learn how to make green juices, start yoga, and/or practice meditation. Get creative/artistic with a hobby or some kind of art. Volunteer and help the needy. Make a couple really close friends — that can be better than lots of casual friends. Join a team sport and get your competitive juices flowing.

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    • avatar

      Anon_girl April 28, 2015, 8:54 pm

      “Make a couple really close friends — that can be better than lots of casual friends. ”
      That’s great advice coconut…I’m going to remember it.

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  • avatar

    captainswife April 28, 2015, 8:15 am

    Honestly, you sound like my sister towards me, and from your SIL’s perspective, you probably seem like a really passive-aggressive grouch. (And, by the way, I’m an introvert…so that has nothing to do with your contentment or lack thereof. I know you didn’t blame your situation on that, but wanted to lay the foundation.)

    This is what I would say to my sister if I could:
    1. We are all human. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Recognize your weaknesses (and work on the important ones), sure, but embrace your strengths. We women often underestimate the importance of the talents we have. Maybe you’re an amazing cook and she wishes she could do it like you!
    2. Cultivate gratitude for what you have, not resentment for what you don’t have.
    3. Love is not a zero-sum game. Your in-laws can love her AND you. Just think! Maybe they speak just as glowingly of you to her! Isn’t it nice to hear good things about others rather than mean or negative comments?
    4. What she does, she is not doing “at” you. She is not stylish because she wants to make you feel inadequate. She is just stylish because that’s a talent she has or cultivates. She had a baby because she and her husband decided it was the right time for them (and they got lucky) not because you were struggling with infertility.
    5. If she is a kind person (and she probably is), your jealousy probably puzzles and saddens her…because she sees all her flaws and all your strengths! She probably thinks you’re pretty cool, and feels bad for you that you don’t see it yourself.

    The bottom line is, she is the focus of your own feelings of inadequacy, but NOT the cause. YOU have to search for your own feeling of being “good enough”–and then your jealousy will disappear. FTR, I am an overweight introvert. Are there times I feel a twinge of envy when I see a beautiful woman surrounded by admirers? Yes, to be honest. BUT…that passes truly within a few seconds. I have so much happiness in my own life that there’s not room to fill it with envy of others’ lives. And THAT is the place you want to find yourself.

    Cultivate compassion. Focus on others. Be grateful for everything you have. You’ll find that these go a long way to feeling happier in yourself.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo April 28, 2015, 8:33 am

      CW, I’m kind of siding with coconot above. Your advice is all very good, but the LW seems a bit obsessed, and maybe a bit beyond just seeing a bigger picture. Maybe talking with someone would help. Probably a therapist would raise a lot of the same points you do, but give the LW time to process and internalize the thinking. Goodness knows we all have feelings of inadequacy. I accepted by 14 that I would never be especially good-looking, or make any real money. But I looked for the things that I valued most, tried to become the person I thought I should be and tried to accept that the world and I will always have our differences. Caught between jealousy and vanity, we all have to decide how to react to the hand we are dealt. BTW, my ex-boss had her first child at 38 and second at 40 after several years of IVF and every kind of fertility therapy and a lot of anxiety and self-doubt. Now she is a very happy mom. Try to be cool. That’s about all I got.

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      • avatar

        captainswife April 28, 2015, 8:54 am

        @Diablo, I completely agree that therapy could help her. I was hoping, though, to offer something for her to think about. I figured she knows about therapy and maybe was looking for advice other than that.

        The amount of obsession certainly is unhealthy. I think my sis handles her issues mainly by ignoring me and wishing I didn’t exist…which is sad for her (and also for me!). I feel bad for her and the LW because they’re both cutting themselves off from potentially happy and good relationships.

        So, yes, LW, I would certainly agree that therapy is calling your name.

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    • Lianne

      Lianne April 28, 2015, 9:15 am

      I think this is a great response and lesson for everyone. Well said, CW.

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      • avatar

        captainswife April 28, 2015, 10:58 am

        Aw, thank you!

