Releasing the past in order to find myself

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Another Long Weekend

When my mother came for my son's birthday in May, it ended horribly.  She picked fights with me until I final stood up to her and stopped her.   I told her that if she wanted any kind of relationship with me, she needed to stop condescending me and treat me as an adult.  She even tried to rope my husband into the situation, telling him (after I left the room but could still her here) that what I was "doing wasn't right".  I'm assuming "what (I) was doing" was being NC with my sister and that most of the reason she was picking the fight with me was so that she could yell at me about being NC with my (forever-in-chaos) sister.  I'm not so sure she really cares that I'm NC with my sister, other than dealing with my sisters drama falls mostly on her.  Oh, and it looks bad.  Oh, and it probably leaves her at a disadvantage when trying to triangulate.  Among other things.
After she left, she "reached out" to me several times trying to get me to mend the relationship to "what it used to be".  (She clearly is trying to label our relationship as good "before", but she knows damn well, it's never been good.  I just kept myself quite and never fought back, so it was "good" for her.  Not me.)  I finally responded that our relationship needed some serious work and that it would take time and effort.  She agreed.  And then I didn't hear from her again for three months (except once, when she caught wind that I was on vacation and demanded to know where I was).  She started playing games again with me about a month ago.  NM is a very tit for tat kind of person, so because she believes I am withholding or ignoring her or not "reaching out", she behaves the same way to me.  So, she would ask me questions and then not respond for awhile.  She pulled out a fabricated story that she uses every. single. time, she comes to visit.  She demands to know what the plans are, as she claims that work is "so busy" (and she's always about to be "let go" so she has to be careful.  She's worked for the same company for 35 years) and that "other coworkers are looking to take time off".  You'd think she'd remember the bullshit she tells me every time, but no.  Anyway, she went back and forth, telling me she would get a hotel (which I had hoped) but then asked at the last moment to stay here.
Now, before anyone criticizes, I know, I know.  I know that was a bad decision to allow her here.  I know I should (probably) be NC.  I know all of the things I should be doing.  However, I did it because my kids already know something is up.  They also know that grandma has been less than welcome and we've had very limited contact.  They have been upset by this.  They also miss my step father, who is (mostly) a very nice man and grandfather to them.   I feel that I have gone into extreme LC with her and that I could handle a day and a half of her being here, especially with SD (step dad) here (he tends to keep her in check a bit.  One of the problems with the last trip was that he didn't come.  So, she got drunk and started picking fights.  Also, my husband does not want to go NC, with either my FOO or his NFOO.  He feels my kids will resent not having grandparents and I struggle with that thought.

I have done a lot of work and I did feel a whole lot less anxious about the whole thing (in addition to NM, I also have to deal with NMIL during this weekend.  She also likes to stir up drama.  I also have a SIL who likes to create drama too and always "complicates" the birthday parties.  She is always late, or doesn't show, or one time, stomped off in a fit because she was angry with my BIL.)  My husband's been gone a lot for work and life has been hectic, and so I was surprised at how calm I was remaining.

And then, NM showed up over an hour earlier than she normally would.  And the weekend started.  So, here are some highlights:

*As I said, she should up early.  This is typical NM, to try and throw me off balance.  I've had her sneak around my home and knock on my living room windows (as I was nursing my baby-openly- and with SD in tow) in order to "surprise me".  She thinks it's funny to throw people curve balls and laughs gleefully.  She knows my son doesn't get home from school until later in the afternoon and my husband works, but she showed up at 3:30.  I was not done cleaning (and was upset) so I said a breezy hello and said "oops!  I was just finishing vacuuming! I'll be with you in a minute."  I hadn't had a chance to get my son settled from school, I hadn't had a moment to do some calming exercises, like I'd hoped.  And I know she did it on purpose.  She always at least calls when she gets into town, but not this time.  So, it doesn't start well.

