thank all of y'all for this site!

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chaela3may

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thank all of y'all for this site!
« on: August 11, 2017, 11:01:29 AM »
thank y'all so much for this site!

yesterday, i searched google for ways to help my mother-in-law and my husband. i searched first by our problems, like how my husband and i both suffer extreme anxiety when she contacts us. (this is particularly weird for me, as i'm an extreme extrovert and am rarely even slightly anxious in any social situation, but my mother-in-law can raise my blood pressure faster than a brush with death.) this was my first exposure to the possibility that she might be suffering from narcissism, something that i hadn't considered and which didn't surprise my husband. i looked more into it and all the pieces started falling into place. her own mother was quite abusive. her second marriage fell apart and ended in divorce. she was super nice to me when my husband and i were dating and engaged and showed a different face once we were married. she refuses, as much as possible, to associate with my side of the family. her two children are not close and are currently not speaking. the manipulation, her social frustrations, her ability to feel like a social pariah while also feeling like the nicest and most generous person on the planet. my biggest concern and something that scares me is her obsession with my first child, which makes more sense if we're talking about the firstborn of her own golden child. the list goes on. like i said, i started to see all the pieces falling into place. without diagnosing my mother-in-law, knowing full well that there may be some other explanation, i still googled, "mother in law is narcissistic," and found the thread that led me here: http://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=22318.0. in this thread, laalanza detailed some of the same fears and struggles that i had been blaming on myself (i have adhd, so it's really easy for my mother-in-law - or anyone else, including myself - to find fault with me) and i cried when i saw that i wasn't alone, that maybe it isn't all my fault. one of the comments by closure_with_clarity mentioned not to jade and to use medium chill, tools that i discussed with my husband last night. we came to the realization that, out of pure self-defense, we had both already been unconsciously using some of these tools. we are now committed to reading up on all of the tools in the toolbox. even if my mother-in-law is not narcissistic, she is still an emotional bully. we are optimistic that these tools will help her and ourselves and, most importantly, our children, to cope and even thrive.

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Menopause Barbie

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Re: thank all of y'all for this site!
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2017, 12:43:43 PM »
So glad you found us! It is amazing how empowering it is to know that you are not alone. And many of these narcissistic types are experts at making us feel isolated or like we are overly demanding when we try to stand up for what is right. I know that this forum has changed me and empowered me to live a much stronger and more positive life.  The people here are wonderful, and I love how you gave a shout out to the specific posters who helped you. All of us here are doing important work, and it helps to learn from each other's journeys. We can really make a difference in each other's lives!

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coyote

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Re: thank all of y'all for this site!
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2017, 12:45:23 PM »
chaela,
Welcome to OOTF. I am sorry you need us but very glad you found us. Yes the Toolbox is amazing and full of practical, usable tools. And yes is is good to know we are not Lone Rangers in all of this. As you can see there are different boards including one specific to Parents and In laws. Once again welcome and I hope this site is as much help to you as it has been to me.
How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
 Wayne Dyer

“The only person educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”  Carl Rogers

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?
Capt. Jack Sparrow

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chaela3may

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Re: thank all of y'all for this site!
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2017, 01:50:03 PM »
more complete story about my mother-in-law's obsessions with my first child:

she insisted on naming our first child, even loudly complaining in the hospital on the day that i gave birth that she would get a dog and name it accordingly if she didn't get her way. we named our child as originally planned and she did eventually get a dog. she was very evasive when i (with my lack of social intelligence) asked why she didn't name the dog what she wanted to name my child. she refused to look at me for the rest of that visit.

i have a composition book that i write letters in for my children to read in later years, kind of a stand-in for a scrapbook. my first child had to be hospitalized after birth and so lots of people signed the book with sweet little notes of encouragement and promises of prayers. she was the only one who wouldn't write something on the spot, saying that she needed a day of reflection. the next day, she did write in it. hers was the only one that spent a whole page talking about herself like a kind of introduction with no apparent concern for the baby's health.

at the baby shower (we held the baby shower shortly after the birth because we didn't want to find out the gender during the pregnancy and because knowing the gender was imperative to many family members), she took my child from another family member, nearly dropped the baby on a brick fireplace when she lost her balance, pretended not to hear me when i asked for the baby to be given to my friend who was going through infertility and had asked to hold the baby, and then walked away from the crowd into another room, still clutching my baby. i had to follow her and physically take my baby from her because i was afraid of her dropping the baby.  the next day, she said that she was on prescription medication that made her a little light headed, but we suspected then and still suspect now that she was tipsy because she has a history of alcohol abuse. weeks later, she outright denied having almost dropped the baby at all, even though a room full of people saw it and were concerned. even later than that, she said that she had a headache before the party and had taken too many pain pills, that she was definitely not on prescription medication at the time, and got angry with me when i said that she shouldn't have picked up the baby at all if she was disoriented no matter the reason. the story changed several times until i gave up trying to find out the truth.