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    • avatar

      Ange April 28, 2015, 6:05 pm

      I really agree with ‘What she does, she is not doing “at” you,’ this is really important to take on board. When we cultivate a dislike of someone everything they do can seem like a nasty veiled insult towards us and it can be difficult to change that way of thinking. LW this is tough love but maybe she’s given so much attention (debatable but we’ll roll with it) because she’s a happy, positive person and you are currently an angry, spiteful one. Get thee to a therapist, it’s not healthy that this is consuming your life to such an extent.

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      • avatar

        Anon_girl April 28, 2015, 8:56 pm

        I agree with you Ange ….I am an angry person currently…have explained my situation a little more in my detailed comment below

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  • avatar

    MissyC April 28, 2015, 8:21 am

    Dear LW, it sounds like you (and your husband) have dealt with a lot and I hope that you are able to find happiness. I agree with coconot that seeking some counseling is a good idea. It’s good that you shut down your Facebook page, but you are still getting the same access through your husband’s account. You could ask him to change his password or not leave his account logged in, so that you don’t have such easy access. Also remember that the lives we lead on social media are very small pieces of our real lives — you aren’t really seeing the whole story. In terms of feeling “inadequate” in terms of your sense of style, do you think you could stand to ask your SIL if the two of you could go shopping together and she could help you pick out some new outfits? If you are in a position to spend a little, then perhaps it would help to foster a new relationship with her. If your struggles with starting a family are adding to the stress, maybe you could find a support group where you can meet other women who are in similar situations. But ultimately the most important thing is that you can feel comfortable and confident in your own skin, and finding support whether it’s through group or individual therapy, or in some other way.

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    • avatar

      Anon_girl April 28, 2015, 9:01 pm

      He doesn’t know i log into FB….he hardly ever logs in himself….
      And we (my SIL and I) dont live in the same city so we hardly ever meet…and until recently (till I got a job…have explained in my detailed comment below) I used to feel pretty guilty about spending my husband’s money on expensive clothes esp since I didnt really have any place to wear them. Maybe that was really stupid of me…but that’s how I am….

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  • avatar

    ktfran April 28, 2015, 8:38 am

    The older I become, the more I decide that jealousy is a useless emotion. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and everyone has their own shit. Constantly comparing your life to others is a horrible existence. Instead of doing that… LIVE! So, how do you get past these feelings of jealousy you’re having and begin to really live your life?
    .
    I loved Captian’s response, I hope you read and absorb what she wrote here. To echo coconot, I think therapy would do you a world of good. It will help you to get outside of your own head. It will also help give you the skills to start actively changing your thought process, which I think you need to do. You need to learn to make a conscious decision not to let your mind go to certain places… and when it does, recognize it and swiftly move on. Am I necessarily where I thought I would be? Hell no. Do I dwell on it? Again, hell no. Over the years, I’ve learned to be happy with my life, regardless of others, and it did take therapy to help me get there. I’m 35. Single. Rent an apartment. Have zero kids or pets. Sounds a little sad when written like that, BUT…. I’m not sad and I don’t envy others. This is why:
    .
    I rock at my job. I’m good at it and I work hard. Results are showing.
    I volunteer once a week at a tutoring program for for low income students. I’ve tutored the same girl for the past 5 years and hope to continue for the next three, which is when she’ll graduate.
    I’ve made tons of friends who enjoy the same activities I do, like dining out and going to shows.
    I travel.
    I spend money on getting my hair done, because it makes me happy.
    I cook myself delicious, well balanced meals.
    I yoga.
    I see a therapist.
    I love my downtime where I watch teen movies like Easy A, Princess Diaries, Clueless, etc. (those are my guilty pleasures)
    Basically, I created a life I enjoy and want to live and everything else… it’s just background noise.
    .
    I think you can get there, but you just need some help.

