to feel a white hot rage towards MiL?(37 Posts)
Quick back story. MiL has always been difficult, self centred etc. Throughout my marriage of 15 years I have tried very hard and have been pleasant, polite, welcoming etc. Now she has Alzheimers. As you can imagine the Alzheimers has highlighted the most difficult parts of her personality. She is still living at home, on her insistence, but is getting very confused with day to day tasks.
Today DH and DD (11) were visiting he,r and MIL in DD's hearing referred to her as a "ghastly child." There was a carer in the room and MiL said to the carer "Oh, that is (DH)'s daughter - a ghastly child." DD is 11, has Aspergers and very low self esteem. I am just incandescant with rage that anyone, let alone a family member, would speak about her in such a way in her hearing. Have basically said to DH that she is no longer welcome in our house. DH of course says that she is ill, doesn't know what she is saying and would not have remembered the exchange one minute later. The thing is, she has always used a nasty patronising tole to talk about others and I do not think this is the illness, but the real person.
I told DD that her grandmother is ill and does not always make sense and that what she said was nonsense.
AIBU to feel such rage?
Alzheimers is a terrible, terrible illness, and I couldn't imagine losing control of my faculties like that, it scares me more than almost any other disease. I nursed a relative through it, and it really takes its toll. One minute she seemed perfectly fine, then next she would be accusing me of killing her (non-existant) cat and stealing her (non-existant) boyfriend. This was a woman who I had nothing but the most wonderful relationship with throughout her life. She simply had no idea what she was saying or why. I had to become very thick skinned and just accept that it was the disease, and not her saying those things.
YANBU to feel awful about what she said, but it is true that she probably has no idea what she said. Think about whether your feelings about her previous actions are having a bearing on how you are reacting to her. If this was your mother (or someone you really loved) would you put it down to the disease and have this reaction? If the visits are hard on your daughter, you WNBU to leave your child at home, or let your husband visit on his own to avoid her being exposed to it, but please do think about how your hatred may be clouding your judgement on this.
Tell yourself this;
MIL is ill and does not always make sense and that what she said was nonsense.
You can't really help feeling angry towards someone you think is making your DD feel like shit.
I don't have any experience of alzheimers, but your DH has to be right because she is ill.
Whether the disease does start off accentuating certain things I wouldn't know, but I would gently say that you are being unreasonable to be angry first before trying to find a way to deal with her unreasonableness so you can ignore it to put yourself in a position to support your DH and DD in what must be a distressing decline in a person they know and love (it's easier said than done I know).
This isn't about you and the relationship you had with your MIL in the past, the disease has made for a rule change and you have to think differently. You can't deny your DH the opportunity to have his mum round to his own house when he's worried about how much of her will be left the disease moves on.
I don't mean anything I've said as a downer on you, you're in such a difficult position. Could you come to a compromise with your DH as to how much you're able to handle vs how he'd like to care for his mum?
Sorry, 'how much of her will be left as the disease moves on.'
I wouldn't say you were UR to be upset by someone saying something like that about your child within her hearing but I think your dh is right she is ill and probably doesn't remember what she said so to ban her from your house imo is an over reaction and shows a lack of understanding about Alzheimer's.
I say this as someone who once had the loveliest man on earth as a fil but he also has Alzheimer's and has become violent towards mil and lost the ability to sensor what he says, he says the most horrible things but 5 seconds later has forgotten.
Its a horrible illness and I think you should just keep reminding yourself and dd that she's ill.
I would be happy to accept that it was the alzheimer's talking, but that doesn't mean you have to expose your DD to it.
And why would it matter if Mil remembers what she says or has any idea what she's talking about? It's the effect it has on DD that counts.
I would suggest not banning her from the house, but saying that you want to keep DD away from her - maybe it would amount to the same thing. Chances are if she thinks DD is ghastly, she'd be happy with this anyway.
You have my every sympathy, I think a lot of horrible behaviour hides behind disease.
It will make no difference to the MIL if she never sees your DD again in all likelihood so I would plan not to expose your DD to her as Helloeverything says.
I am also puzzled about your DH's response -- how does it matter what the MIL remembers of what she said? Your DD has Aspergers and her perception of what was said is the important element here. It might be difficult for her to understand the ins and outs of Alzheimers and to shrug off a comment like that. Calling a child with Aspergers 'ghastly' is very hurtful to the parents but it is the impact on the child that matters and they should protect her.
I can imagine how made you and your dd feel, to hear your MIL say that. It is the disease though, it alters the brain, and changes the personality. Did she like her grand daughter when she wasn't ill? I Does your dd want to see her?
The disease can make a the sweetest person a devil person, but often medication can help with that.
What mathanxiety said.
It matters not a jot whether or not your MIL remembers what she said, your daughter will.
