To think cutting people out of your life is just cruel

(308 Posts)

I know I am risking a real flaming here, and I honestly do appreciate that every case is very different and I cannot judge anything without knowing each case. However I see a lot of advice on here, mostly in relationships, where the advice is to 'just walk away' or 'cut them out of your life'. Now, in many cases I can see the point BUT......

I have a MIL. She is enormously hard work. Totally selfish, manipulative, vindictive and cannot even conceive of not getting her own way, a real pain in the ass. She drives me scatty and on occasion her manipulation makes me very angry. She repeatedly gets the hump and has little hissy fits, stopping speaking to DP and I for months on end (once because DP told his grandmother the dog had died confused) then decides to make up. If you tackle her she tantrums - literally storming out screaming that she never wants to see you again. I suspect she could benefit from counselling but she won't even countenance it.

She is the mother to 4 grown up kids. 2 of them no longer speak to her and one is emigrating (in part I think to get away). This leaves DP. Oh joy. PIL are also homeless, having sold up to go travelling and when back in the UK they end up staying with us for months at a time, without really asking properly.

Anyway, sorry for length. Despite all this I see the total utter misery and heartbreak not seeing her 2 children causes her and I think they are really nasty for continuing to refuse to see her. At least part of her bad behaviour seems to stem from this misery. last week I could hear her crying her heart out (through the ceiling) and it turned out it was her 'lost' daughter's birthday (didn't talk to MIL, asked DP if he knew what was up). This is someone who ran away at 16 and is now back in touch with many others in the family but won't have anything to do with her parents.
They weren't abusive or anything, DP was living at home as an adult when she left and said at the time it just seemed like the usual teenage angst (ok, it's a bit more complicated but not wanting to out self or anyone else).

Everytime anyone asks PIL if DD is their first grandchild they just look stricken. They have 5 grandchildren but don't even know the names of all of them and have never met any but DD. Yes they are a nightmare but they don't deserve this misery.

Anyway - AIBU to think that people should sometimes be a bit more forgiving and tolerant? families can be a PITA but to just walk away because it makes life easier is just selfish and cruel.

Go on, tell me I don't know what I'm talking about.....

maja00 Tue 16-Jul-13 09:49:18

They must have been pretty bad for their DD to run away at 16 and never have any more contact with them - I feel sorry for her, not your MIL!

Has your MIL ever tried to change her behaviour? Apologise to the children she has driven away?

Basically your MIL sounds like an awful person who made her children's lives a misery and won't take any responsibility for her behaviour.

hiddenhome Tue 16-Jul-13 09:50:23

You don't know what you're talking about hmm

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Tue 16-Jul-13 09:51:28

It's a very personal decision and there really isn't a benchmark you can judge whether or not a person's actions justifies them being cut out of others' lives.

I have tolerated my waste of space father for most of my life, but after some recent awful remarks he made, I decided to walk away. He wasn't bringing anything good to my life, just lots of heartache. The relief I have felt since cutting contact is almost palpable. To be quite honest, it doesn't matter to me if he's devastated, though I suspect he doesn't really care. If he was the sort of person who felt bad at losing his daughter & grandchildren, we probably wouldn't have fallen out in the first place.

families can be a PITA but to just walk away because it makes life easier is just selfish and cruel.

He has been selfish and cruel towards me for my whole life. Cutting him out now is an act of self-preservation because I have way too much self respect to keep someone like that in my life.

QueenofallIsee Tue 16-Jul-13 09:52:36

I think you have a very valid point OP, it IS cruel and people do hurt when they are cut out. It is also in my experiance never an easy decision to make to go to that length and usually comes when someone is at real risk emotionally or physically due to a toxic relationship. It is a shame that your MIL cannot communicate her sorry and that her other DC cannot see it but you are not dragged down by their history in the same way maybe?

I am sorry that you and your DP are feeling the brunt of this by the way

MsMunch Tue 16-Jul-13 09:52:38

My inlaws are pretty awful but we have plodded on and have reached some equilibrium. This benefits my dh and the dc and by extension it benefits me. We discussed tactics/techniques and have done what suited us best. We are both pretty robust emotionally with high emotional iqs rather than the other sort...

Cutting them out would have damaged dh more BUT this was all about what suited us, different people need to make different choices to protect their families. Oh and crucially their behaviour doesn't impact negatively on the dc, f it did they would be gone. I wouldn't tolerate what they did to dh but maybe we can all get some healing from their positive relationship with the dc.

QueenofallIsee Tue 16-Jul-13 09:53:14

sorrow not sorry -doh!

YABU. You have no idea what went on for your DHs sister. I've cut my dad out of my life and feel much better because of it. I can't change the fact that I had a shit childhood because of him, but now I'm an adult I have control and I don't have to suffer him for the rest of my life. He wouldn't think he was abusive either.

pictish Tue 16-Jul-13 09:54:10

Sounds like your mil is a nightmare tbh.
Her dd ran away at 16 and won't have anything to do with her, even now.

Perhaps you and your husband normalise and accept dreadful behaviour whereby others will not?

Some people need cutting off.

I cut off my bio dad and family when my son was 5 month old, maybe younger. He is 3 now and I dont regret anything. It might be cruel but not any more than he deserved.

People have their reasons.

cory Tue 16-Jul-13 09:55:04

Remember you are dealing with this woman as an adult, with the security and confidence you have gained from not having been brought up by her.

Your B/SIL's don't have that luxury. Any manipulative traits you are noticing even as an adult would have a totally different significance for somebody who had to deal with them as a child. And those memories will still be a major part in who they are.

And your dh not having noticed anything apart from the usual teen angst doesn't mean there was nothing there to be seen. It is very common for toxic parents to have one golden child, who typically doesn't realise or doesn't care what it is like for the others.

FattyMcChubster Tue 16-Jul-13 09:55:16

When someone brings nothing but misery to your life, why would you want to continue with them in it?

NandH Tue 16-Jul-13 09:55:52

YABU - she sounds awful. If I had someone that nasty in my life I'd do the same tbh.

Pootles2010 Tue 16-Jul-13 09:56:38

But this pain that your mil is going through is her own fault. She's a grown up, if she's that bothered, she should sort herself out, surely?

I doubt its a case of her children wanting an 'easier' life - I would imagine she's caused them real hurt over the years. You say 'there wasn't any abuse'? Its hard to say, not knowing her, but she sounds pretty abusive to me.

Tailtwister Tue 16-Jul-13 09:56:52

Yes, I suppose it is cruel to cut someone out of your life, but for a lot of people it's necessary for their self preservation that the good of their own family. There's a difference between being 'hard work' and exhibiting damaging behaviour to those around you.

If someone's behaviour was negatively impacting on my DC then I would cut contact with no hesitation. My children come first and it's my duty as a parent not to expose them to negative influences which can be avoided.

HoldingHigh Tue 16-Jul-13 09:56:57

I think it depends entirely on the circumstances and what affect having them in your life has. If their being there is having an impact on significant relationships or your own health.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Tue 16-Jul-13 09:57:08

There is absolutely no way I would put up with your MILs behaviour, no matter what the supposed cause. I am astonished you think your inlaws are nasty by refusing to have anything to do with someone who behaves and treats people the way your MIL does.

I don't believe for one moment that two of her children would refuse to have anything to do with her over something trivial, nor do I believe that nothing happened to make the one child run away and return to have dealings with other family members if but not her.

YABU to criticize anyone for choosing for cutting someone else out of their life that makes that life miserable.

She is not selfish or cruel. She loves her kids. She just doesn't seem to want them to grow up and be adults away from her. All the problems were in her not letting go.

Her daughter won't even let her have an address to send letters to - although she has sent letters of apology, passed on through other relatives.

She has repeatedly apologised to DBIL and DSIL. But they just won't accept it. It's very much just because it's easier without her in their lives.

DFIL once said 'I know she was difficult but it's been 8 years. you do longer for murder'. I kind of see what he means.

DowntonTrout Tue 16-Jul-13 09:57:10

Sorry, but it sounds like you have no idea what it's like to grow up in a house with a toxic parent.

So things werent so bad- according to your DH?
I can tell you that he may have had the same mother but that every child's perspective of that mother will be different.

My mother had some mental health issues and became badly depressed after I was born (well, before actually but that's a long story.)

My older DB and DSis have no concept of what I went through as a child. To them she had been a different kind of mother. In the end I had to cut her out for my own sanity, and that of my DCs. My DB and DS didn't.

IAmNotAMindReader Tue 16-Jul-13 09:58:12

Let's turn this around do the children and grandchildren deserve this treatment just because they are related to your MIL? Shouldn't something be done to protect them from a deeply emotionally abusive person?

It does not make life easier to walk away, it prevents more emotional scars, they heal a lot slower than physical ones.

Imagine this a 5 year old desperate for love and approval gets berated in the way your MIL operates. How is that not abusive and deeply damaging? Therefore how can you say she isn't abusive?

Often the children of emotionally abusive parents cannot forgive them for not protecting them from themselves. This shapes your whole outlook on life. Imagine every bit of joy you have as a child and an adult being turned into something wrong and to be ashamed of and apologise for. The fear you feel treading on eggshells not knowing if they are going to look at you like they were sorry you were born. Imagine what that does to a child and how it shapes the adult they become.

Often when contact ceases its just a matter of the parent cutting the child off for some imagined slight and the child just not being willing to crawl over broken glass for forgiveness over something petty this time.

catsmother Tue 16-Jul-13 09:59:49

The short(ish) answer is that everyone has different circumstances - as you acknowledge - and everyone has an individual breaking point. Some people are able to tolerate awful behaviour - like you are - because it doesn't "get" to them in quite the same way as the same or similar behaviour would to someone else in the family. Stuff like this isn't always black and white, and you have to respect that what's right (or at least tolerable) for you won't be for someone else.

I cut out a close relative some time ago. It gave me no pleasure and they do still cross my mind from time to time. However, in my case, I truly believe that my decision won't have cause the person concerned great angst, and the alternative - to have kept in touch - was worse, at it was affecting my mental health in a significant and negative way.

There is of course always two sides to stories like these. People like your MIL may well seem to be exhibiting genuine distress at the estrangement - she may well even be distressed - but it sounds as though she must also bear some, if not most, of the responsibility for what's happened. Regardless of how the situation seemed to your DP it's entirely possible that the dynamic between MIL and the "lost" children was, in reality, very different. For example, there might feasibly have been stuff said or done when he was at work - stuff which went beyond the pale. Believe me, most people who cut contact with family do so for very good reasons and not without a great deal of thought and agonising - not least because it can have a knock on effect upon other family members. It's rarely done in a fit of pique or on the spur of the moment .... the types who "flounce off" in high dudgeon without thinking it through are probably more likely to reconcile when things have calmed down. Long standing estrangements - which are undeniably sad for all concerned - are usually more serious and have good reason behind them - and it might be argued that, depending on the circumstances leading up to that state of affairs - that some of those who've been "abandoned" could actually deserve the emotional pain they might now feel in return for whatever it was they did to drive their relative away. Personally ..... my decision to break wasn't about revenge, it was to get away and not expose myself, or my kids, to someone who caused me great unhappiness and anxiety.

AngelinaCongleton Tue 16-Jul-13 10:00:48

I agree its terrible, but often it happens after years of damage and people feel like they don't have a choice. It's not the end of the story, cutting off/ being cut off hurts everyone for years later. I feel for your mil. Doesn't sound like she has any awareness of her problem. My sister has cut my mum off and it's devastating for her. Its solved some problems but created so many others. its not simple. Such a shame. Maybe though the benefit is in generations to come when children don't have to be exposed to dysfunction.

Bowlersarm Tue 16-Jul-13 10:01:46

I think you have a point too, OP.

Some people must be so toxic (although I don't think I have ever met one) that there comes a point you can no longer carry on a relationship with them.

But the number of threads on here about how there has been a misdemeanour carried out by parents, PIL, friends and the amount of posters who cry out 'I would have nothing more to do with them! Cut them out of your life! Even if they apologise I would never see them again!'

If people are truly that harsh and unforgiving, I am just very pleased I don't seem to know any.

PareyMortas Tue 16-Jul-13 10:01:49


To get to the point where you cut someone out you will have given them chance after chance after chance. If they choose to continue to behave in the same way without compromise then really the decision to cut them out lies with them and not the person walking away.

In my case I stopped contacting my father and he has never tried to contact me or make amends. He probably does have the occasional moment of feeling sorry for himself and wondering what his grandchildren are like, but he hasn't tried to change it. So, no I don't feel sorry for him.

EllaFitzgerald Tue 16-Jul-13 10:02:00

I made the choice to stop having contact with my father 27 years ago and my sister 6 years ago. I have never regretted either and have absolutely no interest in having any kind of relationship with either of them. My life is a lot better without their presence.

If you've been lucky enough to have been raised by decent parents, then that's great for you, but I think you're being incredibly unreasonable casting judgement on the people who have walked away from your in laws when you actually have no idea why they've chosen to do so. The fact that two out of four children want nothing to do with her and a third is emigrating to get away from her speaks volumes. Also, if your DP was living at home as an adult when his 16yr old sibling left, I wonder whether he really saw everything that went on?

Eyesunderarock Tue 16-Jul-13 10:02:18

Then it's a good job that she has you and your family to love and care for her. How long have you been a part of this family?
Perhaps you can show her what a normal sequence of relationships looks like and she will learn.
But cutting a toxic, damaging person out of your life? That's like losing a gangrenous leg to avoid dying. Traumatic but often essential.
She made her choices, and her husband obviously did little to change them. The consequences of that are hurting her.

ThePowerof3 Tue 16-Jul-13 10:02:47

I bet she was crying for herself more than her lost daughter, my MIL is lovely but my SIL has cut herself off from the whole family due to mental health issues. This has killed something inside my MIL but don't think SIL can help herself so I really do think it depends on the circumstances

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 16-Jul-13 10:05:21


In what world do you think having no contact with your parents, no support, makes life easier?

Your DP may not remember anything horrific (or may not be telling you, or may be blocking it out or whatever) but his sister clearly does, and whatever it was, it hurt her enough that she left home at 16 and has been unable to forgive since.

It's not the easy choice. The easy way is to do what you and your DP do, to put up with it and forget about it and make excuses.

I don't have parents, because they were abusive and violent and tried to utterly destroy their children at any given opportunity. I don't have sisters, either, because they got taken into foster care. It is in no way easier to live this way. None whatsoever.

ReginaPhilangie Tue 16-Jul-13 10:05:39

I agree with * DowntonTrout*. It's never an easy decision to cut some one out of your life, especially a parent. It's something that you struggle with for a long time until in the end you have to do it for your own sanity. It's not something you can even comprehend to understand unless you've got to the point were you feel you have to do it yourself. It's something I'm struggling with atm, and it looks like I'm going to have to cut out my mother from my life for my own mental health.

Also it's very easy to say "She is not selfish or cruel. She loves her kids. She just doesn't seem to want them to grow up and be adults away from her. All the problems were in her not letting go." When you haven't been through it yourself. DO you have any idea how damaging and suffocating it is to grow up with a parent who won't let you go? It's fucking horrific, you don't know your own mind half the time, and it seriously effects your mental health.

