Why I Cut My MIL Off
Basically, because she could not LISTEN and would not RESPECT to my concerns.
She would buy plane tickets and invite herself to our house for a month. My husband told her that she was to stop doing it. She said, okay, and within 60 days bought a ticket to visit again for a month, telling us afterward. A non refundable ticket. A week or so later, she bought another ticket for a two-week visit, six weeks after going home from the first month-long visit. Another non refundable ticket. Again not asking if it were okay. A week after that, she changed her second ticket to open-ended and informed us that she was going to stay until we got sick of her.
I didn't want her to come at all, but my husband said, she will take care of herself, just go on with your day as you usually do, you can ignore her. So I said I'd give it a shot.
She whined and moaned and complained and caused trouble from the minute she got there. She's a non-stop talker. She starts talking when she wakes up and doesn't stop until she falls asleep. She talks when you are talking, when you read the paper, when you are talking to other people, when you are on the phone, when you are pulling out of the driveway walking along side the car with her head in the window, when you are watching the news--truly she NEVER stops talking. You can tell her on the phone that you can't talk and she says okay and continues to talk for another 40 minutes. I asked her once to leave me alone for a couple hours while I wrote essays for a job I really wanted. She agreed she'd stop talking and then talked for two hours about how she wouldn't talk (I'm not making this up). If she HAS to stop talking because my husband yells at her to stop talking, she moans. She will sit on the couch and make a big huge gusty groan. She groans when she gets up, she groans walking up and down the stairs. She sighs the loudest sighs you ever heard, every two minutes or so. And if you ignore her she starts talking to herself.
What does she talk about? All complaints and butting in and nasty gossip. She head hurts, her eyes hurt, her back hurts, her shoulders hurt, she didn't sleep well, this person was mean to her, that person was mean to her, her husband divorced her and she was a wonderful wife and he was so mean to her (the divorce was 29 years ago). She lives with a married man and his wife, and this man is mean to her (so move out and get your own life--nope can't do that for various dumb reasons). Her kids are mean to her, the people at church are mean to her, her college roommate was mean to her, her mother (dead 25 years) was mean to her, her ex co-workers were means to her. She will stand outside the bathroom door and talk to you through it while you are in there doing your business, and if you ask her not to do that, she either agrees to stop, then does it anyways...or bursts into tears, claiming you are mean to her for no reason and runs around telling everyone all about it embellishing--no, LYING, about what really happened to garner more pity.
Oh, and the gossip. She failed at everything she ever did in her life (she was a public school teacher who was fired for incompetence after 25 years, the union wouldn't help her and she tried suing and the court upheld her firing). She pretty much abandoned her 11 year old son after her divorce (too busy crying and feeling sorry for herself, even though she didn't like her husband and hadn't for years). He raised himself and finally went to live with another family.
She's never been able to manage living alone (my husband said every attempt has been a disaster). She lived with her husband, then her parents, then moved in with this married man and his disabled wife. She's complained about every place she's lived in, is always the hanger on and absolutely clueless that if she wants to run a house, she needs to get a house of her own to run. Everyone else will run their own homes, thank you very much, now will you go away and leave me alone.
She's a rotten cook and housekeeper and bad with money and tacky at decorating. She can't make a decision to save her life. Everything has to be agonized over and cause agony and unbearable uncertainty and multiple changing of the mind and endless discussion. I swore I would NEVER shop with her again after she followed me to the grocery store and nearly had a nervous breakdown because she couldn't decide whether or not to buy celery salt.
She loves melodrama. She invents it. After 25 years of not seeing her ex or talking to him or having any contact of any kind with him, she saw him across the room in the social security office. It nearly caused a nervous break down. She burst into tears, ran out of there and called my husband at work 2000 miles away and lost it.
She's a nasty mean two faced backstabbing gossip. She loves to analyze what's wrong with everyone, and the nicer you are to her the more unsatisfactory she finds you. She thinks my one BIL does a bad job of running his business (as though she ever ran one, like she has any idea of what she's talking about). She talks meanly about my husband, her own son, to me--even when I told her I will not tolerate anyone speaking poorly of my husband in my presence. She trashes all three of her DILs, this one's too old, that one too religious, this one too controlling, that one a bad mother. She thinks she's a psychologist and keeps diagnosing everyone with all sorts of mental health problems.