It is a horrible disease but my grandmother had it when I was a similar age and once she started being abusive to my brother and I, my parents stopped taking us to see her.
Everyone knew she couldn't help it, but it distressed her to see us and it distressed us to see her (she couldn't remember my parents marrying and called my mother a "whore" and my brother and I her "bastard children". She was really cross with my dad for marrying a woman who already had children and without telling her!)
This isn't about understanding why the MIL said it, it's about protecting the child from hearing it.
I don't think it matters whether the Alzheimers is letting the real person talk or not - the important thing is that your dd isn't exposed to things that can only make her upset. Obviously your dh is concerned about his mum but he needs to be concerned about his dd too. Please don't let old issues between you and your dh about your relationship with MIL cloud this.
YABU - your MIL can't help being ill and you have no right whatsoever to distate to your husband that his mother isn't welcome in the house.
Your job is to protect your child.
The rage that you're feeling is understandable - but not reasonable if your MIL has Alzheimer's. Keep them apart and mourn privately the loss of a MIL and grandmother. Because she's already gone, really. The person that was 'talking' is just a shadow.
You might find it useful to read a book by the novelist Andrea Gillies called Keeper, a non-fiction account of her MIL's journey with Alzheimer's. I think you would find it illuminating. The first chapter at least is available on the net if you want to taste it.
The very best with your problems.
I agree with cozietoesie. Your MIL could have been the most loving of grandmothers and still have come out with a statement like that. You have to explain to your DC that it is the illness talking.
Be kind to your mil
Keep your DD away if you think it is better for her
Alzheimer's is the cruelest illness, you may get it one day.
Alzheimer's does tend to magnify a person's flaws.
But it can also change them and make them say and do things that are completely out of character.
Your anger is misplaced. Your MIL, as difficult as she may have been in her prime, is not really saying those things about your DD.
If you explained that to DD, would she understand?
It is an awful illness. You get to watch the person you know gradually be taken away while their body continues to live.
IME you do a type of grieving while the living death takes place.
Your rage is understandable and complicated. And you are probably going to get used to feeling it
I'm so sorry for what is happening to your MIL.
What strikes me as odd is if she has always been nasty,but it is only now,when she can't help it that you want to ban her from your house!
By all means protect your daughter from her in future if you think that's best.
But banning her from your house?
Does your husband also get a say??
I'll apologise because I can onlyh answer as if your child is nt as that is my only experience.
However, in that case, I disagree completely that you should stop your child seeing her. You need to work. On your child's self esteem separately and you need to give them plenty of reading and information about Alzheimer's and the effects it has on people.
Your dd will come up against nasty people in life and not letting her near someone who might upset her is not equipping her with the skills she will need to deal with this. Also in this case the woman is very ill, and is only going to get worse, and the only chances your child has to learn about her family and her history are going to be reduced regularly from here on in.
YANBU to be very angry. YAbu to direct it towards your mil when she is vulnerable because you did not like her before hand.
Obviously rewrite this as appropriate given your daughters situation - but at 11 my nt child would have been capable of compassion and a conversation about what happened rather than cutting off, so I write from that point of view while realising your circumstances are different.
I can understand why you're angry but this woman now has no control of her mind. Banning her won't help and will only drive a wedge between you and your DH.
YABU..Alzheimers makes people say irrational things. Far better to educate your DD to know that MIL doesn't mean these things.
First sign of.my grandmother's Alzheimers was when she started shouting at me and telling me off..she never once had in her life..I was about 12
Allowing contact between MiL and your children is unlikely to benefit MiL but could potentially be very distressing for the children. It is the illness making MiL act like this, but if your child's own medical condition means that she isn't able to process that concept, then she shouldn't be exposed to the effects of MILs illness.
If you feel that your children are able to understand that MILs nasty remarks are part of her illness, and they can cope, then small amounts of managed contact could be possible.
Past history is irrelevant now. The most important issue is that the needs of your DD must not be ignored when considering how to manage the impact of MILs illness.
YANBU to stop taking your DD to see MIL - that's absolutely the right thing to do.
YABU to blame your MIL.
This must be an incredibly hard time for your DH. He will need your support too.
now she has Alzheimer's
That's the beginning and end of it. The petty incidents of the past have to be forgotten. However harsh her words may be, they are hollow, meaningless now. She is entering an horrific, frightening demise from which there is no return. You need to grow up and support her or, or if you can't bring yourself to see an elderly woman through this time, calm the fuck down, shut the fuck up about your 'white hot rat's (wtf is that anyway) and at least be there for your husband as he watches his mother disintegrate be for his eyes.
I had a grandmother who completely lost the plot when she was dying, over a year.
I have a son with AS.
If it had distressed him to see her because of her language and the various odd behaviours that developed as she deteriorated, then I would have kept them apart, to protect him. It didn't because he understood that she was no longer the great-grandmother he knew and was now someone different.