while my first child was still an infant, she sent me and a few other family members on an errand from a family function at her house and insisted on keeping my baby with her. i had my misgivings; i was breastfeeding and she didn't have any of my milk or even any formula in the house. she assured me that the trip would be a short one and that the baby would be fine. i'll never forgive myself for listening to her, for rationalizing that i was a new mother and that she had decades of experience and that she surely knew better than me. my mother called me as we were on our way back to say that the baby was screaming with hunger. i got back as soon as i could, took my baby from her to nurse, and told her in front of everyone there that she was wrong and should never have insisted that my baby be so far away from their only food source for her own selfish desire to have more time with the baby. i even, in my anger, yelled at her in front of everyone that she cared more for her own selfish desires than for my baby's health. i furiously nursed my baby in my car because she was reduced to screaming that my husband had better rein me in and that i should be muzzled.

as part of my own condition, i have terrible time management. i was running late to pick her up from her place to carpool to my nephew's (her first grandson's) high school graduation. i got stuck in terrible traffic that i didn't plan for and she called and texted me and even my husband (who was riding separately and wasn't with me) incessantly and with a lot of anger. when i got there, she started to refuse to ride with me and took my child out of the carseat to her vehicle, which didn't have a carseat. this time, she had a broken ankle and i wasn't willing to wrest my child away from her and possibly send her to the hospital in the process. i told her that i would call the police if she didn't give me my child and she ultimately agreed to drive us both in her car instead of riding in mine in some sort of power play.

that's when we noticed the unhealthy influence that she was having on our child, who screamed during the entire graduation ceremony and couldn't be distracted by anything, not food, not toys, not affection from parents. it was alarming. we temporarily cut contact with her after that and she attempted suicide. she emailed me that she would see us in the afterlife, to tell our child that she loved them, and didn't respond to further communication, so we called 911. i was reluctant to do so because a different family member had attempted suicide in the past and i knew that calling 911 would mean that she would lose some personal freedoms, but i was worried for her safety. the emergency personnel who responded said that her attempt didn't seem very serious to them, more dramatic than anything else and that she wasn't actually in any danger of dying, but that they were now required to take her to the hospital. after she was confirmed to be stabilized, she was admitted into a temporary mental health facility that she described, somewhat accurately, as a prison.

after she was released, she continued counseling and is really much better now, though still very self centered. as far as i know, she wasn't diagnosed with anything, just counseled to prevent further suicide attempts. after a months long adjustment period during which we watched our child like a hawk for long term effects of her obsession, we started allowing supervised visits and then gradually worked up to letting her have the children unsupervised and even letting them spend a night here and there. she bites her tongue instead of opposing me most of the time because she's afraid of us cutting her off again and the sun really seems to rise and set on my first child as far as she's concerned. i've told her time and again that we would never cut her off from her grandchildren out of personal spite, but her actions show that she doesn't believe that. she clearly walks on eggshells around me, specifically, as though the power to take my child, the most important person in her life, from her were mine and mine alone and that i might possibly use that power in a vindictive way. my husband gave me some insight on this; she once did threaten to cut her own mother off from seeing him because she was mad at her, so it makes sense that she would be afraid of being on the other end of that exchange. she still refuses to have anything to do with my side of the family (something that, in retrospect, started during my and my husband's engagement) and is frequently very insulting to them. i've long suspected that she does this to punish me and this revelation increases my confidence in that assessment, especially once she became afraid of angering me directly. i wish that she would be less hostile to my family and i wish that she would treat me as more than a jailer to be bribed and appeased, but at least she's making a clear effort to improve herself and even control her outbursts. i appreciate that this is very difficult for her.

part of the reason that i started looking online for answers is because she recently told my oldest child that she was going to take them on an out-of-state trip in a couple of years, something that she has talking with me and my husband about, but which we have not had a chance to talk to her about out of earshot of the kids. i wrote a text to my husband that we - including him and not just me - would have to talk with her about this. i accidentally sent the text to my mother-in-law. the text was completely neutral and didn't say anything bad about her, but we waited in dread for her emotional explosion and my mother-in-law did contact both of us, justifying all of our fears. (our concerns with her taking our child on such a trip without us stems from her alcohol abuse, which we've heard about from her older grandchildren on similar trips, from my child's diagnosis with adhd which she is ill-equipped to handle, and from her seeming inability to give our child any kind of punishment, but none of that was in the text.)

we still have reservations about the aforementioned trip and there is still a lot of friction between the three of us, but we believe that we are fostering a healthy relationship between her and our children, or as healthy as possible, anyway. we can see how hard she's trying and, at the end of the day, she is still the grandmother of our children. if narcissism is a spectrum, then (in my admittedly entirely unprofessional opinion) i might place her about 1/3 of the way down it: definitely not borderline, but not nearly as bad as i've seen in some of the horror stories that i read yesterday. we are reasonably sure that she isn't harming our children anymore and fairly certain that cutting off her contact with them entirely would harm her and possibly even our oldest child. between her own efforts at self improvement and the tools that my husband and i are going to use from this site, i'm much more optimistic about the future! thanks again!