Releasing the past in order to find myself

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Email Games with NM

So, not fully on purpose, I've been really distancing myself from my NM on the phone.  Luckily, I've had a lot of "excuses" to keep me from fully sending up her radar.  But I know it's wearing thin.  I can only imagine what is going on in her little head, and I'm trying my damnedest to not think about it.  I've only really talked to her four or five times since February, which has been such a nice, centering break.  Her calls always break me down, always go on forever, are depressing, and impossible to get off of.  She always has one more thing to say.......and on and on and on.
Anyway, I've been sending token email messages to maintain my front.  Not because I'm trying to be deceptive.  Mainly because I just don't have the energy or the strength to deal with her anger.  So, I've been throwing out little lifelines in order to protect myself (and my cover).
Yesterday, I sent her an email starting with some general pleasantries, explained that me and the kids, and now husband, have had ANOTHER horrendous cold (which is true), I've been behind on the housework/chores and so between resting and taking care of everyone I've been trying to catch up on stuff.  Finished it up with a few remarks about her upcoming trip to see my sister (as she has been laying that out there.).  Short and (sort of) sweet.
Last night, I received three separate messages (full of her damned '...'s -ellipses I now know- over 75 when I quit counting).  The majority of the messages described how sick everyone she knows is.  So and so called 911, so and so called in sick, I can't walk to my car without struggling to breathe.  One tiny sentence about me and my family being sick.  Then, a lot of details about her upcoming trip.  Many of the details she's related to me several times already.  A bit about NSister being glad Estep-dad is coming.  Well, of course she is.  EStep-dad diminishes her effect.  ESD requires a hotel.  ESD can take the brunt of her crap and anger.  I bet she was glad.
Today, I got a new email telling me she had time off next week and wanted to come down to "help me out".  WTF is that?  So, the only way to read my email is that I'm helpless and pathetic and she'll come down and help poor Jessie out?  Yeah, it's been a sucky couple of months, but I'm perfectly capable of helping myself. And note, she didn't ask HOW she could help me or if I needed anything, just offered to come and RESCUE ME.  Again, with extending "niceties" to look like the good mom, the good parent, and all the while, slinging insults at me under the table.  Plus, she uses it as an opportunity to strong arm me into seeing me.  I don't want to see her right now.  I actually have plans to head in her direction later the summer (to see my grandparents mainly) but like hell I would tell her that ahead of time.  So, she thinks this'll be the perfect opportunity to see us.  Maintain her little "six week" schedule.
The nice part of emails is that I can take a moment to collect myself.  At first, when I read the email, my stomach dropped.  I felt like a trapped animal, like I always do when NMIL or NM announce they are coming.  My fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in and I'm looking for a way out.  All adrenaline and panic. The guilt ran rampant and I felt an overwhelming need to answer immediately.  Offer up a negotiation.  But I didn't.  I went back to the email later and said "sorry it won't work out.  We won't be here."  Enough said.  Phew.  I don't feel strong, or confident, or really even good about the situation.  But I don't feel like a cornered animal.


  1. "when I read the email, my stomach dropped. I felt like a trapped animal, like I always do when NMIL or NM announce they are coming. My fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in and I'm looking for a way out. All adrenaline and panic. The guilt ran rampant and I felt an overwhelming need to answer immediately." That is so how I feel too when my parents mention that they're thinking of coming over. I hate the "cornered animal" feeling. Did you know that if an animal is cornered, its adrenal glands become depleted in a very short time? No wonder we get all these allergies.
    I thought it was quite telling that your mother didn't ask you if you needed any help, to me it sounds like an excuse to invite herself in. Your reply is very good. It'll be interesting to see what she comes back with.
    After my own email games with father and brother, I didn't feel very strong or confident either but, like you said, I didn't feel like a cornered animal. So that's progress, isn't it?

    1. I sure hope it's progress Kara! Somedays are just harder than others, and that can seem so exhausting to play all her little games. I hate that I always have to be so 'on guard'. Makes me feel phony and disingenuous. Unfortunately, being forthright and open with her is just not an option, as she will use whatever she can to gain advantage.
      You are exactly right about "an excuse to invite herself in". That is exactly what it is, along with a veiled insult about my inability to handle things on my own. She is so desperate to be needed that she has to project that I can't make it without her, which is so degrading and insulting. She has a habit (with me and sister) of undervaluing us in a need to make herself feel good. But all it does is tell us that our own mother doesn't have any faith in us. I'm not above accepting help, but I'm not this pathetic creature who needs my mommy to rescue me every time something is difficult.
      Those adrenal glands! Again, interesting fact how it all works together. An osteopath once recommended ashwagandha root extract to help with my adrenals....I really must look into that.

  2. That's one of the good things about writing emails - that you have time to step back and think (or not think at all in my case) and plan your attack. Or heck, just ignore it completely.

    1. Yes, I've found it to be a much needed tool in giving me space. I'm not cut off, but I have allowed myself some room to think. And yes, several times I've just ignored it completely, which felt so FREEING. To not feel compelled to always answer and take her bait.

  3. I'm wondering about the email thing. MIL lives across the street, so is it appropriate to tell her via email that she'll not be seeing the girls unless they want to see her, which will be a cold day in hell? Seems wrong somehow. Although I doubt my husband would allow that, but it would be a LOT better for him it that were the case.