* I continue vacuuming, calming myself and regrouping.  When I go to say hello (she and SD huddled back into my kids rooms, which I wasn't happy about.  I had also hoped to have my son straighten his room after school, but no such luck.)  she was gone.  It had been, maybe, 10 minutes.  I talked briefly to stepdad, apologizing for not being ready and not expecting them early.  His reaction told me he also knew she was trying to screw with me.  (NM's vengeful side and her get-even-nature, are well known to both me and SD.)  Because I couldn't find her, I went out into the garage to go outside and gather some tarps I'd had out, but hadn't had a chance to put away.  As I came around the corner, she jumped.  There she was, on the phone.....with my sister.  I was pissed immediately.  She used to do this to me, before we went NC.  She'd have my sister on the phone as she walked in the door of my house, describing me, my home, what I had going on....before she even said hello.  She used to claim my sister was "jealous" of her spending time with me and "always" called right as she was pulling in.  I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now.  I think it is so ridiculous that she needed to be on the phone with my sister.  I'm sure she was crying about how I hadn't greeted her like she wanted.  (Also, in May when she was here, she also used this phone trick to stir up drama.  She kept jumping up to check her phone -making a big scene - or checking her iphone watch.  Then, tons of huffing and blowing and sighing.  Every time we went to do anything, there was a "sudden" emergency text.  She claimed my aunt was having some problem with my cousin and was demanding support.  I ended up peeking at her phone....which she left open to the messages....when she set it down and found out SHE was texting my aunt and asking how it was all going.  My aunt kept telling her not to worry and enjoy her weekend.)

*NM spends several minutes talking on the phone to my sister, going around the corner of the garage so I can't here her.  She then comes in, but I'm now starting to cook cupcakes (which I had needed to do and since she was busy....).  She hasn't come to say hello at all.  When I go looking for her (again, another 10 minutes later), she's got my older son outside.  I watch from the window as he tries to show her some of his soccer footwork.  She's scrolling on her fucking phone.  I'm annoyed that, this boy whom she claims is so damn important is trying to show her something and she's ignoring him.  And she's only been here 20 minutes.  So, I open the door and tell him he needs to come do his homework.  She starts paying attention.  He comes in (after smarting off.  He tends to smart off, mostly, when she is around) and I ask him who grandma was talking to (I know, I shouldn't put him in the middle, but I wanted to know if he knew).  Of course he knew.  "Auntie Drama.  (NM) said my moves were so good that she videotaped her and sent them to auntie."  Now I'm really pissed.  My sister has only marginally (at best) paid any attention to my kids.  She forgets their birthdays.  She rarely sends gifts or spent time with them before NC.  I had to take both of my kids to meet HER, not the other way around.  She is jealous of the attention they receive from me.  She is a horrible influence around them and sets bad examples (swearing profusely, drinking, complaining endlessly if she has to do too many "kid" centered thing, being vulgar and exposing them to vulgar things, along with her abusive boyfriend.  She wanted to bring her abusive boyfriend to meet me for the first time....and stay in my home for days...immediately after my C-section with my second son.  When I said no, she refused to come).  She few times she saw my kids, she paid attention to them for a limited amount of time and then grew bored and went back to drawing attention to herself.  She has never expressed any genuine interest in my kids (my youngest, 5, she's only met once at 2 months.  He was a year and a half old when I went NC).  I felt it was such a violation that NM would send a video of my kids to her.  I felt that it crossed big boundaries.  I felt that NM was placing my sister's wants over mine.  I felt she was using my son and manipulating him into thinking my sister actually gives a shit about him.  (NM wants everyone to think well of my sister).

