MIL Moment!

So life on the Mother-in-law (MIL) front was quiet for a week or two…. She communicated mostly with my other half; sending random texts as and when suited her. Then as we approached last Thursday; the date when my MIL was due to take up the reigns again in relation to caring for of our two year old daughter while we attended a friend’s funeral; she started to send him texts that all began ‘Dear Mammahannah (but my actual real name)….’. It soon became clear that she was in fact sending him what appeared to be copies of texts that she had sent to me; except that I hadn’t received any of them! The texts made her sound concerned – almost – and were clearly a ploy to dupe my husband into believing that she was communicating with me in a kind, motherly sort of way.

You see my husband had spoken with his mother mid-January about her behaviour towards me – there were repeated issues of her giving me the silent treatment after I’d raised concerns about my daughter’s wellbeing whilst in her care; there were lies (and plenty of them) to absolve her of taking any sort of responsibility for her actions (or lack of them); she didn’t adhere to the boundaries my husband and I had set, then made me her public enemy number one for having tried to set boundaries in the first place. She has even made repeated attempted to smear me to my Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-law… and then to my own parents!

My MIL has narcissistic traits and has a tendency to create misery and chaos for my little family… in fact scratch that… for ME!

Little did I know when I met my then husband-to-be in 2008, that I’d ran right into the line of sight of the Matriarch from Hell! The closer my other half and I became, the more this woman grew to despise me and sought to control me; making life miserable when she didn’t get things all her own way. This pattern of behaviour has continued for close to 8 years; progressively escalating until it reached an explosive climax last week.

I want and deserve a peaceful life with my own little family, and I am dog-tired of the barbed and loaded comments, and vile behaviour. It’s safe to say that I no longer want anything to do with my narcissistic MIL. In fact her behaviour on Thursday only served to confirm that she has more issues than the local tabloid newspaper! Here are some of the most prominent issues that presented themselves during our altercation…

  1. Psychological projection (blame shifting) – this is a theory in psychology in which individuals defend themselves against their own unpleasant impulses by denying their existence whilst attributing them to others. Narcissists, including my MIL, are experts in projection. People in general find her rude (including me), but she constantly accuses other people – neighbours, friends, acquaintances, ME – of being rude to her! Her most recent claim is that ALL my text messages to her rude and insulting; despite the fact I rarely text her without running my messages past either my husband or parents prior to sending them on to her (and they wouldn’t let me send anything that was rude!!). In actual fact, her behaviour in response to my texts is rude (particularly in relation to texts concerning my daughter; her granddaughter) – she rarely responds, and when she does she is typically curt, evasive or argumentative.
  2. Refusing to accept responsibility – It is never my MIL’s fault… and I mean NEVER!!!! If caught doing something insensitive or selfish, my MIL will tell us that she had to do it because of someone or something else. For instance; we had asked my MIL not to throw out any uneaten or partially eaten food from my daughter’s lunch bag (when she looks after her on Thursdays); to enable us to see what foods our daughter is/isn’t eating, and to allow us to plan lunch for the following the week. My MIL knowingly went against our wishes, and put the contents of my daughters lunch bag in a supermarket rubbish bin, but rather than accept responsibility for her actions, she blamed my Father-in-Law. When my husband and I implied that this was something that was her responsibility, she more-or-less told us that she didn’t care!
  3. Lies! Lies! Lies! – Narcissists lie to make themselves look good. They lie to get out of emotional responsibility; they lie to manipulate; and they lie to gain influence. And my MIL is no exception!! Life is very much a game to my MIL, and one that she has to think she is winning! An example of my MIL’s most recent lie is when she maintained that she had changed my daughter’s nappy just before my husband came from work, when in actual fact her nappy was completely saturated with urine and had even soaked through to her leggings (leaving a giant wet patch). Hence, even though there was physical evidence to suggest otherwise, she continued with the lie. Simply put, honesty compromises my MIL’s powerful persona, and there is no way she’s going to let that happen.
  4. Two faced & vindictive – Yes my MIL has more faces than the town clock! To me she is spiteful and vindictive because I have sought to challenge her, and request from her healthy boundaries and honesty. Even though I’m currently 7 months pregnant she takes great pleasure in behaving in a way that she knows will cause me stress. Narcissists are experts at sussing out psychological ‘weak spots’, hence it is no surprise that my MIL uses my pregnant vulnerability against me. However, to my husband she is the picture of innocence and compassion. For instance, during our spat last week, she maintained that ‘I don’t want to be the one who causes any stress….’, yet when my husband’s back was turned she pulled a face that I can only describe as pure evil!

As I have said before, I will not apologise for my lack of objectivity when it comes to my MIL. She is the bain of my life; a source of complete and utter toxicity who has caused a lot of stress and distress. And her behaviour last week was the final straw! After careful consideration I have now embarked on a low-to-no contact regimen which will hopefully alleviate some of the psychological trauma she has inflicted over recent weeks. My husband is still free to visit and contact his Mother, and he is welcome to supervise her contact with our children, but for me, certainly whilst I’m pregnant, my journey is done.

