So I pretty much have to be nice now, right? UPDATE post 78 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Backstory:
My relationship with my inlaws has been terrible ever since I got pregnant for the first time. I miscarried that first baby. Shortly thereafter my MIL tracked down my mom outside of her work and told her she thought I miscarried the baby because apparently, I am anorexic. That was the start of a lot of craziness...I'll spare you details, but the highlights include my MIL arranging a dinner out, an hour from my home to which she invited my husband and newborn breastfed son (days out of the NICU for brain trauma) but explicitly dis-invited me... my FIL screaming at me on Christmas... FIL telling me all I did was sit around all day when I ran a business AND worked a job at night bartending etc etc etc...

Recently, an incident happened where I decided I was totally done with the inlaws...a few months ago, my family and I moved 2500 miles away from them. Shortly thereafter, I went back with the kids to visit my family. The inlaws were out of town pretty much my whole trip, however I did take the kids over to see them one evening, and my 3 year old stayed the night. The next morning, I went to pick him up and he ran away from me. I figure he just wants to keep getting spoiled, whatever. I take him to the car and he gets increasingly upset. He says I don't love him. Again, I think he's just being a kid who spent the night getting spoiled. Then he won't let me touch him. FREAKS out whenever I do, keeps saying I don't love him. Starts hyperventilating, shaking, crying. Gets hot to the touch he's so upset. And keeps saying I don't love him. So I say "Why do you think that?" and he says "Grandpa." I say "What?" he says "Grandpa say you don't love me." So I am livid, obviously, but I just try to tell him mama loves him. It takes hours to calm him and eventually we talk about how sometimes people are wrong and Grandpa was just mistaken... but he was really upset all day... said things about how Grandpa said I don't love him and how it made him so sad. I have no doubt that something happened along those lines... the idea that he made it up himself does not work for me. He was so upset that he felt feverish and very specific. His story never changed.

So my husband talks to MIL and says that Keagan is upset and asks if anything happened while he was there. She says no. The next day she calls back and asks if he's better. DH tells her that Keagan thinks I don't love him since he came back (but leaves out that he says FIL said it) Then she acted all nervous and said that when I was there I was "really rough" with him and that had to be why. She said she'd "never seen Steph act like that."
BULL. I am anything but rough with my kids.

So we decide that we are just going to pretty much cut them out. I have not spoken to her since and removed her from my facebook. DH has only replied to text messages.

Today she called and he answered. She has breast cancer. It's too early to know how bad it is, she just go biopsy results today. Of course dh is upset (I am too, I am not souless) and he wants us to all make up.

I pretty much have to forget all of this stuff, no matter how crazy she is, right? In any other circumstance, I doubt if I would have ever spoken to her again ... but you can't really turn family with cancer away can you?

I am at a loss here. She needs support, but that does not change what happened. I know I am just going to have to put it aside, but man.... she has caused me a lot of pain.

Tell me to buck it up and be kind to a sick woman. That's what I know I have to do... I am just having a hard time because a lot of this stuff is so fresh.

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#2 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 09:22 PM
 
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Gosh that is a tough one. My Mom had breast cancer, so I am not a total jerk- however, them telling your son that you don't love him seems all kinds of wrong to me, and traumatic to your son. Honestly, I don't know what I would do in that situation

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#3 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 09:23 PM
 
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Wow, that's an incredibly awful situation to be in. I look forward to seeing what wisdom others come up with.

My first thought would be that yes, you need to be supportive and kind, but that it may be appropriate to communicate (by in-person conversation, phone, email -- not sure what would work best), "I was really shaken up [or whatever] to hear that you were diagnosed with breast cancer. I care about you and I want to do what I can to support you during this scary time. I also need to say that I'm still feeling pretty sad and angry about some things that happened recently, especially the fact that DS seems very clear that he was told I don't love him when he was staying at your house.

[And then I'm not sure where I would go from there, except to say something supportive and positive again at the end, because I know people are more receptive to negative feedback if you can bookend it with truthful positives.]

And I would also never, ever allow your children to be alone with your in-laws again. At least if you or your husband are there, presumably they will be on somewhat better behavior.

