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oscarsmaman

...and 17 years later....

70 posts in this topic

On 12/15/2017 at 7:50 AM, oscarsmaman said:

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.

I’m so sad for him (and you), but so glad too. It is always full to realise your family are ******* but so much better than constantly feeling guilty and like a terrible human being when you kind of think you know they’re the ones in the wrong. It can really mess you up. 

Edited by RoseRed135
guideline 5e/variation of a filtered word
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4 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

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.

I think this is really important and glad the therapist explained it this way. For us, DH put up with a lot of nasty emails from MBIL (his brother) through the years prior to the family explosion, ... implosion? MBIL had sent yet another nasty email and he ended it, for the first time, with "if you don't respond, then you agree with what I've said." NOPE. DH just didn't ever feel the need to respond to the nastiness but he did NOT agree with MBIL. So he had to respond and BOOM.

So this makes a lot of sense to me and actually helps me understand where DH is coming from in the years since as I get tired of sounding like a broken record but DH feels he always needs to respond to PIL. For something like 5 years we said the same exact thing, over and over and over. Every time they want to rug sweep, telling us forget and get over it, move on...DH is faithful to remind them why that is not going to happen. I have been at the point though, they know, just don't respond. I get it now though with this and why he needs to respond. So thank you for sharing this. I will say, too, we have not had any "forget and get over it" for about 2 years now. Good or bad, no idea.

So glad for you and DH to get to this point, sorry you had to though. Hope they leave you alone like you requested. Again, thanks for sharing this.

Edited by Cupcake55
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I'm so sorry Oscar! Trust is so important...it's devastating to find you can't trust your own parents...

I do hope Mr. Oscar continues in therapy to come to terms with this sad realization and learn to manage his feelings...If not, those pent up feelings can pop up in the most unexpected places. 

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I really hope this works like lancing a boil: that the poison that's always been under the surface is finally let out, and once it's gone, your dh can finally realize how badly his parents were impacting his life (and your marriage) and how much better NOT having that poison in his blood stream actually leaves him feeling.

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Wow. So now we've seen "in front of our eyes" one way that a relationship can go from LC to a full-blown CO. Wow.

Like PPs, I have mixed feelings about this, oscar - so sad for your DH, but glad you're both out of your ILs' web of deception and control.

Also, IMO, even though MIL knew what FIL did, she might not have agreed w/ it. She can't really be held responsible for what FIL does. In fact, her cheerful text might have been a (feeble) attempt to "soften" the situation.

But no matter, b/c, as you say, in her text, she was, basically, defending him. And there has been so much toxic behavior on their parts (and their DDs) for so long, that, IMO, it's still better that you and DH are free of all that now.

Hoping that things get easier as time passes and DH adjusts to this change in his life. Wishing the two of you many happy years ahead! :)

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4 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

Wow. So now we've seen "in front of our eyes" one way that a relationship can go from LC to a full-blown CO. Wow.

Like PPs, I have mixed feelings about this, oscar - so sad for your DH, but glad you're both out of your ILs' web of deception and control.

Also, IMO, even though MIL knew what FIL did, she might not have agreed w/ it. She can't really be held responsible for what FIL does. In fact, her cheerful text might have been a (feeble) attempt to "soften" the situation.

But no matter, b/c, as you say, in her text, she was, basically, defending him. And there has been so much toxic behavior on their parts (and their DDs) for so long, that, IMO, it's still better that you and DH are free of all that now.

Hoping that things get easier as time passes and DH adjusts to this change in his life. Wishing the two of you many happy years ahead! :)

Thing is, they're a unit, just as any other married couple. Even if she didn't agree (I doubt that, I think they're playing both sides of the fence, good cop/bad cop), she gets hung for his behaviour as well, b/c dividing a married couple is generally a no-no.

Neither of them have been decent people towards Oscars or her dh.

Just b/c one atm is 'not AS bad' doesn't mean that they aren't both toxic.

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Oh, they are definitely both toxic, IMO, going by all that Oscar has told us about them!