I think you're being very naive in calling your DH's siblings cruel and nasty when you have no idea what they went through.

PatriciaHolm Tue 16-Jul-13 10:06:25

Take a look at what you've written:
"Totally selfish, manipulative, vindictive and cannot even conceive of not getting her own way, a real pain in the ass. She drives me scatty and on occasion her manipulation makes me very angry. She repeatedly gets the hump and has little hissy fits, stopping speaking to DP and I for months on end .. then decides to make up. If you tackle her she tantrums - literally storming out screaming that she never wants to see you again"

You find her awful, and that is as an adult who doesn't have to see her very often. Imagine dealing with that as a primary school aged child, or a young teenager? living with it, day after day, with no escape? Can't you see the immense damage that is going to do to someone, lifelong damage, that only cutting the person out will ever hope to go anywhere near helping?

There are many "stately homes" threads here which will give you an insight into the deep scarring that living which such abusive (yes, she was and is abusive, abuse is't just physical) parents will do. She's the architect of her own misfortune. You say she's apologised; meaningless, given she clearly hasn't changed her behaviour.

Iamnotamindreader you are right in terms of protecting. I have said to DP that if she tries any of her hot and cold, not speaking for months tricks now we have DD I will run out of patience with her. Kids can't understand that she is just being childish and ridiculous - they would be genuinely hurt.

Guess that is my red line.

WinkyWinkola Tue 16-Jul-13 10:07:40

You just don't know what happened in your dh's family.

I don't think anyone decides to cut off someone without a lot of thought.

I do believe things must have to be pretty awful for that to happen.

Op, you yourself describe your mil as a really rather unpleasant person who continually takes advantage of your food nature.

I hope your dcs are not subject to her dreadful behaviour. sad

Why on earth do you allow her to behave this way to you? It's unbelievable people are prepared to put up with.

HickeryDickery Tue 16-Jul-13 10:08:07


I have cut ALL of my family off. The mean reason is my "mum" and "dad" and "nan" are very abusive (emotionally and physically) and when I went to other "family" members for help they said I was lying. The rest of the family couldn't see what they were doing, they all normalized it.

It might be cruel to cut the family off but what they did to me was even more cruel. It's just a shame other children are still in that family.

WinkyWinkola Tue 16-Jul-13 10:08:09

Your GOOD nature although I'm sure your food is good too. wink

unreasonable! Just because you and your dp are prepared to put up with this crap, doesn't mean the rest of us should. 'cutting out' is a very dramatic way of saying it too. I no longer see my family because my father sexually abused me as a child and young adult. My mother had a breakdown when I told her this, aged 11, and I retracted to keep the peace. I suffered in my family for years afterwards, and was abused by several other family members over the years, including my cousin, whose baby I had at 18. I didn't find the strength to leave my toxic situation until I was almost thirty and had cancer, during which time my father physically assaulted my the day after initial surgical procedures, which my mother had begged me not to have as 'letting the doctors cut me would make my cancer spread'

Thankfully, after major treatment my cancer has been successfully treated, and I was able to cease contact with my family, which has been extremely difficult and upsetting for them, and me, but ultimately my life is much much better. I'm sad for them that their lives are not, but it is their own behaviour that has created the situation. Similarly your MIL is responsible for the relationship with her children, ad she obviously got it very fucking wrong, and still blames others as opposed to looking at herself. You sound like a massive enabler op. I cannot believe you are sympathetic to someone who sounds so utterly shit.

AngelinaCongleton Tue 16-Jul-13 10:09:54

I feel more sorry to hear your mil has attempted apologies. My mum has apologised to my sister no end and sometimes she relents. The relationship will be ok then my mum will do or say something to embarrass my sister ( total triggering behaviour for her) and she cuts her off again. I feel this time it's permanent. There is a website for parents cut off from children, maybe your mil could get some comfort from that to see how other people reconcile themselves to it.

Eyesunderarock I have been part of this dysfunction for 14 years so do have a fair idea what I'm on about.

And I see quite a lot of her as she lives with us for 2-3 months of the year!

She doesn't try anything with me because I think she knows it wouldn't get her anywhere as I see her behaviour as vaguely risible most of the time. BUT yes, to all posters who point out that it's different when you haven't grown up with it. I guess that's more true than I give credit for.

Bowlersarm Tue 16-Jul-13 10:11:59

OP- now you have turned a full circle and said that you would consider doing the same, if she doesn't speak to you for a few months?

Groovee Tue 16-Jul-13 10:12:05

I have never regretted deciding to cut dh's brother and his family out of our lives. When it comes to the point that I was shaking and dreading seeing her everytime because I knew what the aftermath would be, you know it's time to walk away.

Just because someone is "family" doesn't give them the right to treat you badly or expect you to accept their behaviour. You wouldn't allow friends to do it so why allow family to do it?

Eyesunderarock Tue 16-Jul-13 10:12:10

Well, as you said. When it starts impacting on your own children, you may feel differently.

maja00 Tue 16-Jul-13 10:12:23

I don't think there should be any expectation on children of emotionally abusive parents to accept their apologies and have a relationship with them as adults.

Your MIL must have really made her children suffer if 3 of them have cut her off. Maybe your DH was the lucky one to escape the worst of her behaviour?

cory Tue 16-Jul-13 10:13:25

On the one hand you and your dh think his siblings should forgive your mother for things that happened 8 years ago

Otoh your OP stated that she is still "totally selfish, manipulative, vindictive and cannot even conceive of not getting her own way". In other words, she hasn't changed and if they got back together she would keep damaging them in the same way. Saying you are sorry and then repeating the behaviour doesn't help the other person much does it?

You say you yourself would cut her out if she damaged your dc, which you can see that her behaviour might actually do. But you can't see that it may be right for your IL's who were damaged as children to keep free of her.

aldiwhore Tue 16-Jul-13 10:13:32

I agree that often on here people are very quick to say LTB or walk away...

Sometimes that's the only thing left to do. Sometimes it is cruel and unnecessary.

YABU though op because your thread title is a very general and incorrect comment, perhaps if you'd added sometimes onto the end of it YWNBU.

MumnGran Tue 16-Jul-13 10:13:41

OP - I think you are a kind person with a generous heart, so no flaming from me, but ........
The problem with toxic parents (which I gather your MIL is, from your post re her children's reactions to her) is that however miserable they feel about their children walking away, they will never ever see it as their fault.

If, just once, parents like this would even consider that their own actions are the cause of the children's rejection, then there would be some hope for the future relationships. But they don't. They never will. Because it is never their fault ! It is always the fault if the ungrateful child who walks away,

So the child in question, you have a choice to continue a life of abuse, accepting whatever is thrown at you. Or you walk away.
At some point, most adults realise that the the relationship is simply not worth the cost in misery and upset. Many (myself included) will only find stability and mental health after going NC.

I accept that you are seeing the 'abandoned woman' who feels so sorry for herself, but three children don't just turn their backs without real cause. Perhaps if you can persuade her to see that the situation has been due to her own actions, there might be some hope for reconciliation?

And just to be clear - I wasn't meaning to go near people who have had experience of abuse, physical, mental or sexual. I take the point that MIL may be on the spectrum of emotional abuse but it really is more on the PITA end.

EllaFitzgerald Tue 16-Jul-13 10:15:41

Thinkaboutit So if your mil's behaviour starts to affect you DCs, that will be your red line, but when her behaviour affected her own children, you judge them to be cruel? confused

Cutting family members out of your life is not something that people do lightly. It kills me every time I see my DFIL with his kids, and some of my friend's dads with them, because they are amazing fathers and I'm sad that I have no idea what that feels like.

Flobbadobs Tue 16-Jul-13 10:16:55

OP I've never had to do it but reading threads on here gives me the impression that it's less about the person being cut off and more done for the sanity and well being of the person doing the cutting off IYSWIM. They need to do it for the sake of themselves and their family, to stop the toxicity impacting on them any further.
Look on the Stately Homes thread or Relationships. It could give you a more impartial view of the why's and wherefore's. i don't think you see it because you're too involved and emotionally invested in this particular relationship x

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Tue 16-Jul-13 10:17:00

Think - what YOU see as PITA is someone else's emotional abuse.

spacegoat Tue 16-Jul-13 10:17:08

Just to add maybe your dh doesn't get the worst of her behaviour. I have a very different relationship with my mother than db did. She behaved very differently towards him than me. Also she's your mil so you have a bit of distance. You might feel differently if she was your mum.

I think its only harsh if you are often cutting people out of your life. I have only cut one person out and like others have said, to protect my dcs not me.

MumnGran Tue 16-Jul-13 10:18:25

Also, just read your follow-up, in which you actually do answer your own question:
Kids can't understand that she is just being childish and ridiculous - they would be genuinely hurt. Guess that is my red line.

Your DH and siblings grew up with her, and were hurt incessantly, without let up because there was no-one drawing a red line on their behalf. The ones that have walked away have drawn their own. Is that cruel?

<<wonders if the DH was the favoured child? it happens often in these situations>>

maja00 Tue 16-Jul-13 10:18:48

Can you see that she might just be a PITA to an independent adult who is unrelated to her, but that behaviour directed at a 5 year old, 10 year old or 15 year old who is totally dependent and has no choice but to live with her is a different thing entirely? It's comparatively easy to deal with selfish, manipulative and vindictive behaviour as an unrelated adult.

Your MIL was obviously more than just a PITA for her children to take such extreme measures to avoid contact with her.

Oh and please don't think I'm some kind of suffering saint. Promise you I am far from that!!

I genuinely worry that she will drive DP and I away and then be left on her own utterly destroyed. It's just not possible to talk to her about her role in the problem without a complete meltdown though.

People can be very messed up can't they?

Who are you to put her at the 'PITA end' of a scale of emotional abuse? She's your MIL. Frankly, you have NO idea what you're talking about at all. You sound incredibly naive which I suppose is great for you.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Tue 16-Jul-13 10:22:15

Think - if that happens it will be OF HER OWN DOING. We can't live other people's lives for them.

Mumngran No, weirdly DP wasn't the favoured child - he is the eldest and has always been the most independent. I think he effectively broke away when he was about 9 or 10 and demonstrated that he didn't need her. But it was ok at the time because she had 3 other smaller kids needing her attention. The trouble has been with the kids she was closest to.

She once said to me "I remember x (DBIL) once saying 'I don't understand why my sister has done that, I would never do that to you mum'" And then he did.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Tue 16-Jul-13 10:23:12


Being related to someone doesn't mean you just have it put up with any old crap they care to dish out, it's an accident of birth.

Families are incredibly important but that's because although they may have their faults and niggles they are loving supportive units. If they cause nothing but grief then what is the point? If I wouldn't let a stranger treat me terribly I'm certainly not going to put up with it from someone who is supposed to love me

I would never cut my mum out, she means the world to me and its not because she gave birth to me, it's because she is a wonderful woman who loves me and makes my life better for her being in it

KellyElly Tue 16-Jul-13 10:25:03

I cut my toxic mother out of my life and it's the best thing I ever did. If that makes me cruel so be it. After all the cruelty and emotional shit I put up with from her through my entire childhood, teens and twenties I can live with you thinking I'm cruel for what I did OP.

JackieBigTits Tue 16-Jul-13 10:25:28

It may be cruel, but I wouldn't say it is 'just' cruel.

It altogether depends on the people involved. Members of my DPs extended family are not and will never be my family. MIL cut all ties about 10 years ago. I had met an aunt and cousin, but will never see them again and out of respect for MIL would not want to. He also has a sister who, while I speak to if I see her, is not spoken to by DP, his siblings or his parents.

While I percieve the reasons to be slight, his mother has serious depression and anxiety stemming from childhood abuse. The stress caused to her by issues (possibly triggering for her in a roundabout way) with her daughter was more than she could bear. I would never dream of saying to her that she was unreasonable to cut her out, if it saved her own mental wellbeing.

Eyesunderarock Tue 16-Jul-13 10:26:24

'I genuinely worry that she will drive DP and I away and then be left on her own utterly destroyed. '

Do you really not understand that as adults you have that choice, but her dependent children didn't?
What position in the family is your DP, the youngest? My father grew up in an abusive home, one of 8 children. The youngest had no idea as the hate and vitriol was reserved for his older siblings, and child 7 was the golden child.
Yet you use words like cruel, selfish and nasty to describe their choices as adults?
They could have chosen to be equally abusive back, truly vicious. But all they've done is cut them out and tried to forget about them. That's pretty impressive self-control in my books.

DeWe Tue 16-Jul-13 10:26:43

* Totally selfish, manipulative, vindictive and cannot even conceive of not getting her own way, a real pain in the ass*

She is not selfish or cruel. She loves her kids. She just doesn't seem to want them to grow up and be adults away from her. All the problems were in her not letting go.

Aren't compatable are they?

People i know who have cut relatives out of their lives are not taking the easy option at all. It causes much heartache and emotional trauma.

And I'll bet the "apologetic letters" are along the lines of "how can you do this to me, I did so much for you, I''m so upset...."

Pootles2010 Tue 16-Jul-13 10:27:13

Right so first you said she is selfish, vindictive and cruel now you're saying she's not selfish or cruel. Which is it?

stooshe Tue 16-Jul-13 10:28:03

As a nearly forty three year old woman, I have cut my father out of my life. This is after realising that he will NEVER love properly. He has always been manipulative and abusive. I was put in the position of "scapegoat child", to the point that extended family would feel entitled to do so. Imagine the penny dropping at the big, old age of forty. If I was any less strong ( and didn't have an inkling about psychology/personality disorders) , this knowledge about his behaviour and my pattern of behaviour ( as a result of being put into a certain "box") may have tipped me over the edge. I even chose a similar man to have a child with ( now twenty and so much more au fait with psychology). In fact it was my daughter who for a time was brought up by my sane Aunt in America who realised that the family dynamics are "fucked up". Yes, my lovely father even collaborated with my daughter's father ( who has never supported his child) in slandering me. Going so far as to tell him that I have an inheritance from my dead ( enabling) mother. ( so that baby father could "borrow" money from me which has never and will never be returned. Yes, I know I was a fool).
Your mother in law sounds as if she is pulling the "victim" role out of the hat. Good on her daughter for recognising an insincere apology. She probably knows that if she is tempted back into the fray, it will set her back years. If only other children of toxic parents knew to cut the cords on their sixteenth birthday. It saves an adulthood of pain. Every adult is still the child of somebody and to know deep in your heart that you were singled out for some shit that was not your doing or fault is a terrible realisation and to gain the strength to live functionally usually comes at the cost of blocking the transgressor out of your life. Maybe your sister in law has chosen to break the rusty chain of toxic dysfunctional behaviour.*

* I 'd be more convinced of your mother in law's regret if she never got other people involved in sending her apologies to her daughter. If she had anything about her, she would have got a phone number by now. But phoning her daughter risks her hearing what she doesn't want to hear. Not the sign of an unconditional apology. We enlightened children of toxic parents know the signs of skulduggery...........