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    • avatar

      g April 28, 2015, 12:21 pm

      YES teen movies. make me so happy lol

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    • avatar

      Anon_girl April 28, 2015, 9:03 pm

      Wow you are an inspiration!! And I love Princess Diaries 🙂

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope April 28, 2015, 8:44 am

    You don’t have to be religious to meditate on the commandment “Thou shalt not covet”. Everyone has their own unique path and you really don’t know what someone else’s is all about. Years ago I was jealous of the new girl in my office. She was the new office “darling”–beautiful, sweet, smart, successful and worst of all, she got engaged. I was crazy with envy. But then her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had to quit the job to take care of her and her fiance broke it off. Another story– my father was jealous of his friend’s perfect daughter who married the perfect guy while I was still struggling through the dating scene. Years later, her son was killed and the marriage fell apart while I am still married with 2 healthy children. Horrible stories but they do illustrate why we should focus on our own lives and not wish for anyone else’s.

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  • avatar

    booknerd April 28, 2015, 8:49 am

    I second coconot. You have been working through a lot, and it is unfair of your parents in law to compare you. I don’t think this is normal, rational behavior. You know it’s not. Please find a therapist.

    And another thing, Facebook, Instagram, etc are the beautiful edited versions of people’s lives. They don’t show people’s fears, insecurities, heartaches, or failings.
    Jealousy is a useless emotion. It can tear you apart, and it sounds like it is. It’s affecting you. It’s ruining your relationships with your in laws. Please seek help.

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    • avatar

      ArtsyGirl April 28, 2015, 9:21 am

      Great point on social media Book – I also wonder if the in-laws are really comparing the two women or if the LW’s insecurity might be causing her to misinterpret their comments. One of my aunts has always had problems with her older ‘perfect’ sister. If I congratulated or complimented the older sister on anything, the younger sister always believed it was a dig against her. She had a lot of unresolved resentment that has caused her to become estranged from the family and sadly the rift will never be fixed since she passed away this year.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover April 28, 2015, 10:10 am

        I second this. My mom can’t even talk about me in front of my sister, because my sister takes it as a comparison every single time. If my mom talks about how I’m having a hard time, she says “you always think she has it so hard, but I have it harder”. If my mom talks about something going well for me, she says “she’s so lucky, everything good always happens to her”. My mom doesn’t mean it either of those ways, at all, she’s just making conversation. She says the same kinds of things about her sister to me, just to talk about what’s going on in everyone’s lives. But my sister always takes it as some kind of dig, so now my mom doesn’t mention me at all. Is it possible something similar is going on here?
        .
        Also, I second the point about social media, and want to add that not only does social media present that face, but people do that in person. Just like she doesn’t know about the LW’s fertility issues and IVF, there may be difficult things going on in her life that the LW knows nothing about. It’s just that she doesn’t announce them. You only see the surface, except for people you know very well. Everyone has hardships though, and just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Don’t assume everything’s coming up roses for her when you really have no idea what her life is like.

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    • Portia

      Portia April 28, 2015, 10:43 am

      I agree wholeheartedly that she needs to actually get off social media. I think that anyone who finds themselves actively comparing their lives and inadequacies to the awesome versions of themselves that people present on Facebook/Instagram/whatever needs to get off it until they’re in a better headspace to deal.

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  • avatar

    for_cutie April 28, 2015, 8:49 am

    I say try being her friend. It sounds like you hold her up as some super-human woman. If you become friends with her you can see her human side and come to love and respect her. Maybe you can learn from her to emulate some of the traits you admire. I am sure she has struggles you could help her with, which will make you feel good about your unique skills. Plus, you certainly should spend time with your niece/nephew to strengthen your family bond and enjoy being with a baby that you can leave at the end of the day!

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    • Portia

      Portia April 28, 2015, 10:17 am

      I agree. My future SIL is pretty super human, but she tries to be super human in totally unfeasible ways and is wracked with guilt when she can’t do something. Her life seems very full and great, but I wouldn’t want to be her because there’s so much internal and external pressure and I’ve seen it get to her.
      .
      I’ve also seen some of the detrimental effects this can have between family members. I have some aunt-ish relatives and found out there were some words exchanged about parenting/living styles where one is the super woman for parenting and the other living the life and following the career she wants. It didn’t go well, but even unsaid, it would have been terrible for their relationship. And they grew up together and went through losing their collective parents and one sibling together over the last 20-some years. Plus they were each dealing with their own struggles. Individually I look up to them both, but that animosity/jealousy/whatever hurts everyone.

