I finally got fed up with my sister-in-law's lying, thieving ways. I sent her a really nasty, hateful e-mail telling her she is a bad mother, con artist, nasty to her own recently widowed mother, a loser who is a twice-convicted felon, etc. Well, I never would have dreamed that she would show her mother and daughters this e-mail. I thought she would have been too embarrassed to show anyone and would have deleted it. Of course they hate me for it, and even though everything in it is true, she is still the "daughter," while I am the daughter-in-law, i.e. a second-class citizen in their family. I don't regret sending her the e-mail, but I feel terrible she showed it to her mother and daughters. She turned this against me! She has never even replied to it, she just took her aggression out on her mother, who in turn is angry at me. I feel my sister-in-law's demons have attached themselves to me. What can I do?
-- Not Very Tactful
Let's take a step back here and consider something. What possible good could have come from sending that e-mail? Did you really think the evil sister would read it and suddenly realize, "Gosh, she's right. I am a bitch." But we're not here to deal with the past. Instead, let's focus on mending some bridges, and facing some realities. You're probably always going to be a second-class citizen in that family. Tough luck. Welcome to marriage. However, you could regain some face by sending another, less-hateful e-mail, this time addressed to your mother-in-law. Tell her: "I'm sorry if I overstepped my boundaries. I worry that your daughter is doing you wrong, but I realize that this is a family fight that I probably should not get involved in. I just want you to be happy." There now, can't you feel the love already?
Dear Karma Cleanser:
I have been told that I will soon move into a relationship with someone I know and that it will be "undeniable." I have also been told that I will move into this relationship in order to clear relationship karma. Does this clearing have to be a painful process? If so, is there any way to mitigate the effects?
-- Future Uncertain
Have you been talking to Miss Cleo again? We thought those psychic friendship phone lines had gone the way of dot-com stock options. Anyway, yes, clearing out bad relationship karma can be a painful process, but it's not something you should fear. Think of it like flossing. Sure, your gums might bleed, but isn't that better than losing your teeth?
Been bad? Shake the Magic-8 Ball of redemption: firstname.lastname@example.org.