She does it to her grandchildren too. This 8 year old boy is a misogynist and doomed to never having a happy relationship. That 4 year old little girl is too eager to please and bound to end up with an abusive boyfriend. This 6 year old grandson is too fat and out of control. This teen isn't doing anything with her life. That teen is on probation for drinking at college (note: she was on probation afte being arrested for shoplifting--but she doesn't want to talk about that). This child is lazy like her ex husband and shows no initiative (incredible. Not only is she talking about a 10 year old, her ex husband is probably the most successful person she knows, making lots of money at the top of his profession--whereas, she's a fired public schoolteacher.) All her children are too lenient with their children. And are neglectful parents, and don't do this or that right (remember, she abandoned her own kid at age 11).
She even went whining about me to my own mother (who'd never met her before) AT MY OWN WEDDING.
She interferes with child rearing. She sneaks money to my kids after I've told her no. My kids are nice and well brought up. My son brought the money to me and said, I know you didn't want me to have this. (My MIL has less integrity than a 14 year old boy.) If you ask them to turn off the tv after this program, she waits for you to leave the room, jumps up and starts running around the room like the sky is falling, making them turn off the tv right then and telling them they are in trouble, your mother's mad, you are in trouble. The older kids are puzzled, the younger ones are anxious. She makes up weird rules such as the 5 year old has to have permission to sit on her lap--and says those are MY rules and the kids will be in trouble if they don't follow them. It creates anxiety and confusion in the younger ones.
She tells them straight out what's wrong with their parents and how wrong we are and how she'll fix things for them with us. She makes lots of promises to them she doesn't keep, and when they expect her to keep the promises, she feels they are being mean to her and starts crying.
She cries ALL THE TIME. At least once a day, more likely twice or three times. It's poor her, everyone is mean to her.
She teaches the kids to lie and sneak. I caught my 8 year old jumping on the bed when she was standing about 3 feet away from him. I said: "Son, are you jumping on the bed?" MIL answers for him: no, he wasn't jumping on the bed. (You effin' liar). I have LOTS of stories like this. She tries to buy their love doing this stuff and if just confuses them and makes them lose respect for her.
She butts in everyone's conversation: "Daughter, do you want a cookie?" MIL: "Of course she wants a cookie?" (Let her answer for herself? HOw controlling are you? Are you afraid she will answer wrong? Can't you tolerate a conversation that doesn't involve you? Or do you think the child is too stupid and maybe doesn't speak English?). She does it with EVERY conversation she hears.
She meddles constantly. THe kids aren't eating their cereal out the right bowls. They have the wrong bookbags, they aren't wearing the right clothes to schoool. And she's always wrong. She doesn't know the school uniform rules, doesn't understand about the bookbags, and neither my husband or I care which bowl they eat their cereal out of. Mind your own business, lady. But she can't. If you ignore her, she implements her ideas anyway, particularly if you tell her not to. She didn't agree with a paint color for my daughter's room, and manuevred my husband away and almost tricked him into buying the color she wanted.
SHe desperately wants to be in our business and organize our closets and do our laundry. When I say no thank you, she bursts into tears and runs to my husband, "I wanted to do your laundry, but CindyLou said, nah, nah, nah." I did not say 'nah, nah, nah'. I said no thank you.
She will not accept NO. She wanted to take the kids 2000 miles away on a plane to visit her and was told 4 times by me 'no'. I don't know how many times by my husband. One evening she sat down after dinner and said, brightly: so what dates should I buy the children's plane tickets for?
If you displease her, she runs to other people and lies about you. She will do this to the kids, come running to us telling us a lie that one of the kids said or did this or that to her. I find out later it's a lie, but if you are on her 'mean to me' list, she spends her time trying to recruit people to help her punish you. She told me straight out that if I didn't treat her the way she wanted to be treated, she'd ruin my relatinship with my husband. She said this in my own house on that visit she invited herself to.
This is the kind of game she plays: she doesn't know how to use our TV remote. Instead of asking, she tries to figure it out and messes it up and makes the tv blue. INstead of saying how do I fix it and will you show me how to make this work, she waits until she gets my husband alone, starts crying and tells him she's AFRAID to to watch tv because I'm so mean to her.
She loves to say how AFRAID she is. I got tired of her nasty negative criticism of my BILs and SILs (all of whom I like). I told her several times I was not interested in listening to negative gossip about them. She would agree to stop, and second later, continue like I'd said nothing. I got exasperated and snapped. "I told you I don't want to talk about anyone who is not in this car with us. Are they in the car? Then stop talking about them behind their backs!" She looked shocked, blinked her eyes furiously, and then crumpled into a pitiful sobbing heap: "I'm AFRAID to say ANYTHING around you." (then why don't you hush yourself up?)