I think the real cruelty is in expecting people, purely because they are related to you, to put up with vile behaviour year on year, take scar after scar of cruel words and manipulative emotional blackmail, and then keep coming back for more. Good on your MIL's children that have escaped her field of influence. I hope they're happy.

I cut my dad out of my life, but he has never seemed too bothered by this - never sought contact (which I am very glad about) - I doubt he considers me cruel, I can't see that he has ever cared at all - how am I cruel? Cruel would be letting my children meet him and forming a relationship with him. I could not do that.

DowntonTrout Tue 16-Jul-13 10:29:28

I'll explain how it can be that your DH view could be different from his other siblings.

In my case there are 7 and 12 years between me an my elder DB /DSis.
Mum was past 40 when I was born in the 60s. I was a mistake/accident call it what you will. My mum never got over it. My DB and DSis went away to school, my dad worked away for most of the week. My mum stayed in bed "ill". I fed myself from age about 5 or 6 on powdered mashed potato and powdered chicken soup.

When the siblings/dad was home it was different but when they were away I was left to my own devices. They never saw it. It hadn't been like that for them.

Years later, when Dad retired and actually spent time with her, they ended up divorcing. He apologised to me saying he had never realised what it was like for me and just thought I was difficult. Now he knew. It was soon after that that I did cut contact because at last it was recognised that I wasn't just the bad one. Someone else had at last admitted that she was mentally abusive. DBro and DSIS continued contact because they still had never experienced any if it.

Eyesunderarock Tue 16-Jul-13 10:30:15

How will you justify it to yourself when you eventually walk away, I wonder?

Arcticspill Tue 16-Jul-13 10:30:49

You say she is not abusive, more a Pita. That isn't what I see from your description of her continuing behaviour which seems shocking to me. You are far kinder and more tolerant than I am of self absorbed , manipulative behaviour which I think limits life choices of those affected by it. You make no mention of any positives she brings to you. Are there any?

Oscalito Tue 16-Jul-13 10:31:34

She just doesn't seem to want them to grow up and be adults away from her. All the problems were in her not letting go.

That's a massive burden if you are the child. You're coming into this very late, you don't know what she was like to grow up with and how she used her power... and if her problem was in not letting go and not letting them grow up I would guess she was a total nightmare.

EllaFitzgerald Tue 16-Jul-13 10:32:00

I certainly don't think you're some kind of suffering saint.

I'm surprised that you're willing to protect your own children if it comes to it, but being really judgemental when a 16 year old child has had to walk away from the family home and your DP had to break away from his own mum before he reached his teens because the adults around them at that time weren't willing to do the same for them.

ShadowStorm Tue 16-Jul-13 10:32:08

I think it can certainly appear cruel or selfish to cut people out of your life entirely, especially if the only side you're hearing is that of the person who's been 'cut-off' (and having your DH's perspective on your MIL's behaviour isn't the same as hearing your DBIL / DSIL's side of the story here. He may have been treated more favourably or not seen the worst of her behaviour towards them, for instance).

BUT - I think that the vast majority of people who do cut another family member out of their lives will have only done so after much thought and much effort to improve the relationship, and in the end, because they feel it's the only way they can preserve their own sanity or their own safety.

Oscalito Tue 16-Jul-13 10:33:27

And I agree with others - people like this can be very different depending on who they are around, and extremely secretive about the worst of their behaviour. You may be getting a very edited version and not realise it.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Tue 16-Jul-13 10:33:31

When you cut her out it will be for noble reasons, protecting the children- couldnt be helped, but when they do it (and how do you know they aren't thinking of their children?) they are selfish and cruel

OK. She is self centered, more than selfish. And I have never seen her be cruel. She just expects the world to fall into place as she would like it to be.

I saw at least one of the apologetic letters because we suspected the same DeWe and it actually read pretty sincerely. She said (to paraphrase), 'I'm sorry if I upset you and I know that what I did was unfair. It really wasn't intended to ruin everything, I was just worried about you'.

Though I admit a lot of what she says is more along the lines of 'how could they do this to me' so maybe that is more what she really thinks.

BTW - I also feel that the menopause (which she wouldn't take any meds for as she is into natural remedies) had an impact on her relationship with DBIL as it all blew up when she was very volatile.

Anyway - thanks for the many perspectives. I still reckon a second chance wouldn't go a miss but it's not something I can actually influence so really no point raking over the coals.

DowntonTrout Tue 16-Jul-13 10:34:12

I also developed huge problems with food. I was caught putting meat in my pockets and flushing it down the loo. No one asked why. It was just naughty.

But it was because for long periods I was eating the SMASH or something like a cucumber and nothing else. So I couldn't physically eat a full meal. I just couldn't articulate it at that age. No one could see that- therefore in their eyes it didn't happen.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Tue 16-Jul-13 10:34:40

Yabu. Plenty of people deserve estrangement. It is a very effective way of managing dysfunctional people.

ouryve Tue 16-Jul-13 10:34:42

Why is is cruel?

No one should be obligated to be a martyr to someone's selfish and inconsistent whims. There's no medals awarded for sticking out the tantrums of a grown woman not getting her own way. No one deserves to be damaged by the unreasonable behaviour of someone else.

You don't become estranged from most of your offspring because of a bit of "teenage angst". Seriously.

It would be more cruel to your children to subject them to her stroppy behaviour just to kepe her happy (because she sounds like she wouldn't be happy and there would always be something to whine about).

And I'm not saying I would cut her out by the way. I would protect DD at all costs - but I honestly don't think I would but all contact forever. I would just keep it at an adults only level until she could behave.

navada Tue 16-Jul-13 10:36:33

I've cut out my mother, sister & brother.

Never looked back.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Tue 16-Jul-13 10:36:48

You and your mil are starting to sound a bit similar in your thinking ...

Tryharder Tue 16-Jul-13 10:38:02


I often hear about toxic parents on here. What about toxic children?

My uncle cut my grandma out of his life. My grandma was the loveliest person I ever knew and it happened all because she dared to voice a concern about one of his life choices.

ShadowStorm Tue 16-Jul-13 10:38:36

I would just keep it at an adults only level until she could behave.

How old is your MIL? Surely if she can learn how to behave acceptably, she'd be showing some signs of improvement by now?

Oldraver Tue 16-Jul-13 10:39:32

Do you have children ? do you expose them to this nasty woman ? Because I think THAT is cruel.

You are telling your DC's is is ok to be treated like shit

TalkativeJim Tue 16-Jul-13 10:39:44

Goodness, you really have no idea.

No idea at all.

Yeah, well, that's what you will do. Some people can't carry on dealing with abusive arseholes because it takes its toll on their mental health. Cutting someone off is not an easy option, it's fucking hard. But sometimes, you have to put yourself first. The abusive person won't ever put you first.

We no longer have anything to do with sil because her behaviour was extremely abusive and putting such stress on our family I thought dh was going to have a heart attack.

You would not advise anyone to stay in an abusive marriage so how is this any different.

They happened to have come out of the same womb and there the similarity ends. I think all relationships should be at least positive 55% of the time.

coppertop Tue 16-Jul-13 10:42:36

I know you are paraphrasing but can you really not see that what she wrote was not a real apology.

"I'm sorry if I upset you" doesn't even acknowledge that the person was upset.

"I was just worried about you" is an attempt to excuse the behaviour and turn the 'apologiser' into someone deserving of some sympathy.

She hasn't even attempted to change the behaviour that she's supposedly sorry for.

GoodTouchBadTouch Tue 16-Jul-13 10:43:24

I think its the other way round: You need a really good reason to have someone in your life. Blood alone is not enough at all according to me

cloudpuff Tue 16-Jul-13 10:45:10

The person who cuts off contact is often hurting an awful lot to do that, usually someone has put up with an awful lot of crap before taking that decision.

I have recently cut off contact with my step mum and her family and its the best thing I could have done, they have been doubly poisonous since dad died, and they started bringing my daughter into the mess, I may not have had the strengh to stick up for myself over the years but I sure as fuck will stop my child having to put up with it.

Oscalito Tue 16-Jul-13 10:47:26

Yes "I was just so worried about you" is a classic toxic parent line.

That was why mother mother used to call me a slut when I was a teenager, because she was "so worried" I'd get pregnant.

Plus it has the added advantage of making them look like a saint, so put upon, so burdened with love and worry for their children.

gotthemoononastick Tue 16-Jul-13 10:48:56

Downtontrout is right.I left home for boarding school at 5 and the life my siblings had after that is like a paralel universe compared to what I remember of my childhood.You will never know how they grew up..perceptions and all that.

yamsareyammy Tue 16-Jul-13 10:49:51

You can cope with it. They cannot.
And with respect are not them, and never will be. You do not have the same charcters as tthem and never will do. You have been brought up one way, they have been brought up, goodness how. You have been brought up with coping mechanisms.
b.they have been ground down for more thousands of hours. And when they were little, and when they wre nowhere near old enough to cope. So even if they did start off having the coping mechanisms, they clearly no longer have enough.
c. She will treat them differently to you. Bound to. She will even treat them differently to each other.
d.They have back history with her, you do not.

A redeeming feature, from her pov in all this, is that she has said sorry.
Which is very good.

But. And it is a big but. It sounds like they still feel no where near able to cope with her. And from your description of her, it is very easy to see why.
So what can they do? You dont expect them to have a breakdown over it do you?

Normally, I might say, that because you can "cope" with her to a degree, that you might start acting as peacemaker, or bridge builder.
But from your description of her beahviour still after all these years, I dont think it would be fair on her children.
Perhaps th best that vould be hoped for, is that they send her a card at birthdays or Christmas[apologies if I may have missed that they already do that?]

ImNotBloody14 Tue 16-Jul-13 10:50:45


I think YABU too. You don't really know what happened with your MIL and her estranged children; you aren't getting the full story. As if it's been bad enough that they felt they had to go to the other side of the world and cut all contact, then I can imagine no reason why they'd want to let her back in to their lives at any point. Cutting people out of your life isn't about punishment or retribution (so the prison comparisons are silly); it's about protecting yourself and getting on with your own life.

I have not had any contact with my father for over a decade now. I don't care if he's changed or whatever. I'm not willing to give him another chance. He had thousands of chances not to be a complete arsehole during the time I did have contact with him. Just because he shares some DNA with me, doesn't mean I have to see him. The tipping point for me was when DS1 was a baby and I just couldn't face the idea of my father doing the same emotional abuse number on him as I'd had all my life. Seeing what might happen to DS1 have me the strength to stand up for myself, and I'm glad I did.

I also cut out my maternal grandmother (from age 10 when the evil old witch attacked me with a knife). I would leave the house if she was going to be there. Child protection was obviously shit in the 1980s as no one at my primary school checked out why I would sit outside the school in the playground from 7.30am every day (whatever the weather) so that I didn't have to see her. She's dead now, but even if she weren't I don't see why I should be expected to have anything to do with her.

My mother has also done terrible things to me, but I haven't cut contact. I just minimise it and ensure I remain in control.

OK, I don't want to be one of those posters who gets told she is wrong, then reiterates she is right. But, it looks like that is exactly what I am doing. Sorry.

For the daughter you are all absolutely right. I DON'T know what happened (I have an inkling and it wasn't great but was more of an error of judgement / words said in the heat of the moment than cruelty). I have always tended to leave that one be as it is beyond my understanding.

BIL is different - I was around when they fell out and I honestly do not believe it deserved 8 years of no contact. It was all a lot of fuss about their wedding. It deserved a huge row but not totally cutting contact. Worst is I know it makes him miserable too.

AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Tue 16-Jul-13 10:58:38

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Tue 16-Jul-13 10:06:31
Iamnotamindreader you are right in terms of protecting. I have said to DP that if she tries any of her hot and cold, not speaking for months tricks now we have DD I will run out of patience with her. Kids can't understand that she is just being childish and ridiculous - they would be genuinely hurt.

Guess that is my red line.

How can you say that and not realise that that exact experience of being genuinely hurt by your MILs tricks will have been your SILs reality for her entire childhood? Are they supposed to just forget and forgive years of hurt and muddled feelings and emotional abuse? Ridiculous.

MumnGran Tue 16-Jul-13 10:59:13

It is usually a case of "the straw that breaks the camels back"
Certainly was for me

ratbagcatbag Tue 16-Jul-13 11:01:39

I haven't seen my dad since I was 18, ill never see him again.

When I got married I left the bit of fathers name blank, he will never ever meet my daughter or stepson. My will is very clear on what happens to my daughter and there is a specific line in it, that says he is to have nothing from my estate and he is definitely not having my dd.

Finally he's the sort who if he knew was dying he'd want to say his peace,all I hope is I get the chance to refuse it,he dies a long lonely painful death. Cruel, harsh probably. Does he deserve it,yes with every breath he takes.

I made the choice to stop bothering with my youngest sister about 10 years ago and can honestly say that my life has been so much less stressful since then.

Sometimes people will say 'but she is your sister' and my reply is that well, I am her sister too, and she treated me in a way that most people wouldn't treat an enemy.

As our older sister said, 'show me where it is written that you must get along with all of your family' and she is right. Just because we share parents does not mean I have to put up with years of tantrums and abuse off the younger one. If she was someone I met through work/school/hobbies or whatever I wouldn't have had more than one conversation with her before walking away.

I consider that the decision to cut someone off was hers in the way she treated me. I just stopped trying to keep the 'relationship' going. (aka beating my heat against a wall)

yamsareyammy Tue 16-Jul-13 11:03:09

I think this thread may run and run.
Am a little surprised that you cant see several things by now , op.

Samu2 Tue 16-Jul-13 11:04:55

My husband cut his parents out for over a year.

Now he sees them for 10 minutes a fortnight when they come to pick up the grandchildren. They are welcome to pick the kids up from school or ask to see them if they want more time with them but we personally have very little to do with them except to arrange visits with the kids and a quick hello when they collect them.

It's really really sad and I wish we could turn time back and deal with things differently from day one.

The decision wasn't made lightly and there has been a lot of heartbreak all around. However, my husband is not selfish or cruel for making the decision he needed to make. I still hold out hope that one day things will change though.

So yes, OP. You do not know what you are talking about.

You do not know what you are talking about; not all families by any means are emotionally healthy, functional and loving.

You have likely too come from the sort of family where this type of dysfunction is thankfully unknown. You are thinking therefore like a typical non emotionally dysfunctional and thus reasonable person would do regarding her (thinking for instance that she is heartbroken that her children do not see her), she is however not built that way and your reasoning is thus incorrect. She has apologised but such have meant nothing.

You write about families being more forgiving and tolerant; qualities that the PILs have never shown their own children.

It is also difficult for your man because he is really the last one left and presumably he is as well tied up in FOG - fear, obligation and guilt.

They are only reaping what they have sown; they actively chose to act like this and their offspring have chosen not to put up with such crap from their parents any longer. Also such decisions are not made on a whim; this has likely cost their children many sleepless nights and a shedload of anguish before making such a decision re going no contact.

