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oscarsmaman

...and 17 years later....

73 posts in this topic

17 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

BUT....he still wants to see his parents from time to time, and doeesn't want to have any regrets when they pass. So....quarterly lunches at restaurants, no phone calls between (except to arrange the meeting time and locations) and ZERO relationship with SILs for the foreseeable future. No family get-togethers at all. DH can't meet them for lunch anymore, since they were starting to ramp up the dysfunction without him seeing it.

So yeah, I'd call them pretty toxic.

You've given these relationships so much effort, really much more than these people deserved - people you would never seek out to form a relationship with but for your relationship with DH, which I think says a lot about your commitment to your DH.   I really hope you and DH can find some peace in all as you move forward.    I do think being exposed to this entire group is not a good idea as you've experienced time and time again.  I think if you/DH can settle on a quarterly meet up with his parents, that might the best solution in all of this.  It's probably where you should have started with your IL's - quarterly get togethers at a restaurant - and never left, which I think should be the visiting standard with difficult IL relationships. 

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On 12/3/2017 at 6:49 PM, oscarsmaman said:

Updates:

YSIL never did respond to DH's ....So yeah, I'd call them pretty toxic.

Was this the first time they'd come to the therapist's office with you guys? It's interesting that even in that environment they had zero self reflection. I mean I guess it's to be expected, but I can't help being optimistic that surely they'd get it when the therapist is helping to explain.

I hope you guys get a nice long break from them. I'm impressed with how far your husband has come. I know he isn't there and without your guidance he wouldn't even see the dysfunction, but it's still impressive that he has finally seen the light and is backing away from their shenanigans.

Edited by SarahCasera
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Oscar, this all just boggles my mind...I'm baffled that your ILs have absolutely no sense of you & DH as people, you're just part of the cesspool of their limited existence...I am so sorry

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Oh yeah, I'd forgotten to update with the final "screw you" from PILs:

The Saturday after the session (so, a week ago), DH gets a small Manila envelope in the mail from FIL.

See, at the beginning of the mediation session, like within the first 10 minutes, FIL made a grandiose speech about how he found this valuable card ("I woke up at 6 this morning and was drinking my morning coffee, thinking about today's meeting...."), and gee, Ms. Mediator, maybe after you read it, you could give it to my son over there?

Mediator reads it, observes out loud that the Serenity Prayer is often very valuable, especially the part where we accept the things we cannot change...and she asks DH if he wants it. DH makes a face, stands up and takes it when she hands it over.

And then all the stuff I wrote about happened (and more).

So this manilla envelope we got the following Saturday contained a self-addressed, stamped envelope from FIL. Accompanied by a  note, which read (to wit): "Since, I feel, you rejected my Serenity Prayer, I'd like you to send it back. Thank you, FIL."

It blew my DH's mind, so quarterly lunches are probably off the table. The meanness and pettiness.....wanting to further hurt us because we told them how they were hurting us and they couldn't fathom that we might want to be careful of our own feelings, wishes, etc. It was not a great session (except for DH's and my closure, and further proof they're unworkable), but FIL pretty much validated how horrible they both are.

 

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(((((HUGS)))))

WOW

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The Serenity Prayer is seriously one of my favorite prayers, and it is disgraceful how your FIL used it.  Shame on him!

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"Obviously you rejected it, or you'd be back here accepting our abuse, and begging forgiveness for ever objecting!"

Seriously, some of these ppl really do believe that they're divine, don't they?!

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What's funny is, it's probably the only "serenity" they've ever given us (and the amount of serenity is questionable, if it's given as a "screw you") -- and then they wanted to revoke it. Ha!

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Picking my jaw up off the floor... not the first time where your ILs are concerned either, I'm afraid, Oscar...

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On 03/12/2017 at 10:49 AM, oscarsmaman said:

Updates:

YSIL never did respond to DH's texts asking why SILs have to highjack every event. To this day, we've not heard from her. DH is disappointed that he lost his other sister, but she made her choices.

In the meantime, DH won a car through work. My reaction, my parents' reaction, my sister's reaction-- stunned and happy for him (he worked really, really hard). MIL's reaction? "That's great! Hey, DN1.2 needs a car. Sell your old car to OSIL." Now, DH doesn't like or talk to OSIL (who was the one who authored the birthday debacle, among myriad other things), so DH said absolutely not. She persisted in trying to get him to sell OSIL our old car, even going so far as to say, "You mean you wouldn't help your sister out?" DH was so mad. He got off the phone. He asked me what I thought. I told him I was sorry his mother had to steal joy from his good news and good fortune instead of just being happy for him. And I resented her presuming to tell us what to do with our stuff, and managing his relationship with his sister by telling him to lie flatter.