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      • avatar

        captainswife April 28, 2015, 10:59 am

        Thank you, Portia, for writing “wracked” instead of “racked.” I get so tired of that misspelling!

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      • Portia

        Portia April 28, 2015, 11:08 am

        Lol, you’re welcome, but you’re talking to a former copy editor with a special interest in spelling. I went to a workshop at my job yesterday about copyediting for their specific style and has to hold my tongue so many times, it was frustrating. Language usage, though – I’m a linguist and fall on the descriptive side, not prescriptive.

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  • avatar

    Elle Marie April 28, 2015, 8:55 am

    Infertility is devastating, and studies have shown it has a similar mental impact as any other serious medical condition, like cancer. Would you go through cancer treatment without the support of friends and family? I know a lot of people aren’t supportive when it comes to coping with infertility. They don’t understand the impact it has on every facet of your life, and the undeniable pain that it causes. But I think it helps to be open about it, if only with a few trusted people. It’s devastating and has a way of completely taking over every part of every day, often in unanticipated ways.

    I have found therapy to be immensely helpful while coping with infertility treatment and the emotional implications it causes. My RE’s office actually has a list of counselors/therapists they recommend who have experience dealing with couples and individuals going through infertility diagnosis and treatment. Please, please, please ask for help. There are resources available for you. This shit is so hard, and finding support is crucial to getting through it.

    I also wanted to note that depression/anxiety and PCOS are often co-morbid, meaning that people with PCOS are more likely to have clinical depression and anxiety issues. Medication can help, and there are treatments that are safe to continue while trying to conceive and during IVF. Shitty brain chemistry is an unfortunate side effect for many women with PCOS. Depression and anxiety are like any other illness – diabetics may need to take insulin, a person with major depressive disorder may need to take anti-depressants. PCOS is astoundingly common – something like 10% of all women – and the effects are largely ignored by a great number of physicians. I was suffering from “classic” PCOS symptoms for years and didn’t get diagnosed until I was struggling to conceive.

    Even if PCOS isn’t the root cause, if you are clinically depressed or suffering from anxiety severe enough to impact your daily life, medication can be an important tool in treating it. You can’t undergo a major medical event like IVF without taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally.

    For me, I found it helpful to have non-infertilty-related projects to focus on – home improvements, work projects, etc. which gave me an escape from all things baby/family-related. My husband and I have also been able to do some weekend getaways, which we’ve been able to schedule around fertility treatments, by booking refundable hotels and looking at locations within easy driving distance. It’s important to connect with your partner while coping with infertility – it affects both of you, and approaching infertility as a team can really make a difference in how you get through it.

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    • avatar

      csp April 28, 2015, 11:07 am

      LW, I totally agree here. Right now, my little brother and his wife are pregnant. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant since before they were married. It is brutal. It is hard to not compare why life works out for them and not for me. Two things:
      1.) fertility drugs are brutal. Much of your feelings can be in direct response to them. I found a huge amount of relief from the side effects by working out. mostly spin class or something that I can “Sweat out the crazy”.
      2.) Listen to Elle Marie about the other projects. Find things that you can be proud of. My husband and I are taking salsa classes and have a list of home projects. I am reading books and working hard so when people ask what is going on, I actually have an answer worth hearing.

      Also, being stylish is a choice. Play with outfit choices the night below. You wouldn’t believe what a necklace can do for an outfit. Go on pinterest and see different ways to pull an outfit together.

