I went through a really rough patch a few years ago and got out of it. It took a lot of effort but I really turned my life around. Part of that was meeting my soul mate and getting married. All is good on our side, but I worry about my husband’s sister. She seems to be in the same rough patch that I was in a few years ago. She has become withdrawn. She works at a job that does not fulfill her and she locks herself in her room when she gets home. I want to help her. I have so much advice to offer, but I am afraid of overstepping boundaries. Her family acknowledges the need for her to change her habits—to get some exercise, apply for new jobs and be social—but should I be the one to help her? How can I get close to her?
Dear Concerned One:
First, let me applaud you for caring about your sister-in-law. Some people find it hard to connect with their in-laws, and I think it’s so kind of you to care for your sister-in-law. It is SO easy to spot a serious problem, when we ourselves have been in the same shoes. But connecting with people sometimes is not so easy. I think the solution is simpler than you may think. Knock on her door, and ask her to come out. Get her OUT of the house. Take her for a mani/pedi, lunch, or take her out for coffee. And then tell her the truth. Tell her everything you wrote right here.
Tell her the following:“I really care about you, not just because you’re my sister-in-law,but because I know exactly what you are going through. Many years ago,I went through a rough patch. It was one of the worst times of my life. I did what you did. I hid. But after some time I finally got out of it. And I want you to know that I simply want our relationship to be stronger.I’d like us to be closer.”
Let her know you are there for her if she just needs someone to listen. And IF she does come to you, don’t hurry your response by giving her a solution. It sounds to me as if she truly needs someone to LISTEN. So hear her out. Her story is not exactly your story, but you’ve been there. I want to add that many times when people isolate themselves,they are in a state of depression. So consider how long she’s been acting like this. If it’s more than three months, she may need professional help, and she needs to know that there is nothing wrong with that. Lastly, just put your arms out, and hug her. Remember, when people are hurting, they tend to get over it in their own time. So all you can do is remind her that you and your husband are there for her always.And that no matter what, you love her, and want nothing more than for her to be truly happy!
Originally published in the June 2016 issue of LatinTRENDS magazine , by Judy Torres