Thumbwitch Tue 16-Jul-13 11:09:39

"Yes they are a nightmare but they don't deserve this misery. "

Err, yes they do. They have brought it upon themselves.

"They weren't abusive or anything..."

Really? The crap you described in the first couple of paragraphs indicates quite strongly an enormous level of potential for emotional abuse.

So - you can choose to put up with it as much as you, your DH and your DC can stand - but don't expect others to do the same, or even criticise them for not choosing to keep this toxic person in their lives.

Mia4 Tue 16-Jul-13 11:16:46

ThinkAboutItTomorrow You're thinking about isolated incidents which were the trigger for the cutting out, you aren't thinking that said incidents are probably the breaking point after years and years of toxic shit. IF BIL was that miserable, he'd do something about it. Feeling unhappy and guilty knowing your parent is aging and upset and you're cutting them out is often outweighed by the sheer relief and unburdening that comes along too.

If more then one sibling has cut her off, it says more about her then about them. I get that you get all the flack and see the bad fallout, as well as see MILs grief but you didn't see those children's years of grief and likely neither did your DP-you may think differently if you did.

You want to help MIL? Stop enabling her to continue acting as she does. Challenge her and call her out on it, not try to pretend it isn't happening or put it down to just being 'her'. Maybe if you all stop she might take a look at her behviour but while one of her kids is condoning it and effectively agreeing his siblings were 'PITA' then she can live in her self-delusion.

Are you sure your DP isn't favourite? She may have babied the others and he may have been more independent but that doesn't mean he's not the favourite.

mrsdinklage Tue 16-Jul-13 11:20:52

The cruelty was your MIL's behaviour. I'm sure your DP was the golden child, and FIL and your DP and now you are her enablers.
You really do not get it.
How much shit abuse would you let your dd tolerate ?
Teenage angst FFS
Have you actually spoken to your SIL - I guess not.
Its very hard to cut someone out of your life - but cruel - no cruel is when toxic people are forced on innocent children.
I hope you see things clearly before your dd is damaged by her toxic nature.

sparechange Tue 16-Jul-13 11:21:31

Re your BIL, maybe the wedding was the straw that broke the camels back? When you have years and years and years of toxic behaviour, you may eventually have an epiphany 'you know what, she isn't going to change, I'm not putting up with this crap anymore' moment. Perhaps for your BIL, it was the wedding.

I have cut my mother out, and slowly my siblings are doing the same. For one brother, it was about her visiting our grandfather (her father) in hospital. It might seem really trivial, but it was just a realisation for him that she will never change, and she has been given every chance under the sun to show she can be a decent human being.

The fact that your MIL can moderate her behavior with you I think shows that she knows she is wrong in the way she treats her other children (or else she would behave like that with you as well) AND is capable of behaving in a civil manner when she puts her mind to it.
The fact that she refuses to afford her children that basic courtesy seems to me to show that she thinks of them as lesser humans who aren't worthy of being treated properly. Your other comments that she can't accept they are grown up and independents confirms that she sees her children as her property that she can treat however she wants.

In that situation, I'd be running like the wind in the opposite direction from her

mrsdinklage Tue 16-Jul-13 11:22:11

x posted with Mia - but are posts are very similar.

umpti67 Tue 16-Jul-13 11:25:43

I think YABU. Would agree with one of the poster's above, you've seen the trigger point but not the years of rubbish that went on beforehand. You can tolerate her as a well adjusted adult with a happy childhood (presumably). But if you haven't had those things, you sometimes don't have the mental capacity to deal with it any longer. And the anger you feel as an adult is hard to just get over. I can only speak from my own experience but the treatment I received as a child has shaped my own relationships, my self esteem, my career, my parenting as an adult. It's a constant struggle just to keep sane. I sometimes just don't feel i have the energy to keep fighting for my basic rights - i.e. to be treated with respect and not continually be emotionally abused. I haven't cut my dm off, but I suspect a sibling is in the process of doing so. I don't blame them but it has the effect of putting more pressure on the remaining siblings in contact.

Nanny0gg Tue 16-Jul-13 11:29:04

She is not selfish or cruel. She loves her kids. She just doesn't seem to want them to grow up and be adults away from her. All the problems were in her not letting go. Her daughter won't even let her have an address to send letters to - although she has sent letters of apology, passed on through other relatives. She has repeatedly apologised to DBIL and DSIL. But they just won't accept it. It's very much just because it's easier without her in their lives. DFIL once said 'I know she was difficult but it's been 8 years. you do longer for murder'. I kind of see what he means.

But she doesn't seem to have learnt from all this or changed her behaviour. Are you happy for your DC to see all this as they grow up?
She knows what she's done in the past. What's she doing to change the future?

I very rarely see my father, he lives abroad. 2 years ago he had a stroke which nearly killed him. I was nagged and nagged by family to go and visit him, I used every excuse in the book to attempt to put a stop to the nagging. The truth of why I didn't go was because I didn't want to, I didn't/don't care enough for him, to visit. My family believe me to be heartless, a crap daughter, as he's my father I should forgive him for whatever it is he's done.

They see a snap shot of our relationship, they see a daughter that is uncaring and a father that wants to make peace. What they don't see is the torture and pain he inflicted over many years. They don't know why I have had to shut him off in order to protect myself and more importantly protect my children.

You OP have seen a snap shot of your ILs life, you have no idea, other than what your ILs have chosen to tell you, about the life before you arrived. Deciding to cut ties with members of your family is difficult but is very rarely done on the back of a single incident, it has generally taken years of abuse to get to the point were you decide enough is enough. The straw that breaks the camels back, to outsiders, can look to be a minor insignificant problem but when its added to years of crap, it is important, it does matter and it does count.

How many chances does someone get? You state that MIL deserves a second chance, how do you know that she already hasn't had a second, third, forth chance? how many times do you think someone should be emotionally beaten before you accept that disowning someone is justified?

roseel Tue 16-Jul-13 11:33:44

I cut off my family, but I'd endured years (during my childhood) of physical abuse, emotional abuse and downright neglect. I still stayed in touch until adulthood, but made the break when they started to try the old emotional abuse at a time when I was vulnerable.

I'd say it wouldn't have been something they have done lightly. I felt guilty for a long time, and know others have felt similarly. It is not easy to do. It has been years for me now, and I do feel better as time goes on, I will not go back, ever.

catsmother Tue 16-Jul-13 11:35:09

I agree with the others re: straws, camels and backs.

For me, the single specific incident which made me decide to finally cut contact (it had been in the pipeline for a while, but you keep giving them "one more chance" etc) would be, in isolation, considered by most people to be relatively trivial. For me however, it was very much "FFS, not yet another dose of sh*t - why on earth am I putting up with this again and again" .... I really had been pushed too far. Metaphorically, imagine you're standing near a cliff edge and being pushed inch by inch towards the edge on a fairly regular basis - well, eventually, if you keep being pushed, you're going to go over aren't you ?

LaRegina Tue 16-Jul-13 11:37:55


You don't seem to realise that people don't usually have much choice about cutting toxic relatives out of their lives - it's not (usually) done on a whim.

Quite often people are at the end of their tether and the only choice is to become more and more miserable and stressed because of the way somebody is treating them, or to cut ties.

IfIonlyhadsomesleep Tue 16-Jul-13 11:40:42

Nobody cuts anyone out without huge angst. I used to think my sister was unreasonable for not talking to my mother. Now I realise that her experience then and now could be different and I respect her reasons. Yabu.

CinnamonAddict Tue 16-Jul-13 11:41:00

OP you don't know what you are talking about.

There are things done to children that don't come under "Forgive and forget" it just does not apply here. It's more like damage limitation.

I don't know if the damage your PIL did was of this dimension, but please don't assume all cutting out is done for some selfish little reason.

Back2Two Tue 16-Jul-13 11:41:11

It's sometimes a case of choosing survival over emotional destruction.

Not an easy choice to make and not necessarily leaving you with at total peace for ever more, but sometimes it's the only way to give you the strength to focus on being a good parent for example.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Tue 16-Jul-13 11:47:38

You aboutdon't know what you are talking about, sorry but you don't.
People don't have the right to be in your life no matter who they are. If someone shits all over you you have the right to say no, I'm not taking that.
When I was 16 I tried to kill myself. This came after several years of serious mental health problems.
My fathers parents came to the mental health unit I was under section in, delusional and suicidal and they told me that my parents didn't love me and didn't care about me and were the cause of all my problems and only they were there for me, not my parents. They told me they gave me gifts which my parents had intercepted. I was so distressed by this that I tried to escape the mhu and ended up under constant supervision.
When I was released, they phoned my parents and demanded I go to stay with them. I didn't want to. My dads mother then yelled that they wanted nothing more to do with me via my dads dad who was on the phone to me at the time.
"Don't go getting clucky X" she yelled "we want nothing more to do with her"

Fair enough.

I gave them what they wanted and the rest of the 'family' sided with them because they thought as you do. That someone can shit all over you and matters soooooooo much more than you that you have to bend over and take it up the arse cos they're 'family' and they can be utter bastards and you have to take it.
Well no. You don't. Fuck. That.
Someone who can treat you so badly does not deserve to be in your life. Why the holy hell should you let someone treat you so badly and take it in order to protect their feelings when they demonstrate day in day out by their contemptuous treatment of you that they don't give a crap about yours?
Be a martyr to the shits in your life if you want but don't try to tell other people that they have to be martyrs to the shits in theirs.

JacqueslePeacock Tue 16-Jul-13 11:52:12

You're right - it IS cruel and distressing to a mother to be cut out. But it would be even more cruel and distressing to me to have to stay in touch. Someone is going to be horribly hurt, but the difference is that it doesn't have to be me anymore.

MumnGran Tue 16-Jul-13 11:53:50

Back2Two sums it up perfectly It's sometimes a case of choosing survival over emotional destruction

I would go further and say it is "often" the case.

Honestly OP - can you not see that people here appreciate what you are trying to say, but bring a world of experience to the thread when we are all saying the same thing .... the fact is, that while we could accept that one child going NC could just possibly be a child/parent clash, rather than toxic parenting ...THREE siblings doing it leaves not a shadow of room for doubt.

And I reiterate yourself have said that you put up with it providing she doesn't start the behaviours with your children because that is your 'red line' (your words). You are rightly protecting your offspring from behaviour you consider they would be very hurt by. no one drew a red line to protect your siblings-in-law No-one. That means they were hurt (in a way you would not allow for your own children) day in, day out, year in, year out, with no adult safe zone to make it better for them.

I started my answers to you by saying that you seem a kind caring person, but actually now think you are determinedly blind to the damage that is caused to the psyche by the actions of mothers like your MIL.....and to the absolute right of the children who live through that childhood to finally draw the red line for themselves

Just for the record - I don't try to tell the people in question that they should kiss and make up - I think it but keep it to myself. It kind of is my business because it impacts my life quite a lot - but it's not ENOUGH of my business to try to dictate. And knowing the personalities involved I don't think anything I say would make a blind bit of difference.

I just see it from the angle of the person who has lost / pushed away / destroyed their family and think it is quite harsh.

yamsareyammy Tue 16-Jul-13 11:56:04

op. I suspect you wont post on here again.
But you will probably read it all eventually.

The one thing I have left to say is, you sound like a relative of mine.
If someones bends her ear or lives with her for a while, she starts going round to their point of view. Then, when she lives with someone else for a couple of months, and they bend her ear, she will start going towards their point of view.

You originally came acorss as being quite emotionally mature. But I do think, and empathetic. But I think you may be missing the bit I just talked about.

tbh, the best thing you could do is live with one of the other siblings for 2 months. I think it would open your eyes hugely.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Tue 16-Jul-13 11:56:31

You understanding it a bit more now, OP?

yamsareyammy Tue 16-Jul-13 11:58:18

x post! And I think you have somewhat confirmed what I have just written.
Spend a lot of time with one of the siblings, go on holiday with them, or whatever.

Back2Two Tue 16-Jul-13 11:59:52

I agree goodtouch

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Tue 16-Jul-13 12:00:38

x post too!

Sorry, OP, despite all this woman has done, which must be significant to have the outcome it had/has, and your own experience of her behaviour you STILL think the others are HARSH?????

I get the impression you would apologise until the cows come home until this woman turns her attention on your and your family. I suspect she manages to keep that in check to some extent because she knows full well you are last chance saloon and if she pisses your DH off to the extent she has everyone else, she's gonna be in a tiny bedsit somewhere.

HARSH? Try thinking about it from the childs perspective.

Oh Yams believe me, there are days and indeed weeks I COMPLETELY understand BIL and SIL points of view grin. It's just this last couple of weeks I feel like MIL is improving a bit and maybe deserves a bit of time off for good behaviour.

Next week I will be on here ranting about my bloody impossible MIL and seriously considering walking away (after 14 years with DP we have had our fair share of times considering this option!).

maja00 Tue 16-Jul-13 12:04:34

So ThinkAboutIt, are you honestly saying you will never cut your MIL out, even if her behaviour damages your children?

Because surely to do so would be really harsh.

EllaFitzgerald Tue 16-Jul-13 12:06:04

OP, why don't you try looking at it from the angle of the people who have been emotionally abused since childhood by this awful woman. Perhaps it will seem less harsh then.

yamsareyammy Tue 16-Jul-13 12:12:50

2 weeks would be nowhere near enough.
If she was a bit better after a year, then it might be worth considering.
And you are assuming that even if they forgave her[and by no means do all people do that], they they are stong enough mentally to cope with her. A big ask imo. She will be able to run rings around them, and always wil,l after what she has done to them.
Have any of them had breakdowns btw? Not that you would necessarily know.

She has seriously messed with their lives.

maja No, I've said I will protect DD at all costs but that doesn't have to involve cutting her out altogether forever.

e.g. returning her Christmas and birthday cards unopened, having family get togethers and inviting everyone but her and FIL etc

One of the reasons it is DP not DH is that we can't face the idea of having a wedding and having to pick sides - because DBIL wouldn't come if PIL came and my DP would really want his brother at the wedding.

No - no breakdowns (well the sister that ran away at 16 I think may have come close but DV was involved - from the partner that she ran away from home to be with against her parent's wishes).

maja00 Tue 16-Jul-13 12:16:11

So you can imagine protecting your own child, but don't have any empathy for the children who had to live with this women with no one to protect them?

Whereisegg Tue 16-Jul-13 12:24:07

After huge troubles with my alcoholic sister (she binges for days/weeks at a time, but doesn't wake up shaking so can and does go months without a drink) I decided I'd had enough.

Made it very clear I wanted a healthy relationship with her, and would be waiting for the 'I don't drink anymore' phone call.

I now have a 10 & 7 year old. She has never seen either, and uses the fact as a reason as to why she continues to drink.


Mia4 Tue 16-Jul-13 12:24:15

time off for good behaviour Time off for good behaviour? Are you serious? You think a couple of weeks of moping and whining make up for all past transgressions.

I'm sorry but the more i hear of this OP the more i hear 'me me me' coming from your post. You're annoyed now that you're seeing this, that this is impacting on you and DPs life, that you see MIL in her 'sorry moment'. Next month you may well be doing as you say and ranting because she's upsetting you or DP and DC and MIL is being a heartless bugger!