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  • avatar

    Kate April 28, 2015, 9:02 am

    Since this seems to be an issue with obsessive and destructive thoughts, I think Cognitive Behavior Therapy is probably the way to go. I am looking at articles on handling obsessive jealousy on Psychology Today.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh April 28, 2015, 9:09 am

    I would definitely seek out a therapist. And I would try and separate out all of your issues. The jealousy seems to have started earlier but it reads like the IVF has only heightened that. How does your husband deal with his family’s comparisons between the SIL and the two of you? Does he feel like this is happening or do you think that is something you’re only seeing/feeling/hearing?
    .
    As much as you see her as being the favored one with the easy life. You don’t know what she’s actually dealing with on a daily basis. And as much as you view his family as putting her on a pedestal you don’t know how she feels about the way they treat her. Maybe she feels suffocated and like she has to be perfect all of the time. You just never know.
    .
    It also doesn’t sound like you’re happy with your looks/style. And that is something you do have the power to change. I don’t know what physical restrictions you have while going through IVF but talk to your doctor and find ways to be healthy. Get a subscription to a healthy cooking magazine and try a new healthy recipe a week. Go online or pick up magazines and find ways to change up your style. Be proactive and do things that make you feel the best version of you. And it might even do you good to reach out to your SIL. Get to know her alone, without the rest of the in-laws around. It might do you good to start to view her as real person and not as this perfect example of a person.

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  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl April 28, 2015, 9:12 am

    As many have mentioned above – therapy is a must. While you are fixated on your SIL, I imagine this issue has much deeper and older roots. Also as a quick way to jump start your more positive outlook, try doing a daily aphorisms in the mirror. Look at yourself and list of one thing that is good about you (try not to think of it as a comparison to other people). It might seem silly but there have been numerous studies to show that this practice helps boost self esteem and emotional well being.

    You admit that you are unpleasant around her. After you speak to a therapist and work on resolving some of your jealousy, it might be nice to try to reach out to her. You love her style, so maybe ask her for some tips or invite her to a shopping day. Over all, it sounds like from your letter that she has the life you want (looks good, has more financial stability, has a child, has the admiration of the family), instead of being jealous, it would be more productive to try to figure out what goals and actions will help you achieve the things you want.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna April 28, 2015, 10:39 am

    I don’t know if this helps but you’re probably way, way idealizing your SIL’s life. And even if she indeed has a lot going for her, she likely still has her insecurities, and she’s still vulnerable like the rest of us. If you’d know her better you would probably not have as much reason for jealousy because you’d be able to humanize her. When I am jealous of someone’s achievements, I often remind myself that a) they are still human and may have struggles I don’t know, b) it’s entirely possible that due to bad luck they could suddenly find themselves in a much worse situation (not that I wish it on them, of course, it’s just to help me realize how fragile things are). This helps me keep perspective. We can all lose what’s most important to us at any time. Whether there’s a happy ending depends on the point at which you end the story.

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  • avatar

    Sketchee April 28, 2015, 11:05 am

    It doesn’t sound like your sister-in-law’s life is perfect. Nothing in the letter says this, however your sister-in-law is human and no one is perfect. She probably doesn’t have friends and things because she’s lucky, she probably tried very hard to get those things. They may or may not be happy, acknowledging her effort and not placing it on luck or talent is certainly a reasonable step? If someone tells me I’m lucky or talented, those may be truth and it still doesn’t discount the effort that I put in to make those opportunities my own.
    .
    Be grateful to have such a person in your life, first of all who inspires you. Then be grateful for all that you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t. Many people who love to have a loving husband, decent clothes, the financial position to be able to afford fertility treatments, the ability to afford the internet and Facebook, to be born in a time when we have all of these gifts.
    .
    I think that it can be difficult to change our thinking and having a professional therapist who is trained to assist and practice with you on how to retrain your thoughts and obsessions will be beneficial. It has helped me so I speak from experience that often our thinking gets a bit twisted and we need some perspective. =)

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  • avatar

    MsMisery April 28, 2015, 11:37 am

    Introvert-shaming is a thing and the people that do it will never ever understand what it is like to be one. There are lots of great books these days on how to successfully navigate life as an Innie (just plug in “introvert” into Amazon). In addition to this, keep hitting the gym or doing whatever it is you’re doing to shed those pounds. Feeling better will help you look better (inside and out). A therapist probably couldn’t hurt. I’m of the belief that almost everyone needs therapy so this isn’t an indictment of your personality. Just another way to keep your emotional needs in check, especially since outside of your husband, your support system seems weak.