*So, I go back to the cupcakes and son goes downstairs to play with his brother, SD, and NM.  I come down a few minutes later and she won't look at me.  She does not say hello or greet me at all.  I had tried to be friendly (but disconnected) as I came down to say hello, but she blatantly wouldn't look at me.  As I watch the game, I notice she is starting to bristle at my older son.  He used to be her "everything" but when he turned 5, she started to lash out at him.  She would do things to put him in his place and often projected negative characteristics onto him (i.e. that he was greedy, or selfish, or mean, or stubborn, or controlling, or rigid).  My son is very independent.  And he can, on occasion, be bossy.  But he's also a good leader (that is the word his teachers repeatedly use).  He is polite, but definitely doesn't allow people to walk on him.  He is not passive and a follower, which bugs the shit out of NM.  He is not obedient ("disrespectful" in her terms) and she hates that she can't control him.  So, she creates situations in which she can then chastise him for being "greedy" or "mean".  But she does it very, very covertly.  She once sent a package loaded with gifts for his little brother and light on gifts for him (after she got in trouble with me for her convincing him to keep a secret from me) and when I pointed it out that he noticed, she snorted and said "figures he'd keep track!" as if he was being petty and ungrateful.  He was 5 at the time.
Anyway, as I watch the game, she clearly has it in his mind that he's trying to win the game and is shifting things in his favor.  (She also favors my little son and so is overprotective).  In reality, he has noticed the shift of her attention and the favoritism, and he's really just trying to get her attention by winning and showing them how smart he is.  Especially since it's "his" birthday weekend (and NM had told him that little son got more attention last time, as it was his birthday) he just wanted to impress them.  But he wasn't playing outside the rules and, I felt, he was actually being pretty kind to his little brother.  But NM started snorting and implying he was cheating giving him a disdainful evil eye.  (Later, when he accused her of changing up the rules to favor his little brother, she retorted with "you're a cheater!!"  I wasn't in the immediate vicinity to intervene, but called my son to come upstairs and help me.)
It really bothers me that she sets my son up like this.  On her last day here, she came up, smuggly laughing that my son "doesn't like that I challenge his way of doing things".  Firstly, she is not "challenging" him.  She's pulling rank, as an adult, and telling him he can't do things as he sees.   She doesn't negotiate or discuss it with him, she just antagonizes him.  Her goal seems to be to "put him in his place" (she loves to put people "in their place") or "take him down a peg" (another phrase she loves).  And even if, even if, she felt his behavior was unacceptable, it is not up to HER to correct his character.  (I will add, she has something negative to say about damn near every one of her grand kids or grand nieces/nephews.  She is highly critical.  It is hard for me, as my son is a very assertive kid and her criticism stings.  But none, NONE, of his variety of teachers or coaches or friends' parents have ever characterized him in such a negative way.  Most have nothing but positive things to say about him.)  I really wish I would have said "why do you feel you need to challenge him?"  I wish I would have stood up for him.  But I didn't.  She was set to leave and wouldn't be around him much anymore (I did try and keep him distanced from her as much as possible, with lots of activities or with alone time with SD, whom my kids love to hang out with.)  I knew she was laying in wait for something to latch on to and pick a fight.  So, I bit my tongue and walked away not saying anything.
Several other times, my son came up crying.  Once, he claimed that they wouldn't let him play (she wouldn't.  When he tried to join in, she grabbed him and held him from playing.)  Another time, she changed the rules on a football game (and is an avid football fan, so she knows the rules) so that he couldn't score or make plays (she was again holding on to him).  I felt so badly for him.  But....and maybe this is horrible....but I thought they were very mild examples showing him that grandma isn't this loving, wonderful woman he convinces himself she is (he gets very upset when I explain that grandma is a bully and can be mean and that's why we don't see her as much or go visit her.  He claims he loves her and seems to forget the nasty things she does in favor of remembering the good.)  Since my DH doesn't see NC as an option, I feel that letting him see bits and pieces of her nasty side and agreeing with him that it's not right and I'm sorry that she acts like that, helps him to protect himself.  It helps him to see that, just because someone buys you off, it doesn't mean they "love" you or are "nice" to you.  But maybe I'm wrong.  I'm just trying to work with what I've got at the moment. Everyone I've talked to says that I can't "control" their relationship or his perceptions of her.  That I can't "disparage" her.  And he repeatedly gets angry with me when I've told him that I am keeping her at a distance for his own well-being because he only had the doting, "loving" grandma for so long.
I don't know, maybe I'm completely wrong.  I struggle with what to do.  In any event, my son distanced himself from her the rest of the weekend.  She tried, the last day, to say "come see me!  I haven't hardly seen you and spent any time with you!"  But by this time, he was over her (and all she wanted was to cuddle him physically, which is not something he enjoys).

*As far as my younger son (who is 5 and a lot more cuddly), she took every opportunity to cuddle him (even running up to put him back in bed over and over.  She knows I do not like this, but she did it anyway.  And by the last time, I was sick of arguing with her.  She made a big deal the next day about how she slept with him and how much that made him happy and go to sleep.  BLECH.)  She likes to put on this cartoon-ish personality around little kids.  It's not a pleasant personality, but is cloying and ridiculous.  She often likes to dance around, squeak and make little stupid noises that drive me crazy, but gets a little kids attention.  She likes to see them think she is funny and pay attention to her "performances".  It is obnoxious, at the least.  However, my son does see through her a bit and tends to stick with SD.   But she revels in any attention he gives her.

*She can't stand to be told what to do and acts like a child if I ask her to be on time for anything.  We had to be to the kids' soccer games on time and she suddenly couldn't get herself together to get in the car (despite being told what time we were leaving).  When we got there, she spends time dawdling, putting on her coat and then sllllloooowwwwly walking to the game while holding youngest's hand (I wanted to smack her).