Sorry but this sounds all about you and your DP, you haven't even bothered to answer as people have said-that you are enabling this woman to carry on behaving like this. Perhaps if you did her 'good behaviour' may last longer.

I think the weird thing maja is that when I first met DBIL he seemed very happy and to be very close to his parents. Really relied on them and went out of his way to see them. If anything I would have described him as a bit of a mummy's boy. Then he started to be more independent in his early 20's, just as his mum was menopausal (FWIW) and things went horribly wrong.

Also - just to be clear the sister who is emigrating still spends about 3 hours a week skyping her mum. She wants to be close but just at a distance. I think she is being very sensible.

That's why I see a mum who was difficult rather than one they needed protecting from.

BUT - I totally see the points about straws and camels and also about not being able to rely on DPs experience of growing up as a guide to how they all felt.

And yes, the numbers do seem stacked in favour of it being her rather than them.

Fakebook Tue 16-Jul-13 12:28:23

No, it's not cruel. Some people deserve it. I'd rather cut contact and live a happy life, than remain in regular contact and live a miserable life stewing over what was said to me for weeks and months on end, and then having it start all over again with the next contact.

Mia4 it's not a couple of weeks - it's the last 16 years she has been miserable, although I have only known her for 14 of them.

And no, it's not really about me, if that's what it sounds like then I am phrasing it wrong. The 'me' stuff is more about why I am involved, such that I am. I am a very peripheral player in this and in no way impacted as much as the rest of the family. She has never hurt me and I am very conscious of that being different for others.

yamsareyammy Tue 16-Jul-13 12:32:53

Sounds like one of the sisters can cope.
Sounds like you DH copes to a degree. And actully, it sounds like he is still craving their approval, as if he is 10 maybe. And ironically, partly because he emotionally distanced himself from them at aged 10, exactly the thing you are not wanting the other siblings to do.

But never forget that each and every child is different, and each and every child will have been treated at least slightly differently.

Good post Mia.

Mia4 Tue 16-Jul-13 12:34:36

She may have been miserable for 16 years, but you said yourself she's been behaving herself the last 2 weeks-that's very different.

And sorry but the me thing comes across loud to me, you say it yourself 'she's never hurt you' so while you are a player-you aren't one of the main ones or one that's had to live with this. As many before have showed parents can be very different to different siblings and at times. You asked if cutting people out was cruel or WYBU, since pretty much 95% have told you YWBU perhaps you should think more about that-at first it sounded like you changed your mind and understood but then to say it's harsh shows obviously you aren't thinking about it from another POV but your own.

Mia4 Tue 16-Jul-13 12:35:11

Thanks yamsareyammy

SunshineBossaNova Tue 16-Jul-13 12:35:36

YABU. My grandad is a deeply, deeply selfish man who was vile to my late grandmother. He has been looked after by my DM and her siblings, including six months on our sofa rent-free while I was a child. He hasn't been cut off at all, but if you listen to him moaning you could imagine his cruel children don't do anything for him at all.

Solari Tue 16-Jul-13 12:37:33

Its different when you are interacting with this woman as adult-to-adult, and your own childhood has not been entirely shaped and sculpted by her.

Her children will be far more affected by interaction with her, because she holds that 'mother' position (which can be very powerful to counteract), and will be able to press buttons and invoke memories that no one else is even aware of.

Most people don't cut someone off (let alone a parent) flippantly, they usually give many, many warnings, and ultimately it can really boil down to an act of self-preservation, not just to make life easier.

I think it is nice that you are trying to sympathise with her, despite your own annoyance, but experience tells me that you almost never know the full story in cases like this.

SarahAndFuck Tue 16-Jul-13 12:47:39

YABU. I doubt that anyone cuts someone out of their life easily or on a whim. You have to be unhappy and at your wits end to cut someone out, especially if it's a parent.

You could possibly be related to me. Long story.

DH is one of four siblings. One has emigrated, three still in the country. Eldest is an alcoholic and addict. All of them left home at 16, as soon as they were able to get out. DH is youngest. They all have issues, self-esteem, anger, emotionally reserved etc.

PILs are emotionally controlling, manipulative, spiteful and cruel. They love their children but cannot allow them to live their own lives, believe that their children owe them. Don't take responsibility for their own lives, their children are there to keep them happy and pander to every whim.

DH once told me that he grew up either being farmed out to grandparents or used as a way to show off. Said that he was told from an early age that if he ever upset is mother she would have a mental breakdown and it would be all his fault.

MIL sees everything as a personal slight to her, gets her own way by crying and FIL by bullying. Constantly disowning people and then taking offence because they then don't visit and pretend that all is fine. They are jealous and possessive and mean. They lie to suit themselves.

MIL is either casually or deliberately cruel. Both of them have harassed me to the point of illness, caused me to have panic attacks. They split up BIL and his fiancé with their behaviour and then when he married someone else they pushed her to breaking point and she almost divorced him. They emigrated instead.

It's not cruel to cut people like that out of your life. It's self preservation. It's sensible. Sometimes it's essential. And yes, I've done it and never looked back. Should have done it years earlier. I'd never have married DH if I'd known. We lost two babies and I'd still have married him knowing how painful that would be, but if I could have seen what was coming with his parents I would have run for the hills. They are that bad.

So again, YABU.

badtime Tue 16-Jul-13 12:48:45

I am arms-length rather than non contact with my parents, but I completely understand why the latter is the best course of action for some people.

Because my parents are basically bullies, and I am now someone they have no control over (and much stronger than them in most ways) I do not have as much trouble from them now, but I am very careful to maintain my boundaries. I will never like my parents very much, because I know what they are, and how they would treat a child who depended on them.

If someoneis raised by people like this, they won't always have normal boundaries, and may not be able to deal with your parents in a way that is healthy. If this is the case, no contact may be the only way to preserve their mental health.

Shame on you, OP, for trying to make people who have chosen to withdraw from contact with their families feel guilty and ashamed (don't say you didn't, you called them cruel), when the reason they withdrew contact is often because of the emotionally abusive, guilt-tripping behaviour of the family members in question and the damage it does to their sense of self.

You should just be grateful you have never been put in this position.

Thanks everyone. I think you are all right, in so far as relationships are complicated, people are different and we never have full knowledge. You see, this is why I prefer spreadsheets.

Anyway, I may sound judgmental but I'm just deeply sad. There are no winners here, everyone loses and it's a miserable situation all round.

I guess my conclusion is that I still think it is cruel to cut someone out but I agree it is not selfish, it is self protection and they are different. I was being unreasonable about that.

Off to the worlds longest meeting (on the hottest day of the year - hurrah!) so not being rude if I don't come back for some time. maybe even after this has petered out.

sherbetpips Tue 16-Jul-13 12:53:54

My own Mum is not a good MIL. She acts totally differently around my SIL's and is hyper critical of them. Her and my dad stay stuff that should really stay in there heads. The eldest SIL did intially cut them off until her children were old enough to say it wasn't fair that they had no grandparents (her parents had sadly passed away). Since making contact again my parents appear to have learnt and things are going okay. However the behaviour has now transferred to the newest SIL who is hyper sensitive about pretty much everything. I have told her time and time again to ignore it (its never anything truly awful just drunken opinions) but no she sits there, gets in an argument, bursts into tears and then my Brother shouts at my parents. (usually involves the end off a long evening and wine....). So she no longer visits now, just him. On one hand I want mum and dad to remember that they cannot say whatever they like even if it is true and on the other hand I want her to stop being so pathetic. My own MIL regularly crticices me and when it gets too much I tell her to stop and that she is being rude. It stops for a while and she slags all her other IL's off instead....
So to answer the OP if there is no discernable physical or verbal abuse involved then it is unfair to cut off people as I think we can all often forget how much people put up with from us.
My BF's sister cut the whole family off (crazy husband who was very possesive) who literally threw her parents out on the street without any way of contacting anyone to get home. They have had two children since who have never met her sister or parents. Its a real shame for everyone.

twinklyfingers Tue 16-Jul-13 12:55:31


You sound like you are in some sort of bubble about this. You describe individual situations as if they were not enough to justify cutting someone off. IME people cut off close family members after a life time of often subtle abuse which culminates in a major stressful and distressing incident which prompts the abused individual to assess everything and decide they can no longer have that person in their life. I realise this isn't always the case, but this happened with my DM and her father.

I also think it is strange that you will protect your daughter from future behaviour, but cannot understand her own children acting to protect themselves. They get to decide what is acceptable for them. Not allowing children to grow up is abusive behaviour IMO. Reprieves for "good behaviour" are a ridiculous notion, and shows that you really are not trying to empathise with her children. Why would they return to a relationship where they have been repeatedly hurt and let down? For "good behaviour"? hmm

And I mean it is SOMETIMES cruel to cut someone out. Obviously almost everyone on this thread has had personal experience of some very valid and deserved cut offs.

sparechange Tue 16-Jul-13 13:01:51

OP, maybe it would be easier for you to understand if you liken the emotional abuse to physical abuse because I think you are trivilaising emotional abuse quite a lot, and perhaps not seeing how damaging it can be.

If your MIL had been punching lumps out of her children for their childhood, would you find it more forgivable for your SIL to have left?
And what if she then went a few days without hitting anyone? Does that mean the children would have a duty to forgive and come back? What if she then lost it and beat her up again? Does it only cross the red line when it leaves bruises? Breaks bones? Results in a hospital stay?

Emotional abuse might not leave the same visable marks that physical abuse does, but trust me and the countless others on MN that the emotional scars can take as long and sometimes longer to heal.

It is quite often the case that when you are an adult and start to address your own issues, whether those are in relationships, or with eating disorders or anxiety issues or whatever else is holding you back, you soon realise either under your fruition or with the help of some outside help that you can't address your own problems until you deal with the root cause of them.

If a woman gets seven shades of shit kicked out of her by a partner, you don't tell her to discharge herself from hospital and go back home for round 2. Equally, anyone dealing with the scars of an abusive childhood doesn't want to have more blows dealt down on them day after day.

twinklyfingers Tue 16-Jul-13 13:07:38

sherbet this is a ridiculous thing to say: if there is no discernable physical or verbal abuse involved then it is unfair to cut off people as I think we can all often forget how much people put up with from us.

So mental and emotional abuse doesn't count? Repeated and vicious acts such as lying to others, stealing, manipulation, twisting situations, is no reason to cut some off? (I am not suggesting OP's MIL did these things, I'm just giving an example of other types of abusive behaviour.) And discernible to whom? Do you have to publicise that someone is treating you this way, just so everyone realises how awful they are? If it were me, I'd rather end the relationship quietly and with dignity by cutting contact and not discussing that person.

I find your logic baffling.

twinklyfingers Tue 16-Jul-13 13:09:07

sparechange puts it very well.

5Foot5 Tue 16-Jul-13 13:16:37

No, it's not cruel. Some people deserve it.

What about those who don't? My PIL haven't had contact with one of their sons for many years and not seen their DGS by that son since he was 4 - I doubt they would even recognise him now.

But from where we sit it has always seemed that SIL was the toxic one in the relationship. She was always a difficult and volatile woman given to huge rages. We were there once when she went utterly ballistic over some trivial remark my other BIL made and ended up storming out of the house and not speaking for weeks. That was patched up eventually but other events occurred which led to dreadful scenes with her yelling and shouting at poor bewildered PILs who just don't do confrontation. When she finally decided to cut herself off from the family we believe she gave BIL (DH's bro) an ultimatum to choose her and their DS his family. Mnetters wiould be proud of him - he chose his wife.

I have always felt I was incredibly lucky with my PIL and had a good relationship with them so it is very hard to see what could possibly have caused the reaction they got.

I realise though that it is different for everyone and I must admit OP's MIL sounds like she has brought most of her unhappiness on herself

CheeseFondueRocks Tue 16-Jul-13 13:24:28

OP, if you think cutting people out of your life is cruel and selfish, you clearly have grown up in a loving home and have not lived with toxic parents. Or maybe you have and have normalised abuse.

We have cut DH's mum out and it was the best move we ever made. It's been nearly a year since we saw/spoke to her last so it's early days. She has been an abusive drunk most of her life as a parent and has caused DH nothing but heart ache.

When we had DD, we thought we'll give her another chance in order to allow DD to have a relationship with her gran but it took MIL 8 months to get even worse. If we had stayed in contact, not only would it have impacted on DH's mental health and probably cost us our marriage, but she would have also started to abuse DD.

It was our duty as parents to rid us of this woman. Staying in touch would have been selfish and cruel towards DD.

Anyone can create a child sadly but the title of mother and father is something that has to be earned imo!

ratbag I have a similar stipulation in my will that my kids are never to go into the 'possession' of my sister. our solicitor tried to argue me out of it but I was adamant. my sister would see it solely as that - not caring for my kids, but that they were now here and all the monetary bonus that came with it.

I didn't take the decision to cut her lightly. I'd had and had put up with years of her behaviour. but when dc1 came along she was exceptionally jealous, and used my mothers ill health as a way to try to get my parents to stop talking to me (very nice abridged version here). thankfully my parents are decent people who've dealt with their own dysfunctional families to know something was off. their choice is to still deal with her despite that, but they now respect mine to keep my kids away from her.

weirdthing Tue 16-Jul-13 14:18:42

Nobody cuts a family member out of their lives easily. Usually it is after years of abuse and loads of angst. Then you've got to spend the rest of your life covering up the fact that you aren't in contact with your family due to other people judging you for it. Believe me, it is not easy.

I'm pretty sure that my father goes around telling people how evil I am for having cut contact with him (poor him, poor him), and how I was clearly 'poisoned' against him by my mother. I'm sure his family all say the same, and complain that I keep his grandchildren from him etc.

But, that's not the case at all. I cut my father out of my life because he is toxic and it screwed me up my whole childhood. It was only once I was 21 that I was able to draw my line in the sand and say 'enough is enough'. I can honestly say that I do not regret it one iota. I absolutely would never give him a second chance, no matter what anyone claimed about him having changed etc.

It isn't a sad situation with no winners. I am much better off for having done so. My children are much better off too, both because I am happier and healthier for not letting him have the opportunity to emotionally abuse me and because he doesn't have a chance to emotionally abuse them too. He may be miserable or whatever (--although I doubt he's actually capable of really caring that I don't want to see him, it's likely he'd only be upset about the bruises to his ego, and probably revels in the 'poor me' attention from his family and girlfriend--), but it really isn't my problem. He is reaping what he sowed.

IME there is almost always a very good reason when someone has cut contact with a parent or other family member. Just because the cut out family member is doing a big performance of their misery doesn't change anything.

brilliantwhite Tue 16-Jul-13 14:34:33

some people dont like being walked all over and treated like shit , but you seem to enjoy so you carry on love grin

In terms of cut out parents who 'don't deserve it'. My mother would say that my grandmother (the bloody evil one who was physically and emotionally abusive, as opposed to the other one who was 'just' emotionally abusive) was unfairly cut off by her brother.

