You guys know I love my in-laws. I've written about them plenty of times throughout the years because they play such an integral part of my life. However, courtesy of the divorce, those relationships inevitably have / will have shifted, and I'm not entirely sure how to handle the dissemination of important information.
There are two things I'm up against right now. The first is the apparent secrecy of the divorce, itself.
There are still family members that are unaware of the situation. This is due to a combination of factors - chief among them John's refusal to be bothered having the conversation. However, there are others who are refusing to say anything (and asking John not to say anything) because they're holding out hope that we'll reconcile.
This has created a plethora of awkward situations for me. A PLETHORA.
This situation has arisen not just with the uncle, but with aunts, cousins, and even friends. It's incredibly frustrating because there is absolutely NO WAY for me to know who knows and who doesn't know because John refuses to tell me who he's said anything to.
With the friends, I was hit with multiple situations that were both embarrassing and hurtful, so I took it upon myself to simply e-mail them en-masse. I can't do that with John's family because I fear my in-laws would be angry with me for doing that. They'd likely view it as me being catty or childish or bitter when in reality, I'm just trying to extricate myself from the awkward situation where I say something that's apparently not supposed to be said.
Yes, because the people we interact with on a routine basis won't be even the least bit curious as to why we're no longer together or why they're not seeing the kids as much as they used to. Let's just leave them in the dark to sort it out for themselves instead of simply being honest.
Anyway, fast forward a few months. I had invited a cousin to a wine-tasting event. Since several of my personal friends would be there as well, I wanted to make sure that at least THIS cousin was aware of the situation so she wouldn't be shocked if she heard one of my friends mention something in passing. John said he'd handle it.
Anyway, I e-mailed this same cousin about a new wine-tasting event since she wasn't able to make the original one. I'd given John more than enough time to speak with her, and I'd reminded him twice more to talk to her since I'd be trying to plan an outing. He promised he'd talk to her.
When I didn't get a response even a day later, I knew something was amiss. *Sigh*
HOW DO I HANDLE THIS? If it were up to me, I'd just matter-of-factly say "John and I are in the process of a divorce. I still love you so much and want you to be part of my life and the lives of my boys. I still plan to attend family functions with them so long as I'm allowed. If you have questions, feel free to ask, but beyond that, please don't feel as though you need to act or feel awkwardly around me as my relationship with him has no bearing on my love and respect for you."
When I suggested to John that he (or I) just do this, I was met with such nasty resistance you'd think I was suggesting he take a bullet. He responds with "Who cares? I don't feel the need to tell the world" or "I don't care if you say something."
Problem is, he does and so do his parents. I don't frankly care about upsetting John, but I don't like the idea of disappointing his parents. How do I navigate this? I feel 120% damned if I do, damned if I don't.
Which brings me to problem #2 which is basically just symptomatic of problem #1.
How do I disseminate information regarding my sons to these folks? The answer SHOULD be "John's responsible for telling his family," but as the below example so painfully makes clear, that's not going to happen.
A few weeks ago, Vincent went through two separate psychological evaluations for his school's IEP. John took him to one of these sessions (I was unable to attend). This meeting was on a Monday. Since I was unable to attend, I followed up with the psychologist, myself, through a phone conference so I'd know precisely what the diagnosis was. I spoke with the psychologist on Friday. Between Monday and Friday, John offered absolutely NO information beyond "that doctor was a jerkoff."
After answering his questions, I made a mental note to myself to contact his mom to answer questions I'm sure she'd have as well. Since I'd be working throughout the weekend, I wanted to catch her BEFORE she flew back down to Florida. So that afternoon, I called her to touch base. She'd been with John all afternoon, so I assumed he'd mentioned it to her. I said, "Ma, since I'll be working all weekend, I wanted to reach out and answer any questions you had about Vince's diagnosis."
I could tell from the confused silence on the other end that she had no idea what I was talking about. I felt like a jerk in that moment, because I realized John hadn't yet said anything to her. At that point, however, there was no turning back, so I said, "Ma, John took Vince to the psychologist on Monday and was given an Autism diagnosis."
That didn't go over too well, and I felt bad because it likely would've gone over better had she KNOWN why I was calling. Ugh. I still feel bad about that.
Anyway, fast forward to the following week. I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday. I found a great article about Autism that I posted to Facebook with something along the lines of "For anyone not aware, Vince got this diagnosis last week and this article does a good job explaining it."
Mind you, my entire family and close friends knew about the diagnosis within just a few hours of me finding out. So posting to Facebook didn't seem like that big of a deal. Plus, John had known about it from Monday, his mom knew on Friday, and he works with his sisters / father. Given Vince's diagnosis has nothing to do with our divorce, I didn't think it was something necessary to hide. And it's not like it's a cancer diagnosis that you'd want to gingerly tell people about.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I got several messages from in-laws who were upset with me for posting the Autism article. I likely looked something like this upon reading those messages:
How, exactly, was I supposed to assume an Asperger's diagnosis of MY OWN CHILD was a secret I needed to keep? Why, exactly, did I need to check with ANYONE ELSE about what I post about MY SON? And how on earth is it MY FAULT that JOHN did not have this conversation with anyone? Am I supposed to go around to each one of his family members henceforth to ask permission to share things regarding my own child? Am I supposed to just assume forever that John's never going to have important conversations with anyone and that they're all just OK with that?
Again, I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. How do I extricate myself gracefully and with as few bad feelings as possible? Because again - when you get right down to it, I love these people and do not want to foster bad feelings. I just don't know how to get around it when I'm constantly in danger of saying the wrong thing / doing the wrong thing because I don't know the whole situation, but I do know enough to make things explode.
So seriously - thoughts?
At this juncture, the best I've got is to have a heart-to-heart with his mom because she seems to be the only one willing to talk about this situation with other people. But I don't feel like it's fair for her to constantly be the one to have her son's conversations for him. However, it's not like I can say, "Ma, for the love of God, stop enabling your son to be a coward. He should be having these conversations himself." Besides, she's got a lot on her plate already and I'm sure she, too, has a lot of "damned if I do, damned if I don't" feelings about this entire mess, too.
So yeah - anyone able to offer solutions?