I have known my husband for thirteen years now. It is crazy thinking back, looking at my fourteen year old self and thinking how much we have changed individually and as a couple. Some memories better than others but majority of those that don’t necessarily “sparkle and shine” all have one common denominator: my bat-shit crazy, mother-in-law. While our relationship was good at first, soon after being engaged to her son, I found myself knee deep in tug of war mud, growing callouses as a pulled the rope toward the future I knew my husband and I deserved. All she had to do was let go of the rope… Nonetheless, she refused and I learned some of the biggest lessons I would ever need to in order to not let her make me as crazy as she actually is.
1. SHE WORE JEALOUSY LIKE EVERYDAY FOUNDATION
- Lesson: She felt inadequate about her position in her sons life and about her own.
My mother-in-law did not agree with my husbands choices in his life for as long as she was not directly involved and this only escalated as we began our life together. When it came to our marriage, she suggested we barely knew each other. When it came to our children, she suggested our miscarriages were meant to be. When our first was born, she suggested I was an unfit mother and she needed custody. Ultimately, everything she ever talked about included a complaint about me. Even when I kept my distance, I was too distant. Soon her complaints turned into rage and blatant comparison. The old, “she has two degrees and sits at home with three kids all day” “insult” stayed on loop while insulting my upbringing, my husbands choices and even questioning the validity of our marriage. Keep in mind always, it’s not you, it’s her.
2. SHE TRIED TO INTIMIDATE ME BUT AND GOT UPSET WHEN SHE FAILED. MISERABLY.
- Lesson: Stick to your guns. People have to give respect to receive it. No exceptions.
According to my mother-in-law, I am childish and need to grow up, but at the same time, I shouldn’t defend myself because “I need to stay in a child’s place.” These rude and out of pocket comments were put in place to make me feel a sense of inferiority. They were made to make me feel like I needed to kiss her ass almost seven years into my marriage to gain her approval or solidify a position I already had. Me not being a pushover boiled her blood and being as respectful as I .
3. SHE TRIED TO PLAY THE VICTIM WHEN SHE DIDN’T GET HER WAY.
- Lesson: Know who you’re dealing with but don’t engage in the games being played.
Sounds like a sadistic game of chess right? I learned quickly to pick and choose my battles. When it came to migrating into a new family, I wanted so badly to be liked and for the transition to be smooth. Yet I was antagonized every time I said something, did something or felt something no one else deemed necessary or important. When she was called out for the same things, her waterworks were almost instant. Not only were they quick to surface but they shut off just as fast; replaced by volatile insults and other phrases that would later be categorized as “word vomit” when she wanted to apologize and couldn’t bear to utter the words “I’m sorry.” Needless to say, don’t go back and forth. You’re wasting your time.
4. I GAVE HER A SECOND CHANCE AND FORGAVE HER OVER, AND OVER, AND… OKAY YOU GET IT.
- Lesson: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, chances are… well, you know the rest.
I care so much about my relationship with my husband and him maintaining one with his family, that I had more than one lapse in judgement when it came to this woman and my “extended family”. I had sit-downs, phone conversations and even went against my husbands advice to reach out and address our underlying issues. Yet, each time we spoke, I ignored the hollow apologies and subtle attempts to make me feel inadequate; only to find myself back in the same predicament and trying to justify her behavior toward me a few weeks later. Trust your gut and take the first experience for what it is. You don’t want someone like this to remove all doubt. By then, you will be too far gone.
5. SADLY, WE’RE FACING THE CONSEQUENCES OF MY HUSBAND NOT SAYING ANYTHING SOONER.
- Lesson: Perhaps there is no lesson for you. After all, that is his family.
For a long time, I went back and forth. Not necessarily forcing my husband to make a decision but wanting him to so that everyone; including myself, would know where we stood. I never wanted him to choose but his family definitely drew the line forcing him to. It was not until we were financially, emotionally and mentally facing the consequences of unset boundaries that he truly realized where his mistakes were made.
6. SHE MADE ME STRONGER & SMARTER THAN I’VE EVER BEEN BEFORE.
- Lesson: Never let anyone take you out of character. It can be difficult but it CAN be done.
As crazy as it sounds, I am and forever will be haunted by the experiences I have had with my mother-in-law but through all of the verbal abuse, quirky, irrational behavior and her attempts to ultimately destroy my family, my image and my self-esteem. But finding the silver-lining, she made me stronger. She made me smarter. She taught me self-preservation, all the things I want to be to my own children and what I refuse to turn into. I learned I am not easily broken, if at all.