He cut his mother out of his life vey shortly after he got married. My mother and grandmother always used to blame his (allegedly) awful wife for this. Yet, he didn't get back in contact with his mother after they divorced. Several years after that he did allow his mother some contact but it was very short lived. The reason: she was an absolutely dreadful person and a dire mother.

However, my mother had internalised the abuse so much that she couldn't see that. Even after my grandmother threw my sister (aged 7) down the stairs and attacked me with a knife (aged 10, for the 'crime' of having switch channel on the TV) my mother refused to see her for what she was. Indeed, she wouldn't even believe me or my sister about what had happened in the knife incident and decided instead to punish me for running away from home and being rude to my grandmother. Hence, at 10, I would leave the house to avoid her.

Even now my mother can't see her mother for what she was. She tried (and still tries) to blame all manner of things for her mothers's dreadful behaviour. Apparently it was all her second husband's fault, or anything else that allows her to stop her having to acknowledge that her mother was totally toxic. She resents her brother for not attending their mother's funeral, but as far as I'm concerned he was absolutely in the right (I refused to go too, as I was not going to pretend to mourn her passing).

zoraqueenofzeep Tue 16-Jul-13 14:47:10

yabvu, it's your mils own fault that her children have shut her out. She chooses her own behaviour and it's not the responsibility of other people to indulge it.

You are entitled to continue facilitating her toxic mentality for as long as you want, she will never change until she faces up to the reality of who she is and how her behaviour affects others, for as long as there's someone to put up with her nonsense, feeding the poison, she has no reason to change.

Your tolerance isn't doing her any favours, your judgement of her escaped children extremely ignorant and seems self serving. You feel that you can't marry because of the family separation and I'm sure you'd also prefer the others to be around to lighten the load of her craziness. It's not your siblings in laws fault that you put up with this selfish, crazy woman and therefore stuck doing it alone, it's not their fault that she is a toxic creature who has nothing but negativity to bring into their lives. The blame lies solely with your mil and whatever problems you have for indulging her are your responsibility.

Cutting out people who make you ill with their abuse isn't cruel, it is the only intelligent, rational, healthy option. If everybody did that abusers would have to change as they would have nobody to abuse.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OP I think you are looking at this very naively.

Your MIL suffers yes, but it does not appear she has made any attempts at modifying her behaviour or really considered WHY two of her children have cut her adrift. She wallows in self pity instead.

FWIW, DH and I have absolutely nothing to do with FIL anymore, and bare minimal contact with MIL (not because we won't see her but because she is too lazy to get a 40 minute train to us and her GD). FIL was a shit father to DH, in and out of work his whole life, providing no support in regards to schooling and convinced DH he'd never make anything of himself, they struggled massively financially but he always had money for 'fags', ran up debts behind MIL back so DH and his siblings lived with regular bailiff visits.

As an adult DH helped massively, contributed to bills while he still lived there, then when he moved out he gave his Dad his old car (even though he could have sold it on for a profit), we paid for them to come on holiday with us as they'd never been abroad before etc. Really tried to help them out, then when DH had a row with his sister, his Dad got involved, spilled bile down the phone and they have never spoken since, this was almost two years ago, not even an enquiry via someone else into how DD is doing, it's just like we do not exist anymore.

This is a mild experience to what others have endured on here, I do not feel an ounce of synpathy for those cut off, ime there is always a good reason for it.

LadyBigtoes Tue 16-Jul-13 14:52:40

Sorry not read every post so may be repeating people but...

Yes, it is quite a cruel thing to do in that it may cause pain. And guilt over that cruelty is what often binds people to horrible, manipulative parents/in-laws or other relatives. I include myself in that - my mum is awful, my 2 sisters don't see her, my dp LOATHES her, but I'm the only one with kids - her only dgc - and to cut her out would be a really big step because it would hurt her so much.

It would be especially cruel because she just can't see that she's unpleasant. She is cutting, critical, needy, selfish, extraordinarily rude, stupid and irresponsible, and has done things in the past that are completely unforgivable - yet she genuinely, I am pretty sure, thinks she's nice, that I and her gc love her, and that if anyone doesn't like her it must be THEM at fault (despite the mounting numbers of them!). She would be horrified and gutted if I cut her off, which is why I've wavered over the years but not done it. I would love to do it, if it weren't for that. And that is how she gets what she desires.

OTOH I have cut my dad off, I did so 20+ years ago (when my parents separated), and if you had him in your family OP, I bloody well hope you would too. He's a vile, abusive, self-absorbed, completely unempathetic monster with the emotional age of a toddler and to top it all off he's a paedophile - never mind being cruel, he's dangerous and I don't ever want him anywhere near my kids. I agree with posters who say some people just have to be cut out of your life so you can carry on.

bellasuewow Tue 16-Jul-13 14:58:33

you are being naive and she is playing you sorry to say that but you heard her crying damn right she made sure of that. A hallmark of toxic parents is to play the victim she is the common denominator in a lot of misery.

mrsdinklage Tue 16-Jul-13 15:15:42

So she's totally vindictive and manipulative - and you want her in your dd's life.
You've not responded to any of the comments about your SIL - have you talked to her about this ?
Your MIL sounds like a vile bitch - and you blame everyone else for this.
You are enabling her.
No - those of us who have been through the pain and misery of going NC are not cruel - we are trying to survive.
I hope you see sense - before she starts manipulating your DD - as she has already done a good job on you and your DH.

redwellybluewelly Tue 16-Jul-13 15:25:38


This "families can be a PITA but to just walk away because it makes life easier is just selfish and cruel."

Sometimes walking away isn't the easy option. Its not in my case, not at all. I'm home on maternity leave with a preschooler with additional needs and a newborn, in terms of practical help I would much rather have my family around and emotionally I could also use the support.

Having mentioned earlier about my cutting off my sister, I just thought I ought to add that her behaviour was learned. From my vile natured grandmother who we all had to put up with because "family meant more than anything". So not only am I exceptionally aware of what keeping a toxic family member around can do to the younger generations I'm watching my mother's health decline rapidly thanks to the stress of nearly 40 years of having to deal with my toxic gran. Now my kids may not get much time with their grandparents. One rotten apple possibly ruining things for the next 3 generations. Call me nasty, horrible, etc but I'm not perpetuating it. My kids are going to have good positive role models whether they are related or not (or at least in as much as I can help it).

pooquickly Tue 16-Jul-13 15:55:01

OP, i have cut a relative out. I didn't do this lightly. I don't think anyone does. I did it cos i was fed up with being hurt (been going on for years) and don't want to be hurt again. Sometimes, you come to realise that you can't stand the pain anymore, and as painful as it is to cut the ties, you do it because you really can't cope with their behaviour. Some people need to realise that there are consequences for appalling behaviour and that you can't just treat people badly and get away with it.

WinkyWinkola Tue 16-Jul-13 16:01:56

LadyBigToes, so basically your mum can do anything she likes, behave as badly as she wants because she believes she's a nice person and would be too hurt by no contact?

My god. She's a lucky woman to have you on her side. Hope she doesn't damage your dcs.

Do you think your dad being such a villain has raised your tolerance levels somewhat?

pigletmania Tue 16-Jul-13 16:17:15

Yabvvvvu, there is a reason why people cut others out of their lives, and the decision is not taken lightly. Life is to short to keep in contact with toxic, vile and asty and cruel people. You don't know the circumstances of everyone's situation, not everything is black and white or clear cut.

EldritchCleavage Tue 16-Jul-13 16:26:25

What do you do with a toxic relative if there is no prospect of improvement? If they say sorry, with lots of tears, and then do whatever it was all over again the next time you see them? If their fundamental attitude to the relationship (whether or not they admit it) is 'I dish it out, and because I'm your [insert relevant relationship here] you have to take

Your MIL may well be genuinely very upset. You say yourself it is impossible to talk to her about it. She has no insight, then, hasn't changed and her other children seem to have a stark choice of cut her off, or resign themselves to a Groundhog Day scenario of the mistreatment recurring at regular intervals.

I do think it is unfair, and naive, to say people who choose the cutting off option are cruel or selfish or even unreasonable. Plenty of people cut contact for reasons of simple self-preservation: it's that or a breakdown, or the loss of other relationships. Some do it to protect the next generation. Or simply because they don't think family duty is a good enough reason to put up with being treated so badly. And if someone has to suffer, it can be the abuser, not the abused.

DontmindifIdo Tue 16-Jul-13 18:04:28

OP - I would have sympathy for your MIL if one of her DCs had cut her out, but that three have either cut her out altogether or managed to distance themselves suggest rather clearly the problem isn't with them, but with her.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 16-Jul-13 18:17:35

1) You don't get to decide what other people find unacceptable
2) You are not related to her, and therefore her failings don't impact on you, now, or when you were younger in the same way as blood relatives
3) I understand you feel she is inadequate, rather than cruel, but they clearly feel her inadequacy has never been properly addressed, and they find that either unforgiveable or impossible to change.
4) there is so much more pressure to remain amicable with family than there is to cut them off. I can't agree that it is "easier" to walk away

maddening Tue 16-Jul-13 18:35:24

Sounds like she has no one to blame but herself!

middleclassdystopia Tue 16-Jul-13 18:39:41

So I am cruel for cutting out my sexually abusive father?

You are cruel for perpetuating the stigma that victims of abuse face. Just to be self righteous?

You have no idea

The thing about walking away (and part of the reason it's so hard) is that you don't simply cut out the toxic family member. You end up having to cut contact with lots of other family members or, at the very least, you end up missing out on family events etc because you cannot cope with one particular family member any longer. It's hardly the easy option.

When I cut my dad out, it meant losing contact with everyone on his side of the family. I liked my cousins and aunts and uncles, but it was the only way that I could be sure to not have to see my dad. The big problem is that the rest of the family have attitudes like the OP's and would not support the decision. Yet, it was still the right thing to do. It's much more important that my children can grow up in a loving and happy family.

Thumbwitch Tue 16-Jul-13 18:51:57

I think the "blood is thicker than water" attitude that some have can be extremely damaging. Just because you're blood-related to someone, doesn't make them someone you want or need in your life - and if they're causing damage or detriment to your life, then surely it's better to stay away from them.

Interesting that so far on this thread only one poster (I think) has talked about a possibly toxic in-law causing a family rift for no obviously good reason. That does happen of course and THAT is very sad, and yes, cruel to the "innocent" party/ies.

CatsRule Tue 16-Jul-13 19:07:42


My inlaws are toxic and while sh hasn't cut them.out of our lives he has wanted to several times. I stupidly stopped him because I didn't want him to be hurt with regrets...I see this as a last resort although they do continue to be awful towards him and I but it hurts him more.

Seeing their poisonous and manipulative behaviour I now want to protect my ds...and dh feels even more strongly about that too.

You don't really know, maybe never know, the extent of damage in these kinds of relationships unless you are directly involved....each situation is different.

I would never set out to cut people out of but sadly I do see the need in some destructive relationships.

If you lived with my dh, and the utter hurt he has which leads to depressive states you may feel differently.

thecatfromjapan Tue 16-Jul-13 19:09:52

OP, you do realise that you are feeding your mil's inner narrative that she is a misunderstood spirit, who has mothered three ingrates? You may see your self as putting up with trying behaviour, and may have told yourself (and even dh for all I know) that there is a "red line" - protecting your offspring - which she cannot cross but have you told her that her behaviour is such that she risks jeopardising her one remaining children-relationship?

I worry that your continuing relationship with your mil actually does hold an immmanent judgement as to the ethical behaviour of your dh's siblings, and that judgment chastises them, and absolves your mil. She really will be fully aware of that.

I think cory's post (and others that raised similar points later) had it very early on. And then your subsequent recognition that she is something of an ongoing emotional risk for children.

I know that you posed your AIBU as a general question rather than a particular question (about your particular situation), so I will close generally:

At what point shoudl there be an ethical imperative to tell others to alter their behaviour, or to tell others that we strongly disapprove of their behaviour? That it is harmful? That it contravenes our code of ethics? And how might we go about that? With people we know? With people we don't know well? With people we are intimately involved with in kin relationships?

I do sometimes wonder if, rather than those who cut off relationships with others being an issue, there is actually a greater issue with those who persist in relations with unethical others, and say and do nothing.

springytoto Tue 16-Jul-13 19:25:42

sorry to jump in well into the thread, but please dont assume kids cut off their parents because it's the parent's 'fault'. Not necessarily.

Please don't assume that all kids are innocent lambs who do the very best. Some kids are toxic, just like some parents are toxic. Don't assume it's all down to the parents re They must have been pretty bad for their DD to run away at 16 and never have any more contact with them

also, please bear in mind that, by the law of averages, some of you could be one of the parents who gets cut off. You don't think so? Because you're a good parent? It doesn't always work like that.

I have cut out my hideously toxic siblings but keep in touch with my relatively toxic parents. I can't do it to them. I tried to but it nearly killed my mum. It's too late for her to be facing stuff. I only see my dad because he lives with my mum - if my mum wasn't alive I don't think I would see him (but I never know how things will be then iyswim). I have learned some really good skills with my parents - I never thought I would, or that I should. But now I'm doing it and it's not half bad. I see it that I am seeing some severely damaged people - and, although they have damaged me, somehow I'm in a better place... I'm hesitating to say 'I can take it' because every time I see them I don't know if this will be the day they slaughter me somehow - as anybody with toxic relatives knows, the strikes come from nowhere and there is no warning - but that is a risk I am prepared to take. I know it won't be long before they're dead.

I wouldn't generally recommend this but it's right for me at this time. It's day at a time stuff. I'll see how it goes.

Thumbwitch Tue 16-Jul-13 19:47:42

That's true Springy - but in the OP's case, it's 3 out of 4 DC who have decided to cut or minimise contact with her MIL - kind of suggests it's more the MIL than the DC, doesn't it?

I agree though - toxic people don't just become toxic when they become parents! Like narcs don't suddenly become narcs when they get together with someone - it's already there, in their nature.

springytoto Tue 16-Jul-13 19:56:44

it's 3 out of 4 DC who have decided to cut or minimise contact with her MIL - kind of suggests it's more the MIL than the DC, doesn't it?

Not necessarily. It's likely, but not necessarily the case.

There are a lot of toxic influences around within toxic families.

Thumbwitch Tue 16-Jul-13 19:58:34

True. Have pm'd you, by the way - only mentioning it because the blue dot is rather less obvious than the lovely red blob that was there previously <<whinge, moan>>

Solari Tue 16-Jul-13 20:03:31

I agree with your point springytoto , but this particular MIL is described by the OP as:

"Totally selfish, manipulative, vindictive and cannot even conceive of not getting her own way, a real pain in the ass. She drives me scatty and on occasion her manipulation makes me very angry."