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4 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

Also, IMO, even though MIL knew what FIL did, she might not have agreed w/ it. She can't really be held responsible for what FIL does. In fact, her cheerful text might have been a (feeble) attempt to "soften" the situation.

But no matter, b/c, as you say, in her text, she was, basically, defending him.

In my opinion Oscar's MIL can and should be held responsible for FIL's actions. IF she wanted no part of his nonsense she'd have distanced herself from his antics. BUT, she didn't, she hung with him. Maybe that was the correct thing to do, for that couple. I don't know. I don't live with crazy - it appears they're both content with their horrible choices.

When my husband was fixing to be a nut about red boots I told him I would never support such nonsense and he could either be a decent father and do as MDS asked (about red boots? FGS) or go to Siberia alone. There was no wavering on my part, as much as I adore my husband - he was in fools territory. One doesn't go to Siberia because their spouse is a silly old idiot - no No NO.

At any rate, what I glean from Oscar's posts - this CO is at least 16 years overdue!

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On 12/15/2017 at 10:35 AM, BSW said:

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.  

The game-playing. You're absolutely right and while I always sensed it, DH realized that to them all, scoring points off of us was always part of their sick "fun." Bully and manipulate until you get your way! Bring'em back to the fold!

Here's a confession: DH recorded his phone call with ILs. We recorded our mediation session, too. (My state's one-party consent, all perfectly legal.)  Strange thing, feeling like you have to record conversations with family, but three reasons in this case: Because ILs lie about what they said or did (or claim they can't remember, which I wager is also a lie). Second, we wanted to go back and figure out what the hell happened, because talking to them is like chasing them around the playground. They attempt to control every convo, never take responsibility, deflect, defend, etc. We needed to be able to do a post-mortem. And finally....I wanted to be able to whip those recordings out if I ever, EVER somehow get to the point where DH sounds like he's slipping back into an IL coma and wants to rugsweep ANY of this (I can say he certainly wouldn't right NOW or even this year, but in the future? I'm not making any bets,given prior history).

And here's a fourth reason: I listen to those recordings frequently. Know why? They're the best Christmas gift I've ever gotten. My DH is standing up for himself, he's being direct and forceful and not putting up with the toxic BS anymore. I can also listen to those recordings, no longer second-guessing myself or DH or us both, knowing full well we tried, TRIED to communicate with them, but they're not EVER going to receive the messages. They're too wrapped up in what THEY want, how THEY feel, what THEY think. ZERO empathy or compassion for us. Only THEY are entitled to empathy and compassion, who do we think WE are, wanting two things reserved only for Family Royalty, the matriarch and patriarch (oh, and the two ugly SILs). And TBH, I majored in communication, so it's interesting to analyze the different dynamics that are happening during the exchanges.

And yeah, @ImpishMom, we did detect a bit of divide-and-conquer in the last phone call. At one point, DH tried to tell FIL, "But wait-- if you gave the Serenity Prayer to me, the past is in the past, right?" (Trying to use FIL's rugsweeping tactic against him, meaning, stop hectoring us about the dang prayer.) And FIL just POUNCED on that, thinking we'd come over to his side. FIL said, "YES! That's right, the past is in the past....Now wait a minute, does that mean for ALL of us, the past is in the past? Or just for you and me?" 

Ladies, you should hear how excited, hopeful, elated FIL is when he asks DH to clarify just how much rugsweeping DH is willing to do,even if it means the menfolk just let us little women continue to duke it out. That's when DH dropped the pretenses (and his patience) and just went after FIL, who never really recovered his equilibrium, even though he still attempted to control the conversation.

They're just terrible, terrible people. DH said he always wanted to doubt it because there was no full-on, in-his-face, indisputable, un-explainable-away evidence that they were thoroughly rotten, until DN1.1 confirmed her mother upset the MIL birthday plans last September just cuz she wanted to, confirmed SILs attempted to go out to the parking lot to bully DH over the phone, and that OSIL has a personality disorder. That YSIL never texted him back was also an eye-opener. But the fact MIL knew FIL was being this petty, and didn't even try to stop it? DH was just done. They're all vipers.

And, he's starting to flashback to times he'd just shrugged off, but now they're taking on new, awful meaning for him.