Later in October, he was supposed to go fishing with FIL. FIL rejected the invitation, complaining that DH hadn't called him in four weeks, and he didn't like what DH had to say to MIL (basically calling her out on her part of the dysfunction). DH pointed out the phone works both ways, FIL could have called him, and he was done putting up with the grief from his mom.

DH didn't know what to do about the whole thing, the ILs were continually disappointing him and in undeniable ways. So he made an appointment with our therapist, who pretty much told him, yeah, you're going to have to be more clear with boundaries, and if they can't respect them, you can elect to stay away. She encouraged him to write them a letter.

DH wrote the letter basically sharing his disappointment at the way he was treated, the way I was treated, specifics, etc. He asked them to process it for a few weeks, and we would call them.

After a few weeks, we four met in therapist's office to discuss the letter and what we're willing to do, going forward, and it went about like you'd imagine. They both defended everything. FIL tried to run the show, MIL claimed she did nothing wrong, we took everything she ever said or did the wrong way, and she's never tried to tell us what to do. She basically said (I'm paraphrasing here) "Tell me what I did wrong, and if I believe you, maybe I'll change things....but I doubt it, because I'll never believe I'm in the wrong and I don't see any reason to change, and plus, if you complain about me, you're a bad person." At one point, she did tell me "I am a unique breed, I don't hold grudges. And I forgive you for any of those times you've lashed out at me, Oscar." I said, Oh. So you're not sorry you did anything, or you don't believe you did anything, and I yelled at you for no reason and you forgive ME, is that it? And she said Yes. I told everyone in the room, "I have no idea what to do with that. She wrongs ME, I ask her to stop, she gets offended I'm asking her to stop hurting me, and forgives ME for upsetting HER by asking her to stop. There's nowhere to go from here. Except to stay away."

FIL at one point apologized to me. "Uh....what for?" "For the last 17 years," he said. "What specifically?" asked the therapist. FIL replied, "All of it." Therapist tried to explain apologies don't work that way. FIL got snotty and started complaining that I was asking a 78-year-old man to get down on his hands and knees and grovel. I explained I didn't want him to grovel, but apologies weren't for his sake, they were supposed to be for mine, and it would have gone a long way to know he really got it and was trying to make amends. It's easy to say "I'm sorry," and "I apologize" without really meaning it or actively trying not to do the same hurtful things. Unfortunately, FIL was channeling John Wayne, so no more apologies were proffered until the end, when he did it sarcastically and hurtfully, and DH called him on it (so did the therapist).

And the big theme of the night for PILs was "Let the past stay in the past." They think the statute of limitations is one day. "Get over it, it's past!" Therapist tried to explain, "But the past doesn't stay in the past if history is constantly repeating itself." Went over their heads.

There's more, but it was a total S show. It was worth it, though. It was important just to see how bad our relationship was, and how much they were probably going to be hurting us in the future. DH is under no illusions anymore.

BUT....he still wants to see his parents from time to time, and doeesn't want to have any regrets when they pass. So....quarterly lunches at restaurants, no phone calls between (except to arrange the meeting time and locations) and ZERO relationship with SILs for the foreseeable future. No family get-togethers at all. DH can't meet them for lunch anymore, since they were starting to ramp up the dysfunction without him seeing it.

So yeah, I'd call them pretty toxic.

Oh boy what a heartache this must be for both of you! I’m so sorry to hear that you have had to deal with this. Obviously therapy doesn’t always help, but kudos to you for trying it! At least it seems that S show gave you both a deeper understanding of the level of dysfunction (especially with a therapist there to point it out) and now you know where to draw those boundaries and how firm to hold them. It’s not going to be easy, but stay firm because yup, people like these are pretty hard on those boundaries. Wishing you both all the best. 

Edited by Gigima
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On 06/12/2017 at 6:37 AM, SarahCasera said:

Was this the first time they'd come to the therapist's office with you guys? It's interesting that even in that environment they had zero self reflection. I mean I guess it's to be expected, but I can't help being optimistic that surely they'd get it when the therapist is helping to explain.