Also, keep in mind (speaking now as a breast cancer survivor myself) that most breast cancer survivors these days live quite a long time. Unless she's diagnosed with very advanced cancer or metastatic disease, she's likely to be around for years, possibly many years. This is not to discount the fact that women die of breast cancer -- we do, FAR too many of us. But in the back of your head, you should not assume you have just a short time to be "nice" (months or a few years). This relationship could still last 5-20 years or more.
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#4 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 09:24 PM
 
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I dunno. I don't think being sick gives anyone the right to be horrible to you. I'd probably still lean towards you and the kids having no relationship with them. I wouldn't keep my husband from seeing his ill mother, but I wouldn't be around anyone who would treat me or my kids that way. (I don't know your husband, but mine wouldn't likely ask that I be around his family if I were to be treated that way) It's be a no go for him too.

I'm not sure. ((HUGS)) For me though I wouldn't want to be around them unless there was severe sincere repentance and a HUGE change in attitude.
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#5 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 09:35 PM
 
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Hi, my name is BITCH and I would say keep your distance! Sorry but she seems to have gone out of her way to really cause harm. Her being ill (even with breast cancer) does not equal a free forgiveness and open welcome in my opinion. If she called you and apologised then maybe you can start afresh, but only then.
I would, however, encourage dh to be a son and I would support him. I would not let ds stay or visit unsupervised.
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#6 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 10:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well I feel less evil for not wanting to deal with her.
It helps that we're in TX and she is in WA. No matter what, I am not going to be seeing much of her. I want dh to support her. I don't want to deal with it though. I get so mad when I think of how they hurt my little guy...
Maybe just send an email saying I am praying for her recovery and leave it there? Let dh take the phonecalls etc? Chances are we won't be out there for quite some time, so I really don't have to see her face to face until maybe Christmas? We'd already decided our kids will never be alone with them again and there is no way this changes that. I shouldn't have to act like she's a good person because she is sick. It's terrible that she is sick. I really worry because she has an auto-immune disorder already... but I don't have to let people treat me bad either... right?

I am so confused right now. I want to be a good person, but not a doormat.

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#7 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 10:15 PM
 
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I would never let DS spend anytime with them alone, ever ever again. At the very least.

Mama to my 2 boys
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#8 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 10:30 PM
 
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I would write a supportive note to her and I'd encourage DH to be a supportive son. But I'd not allow my children anywhere near them ever again (unless they were supervised).

And I'd keep my distance big time. You owe her NOTHING.

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#9 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 10:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Stephenie View Post
I am so confused right now. I want to be a good person, but not a doormat.
You are being a good person by encouraging your DH to be a good son. That's enough IMO.

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#10 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 10:34 PM
 
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I hate to sound totally callous, but... so what if she has breast cancer? What exactly does that have to do with the way she and her husband treat you, how they have abused your son, and how they will probably continue to act in the same way? I'm sorry, but cancer does NOT give anyone a "get out of jail free" card in my opinion. We can all of us die at any time, from a car accident or a house fire or getting sick. The fact that she might be dying is scary, but does not mean that you have to all of a sudden pretend that everything is roses and daisies.

Yes, I am sure she needs support, and I would not keep your husband from giving it to her and his father if that is his wish and need as a son. But why should you bend over backwards when it is clear that your in-laws would like nothing better than to completely ruin your relationship with your child and husband?

Now if your mother in law came forward with genuine remorse and apologies and demonstrated a real effort in making things right... yes, can see where forgiveness and support would be called for. But as things stand... no. Be supportive of what your husband needs to do, but keep you and your child out of it. And if she begs to see your son and you agree, you MUST be there at all times, no compromises. And any hint of rotten behavior means you and your son pack up and leave.
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#11 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 10:51 PM
 
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I completely agree with tinuviel_k

I would pretty much keep my distance, let DH have whatever kind of relationship with her he needs and keep the children from being alone with them. Having cancer is no excuse.
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#12 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 11:07 PM
 
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I feel awful asking this, but is it possible she's just saying she does?

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#13 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 11:09 PM
 
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I feel awful asking this, but is it possible she's just saying she does?
That crossed my mind too.
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#14 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by MariaMadly View Post
I feel awful asking this, but is it possible she's just saying she does?
I felt awful for thinking it, but I did wonder for a second. Before the "Mama doesn't love me" incident, I would have said no way... but I don't know...
I sincerely hope she isn't making it up... and think I kind of have to act like it's true. God what if she did have cancer and I blew it off...

It's all so complicated. I don't think I will be doing much more than sending an email or card...

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#15 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 11:53 PM
 
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I felt awful for thinking it, but I did wonder for a second. Before the "Mama doesn't love me" incident, I would have said no way... but I don't know...
I sincerely hope she isn't making it up... and think I kind of have to act like it's true. God what if she did have cancer and I blew it off...