    (PS- whatever people post on Social Media is always going to be the best version of themselves/their life. Your SIL probably has ugly feet or IBS or some other non-perfect thing in her life. Still, good for you for unplugging).

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    • avatar

      SasLinna April 28, 2015, 12:06 pm

      I love introvert-extrovert discussions. What stood out to me with this LW is that they are not just introverts, but apparently also really private (I’m a pretty private extrovert, they don’t necessarily go together). I understand that it’s really hard to share one’s struggles with others, but I still wonder if they would not benefit from talking about the infertility issue with family members, for example. Being private is a way of protecting yourself, but letting others in could alleviate some of the pain maybe.

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      • avatar

        MsMisery April 28, 2015, 12:08 pm

        Or at least a support group of people with the same issue, if the family is too judgmental. Some things you can’t go through alone!

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      • avatar

        captainswife April 29, 2015, 1:15 am

        The thought of an introverts’ support group makes me crack up. My version of a support group is “Let’s all stay home and read our books.”

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      • avatar

        d2 April 29, 2015, 5:35 am

        Haha!

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      • avatar

        MsMisery April 29, 2015, 11:51 am

        I was thinking more of one for her fertility issues, but you’re right! Might have to find something online… that’s NOT facebook!

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana April 28, 2015, 12:01 pm

    So agree on all of the social media comments– my best friend is a gorgeous single mom and from her instagram you would think her life was like this amazing dream and she had all her shit together–she was definitely unemployed for like 8 months, working temp jobs, dealing with a really misbehaved 2 year old completely alone, and was not in a good place. I bet so many people who saw her insta or fb during that time thought “omg this chick is a single mom, gorgeous, and has so much of her shit together”—we never get the full picture from instagram so really if you can’t go on and not let it impact you really heavily–do not go on.

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  • FireStar

    fFirestar April 28, 2015, 1:21 pm

    http://www.iflscience.com/technology/why-too-much-facebook-can-leave-you-feeling-down/

    There are so many things going on with you – the others are right – you should speak to a therapist to work on your perceptions. You aren’t seeing things clearly right now. No one’s life is perfect. Everyone has something. EVERYONE. Including your SIL. And if you are going by what is happening on Facebook then you are practically manufacturing your own troubles. Facebook isn’t real. It is a manufactured version of someone’s life – you have no idea what that life is really like. So instead of looking outward – look inward. Be grateful for all that you do have. A loving husband, the means to even go through IVF, supportive parents or friends or whatever. You seem to have put all your angst on your SIL – take it off of her. She isn’t the root cause of your unhappiness. Your therapist can address those root causes with you and I promise you – you will look back on this time as just a blip instead of the mountain you think it is now. Good luck!

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  • avatar

    Anon_girl April 28, 2015, 6:08 pm

    Thank you, you kind kind strangers….I don’t know who you all are… but thank you very much for taking the time to respond and give me such valuable advice. Thank you Coconot,Diablo, MissyC, Booknerd,Kate, jlyfish, ArtsyGirl, Sketchee, MsMisery for suggesting professional therapy. I do go to a therapist sometimes when I’m completely overwhelmed. Thank you CW and ktfran for giving me some things to think about. There is so much more I CAN do with what I have rather than comparing my life to hers.

    Thank you Elle Marie for understanding the pain of infertility. Your story sounds very similar to mine. It took 1 year to diagnose PCOS and now fertility medications make me sick the whole day. I wanted to join a counseling group for fertility issues but my husband thinks it would depress me even more since this is our very first IVF attempt and there would be many who’ve tried 2-3 times and failed. SasLinna, we decided not to tell our families about the IVF (mostly bcoz I didnt want his sister’s family to know). I possibly can’t bear the thought of her pity. When I said professional instability it was mainly professional instability in my career. Since I moved to the US after we got married, I was unemployed for 2 yrs…moved out of the country to work for 2 years (long distance marriage)…came back and then went to school for 2 years…and that caused the delay in starting a family. I just had this bug in me to settle down professionally first. And my husband, though reluctantly at first, decided to support me through everything. I’ve finally found a good job recently but I’m almost 35 now. If his family gets to know that I have health issues on top of all this, I’m sure I will squarely blamed for wrecking my husband’s life. Well maybe not openly…but I know what they’ll be thinking…ANYWAYS… I’m rambling…

