I lost my temper at DH's aunt/FM/possiblyPD last night; don't know how to feel

  • 4 Replies
  • 195 Views
*

pissedresistor

  • New Member
  • *
  • 3
First post here, so this will probably be long to provide some background. My DH and I have been NC with my in-laws for over a year, after my FIL hit me (hard enough that I needed medical attention and was out of work for a few days) for saying no when he tried to invite himself and 10 people over to our house and demand I cook for everyone on a day we already had plans. My MIL defended his actions, and grabbed me and tried to restrain me from not leaving their house so she wouldn't have to deal with FIL's wrath. My DH took longer to go NC than I did, first making excuses for his parents' behavior, and then he slowly came Out of the FOG based on their continued actions about the subject (not apologizing, not taking any responsibility for their behavior, telling him all sorts of terrible things about me in an attempt to get him to leave me so that they wouldn't be held accountable for their behavior, etc., etc.). The extended family was told that FIL grabbed me, and that it wasn't "that bad". Oh, and for more background, FIL repeatedly choked DH when he was growing up, and they both abused him verbally and emotionally. No one was allowed to have privacy in his house, and his dad (my FIL) would barge into the bathroom to use it no matter who else was in there, sometimes pulling DH or his siblings off the toilet so he could use it. DH finally came Out of the FOG when this behavior started towards me.

Well, MIL has cancer, and we have everyone coming out of the woodwork trying to get us to talk to them again. Most conversations have actually gone well once people heard our side of the story, and the people who initially were trying to get us to talk to them again then started sharing stories of times they felt uncomfortable around my in-laws, and stopped trying to pressure us. But last night, DH's aunt (sister of FIL) called him, and started out by berating him for not calling enough (he put the phone on speaker). I was so proud of him for calling her out immediately on that saying "the phone works both ways". She started the pitch of "you'll have regrets" and "your mother is dying, why can't you just forget about everything and talk to her!", and he politely started to explain that their behavior toward me was unacceptable. She interrupted him saying that I said he grabbed me and it wasn't that bad, which just triggered my rage, and I started yelling at her that I never said that, FIL hit me, and even if he did only grab me it's still assault. I screamed at her that I ended up in the hospital and out of work, and how dare she say it wasn't that bad.  She tried yelling over me that she didn't know (which is fair, she didn't know the extent of it), but then kept going back and forth between "I knew nothing of this situation!" to "He only grabbed you though!" and I basically ended up calling her a liar for saying she knew parts of it and then claiming she knew nothing about it. She also started trying to talk about how my medical conditions that I had shared with her shouldn't have warranted me ending up in the hospital (she is NOT a medical professional in any capacity, so I saw red at that claim). I admit, it got ugly, and I'm not proud of myself for screaming at her, but I wasn't having any of the gaslighting. I finally walked away to calm down, all the while my DH is sitting on the floor with the phone next to him and his head in his hands, unsure of how to handle this.

He finally did say very calmly that she did claim to have some knowledge of this, so it wasn't fair of her to claim she knew nothing about the situation at all. He then started trying to explain his view again that he tried to set boundaries with them and asked for a sincere apology, which was only met with more abuse from them. At this point she was asking questions about some of the things I claimed while screaming at her, and I had taken a few deep breaths and calmed down enough to answer politely. I did apologize to her for losing my temper, and calmly answered her questions. She then launched into a tirade about how she never liked my MIL, how my MIL has cheated on my FIL and has done terrible things to him, how she didn't want my FIL to marry her, and was still supportive because "that's how family is". She then started sobbing about how MIL may only have a month to live. Somehow, it felt like an act considering she was just talking about terrible this woman was to her brother while sobbing about her possibly dying. After she calmed down a little, she lectured us that everyone is human and makes mistakes, no one is perfect, and sometimes you just have to be the bigger person. I still was having none of it and calmly but firmly told her "well if it's that serious they can reach out to us too". She went silent and basically got off the phone at that point.

I don't feel good about the fact that I lost my temper last night, but I don't think that any of the things I said were wrong. DH acknowledged to me afterward that she was doing a lot of victim blaming and how he even had to call her out on her behavior a few times on that call. DH saying that certainly helped calm me down. He did also say he has a feeling that there will be aftermath from me losing my temper, that his aunt will twist my words to further make me a black sheep of the family, and that there was probably irreversible damage done to the relationship after that phone call. Amazingly, he did acknowledge that there may not have been a great relationship there to begin with (basically saying his aunt is two faced). I have such mixed feelings on the whole thing. I feel nothing toward his family anymore. I feel guilty because I feel nothing. I feel guilty for having a role in getting my DH Out of the FOG, and I feel guilty for having a hand in tearing this family apart. I feel guilty for causing my husband to be stressed. I feel guilty for not wanting anything to do with my in laws, but I also don't see how we could ever have a relationship at this point. If I had had a good relationship with them, I would be cooking and baking things and offering help for my MIL with whatever she needed. And I feel guilty that I have no desire to be that kind helpful person for her. From what I do know secondhand, it does sound pretty serious (the cancer has spread throughout her body, and she apparently had an allergic reaction to chemo). So I am also wrestling with whether or not I would even go to the funeral.

If you made it this far, thanks. I just needed somewhere to vent, and maybe some support that I am not a horrible person for not wanting anything to do with these people.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 05:22:54 PM by Starboard Song »

*

Thru the Rain

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 307
Wow! What a terrible situation all around.

I think you are wise to stay away from people who physically abuse you - along with the emotional and verbal abuse.