I know it’s not going to be an easy road – low-to-no contact is not for wimps – and there may be bumps along the way, but I’ll deal with those as, when and if they happen. For now I finally feel like I’m free to be me again….

Do you have a narcissistic MIL, parent or family member? I’d love to hear from you if you do!

MIL Moment!

So I had hoped to have a relaxing weekend, without any upset or drama. Unfortunately that was wishful thinking on my part. You see, I have a narcissistic mother-in-law, who is the single most disagreeable and difficult person I have ever come to meet.

I have started to write the odd post about life with a narcissistic MIL. Okay, okay so for the past three weeks running I’ve posted consistently about my MIL, but that’s only because her behaviour has escalated to a point that I can no longer keep my feelings to myself; and to dump it all on my husband would be a quick fire route to the divorce courts. He is unfortunately only in the early stages of coming terms with his mother’s dysfunctional behaviour traits, having been subjected to them all his life and therefore not recognising them as anything other than normal. It’s only recently, when sat in the same room as his mother while she verbally assassinated my character, that he sat up and took notice.

My husband spent Thursday night (just gone) at his parent’s house, trying to discuss ‘issues’ with his Mother that crop up consistently in our lives. He returned home completely exhausted, having tried his best to effectively communicate with a woman whose communication skills are generally confusing, unclear and for the most part unreasonable.

But what makes communication with NPD individuals so difficult? In my career as a Mental Health Professional I have observed patterns of behaviour in adults with personality disorders that definitely serve to complicate communication, but no-one has explained these behaviour better than fellow blogger ‘Fierce Cork Woman’ in her blog Narcissistic MIL.  Indeed, her post ‘Communication Problems 1’ gives a wonderful, evidence-based insight into the what’s and whys of the common communicaton pitfalls when dealing with NPD individuals. She talks about Triangulation, Proxy Recruitment, Mind-Reading, Indirect Speech, Ambiguity and Unique Vocabulary; all of which I’ve tried to summarise and relate to my own MIL’s behaviours.

Triangulation
The person uses a third party to find out information about someone. My MIL is an expert at this; regularly contacting my sister-in-law (SIL) to talk about something that she wants us to know about. And relying on my SIL to relay the conversation or message when my SIL speaks to us.

Proxy Recruitment
This is similar to Triangulation as it still uses a third party to convey a message, however it is a more deliberate, manipulative strategy. Now the third person is recruited to act as an advocate by the NPD person. A prime example of this was on New Year’s Eve when my MIL decided to call up my SIL to tell her that she wasn’t happy that she wouldn’t be seeing us on New Year’s day (despite us having other longstanding plans). My SIL was then encouraged to share my MIL’s disapproval with us via text, which she duly did!

Mind-Reading
Expecting people to know things without being told. My MIL expects us to know most things, without her telling us. She was unhappy about her last birthday present because we hadn’t bought her what she wanted; except that she hadn’t actually told us what she wanted! Many people with NPD hold thoughts that are so strong that they believe other people, somehow must know what they are too!

Ambiguity
This involves not specifying details in a conversation, and leaving other feeling confused as to who or what is being alluded to. My MIL often uses this behaviour to avoid having to take responsibility for something; incorporating pregnant pauses, knowing looks and a plethora of non-verbal cues into conversations. She also makes use of the word ‘thingy-ma-jig’ just to confuse matters further.

Indirect Speech
Instead of using first person vocabulary, the person with NPD employs use of third person vocabulary during conversations. For example; Instead of saying “I’d like to go to the garden centre today” they will say “Perhaps everyone would like to go to the garden centre today…” where it is unclear of this is the persons actual wish, or whether they are hypothesising the wishes of others.

Unique Vocabulary
This involves the NPD person having their own unique use for common words, which mean something totally different to the universal meaning of the word. My MIL uses the phrase ‘just now’ to mean that she will do or attend to something later, or in the near future; whereas the common definition of ‘just now’ is to do something in the moment, or a little while ago. As you can imagine this has caused a great of confusion within my wider family; something that only serves to delight my MIL further!

A few weeks ago I was asked by another individual, also suffering at the hands of a MIL who exhibits strong NPD traits, how I knew so much about coping with NPD. Yes, I’ve worked in the field of mental health for a number of years, which serves as a good knowledge base for understanding NPD, but the truth is that most of what I have learned has been from reading about it! Books and Blogs are two sources I’d credit – books (non-fiction, textbook) because they tend to be factual and evidence based, and blogs because they outline the personal experiences of other people with similar predicaments. There is no better way to learn than from the experiences of others, especially the negative bits!

