Navigating MIL & BIL

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sparrow2

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Navigating MIL & BIL
« on: February 02, 2020, 01:38:10 PM »
I joined this forum 4 years ago after I married an abusive BPD man. We divorced the same year and I even gave him chances afterwards but I finally and safely made it out, with closure. I went to therapy, I became a psychiatric nurse. I ended up dating a man from church and we married a few months ago. Heís a good person, calm and sane. I have healthy and safe relationships with my FOO, my child and my husband, my friends and coworkers. Iíve worked hard on codependency issues, going NC with toxic people, and I have ironclad professional boundaries. I feel Iím in a good place! But my new MIL & BIL are challenging. My husband is so much his father (who is kind and has a lovely wife), and my BIL is his mother (definitely PD, high drama, and they donít like me). My gut reaction is just run! NC!! But of course I have my DH to consider. So what reasonable steps are between their initial offenses and nastiness and NC?

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Nomoreblind

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Re: Navigating MIL & BIL
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2020, 07:14:57 AM »
Hello.

 I would say keep your distance from MIL & BIL.  Don't receive them in your house, meals gathering at restaurants.  They make conversation, don't give your opinion.  Anything you say or do will be used against you.  Usually only PDs opinions are valid in their head. 

Do not let them get close to your friends or family, they will end up using these people as flying monkeys amunition.  It is their birthdays or whatever, let your H go and be busy. 

Definitely keep your child  away as well.  If you get a chance to leave far from them, jump on that opportunity.  They may use children as an entry way to intrusion into their adult children's private life.  Excuse: They miss the grand kids etc, they love their grand kids but can't care less about bringing chaos to the said kids' patents marital life. 

If they start creating drama, don't make the mistake of showing weakness at the beginning, they will think you are a doormat.  Find that balance between reacting and putting your foot down.  If you react with anger, they victimise themselves in the eyes of their children, your spouse in that case.  If you are firm, just say no to what you don't feel comfortable with, without explaining, defending, like a child, as you do not owe them explanations, it sets the tone for the future.

Avoid being too much in their presence, that way they  can't know you well.  If H says, oh let's go and meet with them from the beginning, just say I love you, but I think I will enjoy my time better doing other things.  Set the expectations right from the beginning. Otherwise, such people become more demanding as time goes by.

Repeat to yourself you do not care about their nonsense, they get high by putting others down, so it is sick.  Take care

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Bloomie

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Re: Navigating MIL & BIL
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2020, 11:36:58 AM »
sparrow2 - most importantly how wonderful this update that you have built a new and beautiful life!  Have a career you love, have done your healing work and have a happy marriage with a great man and your precious child! Yee Haw!!

What I wish I had known when first realizing that there was a lot of angst, drama, and issues with my new mil's and sil's behaviors is to not engage on anything below a surface level and from the position of my DH's wife. Cool, polite, kind, neutrality only and strategic participation in anything involving their lives.

Ironclad boundaries that include adjusting my wrong thinking that these people were my 'family' too and that my level of relational investment and contact would be equal to my DH's. :no:
"If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow." Dr. Caroline Leaf

Bloomie 🌸

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sparrow2

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Re: Navigating MIL & BIL
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2020, 01:58:12 PM »
Thank you both for the advice!

MIL is seriously mentally ill. She can barely function with her level of anxiety, it's a wonder she holds her job, and I used to let her vent to me and suggest resources for her but she prefers to be the victim and stay panicking (there is nothing to panic about). She doesn't like me mainly because I left her church when it was becoming cult-like and my husband followed (we attend a new one); she has turned it into something catastrophic where she blames me for estranging her and DH whom she used almost as her surrogate husband before me. I helped him implement healthy boundaries- he feels better but she can't stand it. I now have no contact with her outside of a "hello how's it going? nice, take care" if she stops by to see him. I clarified before we married that she would not be babysitting current or future children. DH loves his mother but he is exacerbated by her calling him ranting and complaining about the same things every single day.

We told my family when we decided to marry and they helped with the wedding. He chose to mail his family wedding invitations a few weeks prior without having a conversation with them beforehand because of their proclivity for drama and non-support of our relationship. They attended but wouldn't speak to me and acted sour the entire time (BIL was making rude comments my family overheard as well). BIL and his girlfriend continued to ignore me after that (we see them at church), and then one day they came up to hug me. It was really awkward, I did not hug back and I sent them a message afterwards stating that I wouldn't pretend nothing had happened and that I expected an apology from each of them for their behavior at our wedding. He said he didn't owe me an apology, said some rude things, that he was ending the conversation and then "love your neighbor as yourself". I said OK, DH can have his own relationships but I have my own boundaries, I can love some people better from a distance, so take care. So BIL/his GF and I are NC at this point, and they are not welcome at our house, but DH still speaks to him. BIL is trying to recruit people to intervene on his behalf, and will go through that trouble but won't just apologize to me.