I hope you guys get a nice long break from them. I'm impressed with how far your husband has come. I know he isn't there and without your guidance he wouldn't even see the dysfunction, but it's still impressive that he has finally seen the light and is backing away from their shenanigans.

Well said. 

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On 11/12/2017 at 0:21 AM, oscarsmaman said:

Oh yeah, I'd forgotten to update with the final "screw you" from PILs:

The Saturday after the session (so, a week ago), DH gets a small Manila envelope in the mail from FIL.

See, at the beginning of the mediation session, like within the first 10 minutes, FIL made a grandiose speech about how he found this valuable card ("I woke up at 6 this morning and was drinking my morning coffee, thinking about today's meeting...."), and gee, Ms. Mediator, maybe after you read it, you could give it to my son over there?

Mediator reads it, observes out loud that the Serenity Prayer is often very valuable, especially the part where we accept the things we cannot change...and she asks DH if he wants it. DH makes a face, stands up and takes it when she hands it over.

And then all the stuff I wrote about happened (and more).

So this manilla envelope we got the following Saturday contained a self-addressed, stamped envelope from FIL. Accompanied by a  note, which read (to wit): "Since, I feel, you rejected my Serenity Prayer, I'd like you to send it back. Thank you, FIL."

It blew my DH's mind, so quarterly lunches are probably off the table. The meanness and pettiness.....wanting to further hurt us because we told them how they were hurting us and they couldn't fathom that we might want to be careful of our own feelings, wishes, etc. It was not a great session (except for DH's and my closure, and further proof they're unworkable), but FIL pretty much validated how horrible they both are.

 

:shok:

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And another update:

This morning, my DH forwarded a voicemail from FIL.

(pious, stern, lecturing voice): "Son, this is your dad, and, uh, we've been gone for a week on the cruise, and yesterday, I got all the mail from, um, uh, our cruise trip (?) aaaaand, I did not see the Serenity Prayer that I gave to you and asked for it back....the Serenity Prayer. So!....Please do that, I would appreciate it very much. Thank you. Have a great day, bye."

@SarahCasera, you nailed it. Zero self-reflection. I would add, zero empathy.

Anything to keep him as their obedient, need-fulfilling little boy who only wants approval that they'll never give him.

 

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24 minutes ago, oscarsmaman said:

Anything to keep him as their obedient, need-fulfilling little boy who only wants approval that they'll never give him.

In a nutshell...

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I'm a terrible person.

The idea of sending your FIL an envelope of confetti, mixed with glitter, and perhaps some ashes is highly tempting.

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30 minutes ago, ImpishMom said:

I'm a terrible person.

The idea of sending your FIL an envelope of confetti, mixed with glitter, and perhaps some ashes is highly tempting.

Right out of the gate, DH wanted to rip it into a million pieces and send it back. But yes, that would be engaging, which is what FIL wants.

Those quarterly visits are seeming pretty optimistic at this point. I'm just glad DH didn't answer his phone.

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1 hour ago, oscarsmaman said:

Right out of the gate, DH wanted to rip it into a million pieces and send it back. But yes, that would be engaging, which is what FIL wants.

Those quarterly visits are seeming pretty optimistic at this point. I'm just glad DH didn't answer his phone.

Oh, I wasn't even thinking of ripping up the Serenity Prayer.

Just an envelope of glitter and confetti.

But yes, engaging will only feed the fire.

Dang it.

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Sorry to keep bumping, but the updates (while minimal) continue, and I've occasionally found it useful to look back over my topics in this forum. It's been helpful to keep track of the timeline. (Although PILs made it clear that anything they've said or done is "in the past" and we should suck it up and get over it already.)

MIL texted DH this morning:

"Good morning.

Hope your both doing great. We just returned from cruise. Awesome.

I just want to say once again I am sorry for the past. Hoping we can mend our feelings and become family again. Forgiveness and finding compassion is what I pray for.

Never forget how much we love you both no matter what has happened between us. Not sure if you'll both read this I must break the silence and hurt and try not sure how you both feel today.

Miss you and love always."

DH doesn't think his mom knows his dad sent the manilla envelope or the voicemail yesterday. I told him she probably does, and even if she didn't, so what? She'd just defend him.

We talked about how we'd like to respond-- tell her to leave us alone, tell her abou FIL's mean pettiness. We wondered if we should make an appointment with the counselor....

