I’ve been emotional lately. Some life events over the past week have made me feel emotionally paralyzed, and I’ve been struggling to write.
I decided to do some chores instead. My husband had a birthday card for his sister sitting on the kitchen table but without an address. I knew he needed that card mailed, so I texted my sis-in-law to ask her for her address. She lives on the other side of the country, and I’ve only met her a handful of times.
Mike is my third husband for people who don’t know me and my husband’s marriage history. I am his fourth wife. I know that sounds like a recipe for disaster, but both of us are happy and satisfied in our relationship.
The first time I met my now sister-in-law was at a family reunion about five years ago. When I was introduced to her, she pulled me aside. She looked me in the eye and said something along this line, “I love my brother. He is a good person. And you know, he’s been through a lot. I don’t want him to get hurt anymore. So, I’m going to tell you right now, if you aren’t serious about him, stop seeing him. I mean it. Don’t hurt him.”
I should have been scared. I mean, she’s a retired Marine, she’s intimidating, and she kind of threatened me. But I wasn’t afraid of her. I’d been in much worse situations, and I don’t get scared that easily. I also knew what she was talking about. He is a good person who’d been taken advantage of by other women in his life, and she was tired of watching it happen.
I looked back at her and said, “I love your brother too, and I’d never dream of hurting him. You have nothing to worry about.”
After that, we were okay.
Today, I texted her, asking for her address. I hadn’t talked to her in a while and wasn’t sure she’d know it was me texting. I wrote:
“Hi! It’s Michelle, Mike’s wife. Could I get your home address?”
I didn’t know how she’d respond, but after a few minutes, she texted me back. “Hey, Mike’s wife! I knew it was you because you’re in my phone. My address is____.”
Oh phew! I texted her back, “Thank you! I’m glad you have me in your phone!”
She replied, “Of course I do, I like you!”
My sis-in-law has made it very clear she hasn’t liked Mike’s other wives. It was the first time she’s told me she likes me. My heart swelled.
Here I am, much later in my life, and my husband’s siblings (he has seven of them) have most always been loving and kind to me. However, they’ve also put me through some tests because they’ve felt the same way as their sister. I know his siblings love me; they’ve told me in so many words and by their actions.
I didn’t know how to respond. I thought about it for a moment and decided to give her a response that was directly from my heart. So I wrote, “I love you all.”
Then she responded back, “Love you too Sister!”
I looked at this one sentence. With my emotional fragility, I wept.
“Love you too Sister!”
For others, this one little sentence may be something expressed all the time between each other. I don’t have a sister, and my family is splintered. Growing up, I never felt truly loved and cared for, and I’ve always wondered what was wrong with me that my family didn’t like me.
I’ve always wanted to be accepted into a family, and these four words resonated in me at the right time, overwhelming me and filling me with love. I cried with joy over a little positive affirmation that validated me as part of a close-knit family.
I crave to be a part of a family. Maybe even more so since my life has been chiefly fraught with criticism and abuse. With these four simple words, my sister-in-law showed me how important it is to be kind and loving to people in your life, to show them that they matter to you.
From this experience, I’ve found that even the simplest words from someone else can make a huge difference.
Validation from others is vital to our emotional wellness. Sometimes, sitting out here alone and especially during the past year when we’ve been cut off from the rest of the world, it’s needed even more. We aren’t meant to be independent little islands standing alone in a sea of other little islands. We need community. We need an accepting group of people with whom we can share our lives.
If we turn this around and see someone suffering, we can be that validation for them too. We can be more inclusive instead of more exclusive, and accepting others with welcome arms can make a critical difference in their lives.
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