    I’m not exaggerating when I say she seems like a superwoman and she has a great sense of style…she has been unemployed for the last 2 yrs but started participating and winning beauty pagents. (Ahem…no exaggeration.. see!) These days I wonder what siblings of celebrities go through. And my MIL is often rude and inconsiderate when she makes these comparisons. But yes she is my husband’s mother and I’ve learned to accept her good and bad points. And I have a gem of a person as a husband who tries to shut her up whenever these comparisons start. BUT having said that I’ve always had self esteem issues….it was way deeper than my SIL issues. I know social media is just some ‘highlights’ of people’s lives but I wish I had those ‘highlights’ too. However, what I have learnt from this discussion is that my SIL is not the root cause of my issues..they are way deeper and need to be dealt with in some way.

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      SasLinna April 29, 2015, 4:09 am

      There’s nothing wrong with establishing yourself professionally before having a child. It’s responsible and good planning. You are a badass (moving internationally, long distance marriage) and successful woman, and you did not try for a baby at an age that would be considered “old” (you were 33, 34 , right?). You started trying at a perfectly normal age when you were ready. Is the PCOS that is causing infertility even related to age? Not that it matters but maybe you would have had trouble conceiving at 25, too.
      If anyone blames you for anything, they are totally absolutely nuts. I’m seeing nothing but badass and awesome here. Fingers crossed for your IVF. I wish you the best.

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      captainswife April 29, 2015, 4:25 am

      @Anon, something in this response stuck out at me: “I can’t bear the thought of her pity.” Wow. What is it about your personal pride that is walling you off from getting SYMPATHY (not pity) from those who care about you? You are robbing yourself and them of the chance to deepen your relationship.

      And as for your in-laws “blaming” you for “wrecking” your husband’s life? This is crazy talk. Seriously. If your husband loves you as much as it seems he does, there is no “wrecking” happening here. Sure, maybe you’ve made choices that the two of you might regret (that happens in every marriage), but that has NOTHING to do with your in-laws. If they’re mature, you will never hear a word from them (and nor should you). If they’re not, that’s SQUARELY on them, and not your problem to solve. Any comments made? Your husband’s job. And, truly, compliments that they pay your SIL in your presence are not automatically a slam against you. Even if they are, pretend they aren’t and you’ll be WAY happier.

      As for wishing you had highlights? Hey! Foreign country! Do you know how many people have never been out of the county in which they were born? Wonderful husband! Career! Seriously, you are so much more than your reproductive capabilities. Don’t let that one “failure” get you down…because it’s not a failure. This is the journey called life. We don’t always get what we want when we want it; the trick is not to allow the bumps in the road to overwhelm us. I’m truly sorry about your infertility (and we had some minor problems, so I really do understand the monthly disappointment and frustration). However, don’t let that become the excuse to become a jealous and bitter woman.

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      Sunshine Brite April 29, 2015, 6:41 am

      Throwing my hat in as another suggesting therapy, especially since you can’t accept sympathy from part of your support system and have started needing to keep secrets around that. I also have PCOS, 27 and plan to do my best to lose weight for a year minimum before trying depending on how my husband’s doing financially. It’s responsible to get your ducks in a line.
      .
      It almost sounds like any reaction by them would be seen as judgment even if they didn’t mean it as such and that is setting up people to fail. Your SIL has been unemployed, who knows what role the pageants have had to help maintain her sanity or sense of self. I guess I’d work on my definition of superwoman because pageant winner isn’t high on my list of things that makes a person great. Perhaps your MIL is super rude, but just maybe your focus may be on the differences themselves rather than trying to relate to multiple people. My MIL can be rude sometimes but she is trying to relate to me and I’m the newest and least known of the 3 significant partners in my husband’s generation. I’m glad you’re recognizing it’s not necessarily your SIL, but your self-esteem. You do have tons of life highlights, just different ones.