His lack of emotional involvement was actually helpful to those of us that were grieving for the lovely woman we had lost.
But I don't see the logic in being angry with a woman who is in the grip of a terrible illness. Protect your daughter's feelings, but look at the situation dispassionately and think of your DH as well.
BTW, depending on how far advanced her illness is, your MIL may struggle to come to your house anyway. So banning her might be unnecessarily provocative towards your DH (and I'm sure your DH wouldn't have deliberately exposed your DD to your MIL's comment by taking DD to visit MIL; it must have come as a nasty shock to him too).
I would keep your daughter away from her - your MIL is ill, but it does not mean you have to forgive or pander to every thing... just because she does not know she is doing it does not make it right - your daughter is the important one in this.
if she picked up a poker and hit her with it (as mine did - because she thought I was a little demon sent to drag her to hell?!? - I was 6!) would it be "part of her illness" and she would be welcome in your house..... or would she need to be separated from people (as mine was - thankfully) .
Even maybe (as someone with a teenager on the spectrum) a chance for your DD to see someone else as the person who gets it wrong, who's inappropriate, who needs compassion?
My ds has found things like that quite empowering in th past, but you can judge whether it's appropriate for your dd.
Don't take DD on granny visits. It's clearly not working for either of them. Granny won't miss out & DD will prob be relieved. Explain MIL can't speak properly - or other way to get the message thru - if DD brings it up.
Most of all, support your DH - he'll have a hell of lot more than this to put up with. Alzheimers patients do get jaw-droppingly cruel - it may not be their fault, but it sure as hell isn't anyone else's. And, dementia disclaimer asides, it still wounds. With respect, in the future, he needs your support and love more than DD on this one.
Your husband needs your support - not extra stress right now.
Do a bit of research into what this disease does to people and have some compassion. Explain to your child what's happening to your MIL and possibly keep them apart.
this woman may not be your blood but she's your husbands mom and you need to be aware of what an awful time he may be going through. Have a heart.
Thanks for your input everyone.You are right, it is not my place to ban her from our house. I do not lack compassion but much of our lives for the last few years have been built around MiL's needs and I feel compassion fatigue. Hearing what she said to DD today just triggered all my protective responses. She has been teary and anxious at school lately and really did not need to hear that unpleasant remark. I have talked about it with DH some more.
It is hard to let go of the past interactions that I have had with MiL. She has always been very belittling and passive aggressive. Her own daughters see her rarely, through clenched teeth and purely out of duty and it is in our house that she has been most welcome. I will continue to support DH through the course of this dreadful disease and I also think it is my job to protect my DC from the worst of it.
It terrifies me that I one day might be ill in my old age and not know the people who love me, and say awful things to/about them. Thats why I try to build lots of happy memories now so they all KNOW I love them reagrdless of teh crap I may come out with when I am old and have dementia
my lovely nana is so confused - she lies about people stealing her stuff, forgets visits - so sobs that noone has been to see her for weeks, forgets who people are. Its hard to hold a conversation with her and I always come away sobbing
the best thing you can do is try to reassure DD while at the same time teaching her compassion for her GMs situation
I do sympathise with the OP, my grandmother has Alzheimer's, which can make her difficult, stubborn etc. Yes, this is part of the disease, but she wasn't all sweetness and light before this. Lots of professionals have said to my mum this is just the disease talking, but they dont know what she was like before, she really was a nasty person who has made my mum's life hell from childhood. She has always been difficult, domineering, supremely selfish. She was never the sweet granny type!
However, as mrskeithrichards says above, now she has a disease and the past must be the past. I have seen and heard some truly horrible things from her growing up, but feel immense sympathy for her now. It is an awful thing. I would never wish it on anybody.
My Mum's MIL was a complete witch her entire life. Alzeimer's actually robbed her of all that and she was sweetness and light personified.
She didn't deserve the lasting memory she left, but it made things easier for her son and my DM.
OP, your MIL is ill, true, but your DD is living, and needs NOT to hear crap like that again. Don't take her there, and if you don't want to go, you don't have to.
I agree with the other posters. Mil won't have had a clue nor likely meant it.
If you start making sanctions it gives a significance to the incident which actually makes this something for your dd to feel upset by instead of seeing it for what it is, the ramblings of an ill woman.
I'm sorry you are all going through this - Alzheimer's is really hard and so is bullying
I had a friend who worked extensively with the elderly as a carer. She was lovely. She told me once about a woman in her eighties that she worked with. This woman used to say the most awful things to my friend about my friends child and about her not being married to his father and so on. I used to say the "oh don't take it to heart she's so old". In the end my friend said to me "Emma, some people are just nasty and its not because they're old or in pain, they just are and I have done this work long enough to know the difference."
I think she was right.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.