Hey! Just coming down here to say, hey, there, Michelle Dean, there's nothing wrong with finding that you're a childless, careerless, mildly alcoholic, job-hopping roustabout in your early thirties, nope, not at all!
Splendid! I too adore Munro, and spent part of the day waving my copy of "Something I've Been Meaning To Tell You" jubilantly in the streets.
@skyslang Agreed. As a well-trained mental health worker, I would comment that this sounds like the sort of very sad and dismaying fall-out that can come of inadequate supports.
First and foremost, LW1: Your mother-in-law needs professional help, and there is no fault to you for not being that help. It sounds as though your husband similarly needs support that he is not getting, perhaps to overcome past traumas of his own, and *which you, as his wife and not as his medical professional or counsellor, are not qualified or obliged to provide*.
I would never even begin to imply that a person can be diagnosed via the internets, but it does sound like the parent-child relationship in this case could have some unhealthy aspects. That's not out of the ordinary when there is a severe mental illness in the family. Your husband's concern about his mother is appreciable but he has to learn on his own that it is not his job alone to save his mother from herself. It is terrible that the effect of this is taken out on you, and it's terrible that our health-care and housing systems have let your family down to such a degree that it is eroding your relationship. Sending you all the love and support the keyboard can convey from here in Canada.
@JessicaLovejoy Ha. Most people with the cashflow to drink out at the kind of bar that hires attendants have never held this sort of job. Once upon a time, one would have had the class training to know how to deal with servants. Now that we are just a bunch of class-free North Americans, no one knows what to do, amirite?
I used to hold a fairly similar kind of hostessing attendant job at a bar, and dear fellow 'Pinners, our true role is usually to make sure that you are not holding the kinds of bathroom coke parties that would put Studio 54 to shame. My suggestion: Tip if you have the change and know that most attendants hold that job because it doesn't interfere with their class or childcare schedule.
Not to crash the "Here's my con-artist/hobo/crazy person story" party, but might I temper someone's enthusiasm by pointing out that the characteristics expressed by 'Debbie' in this story are pretty typical of Borderline Personality Disorder? It's real, it's fairly common, and as with most personality disorders often manifests in the creation of a cycle of dependance on and rejection by other people.
I'm not suggesting that there are not legitimately manipulative con artists out there, but many of the comments above seem to describe classic symptoms of mental illness or personality disorder. A little "there but for" goes a long way, lovely 'Pinners.....for example, those guys you see every day asking for "bus fare home" are probably homeless, or hungry, or, yes, maybe addicted, and are probably way less embarrassed to ask for bus fare than to ask for fifty cents to buy a McDonald's sandwich or a bottle of Listerine.