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Aster's avatar

How would you deal with an ex inlaw who is depressed and living with an alcoholic?

Asked by Aster (18320points) November 25th, 2012

Almost twenty years ago my ex’s sister and I had a very nice relationship. Over the years she lost two of her children to drugs and had 3 divorces. She is on anti depressants, pain meds and tranquilizers now. Recently she began calling me from out of town. She told me she’s living with her fifty six year old son who went from being a religious fanatic for years to an alcoholic now. He refuses to work or move out and gets drunk and abusive often. She is planning to move near me and my daughter. My daughter used to be her aunt. We both are fond of her but foresee possible or probable stress thinking of her needing rides, various kinds of care and we wish to avoid her son coming over to our houses for fear of him drinking (we don’t drink nor does she). My s/o barely knows her, has never met her son and wishes to avoid them as much as possible. When I talk to her there is nothing we can discuss that isn’t depressing; after all , her brother was my husband and her view of him is more positive than mine. Should I welcome them with open arms or move to another continent? I suspect her wanting to move here serves the purpose of us acting as a sort of “buffer” between her and her son who she fears at times. And her brother (my ex) lives twenty miles away but is always “out of town” when he’s needed for anything. I feel he set this up as a sort of revenge against us; he’s that type and would find it quite amusing. He would not have her over to his “house” since his girlfriend is a true hoarder and he found a possum on his dinette table. It is one scary domicile. I do like her, she’s a sweet, caring lady but I have this avoidance feeling due to her springing the “he can’t stop at one beer” announcement. Sorry this was so long.

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6 Answers

chyna's avatar

I think you are worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet and may not even happen. You can’t control where someone lives, so that choice is out. I doubt that you will really move just because she moves near you.
You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. If “welcoming her with open arms” opens up stress and turmoil then don’t do it. But you do say you like her and she is a sweet lady, so maybe you could give her some of your time, maybe someone to just shop with, get her out of the house and away from the alcoholic.

Aster's avatar

Yes; that’s what I’ll probably end up doing, Chyna. That will be a big change since I never shop. Never. I’m not sure she shops either. At least it would not be that conducive to discussing my ex and her son.

Unbroken's avatar

As @chyna pointed out there are a realm of options between moving households.

Know your boundaries, be polite but firm on them.

What things do you enjoy doing? Walking and have companion to walk with is pleasant inexpensive and unobtrusive. A knitting or sewing circle. A class or lectures to attend. Widen each others world or see if she is willing to interest herself in something beyond her own troubles.
If she starts rehashing or going down a conversational thread you have no interest in going down. Redirect her, or directly tell her that you don’t wish to discuss it with her. You don’t even have to explain to her why. Just be matter of fact, she will either respect you or your relationship will diminish even more so.
What did you like about her so many years ago?
As to your SO, he is probably responding to your fears and negativity regarding the situation.

Aster's avatar

My s/o hasn’t witnessed any fears or negativity; we don’t talk anymore. He doesn’t know how I feel. She did tell me my s/o got her son a job out of state and he either didn’t go or went and quit. They had a huge fight over it. My s/o is his uncle.
What did I like about her? She is the type of lady anyone would like. Smiling, sweet, considerate of others and just a people person. Very warm and caring, she has been in therapy for years.

FreshlyBaked's avatar

It seems to me the operative word in this question is “ex”.

Aster's avatar

Sorry; I meant my ex has not witnessed any fears or negativity. I mistakenly said my S/O. All is well with him.

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