But then we thought-- What the? We have to get ready for work. Our jobs are hard and eat up a lot of our time, energy and emotion. Why expend more time and energy on people who will never get it, because they don't want to get it, they just want a one-sided relationship where we serve their feelings and whims continuously. Gee, that sounds like a job in itself, only we're NOT GETTING PAID ANYTHING for our efforts.

So. We're black-holing it. At this point, we're not thinking of contact with them until mid-February, if then.

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Sooo, it's the 'Good Cop/Bad Cop' routine.

She knows what FIL did. They each know the role the other is taking.

By playing the Good Cop, and pretending to be ignorant, they think it'll open a door, because who could be mean to their sweet Mommy with Christmas around the corner?! 

The goal is for them to get you guys back in line. Be it by poisoned sweetness, or bullying, they don't care.

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3 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

I just want to say once again I am sorry for the past. Hoping we can mend our feelings and become family again. Forgiveness and finding compassion is what I pray for.

Never forget how much we love you both no matter what has happened between us. Not sure if you'll both read this I must break the silence and hurt and try not sure how you both feel today.

Dear Mom & Dad,

Pleased you had a good time on your cruise.

I just want to say once again I am sorry for the past. Hoping we can mend our feelings and become family again. Forgiveness and finding compassion is what I pray for.

Never forget how much we love you both no matter what has happened between us. Not sure if you'll both read this I must break the silence and hurt and try not sure how you both feel today.

As for the bolded, while in theory WE agree, moving forward this isn't possible without assurances past behaviors aren't repeated. Forgiveness doesn't including us continuing to be afterthoughts or doormats to your present behaviors. Healthy relationships are give and take. The Serenity Prayer is a helpful tool moving forward. It reminds us that we can't change your behavior, we only have control over ours. We choose to live outside your web of self serving enmeshment. 

The Oscars

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46 minutes ago, Mame925 said:

Dear Mom & Dad,

Pleased you had a good time on your cruise.

I just want to say once again I am sorry for the past. Hoping we can mend our feelings and become family again. Forgiveness and finding compassion is what I pray for.

Never forget how much we love you both no matter what has happened between us. Not sure if you'll both read this I must break the silence and hurt and try not sure how you both feel today.

As for the bolded, while in theory WE agree, moving forward this isn't possible without assurances past behaviors aren't repeated. Forgiveness doesn't including us continuing to be afterthoughts or doormats to your present behaviors. Healthy relationships are give and take. The Serenity Prayer is a helpful tool moving forward. It reminds us that we can't change your behavior, we only have control over ours. We choose to live outside your web of self serving enmeshment. 

The Oscars

The problem I see is that this is only going to be fodder to fuel an argument. 

To them, love = get back in line and submit.

 

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7 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

Sorry to keep bumping, but the updates (while minimal) continue, and I've occasionally found it useful to look back over my topics in this forum. It's been helpful to keep track of the timeline. (Although PILs made it clear that anything they've said or done is "in the past" and we should suck it up and get over it already.)

MIL texted DH this morning:

"Good morning.

Hope your both doing great. We just returned from cruise. Awesome.

I just want to say once again I am sorry for the past. Hoping we can mend our feelings and become family again. Forgiveness and finding compassion is what I pray for.

Never forget how much we love you both no matter what has happened between us. Not sure if you'll both read this I must break the silence and hurt and try not sure how you both feel today.

Miss you and love always."

DH doesn't think his mom knows his dad sent the manilla envelope or the voicemail yesterday. I told him she probably does, and even if she didn't, so what? She'd just defend him.

We talked about how we'd like to respond-- tell her to leave us alone, tell her abou FIL's mean pettiness. We wondered if we should make an appointment with the counselor....

But then we thought-- What the? We have to get ready for work. Our jobs are hard and eat up a lot of our time, energy and emotion. Why expend more time and energy on people who will never get it, because they don't want to get it, they just want a one-sided relationship where we serve their feelings and whims continuously. Gee, that sounds like a job in itself, only we're NOT GETTING PAID ANYTHING for our efforts.

So. We're black-holing it. At this point, we're not thinking of contact with them until mid-February, if then.

I'd be tempted to ask, what specifically about the past she is sorry for; however that would be opening up a dialogue I probably also wouldn't want to have after all that has happened. TO until you are ready to resume whatever type of relationship it is you decide on having with them, if anything.

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10 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

Sorry to keep bumping, but the updates (while minimal) continue, and I've occasionally found it useful to look back over my topics in this forum. It's been helpful to keep track of the timeline. (Although PILs made it clear that anything they've said or done is "in the past" and we should suck it up and get over it already.)