Yup, I think more therapy's in the works. I really want him to heal well, and I want him to be strong in case we do ever see them again. Right now, he's talking maaaaaybe 2019. But we'll see in a couple months. ;)

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4 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

 

Here's a confession: DH recorded his phone call with ILs. We recorded our mediation session, too. (My state's one-party consent, all perfectly legal.)  Strange thing, feeling like you have to record conversations with family, but three reasons in this case: Because ILs lie about what they said or did (or claim they can't remember, which I wager is also a lie). Second, we wanted to go back and figure out what the hell happened, because talking to them is like chasing them around the playground. They attempt to control every convo, never take responsibility, deflect, defend, etc. We needed to be able to do a post-mortem. And finally....I wanted to be able to whip those recordings out if I ever, EVER somehow get to the point where DH sounds like he's slipping back into an IL coma and wants to rugsweep ANY of this (I can say he certainly wouldn't right NOW or even this year, but in the future? I'm not making any bets,given prior history).

Also, Oscar, I wouldn't be too sure that your ILs will respect DH's telling them not to contact you two again. Chances are, there will be lots of emails, texts. vmails before they accept that neither of you want anything to do w/ them. And in those messages there is likely to be a great deal of lying, denying, gaslighting, etc. As you say, yourself, your ILs "lie" or "claim they can't remember." Sometimes either you or DH may need to switch those recordings on just to remind yourselves of what really went down if their latest message seems to distort the situation.

Yup, I think more therapy's in the works. I really want him to heal well, and I want him to be strong in case we do ever see them again. Right now, he's talking maaaaaybe 2019. But we'll see in a couple months. ;)

So it's not necessarily a full-blown CO, after all then? More like an ITO w/ a minimum duration of about 13 months...

 

Edited by RoseRed135
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12 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

The game-playing. You're absolutely right and while I always sensed it, DH realized that to them all, scoring points off of us was always part of their sick "fun." Bully and manipulate until you get your way! Bring'em back to the fold!

Here's a confession: DH recorded his phone call with ILs. We recorded our mediation session, too. (My state's one-party consent, all perfectly legal.)  Strange thing, feeling like you have to record conversations with family, but three reasons in this case: Because ILs lie about what they said or did (or claim they can't remember, which I wager is also a lie). Second, we wanted to go back and figure out what the hell happened, because talking to them is like chasing them around the playground. They attempt to control every convo, never take responsibility, deflect, defend, etc. We needed to be able to do a post-mortem. And finally....I wanted to be able to whip those recordings out if I ever, EVER somehow get to the point where DH sounds like he's slipping back into an IL coma and wants to rugsweep ANY of this (I can say he certainly wouldn't right NOW or even this year, but in the future? I'm not making any bets,given prior history).

And here's a fourth reason: I listen to those recordings frequently. Know why? They're the best Christmas gift I've ever gotten. My DH is standing up for himself, he's being direct and forceful and not putting up with the toxic BS anymore. I can also listen to those recordings, no longer second-guessing myself or DH or us both, knowing full well we tried, TRIED to communicate with them, but they're not EVER going to receive the messages. They're too wrapped up in what THEY want, how THEY feel, what THEY think. ZERO empathy or compassion for us. Only THEY are entitled to empathy and compassion, who do we think WE are, wanting two things reserved only for Family Royalty, the matriarch and patriarch (oh, and the two ugly SILs). And TBH, I majored in communication, so it's interesting to analyze the different dynamics that are happening during the exchanges.

And yeah, @ImpishMom, we did detect a bit of divide-and-conquer in the last phone call. At one point, DH tried to tell FIL, "But wait-- if you gave the Serenity Prayer to me, the past is in the past, right?" (Trying to use FIL's rugsweeping tactic against him, meaning, stop hectoring us about the dang prayer.) And FIL just POUNCED on that, thinking we'd come over to his side. FIL said, "YES! That's right, the past is in the past....Now wait a minute, does that mean for ALL of us, the past is in the past? Or just for you and me?" 