I'm sorry about your MIL's health. Remind yourself that neither you nor your DH caused her cancer, and neither of you can cure it.

You and your DH are truly in a no-win situation. If he (or both of you) remain in contact to be there for his mother at the end of her life, he's opening both of you up to further abuse. And if he chooses to protect himself and his FOC, his extended family will "blame" him for not being there with his mother.

That's what's so maddening about disfunctional, toxic families. The damage just seems to keep on coming.

You may want to consider getting counseling for you and your DH. This is likely to be a difficult path to navigate no matter what choices you and DH make.

*

SweetTea

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 129
Please know that 99.9% of the 'irreversible' damage was done by your DH's family. Your asserting and (rightfully) defending yourself against a person butting into your personal business and bullying you is only 'damaging' (shutting down) yet another abusive relationship. Which is a good thing.

How his family perceives you is their (dysfunctional, unhappy, abusive, personality disordered) business. YOu and your DH are only responsible for your own feelings, no one else's.

This whole ugly situation with your DH's aunt exemplifies why you should not JADE (Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain) with a PD"d person or their flying monkeys. I'd personally put Aunt on the growing NC list. Future similar flying monkey attempts could be met with, "WE are sorry to hear about the cancer. Our personal lives are not up for debate or discussion." Any attempts to keep pushing could be met with, "I really must go now, thanks for calling," or "Oops, my call waiting just beeped in, gotta go."

DH's aunt sounds PD'd to me. She minimized your abuse. She attempted to manipulate your DH and yourself. Again, if permanent damage was done here, it was BY HER. You just cauterized the wound.

I am really sorry you had to endure what you did, but I'm so glad you found this forum. Please read through the toolbox if you haven't already, and keep reaching out here. It is an amazing place for validation, support, and healing.  :hug:
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 08:48:24 AM by SweetTea »
Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it. ~Ziad K. Abdelnour

*

pissedresistor

  • New Member
  • *
  • 3
Thank you both so much. I realized I made some typos in my first post and now can't seem to go back and edit (my FIL/DH's dad is the one who would barge into the bathroom and choked DH on multiple occasions).

Anyways, your words were exactly what I needed to hear/read. I do see a counselor for this situation, but DH doesn't like to talk about it and hasn't been comfortable seeing one yet. Sometimes he says he might want to see one, so I think he is getting more comfortable with the idea, but I don't want to push him too much before he is ready to do it. He grew up with being told to keep the abuse in the family, and that no one would believe him anyways even if he did tell someone, and I think that is difficult for him to overcome. He even shared with me the other night that his father would tell him that no one had the right to insult or abuse him, except for his father. :blink: Fortunately, he does talk to my dad a lot through text (he's even told my dad that he feels more like a father to him than his father has ever been), and I know he feels comfortable talking to him about some of this, and two of his best friends are also very understanding and supportive, so at least he has support other than me in his life.

The more I reflect on this situation, the more that I agree that his aunt is also probably disordered too, but is just less physically abusive than her brother. DH's grandmother lives with his aunt (mother of aunt and FIL), and as far as I can tell does not seem to be disordered and is very sweet and kind (I have had many interactions with her; as many as DH's aunt, so I would think something would have come up as a red flag by now). And somehow I get paranoid thinking that the kindness is an act too if both of her children are disordered, and how could she not know that they are abusive; so I wrestle with thoughts of cutting contact with her too. Whether or not I should feel any guilt or remorse for cutting her off too. I never met DH's grandfather; he passed when DH was a kid, so I'm not sure if he played a role in PDaunt and FIL's abusive tendencies.

I think in general I struggle with my feelings with all of this because I strive to be a good person, but I don't feel like a good person while dealing with this family and standing up for myself and my husband. I do try to remind myself of how far DH has come, especially learning what normal, healthy boundaries are and how to set them from me and my family. He has also witnessed me get into an argument with my aunt that ended up being a complete miscommunication and was worked out within a few minutes, with no yelling, name calling, or toxic behavior. He even commented on the amazing differences in our families on how conflict resolution occurs. My SIL has also been a target of abuse from my in-laws, and DH has given her advice that he wouldn't even listen to himself before about setting boundaries and how she did nothing wrong. Knowing that I helped DH, and now SIL too, helps me feel better, even when I don't feel good about having to stand up for myself. 

*

qcdlvl

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 149
I think the appropriate thing to do after your FIL attacked you would've been to go to the police to file assault charges, and to get a restraining order. It was way more than NC-worthy, and I definitely don't think you overrreacted.
Since your AIL seems to have concluded you were to blame before even hearing your side of the story, it's plain she's going to side with your FIL no matter what the facts of the case are. That, and her gaslighting and lying show the truth matters not at all to her. In the grand scheme of things, your losing your temper was a trivial thing compared to the shenanigans some of your ILs are pulling. I'd add her to the NC list, and my suggestion for reploies to any future FMs you may encounter is:

"Since you have made up your mind before even listening to what I have to say, then I'm not interested in what you have to say on this matter."

or

"Before I answer, I want to know what FIL said when you told him assaulting people is wrong and that he should apologize and not do it again." (obviously a FM wouldn't say this to the abuse, but that's the whole point - to rip off the mask of being a neutral, well-meaning party instead of an enabler of an abuser)

or

"My protecting myself from violent people is not up for discussion." (any re-writing of history as to that it wasn't so bad can be met with the first response above, and any sob stories about how someone treated her worse but still forgave them, kept them in her life, etc, can be met with "Just because you let yourself be abused, does not mean I have to make the same choice.")