*She basically kept her distance from me.  We both seemed to be practicing "medium chill" or "grey rock".  She only asked me ONE question about myself and that was right before she left.  She works in human resources, so she puts on her "human resources" persona around me.  When I tried to tell her bits about the vacation that she demanded to know I was on (and demanded pictures), she gave only vague, blah responses.  I could see her simmering, but she remained cool and aloof. She left without saying "I love your" or any of the other responses she usually says, which is fine with me.

*My husband got a new job.  She asked him tons of questions about it and it was clear she wanted him to like his new job.  Not for his sake, but because she thinks it's prestigious and will make him more money.  When I told her, back in May, that I was struggling and things were hard for me (as my husband was traveling a ton more and it was upsetting to the kids) she said "I'm sure, but I'm really excited for DH."  I guess her excitement trumps my struggles.  Not once, all summer, nor on this visit, did she ask how me or the kids are handling this.

*While she was here, she asked to post on photo on FB.  I said fine (she kept trying to shove all of the photos she took in my face, but I responded distantly).  She posted not one, but THREE.  She asked if she could post photos from soccer.   I said no.  I also said it's against league policy, as there are other kids there.  She said "OK" and then sent me the same photos....twice.  When I didn't respond, she made up a cloying post about "missing" the kids and posted the photos (although she did crop out the other kids, so she was "technically" following my direction.).

For my part, I felt that I handled her reasonably well.  She did not rile me up.  She did not get to me.  Sure she hurt me at times, but it didn't cut me that deeply and I was able to recover.  Anytime she tried to direct things to herself, I ignored her.  I spent a lot of time talking to SD (who was very nice).  I maintained grey rock.

But it still wore me completely out.  I've had an emotional hangover for two days now.  I am ruminating about the situation with my older son, wishing I'd said something, but not wanting to give her fuel to start an argument.  I feel very alone and without support, as my husband doesn't seem to get how difficult this is for me.  (He is very contradictory about how I should deal with difficult situations and I find that frustrating).  I am very sad and have been grieving a lot.  I'm feeling a bit depressed.  But I'm trying to find my way through it.  I don't know if any of this is progress or not.  I guess we'll see.