Ladies, you should hear how excited, hopeful, elated FIL is when he asks DH to clarify just how much rugsweeping DH is willing to do,even if it means the menfolk just let us little women continue to duke it out. That's when DH dropped the pretenses (and his patience) and just went after FIL, who never really recovered his equilibrium, even though he still attempted to control the conversation.

They're just terrible, terrible people. DH said he always wanted to doubt it because there was no full-on, in-his-face, indisputable, un-explainable-away evidence that they were thoroughly rotten, until DN1.1 confirmed her mother upset the MIL birthday plans last September just cuz she wanted to, confirmed SILs attempted to go out to the parking lot to bully DH over the phone, and that OSIL has a personality disorder. That YSIL never texted him back was also an eye-opener. But the fact MIL knew FIL was being this petty, and didn't even try to stop it? DH was just done. They're all vipers.

And, he's starting to flashback to times he'd just shrugged off, but now they're taking on new, awful meaning for him.

Yup, I think more therapy's in the works. I really want him to heal well, and I want him to be strong in case we do ever see them again. Right now, he's talking maaaaaybe 2019. But we'll see in a couple months. ;)

Feeling your pain, frustration and righteous anger here.  With some people there is just no being reasonable. I’m so sorry you had to go through with this but glad your DH is finally seeing the light. It’s a good start. 

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19 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

 

DH is saying CO, but I'm not holding my breath. He's gotten mad, then relented before. Then again, he's been talking a lot about what a fool he's been to constantly relent and every time he's gotten closer to them, it's backfired-- they screw it up.

So if it's a CO, I'll be surprised. If it's not, I'll be prepared.

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11 hours ago, oscarsmaman said:

DH is saying CO, but I'm not holding my breath. He's gotten mad, then relented before. Then again, he's been talking a lot about what a fool he's been to constantly relent and every time he's gotten closer to them, it's backfired-- they screw it up.

So if it's a CO, I'll be surprised. If it's not, I'll be prepared.

Sounds like DH isn't yet sure in his heart/mind. He's "saying CO" but also talking about, perhaps resuming contact in "2019," according to your earlier post. Could he mean "CO for now?" Or is it more likely he's a little conflicted/going back & forth in his head about what he wants to do? That would certainly be understandable for a DS.

Of course, even if he reaches out to them again, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to. Enjoy your freedom!

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When you have actually CO an older person that situation can change when their health changes in the future.  I know from experience.

When MILs health was swiftly declining and hubby asked me to go with him to visit his mother,  I did so to support hubby (it had nothing to do with MILs health).  That is when she apologized to me for her action over the years and actually told me I had been a good wife for hubby.

No, that did not erase the hurt from the things she had said and done over the 30 or more years I had known her, but it was nice to know that in her decline she had given it some thought.

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1 hour ago, SueSTx said:

When you have actually CO an older person that situation can change when their health changes in the future.  I know from experience.

When MILs health was swiftly declining and hubby asked me to go with him to visit his mother,  I did so to support hubby (it had nothing to do with MILs health).  That is when she apologized to me for her action over the years and actually told me I had been a good wife for hubby.

No, that did not erase the hurt from the things she had said and done over the 30 or more years I had known her, but it was nice to know that in her decline she had given it some thought.

I agree.  For this reason, I think an ITO is better suited as it doesn’t have the finality of a CO which could change on a dime with a health crisis or a death in the family (for example if Oscar’s MIL passed away suddenly would her DH and Oscar stay committed to the CO?).

I also like an ITO because it doesn’t have a preset time in which you plan to re-engage as that kind of pressure isn’t good either.  Resolving or dissolving these difficult relationships shouldn’t be on a timeline.  

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3 hours ago, BSW said:

I agree.  For this reason, I think an ITO is better suited as it doesn’t have the finality of a CO which could change on a dime with a health crisis or a death in the family (for example if Oscar’s MIL passed away suddenly would her DH and Oscar stay committed to the CO?).

I also like an ITO because it doesn’t have a preset time in which you plan to re-engage as that kind of pressure isn’t good either.  Resolving or dissolving these difficult relationships shouldn’t be on a timeline.  

Very true.

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I'm another one who prefers TO/ITO or LC, largely for the same reasons.