Although I'd agree with you that children are just as capable of being toxic as parents, and that assumptions shouldn't necessarily be made either way, in this case the MIL comes across far from reasonable herself.

springytoto Tue 16-Jul-13 20:06:20

oh I agree it's so sad to lose that red dot that signals a juicy PM! sad

yes, in this case it certainly looks like the MIL has had a lot to do with the outcome. However, as I said above, kids can be toxic too, especially if it runs in the family (not necessarily nurture, either).

nancerama Tue 16-Jul-13 20:09:42

When someone you love lets you down so badly and hurts you and people you love in a way that you wouldn't even think possible, you realise you may have never known that person at all. I don't want to get to know someone who I thought I knew all over again.

YABU, but if you've not experienced that kind of deep hurt, you couldn't expect to understand and I hope you never do.

thecatfromjapan Tue 16-Jul-13 20:16:05

By the way, I am impressed that you posted an AIBU in which you re=thought your position. That sort of flexibility of thinking is not uncommon but is always impressive to see it in action.

(sorry, that is really clumpily put - but it is hot and I am tired. I do still mean it, though.)

Treague Tue 16-Jul-13 20:18:57

What jumps out from your OP is the lack of knowledge of what has gone on. Your dp is the eldest so will have been away from home for longer. You weren't there at all. I take it you've not talked to the daughter who left home at 16?
Even the superficially nicest people can be negligent and emotionally abusive parents, but it sounds like a) your MIL isn't very nice and b) that there is something that you (and your dp) really don't know about, something serious.
Total supposition of course, but with such a dearth of information I think it's a bit pointless being upset on your MIL's behalf. sad

Treague Tue 16-Jul-13 20:22:40

Also totally agree that you may be feeding the MIL's narrative. It's easily done, you want to think the best of people who are in difficult circumstances. Easier to remain detached, listen intently to what people are really saying, not your interpretations, and keep quiet about what you truly hear but use it to protect yourself a little.

smokinaces Tue 16-Jul-13 20:33:35

I cut my father out of my life when I was 17. I'm now 31. My younger sister ceased contact a year later. He was an abusive arsehole.

My elder sister made the choice to keep in contact. We don't speak about each others choices to each other. We obviously think of our childhood differently and have differing levels of forgiveness. I live two streets away from him and if i stood next to him in the street i would ignore him, and have done. We were both guests at my sisters wedding. I ignored him.

He has step children who worship the ground he walks on. I am continously bitched about for making shit up about the past, or my mum blamed for feeding me lies.

But i know i saw him beat the crap out my mum. I remember beating down the back door to try and help her as he beat and screamed at her. I remember mum bathing my sister and i with cold flannels after he smacked us all over our legs with force. I remember him calling me a fat cow and kicking me as i laid on the floor at the age of 12. I remember him ringing my mum saying he didn't need us kids anymore as he had a new family.

So to the outside, to my step siblings, to anyone they speak to, i am unreasonable. But i don't care. My life is better without him in it. My children will never ever know him. They are seven and five and he is nothing to them. I know what really happened behind closed doors when he had the perfect charade going on of the dumped man, the school governor, the youth club worker. And so does he. He just chooses, as the manipulative abusive man he is to blame me instead.

So yabu. Its not cruel. The events leading up to the cutting them out are cruel.

EstelleGetty Tue 16-Jul-13 20:43:04

It depends. When I met DH's family I wondered how the fuck members of the same family would never speak to each other and would plain old ignore each other at weddings, children's parties, etc. I thought it was so petty and odd that they didn't just bury the hatchet. But then I heard the stories behind the divisions and realised that they had just found the least painful way of getting by.

In my own family, an argument never lasts more than an hour. In fact, DH is the only person I've ever had a fight with that lasted more than one night. But I'm very, very lucky to have a great family. DH has not been so lucky and I can see why he doesn't speak to some people.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Tue 16-Jul-13 20:50:00

Springyto, my mum felt the same way as you. She's still dealing with her toxic mother in her sixties, her mother is in her nineties and going strong. All those years of misery because my mum kept thinking 'it can't go on for much longer now' sad

I'm sorry to say this OP but frankly you sound self-deluding about your MIL and it worries me. Look at what you have said about her -

"She is not selfish or cruel. She loves her kids. She just doesn't seem to want them to grow up and be adults away from her. All the problems were in her not letting go."
Not wanting your children to grow up IS selfish, and it IS cruel since it is likely to go hand-in-hand with not preparing them for adult life, leaving them vulnerable. If someone won't let you go, you are trapped. How is that not selfish and cruel confused?

Plus, you're contradicting yourself anyway, as you've already, in your OP, described her as "Totally selfish, manipulative, vindictive". I have to say I regard vindictive and cruel as synonyms. Are you starting to see why I am thinking you are self-deluding here?

Let's look at your full description of her :

"She is enormously hard work. Totally selfish, manipulative, vindictive and cannot even conceive of not getting her own way, a real pain in the ass. She drives me scatty and on occasion her manipulation makes me very angry. She repeatedly gets the hump and has little hissy fits, stopping speaking to DP and I for months on end ... then decides to make up. If you tackle her she tantrums - literally storming out screaming that she never wants to see you again."
And yet you continue to let this woman into your life and the lives of your DC?

I am starting to wonder if you started this thread as some sort of reverse AIBU, i.e. you want to cut her out of your life but are worried that others would see this as selfish and cruel. Well, we don't. You have your validation from the population of MN, you can safely cut this woman from your life and the lives of your DC and no-one will do anything but agree, sympathise, and ask why you didn't do it sooner.

This woman has driven away three of her four children. The fourth, your DH, is the only one hanging in there and really, he shouldn't either. To paraphrase (and extend) Oscar Wilde: "To lose one child may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness; and to lose three is one big huge waving Mumsnet red flag telling you to get out while you still can.

LadyBigtoes Tue 16-Jul-13 21:48:59

Winky, thanks for your questions about my situation - you see it very clearly! The truth is I'm at a bit of a crossroads right now and considering it again, after a very upsetting event which involved raking up the past in great detail (can't explain what on here).

so basically your mum can do anything she likes, behave as badly as she wants because she believes she's a nice person and would be too hurt by no contact? My god. She's a lucky woman to have you on her side. Hope she doesn't damage your dcs.

I'm really not on her side at all, though I know it may look that way to her. It is very much arm's length and we see her 3-4 times a year. No way on earth would she get to care for my DC. My DP is right on her case and pulls her up immediately on any shit she spouts that might affect the DC. He is much bolder than me though I am getting bolder with her too. I do feel lucky that we are very much both on the same side when confronted with her.

Do you think your dad being such a villain has raised your tolerance levels somewhat?

Yes, totally. For a long time I just fell into seeing her as my (relatively) "OK" parent, like at least I had one OK one. I have slowly come to realise I don't have any OK ones. That is a tough thing to face and especially miserable when it has taken you till your 40s to face it.

It has been difficult recently and my mental health has suffered from fallout of above event, I'm on ADs and so on, BUT on the plus side, I feel like I'm making my way through it and ultimately cutting her off might be the result.

If anything this is more evidence of what others have said, that cutting a relative especially a parent off is hard, it can be a difficult choice, and not the easy way out in any sense.

I don't think my MIL would count me or DP as her supporters or that we let her feel like some victim. Quite the opposite. I think she thinks we are bean and she is misunderstood. You are all right that this is certainly her internal narrative.

I have to admit to being a bit taken aback by the references to low emotional abuse being on the same footing as physical or sexual. I think the reason I see it as lesser is that even the term 'abuse' sounds more active and purposeful than seems the case. I guess abuse is as you experience it but for me a big difference in this case is intent and attitude. We live in a society where by and large physical and sexual abuse are recognised wrongs. Recognised by perpetrators and their victims. Emotional abuse is less obvious, if that makes sense. I can't imagine BIL or Sil2 would accept themselves as having been emotionally abused by their mum. In fact SIL2 (one who is emigrating) would never forgive me if she saw this thread as she loves her mum.

It's absolutely right that the first step HAS to be MIL recognising she is at fault but society doesn't make it as obvious as with other forms of abuse.

Not sure that makes a lot of sense.

dontgowadingin Tue 16-Jul-13 22:05:32

YABU, me and my brother don't talk to our 'D'M because of her toxic behaviour which is the result of a terrible childhood in care.

I would love nothing more than to get in contact with her and for every thing to be 'fixed' , but she is too far gone for that.

My DB wont even call her DM. We have to stay away from her as she mentally disturbs us and its carrys on through our familys so we had t walk away.

MIL how ever is very similar to your MIL by the sounds of it and I sort of do what you do by feeling sorry for her and trying to see the good intention but as ive just realised though reading a post that im actually enabling it. That's about to stop.

MrsDeVere Tue 16-Jul-13 22:13:07

I do not think that someone who is not the child of a toxic/narc/whatever parent should pass judgement on children who decide to cut contact.

Whatever your relationship, however well you think you know here, you were not raised by her. Your relationship is that of an adult woman with a (presumably) elderly woman.

Not a young child with a young mother who is causing them distress and confusion.

NapaCab Tue 16-Jul-13 22:16:04

You can't really feel much sympathy for your MIL as she has had 3 out of her 4 children distance themselves from her and not at any point stopped to wonder what she did wrong. She clearly does not have the capacity to be self-critical and change her ways.

Certain people just will not change, no matter what you do or say to them, and so the only solution for some is to stop contact or reduce it considerably.

If you feel you have the energy and emotional strength to deal with your MIL then that's fine but keep in mind that others may not have your ability to laugh things off or pick themselves up from a bad fight or just have the energy to keep on dealing with drama. Not everyone has the same tolerance threshold.

yamsareyammy Tue 16-Jul-13 22:19:58

Why is SIL2 emigrating? Has it got anyting to do with her mum?

Even if BIL and SIL2 dont accept the tern, it is so obvious to see to the rest of us the sorts of things that have gone on.

You are minimising it all big time.
And I am beginning to wonder hugely why this is.
What sort of childhood did you have , ThinkAboutItTomorrow?
Something isnt sitting right here.

mynameisslimshady Tue 16-Jul-13 22:20:53

I know people think I am cruel and nasty and evil for cutting contact with my Mother.

She plays the perfect, concerned, caring person to everyone else but she, and I both know the truth.

I honestly couldn't give a shit what anyones opinions is about this. I am happier, my kids are happier, and she is quite happy, I believe, milking the sympathy vote because her wicked daughter abandoned her. I can't change my past, but I can, and have, changed my future.

yamsareyammy Tue 16-Jul-13 22:21:49

And what job do you do?
Are you something like a counsellor yourself?
Or have some sort of peacemaker job?

amightywhoosh Tue 16-Jul-13 22:30:08

Why are we laying so viciously into OP?
Why the black and white thinking?

My situation similiar to many of those described here

I can still see the sadness of the situation, as well as despise the behaviour

I can still see that sometimes people are cut off too quickly

Saying you understand is not saying that you (have to) forgive

We have to be careful, that we don't apply the same simplistic thinking to people as was applied to us

And yes, I have, and still do, hurt enormously from what was done to me

But misery is inherited

WynkenBlynkenandNod Tue 16-Jul-13 22:33:13

My Brother no longer considers me to be his sister he informed me at th weekend along with firing me and cut my DH's hours. We've managed to fall out about what Care is best for Mum who he han't seen for at least 4 years.

I have joined my Dad in the people who Brother isn't speaking to club.

Look for the pattern OP. If there is one and there is in your MIL's case then it's probably for a reason. You might have been around when falling out with BIL was happening but you don't know exactly what was said.

minimalisthoarder Tue 16-Jul-13 22:47:28

I don't know whether or not to feel better that I'm not the only one who's had to take the hard decision not to have my parents in my life anymore, or saddened that other people have experienced the same and far worse as I did.

Good luck everyone in making the right choices for you and yours, and hopefully breaking the cycle, either with or without the troublesome relative in your life.

It does make me think very carefully about my parenting. It'd break my heart if DD is the third generation of broken mother/daughter relationships. She's only 4 though, so plenty of storms ahead! All tips on how to weather those would be gratefully received...

TroublesomeEx Tue 16-Jul-13 23:17:54

OP, I'm afraid I've committed the MN cardinal sin of not reading the whole thread. I'm going upstairs for a bath in a minute and don't have time.

I've cut my mother out of my life. There isn't a single reason for this and I had wanted to do it for about 10 years before I actually did it. And during those 10 years I tried and failed, I agonised and reflected, I modified myself and my expectations.

She destroyed the person I could have been. In fact, the only thing that got me through my dad dying and my husband leaving after an affair was my mother not being a part of any of it.

She doesn't like me, she doesn't love me. She told my brother this and her actions have made it quite obvious and clear throughout my whole life that she didn't and she blamed me for the fact that she didn't love me and punished me for it.

The final straw for me came when, not only did I begin to hear the sort of poison she'd spouted at me directed towards my children, but when we found out that the man she was seeing and had been encouraging my children to have an unnecessarily close relationship with had a history of the nature that meant he shouldn't have been anywhere near my (or any other) children, let alone have any sort of relationship with them.

My mother has told everyone that I am an intellectual snob and have cut her out because I have decided we don't like what he does for a living. She knows full well that I cannot tell anyone the truth.

I tried over the years to forge a relationship with her - I've invited her on days out with the children and me. Sometimes she came, but then she always complained that they were days out that the children were interested in and didn't interest her hmm; I invited her for meals out, just the two of us, and not once did it happen; I've arranged for us to go on holiday together and she managed to treat me like a naughty child the whole time we were there.

She told me I was fat, ugly and that no one would ever love me.
She locked me in the garden in my nightie with bare feet when there was frost on the ground.
She locked me in dark rooms when I was too small to reach the light switch and was terrified of the dark.
She mocked and humiliated me in public.
I'm incapable of forming deep and lasting relationships with people.
I don't trust people.

Still think I was cruel to cut her out?

TroublesomeEx Tue 16-Jul-13 23:21:51

Oh and just to prove I'm not some drama llama - my brother no longer has contact with her and none of her remaining living relatives (one paternal uncle and his family and 2 maternal cousins and their families) have anything to do with her either.

foreverondiet Tue 16-Jul-13 23:28:10

I think that it's hard to gauge what it was like for your dp's siblings - different siblings growing up in same house can all be treated in different ways - maybe your dp was the favourite child so less emotional abuse on him. Of your mil not prepared to go to counselling to address these issues then she deserves to be cut off - its a drastic step and rarely done without good reason. I suspect she just apologised in name only.

TroublesomeEx Tue 16-Jul-13 23:33:44

That's very true foreveronadiet.

I bore the brunt of all of my mother's hatred and emotional/physical cruelty. But my brother suffered in different ways. She was the opposite with him and lavished all her love on him, but it was very oppressive for him. When she and my dad split up, she treated my brother like a substitute partner. They went on holiday together and she wanted to slow dance with him!! He was 16 at the time and mortified. Apparently she rabbited on about how people would think they were a couple and he was her toyboy.

Fucking strange woman with a completely incomprehensible take on boundaries!

fabergeegg Tue 16-Jul-13 23:44:11

folkgirl I don't have anything to add to the discussion but wanted to acknowledge that awful history of abuse that you have suffered at the hands of your DM. It made me shudder and feel thankful you're no longer going through it. I hope you've found a place of peace and a new beginning that looks a lot brighter.

thebody Tue 16-Jul-13 23:47:11

folkgirl, Jesus thats just terrible. best of luck to you in your life.

op think folkgirl puts it heartbreakingly well.

some people are bastards and they happen to be bastards to their children.

your mil really has brought it in herself.