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      MsMisery April 29, 2015, 11:57 am

      I am not sure why your husband would try to talk you out of an IVF/infertility support group. Yes, there will be sad stories and people who have never had success, but there will also be the opposite of that. And there will be exactly what you need: people who KNOW what you are going through and know how to express support without sounding like they are pitying or criticizing you. They are all experiencing the same stuff! Someone might have something incredibly helpful to contribute. You might meet wonderful ladies who become good friends that help you FORGET all about your SIL!! And since you already have a therapist on hand, if you do encounter some depression because of it, you have a ready outlet. I see no downside.

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      simonthegrey April 30, 2015, 10:30 am

      I’m 34 and my husband and I are only now ready to start trying for a baby (long term unemployment on his part and my employment is always semester-by-semester). It can be hard to watch others hit those milestones. The thing to remember is that the only person your jealousy hurts is you and your husband. It won’t change your SIL’s “luck.” It won’t change her looks or her personality or her pageant wins. Like you, I have to remind myself of that when the underage and undereducated girls I work with have no problems falling pregnant while we’ve struggled with this issue. I have to own the choices I made to bring me here. Ten years ago, could i have had had a baby more easily? Yes, but I would have missed out on experiences that brought value.

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    booknerd April 29, 2015, 8:21 am

    From your update, I’m even more concerned.
    You need to stop comparing yourself, and demonizing her. Because she could sympathize with your health issues, you “couldn’t bear her pity.” Really? If you really are so unkind to her as you said in the first letter, if she would still reach out to you, she deserves more credit than she is receiving. I think you are being very critical of your husband’s family. You need to see a therapist to work through these issues. There are judgemental people in life, but YOU actually sound pretty judgemental. Some people could care less and focus on their own lives, and the lives of the people they love. You need more of that. Let this go. How is this serving you? You sound very bitter and negative. She doesn’t work! She participates in beauty pageants! Why do you care what she is doing so much? Personally, you couldn’t pay me enough to go to a pageant. I’d hate it. But if she likes doing it, let her. Don’t have an opinion. It doesn’t matter or figure in to your life at all, except when you are oddly obsessed with her, which it seems like you are. Go to a therapist. Good luck.

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    Anon_girl April 30, 2015, 1:13 am

    Hahaha some of your comments really made me smile and laugh….you guys are incredibly mature and wish I knew you all in real life :).
    SasLinna and CW…to be honest, I did not move to a foreign country for a job…I just moved back to my home country (ie where I was born n raised) since I had a job and education there before I moved to the US. This literally involved me sleeping on my parents’ couch for 5 months before I could find a job and afford a place of my own. So it wasn’t as glamorous as you guys think 🙂 But I do like being called ‘badass’ (chuckle chuckle)….although in my culture it is practically UNHEARD of a married woman taking such a drastic step but I dont regret any of it coz I was going nuts sitting at home and the US economy was at its lowest at that pt of time.
    Sunshine Brite …pageant winner isnt top my list either….but she’s unemployed not bcoz she is dumb but only because of work visa issues.
    Ms Misery …that is indeed food for thought…I might end up making friends with some genuine people at support groups who aren’t afraid to talk about their issues.
    Booknerd …it does seem like I am obsessed with her…i guess that could be something to do with some voids in my life which I’m trying hard to fill. Hopefully with therapy and a job and a family I will be able to get rid of these stupid thoughts.

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    Anon_girl April 30, 2015, 1:22 am

    I know I should be thankful for all the things in my life, education, husband, health, parents etc. And I shd just stop comparing myself to the cookie cutter lives of ppl around here. But I just feel sometimes that I’ve struggled a lot in life just to get the basics. Took me 7 years almost to get a job in this country….7 years to start trying for a family…7 years and still no social life. Im not aiming for a job as a CEO or 10 kids or a HUGE social circle…just the basics. Its taken me a while and I’ve still not quite gotten there. Fingers crossed.

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