Toxic families are truly the worst and it can be hard to protect yourself without feeling guilty for putting yourself first.
So many of us will unnecessarily apologize or retract statements to make our families happy in our lifetime.
Fortunately for us, Reddit is quick to point out when we're following this pattern.
One woman was facing this when she made the tough decision to separate from her brother, his wife and their children, after repeatedly being verbally abused by her brother's wife. Reddit user "throwawaysahmmad" shared what had happened in the "Am I the A**hole?" subReddit and unfortunately asked if she was in the wrong for her reaction to her sister-in-law.
AITA is the forum where anonymous strangers on the internet are asked if and where guilt is placed by declaring:
- NTA - Not The A**hole
- YTA - You're The A**hole
- ESH - Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH - No A**holes Here
She shared first her life with her husband and their two daughters, as well as their healthy and happy relationship with her husband's family.
"Ok, so I (30f) am a pediatrician, but I haven't practiced since my twins June and Lillian (4f) were born. June has some fairly serious hearing issues, and while they can be fixed, it will require several surgeries over the years. My husband (32 m) comes from a very wealthy family and is the only son and 'miracle baby' of aging parents."
"They have been the sweetest people, and basically set us up for life as soon as we were married, buying us a very nice house, paying for it to be furnished, etc. We didn't need this, since both of us are doctors (we met in med school), but they insisted."
Unfortunately, their relationship with her family isn't so positive.
"My family is messy, and my husband's family is more of my family now. My dad left us as soon as his wife would take him back, and my mom just dropped my brother and I off at her parents' house as soon as she could. So it's always been my brother and I, and we're fairly close."
"He married his college girlfriend, she's a tax lawyer and he's an accountant."
Because of her sister-in-law's obsession with their different lifestyles, there's always been a rift between the two mothers.
"SIL makes a big deal about being a working mom, it's the subject of most of her posts on Instagram, and she thinks of me as some trophy wife."
"Ever since Lillian and June started going to a half-day preschool, I've been spending that time working with charities. SIL posted 'So blessed to have a REAL job and not take advantage of charities!'"
"I get a nice new dress for date night? 'Only working mommies know how hard it is to have just a few good outfits! At least we're not spoiled lol!'"
"Their house was being remodeled when [you-know-what] happened, and they came to stay in our pool house. She's been making more snide comments, like 'I wish I could fit into your overpriced outfits, but I chose work over pilates.' I tried to ignore her, but she said these things around my children."
Though she tried to be the bigger person and move beyond these snide comments, everyone has a limit.
"The final straw was when we were all sitting by the pool, I was playing in the shallow end with my daughters and husband, she was sitting poolside while my nephews played with my brother. She very loudly asked me 'Hey, nice bikini top. So... are the boobs real? I mean, how else do you keep [husband] interested?'"
"That was it. My husband started shouting at my brother to pack their bags now, and I was seeing red. I asked her 'First of all, I graduated med school and I was able to resist sleeping around through it, and hey, I may be worthless aside from having degrees from fantastic schools, but at least my children won't remember me as a b***h!'"
"She had an affair with two classmates in law school while with my brother, and I only learned this when my brother got drunk. SIL turned red, and stomped off. We kicked them out, and they're staying at SIL's mom's place."
Ironically, the woman has been made to feel at fault for standing up against her sister-in-law.
"My brother and SIL's mom have been texting me all weekend, saying I'm a heartless b***h and terrible aunt, kicking a family with children out onto the street, and 'ruining her children's memories of their mother.'"
"AITA (Am I The A**hole)? I just couldn't stand one more moment with her."
Fortunately, Reddit was ready to deliver.
"NTA. I cannot comprehend why your brother is not standing up for you. Why should she get to speak to you that way in your home?" - Magnolia2987
"Definitely. There's nothing wrong with being a bit jealous from time to time, because almost everyone is at some point. It's natural response. However, when you start being a jerk about it, that's when it becomes a problem. And to say something like that in front of kids, is just... so trashy. The charity jab was quite rude as well, like who does that?" - tacticprime
"NTA - What got me was 'taking advantage of charities' ... how exactly ? By helping said charity by donating your time/resources? She sounds like she's jealous of what you have [in my opinion]. But she also may just think she is better than everyone else. Who knows. Either way NTA." - woollffprincess
"It's easy to question yourself when you have people attacking you for standing up for yourself. Stuff like this tends to happen in toxic families." - bntyhntrqueen
"I second considering cutting contact if she won't change and your brother won't set her straight. Just because you went through a traumatic childhood together doesn't mean you have to keep in touch. If they're toxic, they're toxic, simple as that. And it certainly seems like they are."
"You've worked so hard to get where you are, OP. Don't let someone who is jealous get to you or ruin any of your days. You deserve better." - master-c**t
"Exactly! OP is spending her time with her daughters, one of whom is going to be having surgeries over a few years, and she's just... living her best life. She was abandoned as a child, and then worked her a** off, and then ended up staying in her fabulous home and SIL is being a jealous b***h about it." - justaweightedblanket
Though we can always hope that family members will work their troubles out, especially for a brother and sister who share such a troubled history, it's important for this woman to protect herself and her immediate family.
It's also important to remember feminism is for everyone. It is not about removing women from one forced role in society and forcing them all into a new one.
Some women work, some don't. Some women have children, some don't. Feminism should give everyone the freedom to choose what life they want to live, regardless of their gender identity.
This stainless steel travel mug, Do Not Fashion Me As A Maiden Who Needs Saving From A Dragon For I Am The Dragon And My Voice Is Full Of Fire, is available here.