It's all so complicated. I don't think I will be doing much more than sending an email or card...
My friends parents did this every time my friend behaved in a way that she disliked. She flew home from Europe once, because her father was hospitalized. He was fine - they wanted her away from her boyfriend of the time, who she was traveling with.

I agree with you, though, you have to assume that it is true until shown otherwise.

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#16 of 89 Old 05-14-2010, 11:57 PM
 
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I would write a supportive note to her and I'd encourage DH to be a supportive son. But I'd not allow my children anywhere near them ever again (unless they were supervised).

And I'd keep my distance big time. You owe her NOTHING.
ITA. The consequence of being pyschotic towards your DIL and grandchildren is that your family isn't close and they're not there for you in the capacity you want when you need them to be. It's very sad. Clearly, your DH should do whatever he wants, but there's no reason for them to be alone with the kids ever again.

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#17 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 12:08 AM
 
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Personally I would still not have contact with her. I most definitely, definitely would not allow my kids to have any contact with IL's.

I do agree with pp who have said that DH should feel supported by you that if he chooses to see her/talk to her he can. But you and the kids are not part of the deal.

FWIW, I have a very VERY toxic dad who I went through something similar with, and I ultimately decided his having cancer did not change any of the atrocities he inflicted on me and my siblings, and my husband and son. So, I chose to have no contact with him. And guess what. He's still around, several years later, since he beat the cancer.

I am very glad I kept my distance, because his being sick did not change who he was/is as a person, and it is much better for us to not be around him. Especially my son, who I don't want influenced by him in any way.

There is no law that says you have to be nice, or you owe her anything just because she is sick. You OWE IT TO YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN to protect yourselves from the harm that she may cause, actually.

You can always pray or hope for change in her, but until the day comes when she sees the light, it's not worth it.
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#18 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 12:14 AM
 
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I think you have to be nice to your husband. I think you can be supportive of him while still not having a relationship with these evil, nasty people.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#19 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 02:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by daisymama12 View Post
I would never let DS spend anytime with them alone, ever ever again. At the very least.
Agreed. If ANYONE told my son that I didn't love him, family or no, they'd never see my son or me ever again. Breast cancer or no.

ETA: Your DH should have also made it clear to his P's that you and he are a package deal after not inviting you to that dinner. I think he failed you a little there.

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#20 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 07:29 AM
 
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I agree with the PPs: support your DH, keep your distance, and protect your son. If you can muster it, write a nice e-mail.

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#21 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 10:45 AM
 
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I'm going to be the first one to actually go so far as to say that MAYBE she doesn't actually have cancer. I went a year of no contact with my own toxic parents. One of the "hoover" techniques used to suck me back in was that my dad had cancer. Turns out it was a pre-cancerous thing. I never contacted them beyond saying that I wished them the best through the difficult time and that I was hoping for the best outcome(no, not praying...I'm not a praying person).

Anyway, if your dh feels compelled to stay in contact with his parents through this, then of course he should. But that in no way binds you and the children to do so. Particularly taking into account the incredibly toxic behavior they have forced upon you time and time again. No way. It's not fair to your children to put them through anymore grief with them.
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#22 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 11:52 AM
 
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You can be very supportive in your heart without exposing yourself to toxicity. This was very freeing to me when I learned it.

Send positive energy, send a card and send your love through your dh if he chooses to see her. Forgive her but don't engage with her. Forgiveness doesn't mean I give you the opportunity to hurt me again, it just means you have let go of resentment and are in a healthier frame of mind yourself.

I hope you MIL is fine long term.

I hope you keep yours and your family's peace intact as well.

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#23 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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This is so supportive. Can I just say This thread has helped me so much too.


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Originally Posted by allgirls View Post
You can be very supportive in your heart without exposing yourself to toxicity. This was very freeing to me when I learned it.

Send positive energy, send a card and send your love through your dh if he chooses to see her. Forgive her but don't engage with her. Forgiveness doesn't mean I give you the opportunity to hurt me again, it just means you have let go of resentment and are in a healthier frame of mind yourself.

I hope you MIL is fine long term.

I hope you keep yours and your family's peace intact as well.