Friday, September 9, 2016


I'm not sure if anyone is still out there reading this blog.  I know it's been awhile.  I have still been working on dealing with my Ns, but I've needed to do some more personal work, rather than the more lengthy blog posts.
It's been 4 years since I went NC with my sister.  When she lied on FB about having cancer, I'd had enough.  I asked her to change her relationship with me.  I changed my relationship with her.  I refused to participate in the drama, the codependency, the enmeshment, and, most of all, the enmeshment.  But the merry-go-round of drama continues to go around with her.  Last year, she rushed to my grandmother's death bed to "make amends" after 15 years of estrangement.  (She N-raged against my grandmother and then blamed my grandmother for not "reaching out" to her and making her feel better.)  She managed to "martyr" herself into getting the most money of any of the grand kids out of my grandmother and my grandmother's car.  She also used the opportunity to try and force me into contact.  The latest drama is centered around her break up with her long-term and abusive (she's abusive too) boyfriend.  Again, she suddenly wants to "fix" our relationship.  But really she just wants me to take on her issues again.  She has been buzzing around a lot lately, trying to see what she can do to get me to interact.  Up to this point, I have held strong.  
I slowly went more and more LC with my mother too. She had started in picking on my oldest son and I'd had enough.  So, I severly limited contact between her and my kids.  And I started to fade away.  Although NM was clearly not happy about it, she didn't bring it up, but rather, silently seethed.  In May, while visiting for my youngest son's birthday, NM spent over an hour trying to pick a fight with me.  She kept bringing up ridiculous subjects that she knows are touchy subjects (one being politics) and tried to force me to get angry.  What she was really aiming for was to confront me about my NC with my sister and my LC with her.  She mimiced me, made fun of me, belittled me and basically treated me disrespectfully.  I finally lost it and told her:  treat me with respect and like an adult or we won't have a relationship.  I finally told her (quite calmly but VERY firmly) that I was done with the relationship as it was.  She (literally) glowered at me.  She glared unblinkingly at me.  I asked her twice to stop.  She didn't, so I left.  She then started in on my husband, complaining to him about me and saying what I was doing "wasn't right" (I'm assuming what I was "doing" was going LC/NC).  He defended me and she claimed to "understand" that he was defending his wife, but that he "knew" I was in the wrong.  I grey rocked her for the next day in order to keep the peace for the sake of my son.
After she left, she sent me several texts and an email, apologizing for "her part" in the disagreement and that she "wanted our relationship back the way it was".  When I didn't respond, she started texting and bugging my husband again.  I finally responded that things weren't working as they were, that things needed to change, and the relationship would require some work.  I haven't heard from her since then.  Of course, until now, when she wanted to come for my older son's birthday party (not his actual birthday, but the party.)
I know,  I should just cut her off.  (Especially after watching the co-dependent mess she participated in with my sister this summer.  After the break up, my 36 year old sister moved back home for a month, sponged off my mother, and then moved back out when they couldn't get along.  Shocker!  NSIS had been making up more fake medical issues and expected everyone to rescue her.  Really, she just needs a therapist.  But God forbid, she gets on of those.  She verbally abused my father, threw tantrums, and basically caused havoc.  And NM lapped it all up, enjoying the drama and then complaining about being involved in the drama.  And then she and NSIS would go on FB and act like the perfect mother and daughter.)
My sons (especially the oldest) still loves their grandmother.  I still don't feel completely right about going NC.  I am allowing NM to come for one day for the birthday party.  And I'm dreading it (as my sons skip around excitedly for grandma to come).  I have no doubt she's still seething and looking for ways to get revenge (she is a horribly vengeful person).    I can see now how much the stress and anxiety around these two woman makes me sick.  I have had nightmares and been irritable and depressed.  I plan to grey rock the shit out of her (it will help she has my step father with her this time.  She behaves somewhat around him),  But I'm dreading it.  My husband is against NC.  He feels my kids will resent me for cutting off their grandparents (my MIL is a narcissist too.)  We have little to no extended family around our kids.  (They have 4 uncles/aunts +their spouses; none of whom makes any effort to be in their lives.  My BIL and SIL only live five minutes from us and we never see them.)
The whole situation makes me sad.  I do feel a lot stronger than I have in the past.  I feel more self assured.  Standing up to NM in May really helped my self-confidence and independence.  But I still feel mired in the shit.  I still feel sad, and lost, and lonely.  I feel like a person without a "home".  I worry about my kiddos.  I worry about the covert manipulation by their grandmothers.  I worry about them feeling isolated and alone without extended family.
We also don't have many close friends.   We are working on it, but it's been a slow process.  People our age have friends and don't need new ones.  I had made one friend, but after I asked her to watch my home for a week, some sides of her came out that I was not thrilled about (she wasn't honest and allowed her kids to have a play date with another kid at our home).  That relationship is on "pause" while I figure out what to do (our kids are close friends, so, yet another decision that can effect my kids).
I'm stuck also trying to explain things to my kids.  I don't believe in completely not saying anything to the kids.  As with any difficult subject, I think it's important to share age-appropriate information.   I don't want to like giving my sons the impression that their grandmothers are great people and people we should want to be around a lot.  I don't want to participate in them being "groomed" by their grandmothers by acting as if grandma is normal.  Both my kids are very perceptive and have picked up on things.  But they are young, and I've been warned to not burden them emotionally with "adult" issues.
On the plus side, my father finally has heard me.  When my grandmother died, I finally let it all out.  That I was in therapy.  That I had PTSD.  That I had been suicidal.  That the relationship with my mother and sister was horribly toxic to me.  My father isn't particularly warm or open emotionally.  H has had his own trauma and suffers severe depression (which made him angry and abusive when I was a kid.  He's getting treatment and is a lot better).  But he, at least, understood and told me I was doing the right thing.  Of everybody in this world, he is the only other person who understands the depth of the problems with my mother and sister.  He's a victim of them too.  He's not great at support, but he's at least been there somewhat.  So, it's something.

So, I'm still plugging along.  But I wonder if it will ever get significantly better.  To where this doesn't weigh on me so damn much.  To where I can detach and completely focus on my own family.  It bothers me SO much that this takes up so much of my energy and emotional space, which takes me away from my own family.  As I watch my kids grow so quickly, I don't want to waste this time on unnecessary drama.  Which is why I moved away from the Ns in the first place.  But I become frustrated with the time and effort it takes to make progress.  I wonder if I"m progressing fast enough to not harm my kids.  I wonder if I'm doing the right things by my kids (am I being selfish with LC/NC?  Is it fair for my kids to have no extended family?  How much contact is reasonable?  How much should I share?  How can I protect my kids from the covert nature of my Ns? It goes on and on.)

Wish me luck in the next few weeks.  It is so frustrating that all my Ns come hoovering around during important times in my kids' lives.  I think I'll make it through, but I am so anxious....