No worries. In fact, please continue to keep us updated.

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Probably my last update on this situation for awhile. DH made a "nuke-'em" phone call, on the advice of therapist/mediator (well, she didn't tell us to nuke them, exactly. Just to acknowledge them and shut down their request and ask them not to contact us). We were operating on the premise of black-holing and not engaging like they seemed to want us to, but she pointed out that: 

If they were constantly treating DH like a kid, if they were constantly counting on his door-mattiness, if they had frequently castrated him in front of me on a regular basis, then he might want to take his balls back, for his own growth and peace of mind, and tell FIL, in no uncertain terms, he's not getting his Serenity Prayer back, and this kind of meanness and pettiness is the kind of thing that's driving us away. And THEN blackhole if we want to, but we shouldn't let this challenge go unanswered. They might take silence as cowardice, shame or sullen-teen-ness on DH's part.

And that? Made sense. DH had so much unexpressed rage about the nonsense following the annoying session, he had been having internal conversations with himself anyway.

So DH thought about what he wanted to say. He kept telling me, "I don't think my mom knows he did all this, I really doubt it." I told him, I'd bet $500 she knows. "Really? You have no doubt at all?" I replied, "How can YOU have any doubt?" Thing is, if he asked her if she knew, she'd have known how to answer and said no, lying. She's an extremely gifted liar. FIL, not so much.

So sneaky Oscar gave him ammo to figure out if MIL knew. I told him to re-order the notes he'd written down for the call, put them in different order. First, to put them off balance, pretend, a la MIL's convenient amnesia, not to remember FIL gave him the prayer (taste of their own medicine, my idea). Then, when pushed, admit maaaaybe remembering it, but gee, wouldn't FIL want to acknowledge that was "in the past" (DH's idea)? Third, drop the ruse entirely, swiftly and efficiently call him out on his BS, and fourth and finally, forcefully accuse him of doing it all behind his mother's back, ending with the challenging, "I bet if MOM knew you did that, she'd be furious!" Defensive FIL won't be able to restrain himself and he'll spill the guts either way.

DH said OK. But he bet his mom didn't know. Placed the call. You can guess which way it fell.

"Yep!" FIL said. "Of course she knew!" Bombshell explosion.

DH was furious, and absolutely DONE, then. Not proud (but understandable, I think), he yelled at them to FO, Merry Christmas. Considering mid-7-minute-phone call, FIL had asked sarcastically, "Wha? Are you maaaaad?" I really have to give DH a pass on telling these weasels to FO, even if they ARE his parents.

DH hung up when he heard his mother take over the phone and yell "Michael" in a disapproving, "I'm the boss here" voice. He never expected his mother would have condoned or allowed his father to be such a jerk. Poor guy said, "So I have no one. No one left in my FOO. They are exactly the monsters you always said they were."

It sucks being right.

He then replied to his mom's earlier, Hallmarky text where she asked for our compassion and forgiveness, said she was sorry we felt the way we did, etc. (all the noises that mean nothing). He told her that the text was meaningless, it just seemed like more manipulation. That she typed that text, knowing his father was harassing him about giving back something FIL'd made a big show of giving us during the session. He was tired of the negativity from his own family, and if we forgive them in time, it'll be for our own sakes, not theirs. Until then, don't contact us, we'll contact you when we're ready.

I figure this will hold us over until spring, when we (chiefly DH) think about whether or not we want to even see or hear them for an hour at a restaurant. DH is so over-done. Thank god. I mean, the whole situation is sad and unnecessary, but these people are toxic, so I'm relieved DH is finally waking up to the damage they inflict.

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What stands out to me is your IL's lack of credibility in that so much of how they behave appears to be gamesmanship.  I think they've operated like this for so long, they've lost the ability to get honest with themselves and be honest with others.  DH and your trust in them is gone, rightfully so.  You have probably lost respect for them too, as it is hard to respect a person like this.  I think when trust and respect are gone, the relationship is done.   Sometimes trust can be rebuilt, but I don't think your IL's are capable of doing this.  I think it is good you and DH are taking a break, and I am so sorry you are both going through this especially during the holiday season.  As a parent, I would be devastated if one of my kids did not trust me due to my behavior and had to distance him/herself as a result.  It is the most important thing besides the trust of my DH.  I don't get parents like your DH's and never will.  

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