Allgirls

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#24 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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Has she reached out to you like she wants to patch things up? I am in the camp that you don't have to forgive and forget all because she has cancer. You can think positive thoughts and wish her well without having to absorb all the toxicity. I have cancer is not an excuse to be horrible. If she does not come forward with a desire to work things out she is using her own illness to manipulate. Just my first thought and I swear I am not a callous person. You have your kids to think of to and they clearly don't need that kind of energy around.
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#25 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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Agreed. If ANYONE told my son that I didn't love him, family or no, they'd never see my son or me ever again. Breast cancer or no.
I agree. The line was completely crossed and trashed here. They have no respect for you and your children should never be alone with them again.
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#26 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for your input.... Allgirls, I really needed to hear that.

To clear a few things up:
The dinner incident, hubby said it was all of us or none. They chose none. No dinner happened.


Our kids will never be alone with them regardless. We've agreed it's just not a good idea.

Dh wants me to "make nice" with her... I want to support him. Worrying about your mom is hard no matter how crazy she is, and having your wife hate your mom is hard all around, even when you agree that said mom is out of line. I just will support him and not mention my anger towards her. Better for me anyway to not hold onto it as much as I have been...

I'm sending a card, supporting dh if he wants to go up to WA and see them. I won't go, nor will the kids if he does. That's all I am going to commit myself to at this point... if she apologizes (not likely) or if it looks like she won't live, I may change my tune, but you all are right, after all I have been through with these people I do not owe them anything...

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#27 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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I think you have to be nice to your husband. I think you can be supportive of him while still not having a relationship with these evil, nasty people.
I'm a little late chiming in but, this.

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Originally Posted by Stephenie View Post
Dh wants me to "make nice" with her... I want to support him. Worrying about your mom is hard no matter how crazy she is, and having your wife hate your mom is hard all around, even when you agree that said mom is out of line. I just will support him and not mention my anger towards her. Better for me anyway to not hold onto it as much as I have been...
I agree with you. I'd let it go, for yourself and your husband. I would not "make nice", as in suddenly go out of my way to be friends with her, or act like everything is okay. And I would tell my husband why.

As far as what your FIL said to your son, I would have - and still would, if I were you - bring it up that you KNOW what happened and cannot accept that kind of behavior toward your children. As almost everyone above has said, cancer does not suddenly give you a right to get away with horrible behavior. And I'd be cautious about believing anything she said as well. They sound... not quite in their right minds. Good luck.

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#28 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 06:19 PM
 
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ITA. The consequence of being pyschotic towards your DIL and grandchildren is that your family isn't close and they're not there for you in the capacity you want when you need them to be. It's very sad. Clearly, your DH should do whatever he wants, but there's no reason for them to be alone with the kids ever again.
Totally agree with this.

Call me cold-hearted, but having cancer doesn't magically absolve these people from sabotaging your relationship with your son and acting like a UAV.

Stay away mama, and keep your son away too. I wouldn't put it past her to use being sick as an excuse to interfere more, and god forbid the woman dies that may open up a whole 'nother family drama.

BTW, I believe it is entirely possible to forgive but not forget.
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#29 of 89 Old 05-15-2010, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When he says to make nice I don't think he expects me to be her friend. That's never going to happen... I just think he can't take my negativity about her while she could possibly be fighting for her life. I'll keep my mouth shut about her for awhile. I owe dh that much respect... I won't be seeing her, I won't be calling her. I sent a card and basically, that is as far as I am willing to go.

As for calling them out on what happens... I go back and forth. I hate conflict. I hate drama... and bringing it up would create lots... ignoring them from thousands of miles away and not letting my kids ever be alone with them again is just easier. Cancer or not they lost the chance to be a big part of our lives.

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#30 of 89 Old 05-16-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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I agree with not instigating drama. I think that sounds like a healthy, respectful plan.

Also, in living with/being family to/having to deal with folks who engage in that kind of destructive crap, the potential to call them out is a card in your hand. I know that sounds cold, but if they're set on playing that game, you might as well outplay them.

They know what happened, you know, they know you know. They behaved badly and got busted. Adding a confrontation (or even more words) to the situation only gives them a way out. It doesn't make you more right.

As far as the card in your hand, in my family, me holding that card has resulted in utter politeness and pleasantry. My in-laws are scared pantsless that they're going to tick me off and I'm going to call them on several major instances of bad behavior. And they know I'm right.

I'm actually never going to call my in-laws out on their bad behavior (I leave that to dh.) My dh is hurt enough by it the first time--me dissing his parents just adds insult to injury. When they behave badly, I just pick up and leave, tighten the boundaries, insert some time/space...whatever the situation calls for.

I'm sorry to hear about the cancer.

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