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VLC works for me with difficult family relationships. Bratty cousin is our perpetual problem...She doesn't contact me, I don't contact her. In one of her tantrums she blocked me on Facebook...I don't care. I'm unblocked now, but she hasn't sent another friend request, don't care, if she's waiting for me to make the first move, she'll get old waiting. The last couple of times I've seen her were at her parents' funerals (a year apart) (they were my godparents, so she couldn't have kept me away if she'd wanted to) and the Christmas before her dad died...she was shocked to find me in his hospital room Christmas Day, where I spent the afternoon. She stayed about 10 minutes. However, a Christmas card showed up a few days ago...the onus is on her. She's done enough dirty dealing over the past few years I don't want any dealings with her at all. I have good relationships with her kids and her sister is my best friend.... 

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Right, so MIL sent us a Christmas card. "We'll always love you. We miss you." Sent to both of us.

Interesting the different ways we received it.

DH was frustrated by it. Deemed it more rugsweeping. "They acknowledge none of what they did or said."

I pointed out, she was darned if she did and darned if she didn't, so she took the high road by sending a Christmas card. I could give her that. I agreed that "We miss you" is frustrating, though, because once again...it was hard not to read such a sentiment, in light of the history, as, "waaaah, you're making us sad, we miss you, make us feel better." It's such a one-sided relationship.

It's easier for me to see it as a nice gesture, because I have known the whole time what toxic turkeys they've always been. The totality of their awfulness, and the futility of having a relationship with them, well, that's still pretty new for DH. He's still unpacking everything and processing it.

DH was saying yesterday morning, "You knew about them the whole time. I just didn't believe it because I didn't want to. And now I have no choice but to truly know how awful they are, and how awful they've been this whole time. I always thought they'd have my best interests at heart, and they clearly never have. It's always just been about them, never you, me or us. I'm re-thinking everything now. I am so, so sorry I put you through all of it (insisting we keep trying, over and over, no matter how awful they were)."

Yesterday was Christmas Eve day. It was absolutely glorious. We cuddled, had a nice breakfast. We sat in the Christmas tree room, playing quietly on our phones and chatting. (We'd done Xmas with my Dad's side the day before, which was awesome, pressure-free, great conversations with my cousin and his wife and the rest of the family.) So yesterday, we had nowhere to be, nothing pressing to do. House was clean, presents wrapped, house done-up for Christmas. We took our dogs to the park and went for a nice walk in the woods while it flurried (gorgeous, and the deer were running). Picked up a few things at the grocery store, some special "Christmas meals" for our dogs, came home and vegged some more after eating lunch.

DH made a fantastic dinner, I cleaned the kitchen, and then we ate Xmas candy and I rubbed his back while we watched "It's a Wonderful Life." Slept sooooo well.

We agreed it might be the best Christmas-time day we ever had! Zero fear, obligation or guilt this Christmas. Absent is the anxiety, chaos, frustration, exhaustion, anger. No noisiness, no chaos, no interruptions, no ugliness, no dirtiness, or messiness or crowdedness. No demands, no guilt, no "scripting Christmas cheer" through activities the SILs dictate. And best of all, we're not driving three hours round-trip to screw up our Christmas with all that negativity.

Hopefully it's the start of a new tradition.

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I pointed out, she was darned if she did and darned if she didn't, so she took the high road by sending a Christmas card. I could give her that

It's kind of you to see that, Oscar. And, no doubt, she was between the proverbial rock & hard place, whether she realized it or not. Send the card and it might aggravate you & DS since he said "no contact" - refrain from sending one and it might look like "sulking."

It's easier for me to see it as a nice gesture, because I have known the whole time what toxic turkeys they've always been. The totality of their awfulness, and the futility of having a relationship with them, well, that's still pretty new for DH. He's still unpacking everything and processing it.

Once again, I feel for DH. But this ^^^ is interesting, IMO. I guess the person who has seem more clearly for a longer time is more apt to be objective enough to be understanding of some things/magnanimous.

Anyhow, glad you 2 are enjoying Christmas and hope you have many more happy returns of the Day (and Eve)! :)

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