I would like to be permanently NC with BIL/his GF and MIL because they're all awful and I don't remotely believe they'll change, but I feel obligated to DH to go through appropriate steps or whatnot.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2020, 02:01:09 PM by sparrow2 »

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Bloomie

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Re: Navigating MIL & BIL
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2020, 11:34:30 AM »
sparrow2 - you seem wise and way ahead of the game with boundaries around your safety zone - your home. :applause: I am embarrassed to tell you how many decades that important boundary took me to set.  :blush:

Maybe the most central thing for me with all of the toxic behaviors became - they drain my battery. My energy and focus need to be available for my FOC, career, trusted friends and actual life. I need to be the best possible version of myself for the people I love who are reliable, counting on me, engage in mutually respectful relationships.

Real issues face us every single day that we are dealing with aside from all of this with toxic family members and the cost that the oppositional, passive aggressive, outright aggressive way of life that is the 'norm' in my in law family was demanding more than I had to pay.

I want to recommend a really helpful book that a hero member all4peace shared awhile back that has been so validating for me (it is faith based): When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People, by Gary Thomas.

No, your bil will most likely never apologize and put himself in a step down position to you. It is confounding and inexplicable until we begin to understand that some people love to hate. This is part of what Thomas shares and is something important to try and understand:

Quote from: Gary Thomas
A seared conscience does not respond with mercy to a cry for help, nor is it stopped by the threat of shame. This is important. If you apply "normal" methods of resolving conflict with a toxic person, they won't work. Toxic people don't respond to empathy, and they are not afraid of shame. They have different motivations and different fears than "average" people.... toxic people immunize themselves against shame with malice, arrogance, and mockery. - When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People, by Gary Thomas, page 50.

More helpful insights around the work of shame in our lives from Karla McLaren:

Quote from: Karla McLaren
Shame is the natural emotional consequence of guilt and wrongdoing. When your healthy shame is welcome in your psyche, its powerful heat and intensity will restore your boundaries when youíve broken them yourself. However, most of us donít welcome shame into our lives; we obscure it by saying ďI feel guiltyĒ instead of ďI feel ashamed,Ē which speaks volumes about our current inability to identify and acknowledge our guilt, channel our appropriate shame, and make amends. - blog post: https://karlamclaren.com/embracing-guilt-and-shame/

and this from McLaren in particular seems appropriate to what you are possibly dealing with in your bil:

Quote
To be shameless means to be senseless, uncouth, and impudent. Itís a very marked state of being out of control, out of touch, and exceedingly self-absorbed; therefore, shamelessness lives only in people who donít have any relational skills....

Guilt is a factual state; shame is an emotion.

Admitting guilt... that they are guilty of offense is where things seem to most often get stuck when trying to resolve the hurtful situations with my own in laws. Hence, the refusal to apologize and make amends and lack of discernible regret or healthy, self limiting shame around their choices that have brought great pain and angst, embarrassment and disconnection into our relationship.

I am thankful you have distanced yourself from this and are taking some time to really figure out what is healthy and wise for your life in terms of contact going forward. Strength to you as you find your way! This is really challenging stuff.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2020, 11:44:05 AM by Bloomie »
"If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow." Dr. Caroline Leaf

Bloomie 🌸

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all4peace

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Re: Navigating MIL & BIL
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2020, 11:53:17 AM »
Ironclad boundaries that include adjusting my wrong thinking that these people were my 'family' too and that my level of relational investment and contact would be equal to my DH's. :no:
I also made this grave mistake. I so desperately wanted a family and thought if I tried hard enough and long enough I would finally get the love I didn't realize I was seeking.

What I personally wish I would have done is
1. Stand up clearly and vocally when necessary, clearly stating boundaries (once) and maintaining them.
2. Find a distance in which there could be some contact but not enough to do significant damage to me, my children, my husband or marriage.

What I did instead is keep moving closer, trying harder. By the time I went to counseling to get permission from a therapist to step back and have boundaries, I was an anxious wreck.

You get to be you. You get to have whatever boundaries are necessary to maintain YOU--your health, your sense of safety, your values, your preferences. They may not like it and that simply isn't relevant. They get to be them, even if being THEM is really disliking how you do you.

It doesn't really matter how they misquote scripture to try to shame you, although I can very much imagine how upsetting that could be. That's their distorted view of life and Christianity. They don't get to put their values and beliefs onto you, which is a very basic boundary violation.

I appreciated this recent podcast on boundaries by an expert on boundaries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv6Hyfjxc2s

I second the book that Bloomie mentioned, since you seem to be speaking from a faith perspective--When to Walk Away. For me, it was vital to realize that I'm not walking away because the "other" is terrible, but because I have a purpose here in life and my purposes are greatly impeded when I use up insane amts of energy trying  to navigate relationships with people who are unwilling or unable to be basically decent, honest, kind and supportive.

My best to you!
« Last Edit: February 06, 2020, 12:50:17 PM by all4peace »

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sparrow2

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Re: Navigating MIL & BIL
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2020, 12:34:35 PM »
Thanks you two!! That is so how I feel as well. I go to work, in a psychiatric facility that provides acute stabilization, and I help in a professional capacity with patients who are in crisis. I can only contribute therapeutically at work because I do not take any of this home! If I had to let this all invade my sacred home life, I would have nothing to give at work. Iíll check out that book.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2020, 12:36:54 PM by sparrow2 »