No matter what you do for her, it's not enough. When she came for that disastrous visit uninvited, I was nice to her and made special dinners, and took her around to see the kids schools and parks and stuff. The third morning she was there, she ran to my husband: "I dont feel welcomed!" I took my husband up on his advice just to ignore her, and heard, "SHe's mean to me!'
I can go on and on. There's a lot more.
We tried to fix it. I took her out to lunch and had a talk with her. My husband had hours of talks with her. We talked to her together. Her other children talked to her. We wrote letters and emails. We gave her another chance. We told her straight out what the problem was. If we spoke nicely to her, she'd nod her head like a bobble head doll, agree, and then completely ignore everything we'd said and continue on. If we were angry, she'd lie, deny, cry, try guilt, try to change the subject, blame us and get indignant.
We told her her behavior was intolerable, and if there wasn't a change, she'd be cut off. She got snotty. We cut her off for three months, then gave her another chance. Nothing changed. She denied she was interfering with the children, or whine that she was only being nice. She denied all the lies and manipulations or minimized it. (All I said to Cindy Lou's mother was I was not her favorite person--untrue, I was on the other side of the curtain divider I heard for myself).
She plays victim. SHe's always the victim. We're mean to her. She is a decent christian (yeah, one who shoplifts, commit adultery, bears false witness and gossips). She wants to love us but we won't let her. She has rights. My husband is just like his father--he left the family (duh, that's what grown men do when they get married, leave mommy and cleave to their wives--MIL is very confused about what husbands do and what sons do). He's dead to her, she can't stand the pain. (and a couple weeks later--she emails: keep in touch, I just want to hear your voice). She saw no reason to apologize after all she was the victim. But fine if we wanted an apology, she was sorry we were the way we were and she apologized for everything she had ever done since the day she was born. There are we satisfied? No? What does she have to do? SHe's apologized dozens of times, we just won't accept it. SHe has rights, you know. We are mean to her for no reason.
She got cut off for a year, then was given another chance. A movie, a museum and lunch, she stays in a hotel. My husband and I thought it went well. She was very unhappy. I monopolized my daughter and she didn't get to be alone with the children. She wanted them overnight in her hotel room (she knew before she came that wasn't going to happen). She did spread some mean gossip (I swear the woman cannot open her mouth without complaining or criticizing or crying). But all in all, it went well.
She went back home and whined and complained to my BILs and called up my husband and cut him off, then waited for him to beg to fix things, which he didn't, so she left a voice mail saying she just wanted to hear his voice. The BILs were sick of hearing complaints about us and refused to listen.
She was cut off another six months. We saw her at BILs house at Xmas. The kids pretty much ignored her. The other DILs who also don't like her, ignored her too. She tried to finagle my husband into allowing her to take the kids off by herself. It didn't work. She asked my daughter to sit on her lap, and my daughter said no thank you. She was reduced to saying to no one in particular: "I hope I have ten healthy good years left". She was ignored. She was told that if she started crying, she would have to either go home or lie down in the bedroom until she got herself together. She has no idea of what to do with herself if she can't complain, whine or criticize. She was very unhappy.
She took it out on the only DIL who's still talking to her (just barely) the next day. That DIL went over to the house she shares with that married man and his wife and MIL made a point of telling SIL about all the people who don't like SIL. SIL said she would NEVER go back.
MIL has succeeded in alienating all her DILs, estranging herself from all her grandchildren, and annoying all her sons.
And the thing is, MIL has NO idea why she is estranged from her family. She didn't do anything. It's young people. It's everyone else who are mean to her for no reason. Her DILs are controlling and jealous of how close to her sons she was and unable to love; her sons are weak and brainwashed and just appeasing their wives to have peace in their lives. It all deliberation misunderstands and insecurity on the DILs' part. It's embroidered half truths and made up allegations. Everyone else has a personality disorder, mental illness, or were damaged by their dysfunctional families. SHE didn't do anything to deserve this. She never thought this could ever happen. She never saw it coming. ALl she wants to for everyone to love everyone. ALl she wants is to be a grandmother. She has no idea what went wrong.
I don't get it. She'd rather lose her family than give up playing victim, give up interferring, give up criticizing, give up back-biting, give up complaining.
I read these other stories of mothers who have been estranged from their adult children and see so many similarities, and I still don't get it. If she doesn't choose to stop criticizing and interfering and gossiping, we can force her to stop--simply by cutting her out of our lives. And our lives are more peaceful for it. My husband's blood pressure dropped 40 points within 3 months. Since we've demonstrated that we will not tolerate her awful behavior and she will be the biggest loser (she says she's in unbearable pain and in complete despair), why doesn't she knock it off and LISTEN to what we've said t her?