I am really struggling.
My MIL has shockingly poor boundaries, is controlling, overbearing etc. etc. you have all heard it a million times before. My H has struggled with it his whole life and I have been dealing with it for 12 years. We have finally, for the first time had to/chosen to enforce a boundary. The ILs blatantly broke a clear rule with our DS and we have decided to be kind and firm and take a break from them for a few weeks. This "rule" was not a safety rule and it will seem silly if I explain it, but people with poor boundaries etc. sometimes need to be given overly clear guidelines so that it is more clear and obvious when a line has been crossed, you know?
That is fine. DH and I feel awesome and empowered and shocked that we were able to TELL them that they crossed the line and we wouldn't be hanging out with them or having them see DS for a few weeks. I wrote an email that was very firm, kind and clear (I have been reading/absorbing/working through "The Dance of Anger"). My husband was pretty freaked that I actually told them what was up, instead of us just trying to evade and avoid them for a while. He was a little mad until he read the email I sent and he found no fault with it. He had wanted to have a(nother) sit down convo.
Well, MIL unleashed hell and fury on him, which was to be expected. He realized immediately that nothing but an email would have worked. Her reaction was so out of proportion to the actual words in the email. Talking to her in person is madness. But, many of you have experienced relationships like this, they seem pretty textbook.
All that is fine, understandable etc. The part I am struggling with is all the hurt feelings she has that are unrelated to the boundary/control issues. She wants us to be friends and I don't want to be friends with her. My MIL is an outgoing, funny, beautiful woman who everyone adores when they meet her. She is also a toxic person in the lives of many people, but that isn't really relevant. My mom is shy, introverted awkward an not into her looks at all. They last time we all got together was a dressy event and I told my mom she looked pretty. I never tell my MIL she looks pretty, so this really hurt MILs feelings. MIL is really into her appearance and really wants people to tell her how wonderful she is in every way, including appearance. I know this. The kind thing for me to do is to compliment her on her appearance. But I don't. I am loathe to. This is the dynamic I am struggling with. This is just an example.
I withhold kindness, love and affection because of all the ridiculous stuff I have to put up with. It's really making me feel like a bad person. I have other friends who I know need words of affirmation and even though I don't get that, I do it out of kindness and understanding (never lying or exaggerating) Why can't I do this with MIL?
All of this came out in MILs rant to DH. So mixed up with the madness were some very very valid points about my behavior. I realize that instead of enforcing boundaries with MIL I got back at her for her bad behavior by withholding love, kindness, affection, time etc.
I feel so good and comfortable about enforcing our boundaries (and it's pretty dramatic considering the nature of our relationship) but I don't feel good about the other stuff. I am pretty sure she has a personality disorder or something but that is really not relevant to her FEELINGS. She thinks she is normal and wonderful and is very very hurt by me all the time.
It's also part of the broader question about what do you do about someone being sad that you don't want to be their friend?