Unfortunately, when it comes to my MIL, no amount of reading or professional experience can instil objectivity in me. This woman meddles in my life; causing chaos and disruption to my little family on a seismic scale, on an all too regular basis! Hence if you’re expecting objectivity, you’re in the wrong place! When I post a ‘MIL Moment’ it will be because I have reason to get something off my chest. I may be brutal and to the point (no beating about the bush for me) but I can assure you that I will also be brutally honest! It is my hope that my experiences may even help some of you in dealing with your own narcissistic family members too.

I’d love to hear about your ‘MIL Moments’ – please feel free to rant, vent or share your experiences in the comments.

A ‘Festive’ MIL Moment!

It’s been a while since I last posted here…. bloomin’ ages in fact! I don’t really have an excuse for my lack of attention, save to say that I have been exceptionally busy being a full-time working mum to two children (soon to be three!). I’ve also been trying to be a thyroid warrior; helping to raise awareness of thyroid disease via Twitter (@butterflyjourn1) and my other blog abutterflyjournal.wordpress.com As many of you might recall I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism following the birth of my youngest daughter in October 2013. It was supposed to be post-partum and temporary, but unfortunately my body’s antibodies had other ideas and did a fantastic job of killing-off my thyroid gland completely. Being hypothyroid brings with it a whole host of unseen complications, that can make life more difficult. This is particularly so now that I am pregnant again. After a full-day at the office I have just about enough energy to cook a meal for my brood and then it’s off to bed for me! I’m exhausted like I’ve never been exhausted before. It is most definitely an inconvenience, but thankfully I have a wonderful husband who is able to pick up the slack when I’m struggling….

If I’m honest, I’ve struggled through the festive season. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas was lovely; a true family affair at my parent’s home in Scotland, and a few days where I could relax and put my feet up. The Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) I’ve been experiencing almost melted away into oblivion thanks to the support of my parents who took a really active role in helping to look after my youngest daughter, letting me get some much needed rest. New year, however, I could have seen that far enough! That’s when my mother-in-law (MIL) chose to release the narcissistic monster within… I received a solitary voice mail on Hogmanay (a Scottish term for New Years Eve) from my MIL, expressing her dissatisfaction at being unable to contact my husband or I. She indicated that she had tried ‘repeatedly’ to call us for two days, despite there being absolutely no missed calls on our land line or mobile phones. She expressed the assumption that she would see us on New Year’s Day and demanded that I call her back immediately! I didn’t… I’ve learned from experience that when my MIL is enraged it is not worth trying to hold a civil conversation with her. And so I sent her a text. It may not be the best way to communicate, but I figured that absolutely no communication at all would only make matters worse. I explained that we had long standing plans that evening to attend a party being hosted by our friends and reminded her (as it had already been previously discussed) that we planned to see my Sister and Brother-in-Law on New Year’s Day. I indicated that we would see her very soon to catch up, and I heard nothing more… from her anyway.

I’ve also learned that my MIL’s silence is very telling. When she is quiet, she is sulking; very much like a petulant child. It’s her default response to not getting her own way. But while she is sulking with me, she will play a very different game with other members of my husband’s family. Typically, this will involve calling my Husband’s Brother and Sister-in-Law, and spinning an elaborate yarn about how awful I’ve been to her (usually because we’ve said no to one of her demands). This occasion was no exception! Within half an hour of my text to my MIL I’d received a text from my SIL, asking if we’d seen my MIL over the festive period? And if not, why not? This is despite our plans – Christmas with my parents and New Year with friends and my Sister – being made clear to all of my husband’s family early on in December.

This was followed by further texts from my SIL telling me how down-in-the-dumps and depressed my MIL is; how sorry she feels for her, and that we should be looking after family in need! This alleged low-mood and depression was news to us. Not once had my MIL mentioned it to my husband or me, and she sees us most weeks. A coincidental contact from my SIL? Probably not! And the emotional stuff, well, it worked! My husband attempted to call his mother on New Year’s Eve to check that she was ok… But she refused to talk to him (yet another one of her games!) And on New Year’s Day there was yet more silence, which only served to upset my husband further, and in turn caused a great deal of ill-feeling between us.

Whether it is because I am pregnant, in physical pain with my pelvis, and feeling emotional at the mo, I’m not sure, but my MIL’s behaviour really got to me. And I mean really…. I felt STRESSED up to my eye balls! Yes there have been far worse ‘incidents’, but my usual resilience that helps me cope, just wasn’t there! I never want to feel that way again – it’s not good for my health (stress makes the symptoms of thyroid disorders worse) and its certainly not good for the baby I’m carrying!

My MIL is obviously not concerned with my wellbeing, so I have to be! Hence, I’ve decided that for the foreseeable future I am going to keep my husband’s mother at arm’s length! Her behaviour at New Year only served to reinforce that she is chronically jealous of our little functional family unit. Eight years I’ve put up with her chaotic behaviour , but no more!

Do you have a NPDMIL? Please feel free to leave your ‘MIL moments’ in the comments section – I’d love to hear from you!

Take Care x