Domestic violence and grudge holding

I haven’t even been at my parents’ house for three full days until I realized my mom’s hatred and jealousy for my aunt has really reached an all-time high, or maybe she’s just being even more open with me about it than ever. My aunt had a difficult marriage; she was verbally (and maybe physically, unsure of this second part) abused by her husband, my late uncle. Their relationship got so violent that he started threatening to kill her, and finally one day, she truly feared for her life and called the police to report him. They arrested him and put him in jail… until my parents bailed him out. My aunt ran away, eventually relocating to Boston, where her mother lived. She stayed with her until she passed away about 3-4 years later. She moved back after her mother’s passing, and then about a year later, my uncle passed away suddenly from a heart attack in his bed one morning. That basically marked her complete freedom from treachery and abuse.

My mom has always been jealous of my aunt. My aunt was always the favored daughter-in-law of both my grandparents because she was Chinese from China and had lived in Hong Kong; she knew the culture better than my Vietnamese mother from Vietnam. The rest of my family also had racist tendencies toward my mom, so in general, everyone always preferred my aunt whether they explicitly said so or not. It wasn’t fair, but what in life is? It was terrible and racist, but that’s the world we live in. My aunt has been known for her generosity and kindness, which somehow lent itself to a random elderly woman up our block in San Francisco leaving her entire inheritance, including her three-unit San Francisco home, to her. This old woman had no children and no next of kin she really cared about, so she bequeathed everything to my aunt. And so, that adds to the list of endless reasons for my mom’s jealousy; why did she and my dad have to work so hard for their money and comfort whereas my aunt just had it “handed over” to her? That house marked constant future rental incomes that were essentially “free” until the present day.

My mom complained no less than three times in three days about this. “She got that house for nothing!” she fumed. “Your father and I worked for everything we had, and she just gets it for free! And she used to give food we gave her to that woman!” I always assumed she was implying that she believed my aunt should have shared some of that inherited wealth with my parents, but that idea is completely ludicrous to me.

“What kind of wife throws her own husband in jail?” she continued on. “She’s a terrible, selfish person! Only someone terrible would do something like that!”

Once we touched upon the domestic violence, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut anymore. I was literally just having this discussion with a friend a few weeks ago about exactly how prevalent domestic violence is in homes across this country, and now my mom is saying it is no big deal?! “He threatened to kill her!” I raised my voice back to her. “That’s illegal and wrong! What is wrong with you? Do you think that is okay?!”

My mom laughed. Truly, it was a cackle. It sounded so evil that it actually shocked me. “He just threatened with words,” she responded. “That’s nothing. It doesn’t mean anything! He didn’t kill her, so what is she complaining about?”

Wow. I couldn’t even say anything for a moment. I just stared at her, suddenly realizing the exact depth of her hatred and jealousy of my aunt. She truly has brainwashed herself into believing my aunt is a horrible human being who does zero good in the world, and she’s resorted to this type of thought and talk. I told her she was wrong for saying all this and that I refused to hear anymore.

And if he killed her, she couldn’t complain anymore, could she?

How can hatred and jealousy be this deep? I’ve certainly had moments and periods of anger against old friends and of course, members of my own family, but I don’t think it has ever been this ongoing, this lingering, this deep. After Ed passed away, I realized I had to start re-examining a lot of things about myself, including the things that bother me about the world and realizing what I had to let go, and what was actually worth keeping my life, whether that’s people or feelings about certain things. I find it nearly impossible to hold a grudge. Holding a grudge means you are holding onto anger, and holding onto anger means you have to hold on to so much negative energy and resentment, and it just isn’t worth it mentally or emotionally. I still find myself getting ticked off by things that friends repeatedly do that I think are stupid and senseless, but I forget them much more easily now than I used to. It’s a tiny improvement, but it’s still something.

I suppose what worries me the most in my parents’ case is that whether it’s my mom’s hatred and jealousy of my aunt or my dad’s resentment against both of his living siblings, I am most fearful that their hatred of others will worsen their overall health and life outcomes, and possibly even cause a premature death. Therapy will never be an option for them.

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