SarahStrattonIsBackForJustABit Tue 16-Jul-13 23:57:43

It may surprise you to hear this, but I have no-one in my life. No family; I cut my father out years ago, no mother, stepfather, or sister, as I finally got the courage up to cut them off a year ago, after one of the most hideous weeks of my life. A week in which my DDs actually contacted my XH to ask him to ring and make up an excuse for us to leave. A week that was the final nail in the coffin for us, neither of my children want to have any contact with any of my family. I slapped my sister, I'm not proud of that at all, but I will never, ever apologise for that, as it pales into insignificance compared to how she has behaved towards me in the past. I know that she's posted many times about it on Twitter; her version anyway, which is so self pitying and self congratulatory as to be laughable to anyone who knows me.

But I've always been the scapegoat whilst she was the golden child. On the outside it must have appeared that we had idyllic childhoods, and she did. But I didn't, MY childhood was very different to hers.

I trust nobody now. Have nobody in my life. The only people I speak to, apart from my DDs, are my XH and my XPILs. And thank goodness they are decent people, who still love me, and have provided me with all the love and cherishing I should have, but didn't receive, when I was a child.

Some families really should have children. Mine is one of them. The childhoods of two children growing up in a family can be polar opposites, and OP really needs to take on board what so many of us are telling her.

mrsdinklage Wed 17-Jul-13 00:34:59

stratters -so glad to see you again smile

I didn't choose to cut people out of my life

I had no choice

Do you think it was easy ?

It was - and still is - fucking painful

Do you honestly think they give a fucking shit ?

Well I can tell you - no - they fucking don't care

They only care about their own image

And who they can manipulate next.........................

aurynne Wed 17-Jul-13 00:56:24

I am of the opinion that, if a person brings more misery than joy to your life, you are better off cutting them off, regardless whether they are family or not. The person you cut off often had multiple chances to stop making your life miserable. I personally have cut people off my life and feel no regrets, and live more happily because of that.

Onesleeptillwembley Wed 17-Jul-13 02:26:20

Wow OP, this is one of they most presumptuous bit of tripe I've read on here, and that's no mean feat. How dare you judge. You've made your choice, leave them to theirs, you stupid woman.

McGeeDiNozzo Wed 17-Jul-13 03:07:28

Very difficult.

Generally if someone has the capability to be incredibly awful but also has redeeming qualities, I don't cut them out.

But I've cut two people out of my life. One ex-partner who I tried to stay friends with but who I always ended up arguing with (just like when we were together) - I could no longer deal with it, and neither could they, so off they went.

The other one is my sister, and this is going to sound horrible, but we were never really in touch after my early years anyway, so we weren't close, and she keeps changing her name so she's hard to keep track of. She gets toweringly offended over tiny, tiny things - will just go off at you and threaten to cut off all contact before reconciling - and that whole side of my family is riven with incidents of abuse (on the part of several people), infighting and general fucking horribleness.

So when she had a real go at my DP and I one Christmas for the umpteenth time over some imagined slight, and said 'I'm never talking to you again', I thought 'for Christ's sake, I'll call your fucking bluff on that one then' and deleted her and everybody else on my dad's side.

What makes it worse is that the pair of us are on the autistic spectrum, her more obviously than me, so I should be remaining friends with her out of solidarity because of our neurological issues. But I just can't bloody do it.

ThatVikRinA22 Wed 17-Jul-13 03:11:38

oh is very sad but sometimes choices are made for the right reasons.

i am a successful woman, career, lovely DH, and two absolutely delightful children whom i love with absolutely all my heart.

but that belies a terrible past for me. A past filled with abuse, neglect and cruelty that defies belief sometimes. And so, after many years of trying, i came to terms with the fact that my immediate family were bad for me. So bad for me they made me ill, many years after the broken bones had healed. (my step father was a violent man)
i have had no contact with my mother for 13 years. I tried some contact with my half sibling last year only to find that they were addicted to heroin, cannabis and alcohol. Best avoided i thought under the circumstances.
and so i am once again an island. i have my DH and my children. thats it for me. but thats better than the fucked up nightmare alternative that is the rest of my family who wouldnt be out of place in an episode of shameless....
and yes i did feel terrible guilt. so much so i had 8 months of counselling
and now im good.
and i know i made the right decision for my own mental and physical well being.
no. i dont think so. cruel was my mothers actions in marrying a man who beat me, spat on me, swore at me and belittled me, who thought i was a germ that needed to be stamped out.
cruel was a mother who stood by and did nothing when her husband broke my fingers with a garden cane, or split my lip with his fist.
cruel was the man who stopped talking to me and simply clicked his fingers to gain my attention and then signed what he wanted because i was beneath wasting words on.
cruel was stopping me from ever seeing the grandparents who loved me because they were scared that my bruises and cuts would be seen.
cruel was the 8 years of this i had to endure before fleeing at 15 and being homeless.
that was cruel.
i dont see my wanting nothing to do with them now as cruel. My SF died young, which does not surprise me in the least - carrying that much anger and vitriol around with you must shorten a life.
my mother caused me such absolute pain and heart ache - seeing her now would only cause more.
she is fine. she has my heroin addicted brother for company. They all saw me as the black happy to be the black sheep that got married and is still married 22 years later, who has a son with SN but who still went through uni and now works in his chosen field, who has a daughter that is beautiful inside and out and who i would die for, and a normal life, complete with career, dog, mortgage etc etc....none of that i would have ever imagined as a child who tried to take their own life at the age of 11 because the misery of her life was too much to bear.

so you can judge if you like OP.
but im happy in my choices. and im ok with htem after months of counselling - im happy. it only took 41 years.

ccridersuz Wed 17-Jul-13 03:16:09

As hard as it is to understand, you have known your MIL for a short time whereas the family have lived with her for years.
I too have cut out my mother from my life, making us a family once again. There are four of us and mother tried to turn us all against each other over the years, but it only made us realise that we had suffered because of her evil and it brought us closer together.
You sound very nice, but beware of the evil lurking within. There is nothing on this earth more powerful than a vindictive woman, sooner or later you will be used as a pawn in some way, shape or form.
There is usually a very strong underlying reason why people cut a so called close family member out of their lives.
Take heed and be strongly warned, don't get involved or dragged into a situation, which could result in a lot of damage to your relationship and in particular your marriage.
I would also avoid letting your MIL have too much influence on your kids.
You will find out for yourself, eventually, why I suggest you butt out and leave her to it.

bornagaindomesticgoddess Wed 17-Jul-13 03:51:02

I can see both sides. You read threads on here sometimes by people who have cut their parents out of their lives and by reading other threads they have contributed to, you wonder if their DC will be doing the same to them in a few years. People tend to be very accepting of their own parenting failures but completely intolerant of their parents' or PIL's.

That said, sometimes you really have no choice but to cut someone out of your lives. We no longer have any contact with SIL. She was a danger to our marriage and caused a great deal of misery for us. The sad thing is, she has a child who will probably never meet his cousins (our kids). That breaks my heart, but it is her choice to behave the way she did. We have given her numerous opportunities to put things right ("just apologise and we can all move on"), but she is not willing to. Her child will be the one who suffers and that is very sad. I think she thinks if she holds out long enough, DH will leave me and go back to her. And yes, I am talking about SIL not an ExDW!

Good luck, OP - I think you are behaving entirely properly.

differentnameforthis Wed 17-Jul-13 04:38:47

Despite all this I see the total utter misery and heartbreak not seeing her 2 children causes her and I think they are really nasty for continuing to refuse to see her

Essentially, you have NO idea why her children don't speak to her. YOU have no idea what their childhood was like. What they felt, what they didn't feel.

As someone who hasn't spoken to her mother for 20yrs, I can tell you that it isn't easy to just walk away. To just close a door on your childhood, your life, deny yourself the love of a parent, deny your children the love of a grandparent.

Call me cruel & selfish all you like, but you have NO idea what I lived with. You have no idea how I felt & still feel about my childhood. I am not going to go into details, because I don't have to justify it here. Walking away wasn't easier. I have no mother, no one to share my good times with, no one to go to when I am ill, no one to tell me that I am making a good job of parenting. It is hard not having her, I want a mum, just not the one I have. And yes, I miss out. But missing out is so much easier than having her in my life.

What I see, when people walk away is a heart broken by years of unhappiness.

Your MIL sounds manipulative. Believe me, she WANTED you to hear her crying, because that is how she holds onto the children who still talk to her. Manipulation. Crying, all while controlling. Although she is clever, because she has you believing that she is the hard done by one, doesn't she!

differentnameforthis Wed 17-Jul-13 04:49:53

Kids can't understand that she is just being childish and ridiculous - they would be genuinely hurt

And there you have it. You would cut her out if she did it to your kids, because they don't understand?

Well, her kids lived with it 24/7 & they didn't understand it either, only unlike your children, they had no one to take them away from it, to stop it (FIL sounds like he just enabled it) or to tell her to back off. So they left, and didn't look back as soon as they were able.

Now do you understand?

Morloth Wed 17-Jul-13 06:55:22

You reap what you sow.

As for your SIL leaving to be with an abuser.

Do you know, I have never known anyone from a stable loving home to stay with an abuser for any length of time. I have known a couple who accidentally got lumbered with them and then dumped them.

But the people who have put up with bullshit from a partner are all from emotionally abusive homes, where they learned that abuse was 'normal'.

Obviously I don't know everyone in the world who is in abusive relationships, just my observation.

'I am sorry if I upset you' says everything really doesn't it? If she actually was sorry she would have said, 'I am sorry I upset you'. Small but important difference.


LadyBigtoes Wed 17-Jul-13 13:57:08

Oh yes I get the "I'm sorry if..." apologies along with self-pitying trembly lip and baby voice.

What that apology means is - I'm sorry IF you think I did anything wrong, though of course obviously that's impossible, because I want you to think of me as perfect, so please forgive me for everything and tell me it's nothing and don't desert me like the others have."

She moans in the same self-pitying voice that she has been "sacked as a parent" by my siblings. That really makes me see red. You can't be sacked from a job you never did. angry

SarahStrattonIsBackForJustABit Wed 17-Jul-13 15:09:12

You reap what you sow.

So, so true. My parents were expecting me to take care of them in their old age. Not my sister, as she point blank told them she would put them in a home. Looks like they'll be stuck in that home now, there's absolutely nothing that would make me go back to having any form of contact, let alone look after them. As for my sister, from what I hear she's slowly driving people away with her aggressiveness and self absorption.

Good. Karma will bite em hard.

WinkyWinkola Wed 17-Jul-13 15:10:42

LadyBigToes, don't you just feel contempt when she behaved like that?

My mother thinks she was a brilliant parent. She wasn't abusive but she was certainly totally uninterested in us as children. I get angry when she claims all our academic successes are down to her. She had no clue.

NatashaBee Wed 17-Jul-13 16:15:38

You reap what you sow.

Exactly. I would do anything for my inlaws, because I know they'd do anything for me. My mother decided to cut off contact with me a few weeks ago, I'm still not sure exactly why but it is frankly a relief not to have to deal with her any more. I am sad for my DS, but given that she told me she wasn't interested in me even sending photos of him, it's probably for the best.

OP, your DH's siblings obviously cut contact for a good reason - frankly, I've stayed in contact with my mother this long because it's easier to maintain a distant, arms-length relationship than to cut contact and deal with the potential fallout. They obviously felt their reasons were valid and you should respect that rather than trying to interfere. People have the right to live their lives without having to put up with others behaving the way you've described in your first post, and I don't blame your DH's siblings for doing so.

MrsVamos Wed 17-Jul-13 16:31:47



Much love.


LilacPeony Wed 17-Jul-13 16:39:23

I don't think people do this lightly. People tend to cut family out when they have been treated cruelly by them, so no i don't think it is cruel. If a parent ruins their child's childhood then they can expect said child to escape when they are able to as an adult in a way that they were unable to as a child.

fromparistoberlin Wed 17-Jul-13 17:10:04


OP is not judging, if I read vicars post I fully emphasise with her, who would not??? jesus, and I understand why she cut them out

but she is asking a genuine question around tolerance and forgiveness which I think is laudable

good luck OP, I think you sound lovely

Khaleasy Wed 17-Jul-13 17:10:50


I became estranged from my father two years ago because he is an evil man poisoning my life.
If MIL is insane as you say she is then personally I think it is selfish and cruel to NOT cut her off - selfish and cruel to you, your DP and your children.

TroublesomeEx Wed 17-Jul-13 18:05:06

Oh and I wasn't cruel to cut my mother out.

My exH needed to protect ourselves and our children. Had we done it sooner, he might not be my ex!

So I think I've been as tolerant and forgiving as I could have reasonably been expected to be and ultimately felt that, at some point, I deserved to try and live the life I deserved to live.

Oh and the children deserved to be safe.

OhMerGerd Wed 17-Jul-13 18:56:48

I 'cut' my dad out of our lives for about 17 years. Well he kind of cut himself out really. My childhood was marred by his unreasonable and often violent behaviour. I vowed my children would not experience that. Dad mellowed but was bitter and if we met he would bring up all the past and in a violent abusive manner, so I stopped meeting him. I told him we could meet if he could drop the negativity but he couldnt. However I never stopped loving him ( weird I know) and when he was dying we reconciled but as he lived over seas I only saw him once and spoke on the phone a few times.

I am sad we missed those years. My DC didn't know him. They saw him once or twice but were too young to remember. But as they never witnessed his behaviour they have no bad memories of him, just the myth of him or sanitised version that I have chosen for them to know ( it's not a rosey picture but a cleaner one). I am happy for that, his name and memory into the future will be bland but not bad. I didn't want the bad to carry on generation after generation.

Anyway I am glad we reconciled. I understand more why he was like he was, although he could and should have done something to change his behaviour. He didn't do, so he kind of chose the estrangement. I also know it was his deepest sadness. So deep. Think of the worst grief. Your children dead to you. My sadness is empathy but I know I made the right decision.

When he died some of my siblings did not attend the funeral. I did and did a reading. And I howled and sobbed for him and also for what might have been and also fir his sadness. I still feel sad. But not regret. And I feel I worked through all my feelings, made my peace with him and my feelings. My siblings still struggle, have issues etc, possibly because it is still unresolved and now never can be.

My children have not experienced the stuff I did as a child. Are proud of who they are, their ancestry and family. . They do not regret not knowing him any differently from the granny that died before they were born. He's been 'present' in their lives in the same way through our telling so no gap they need to fill.

Our lives have not been marred by what would have been a bad relationship.

I'm one of the lucky ones. When I was in my early 20's I told my DF that if he was ever violent to me again I wouldn't come home ever again. He listened and we did rebuild our relationship.

Do you know how hard it was to deal with the fact that this was a man that belted me hard enough in the face on our way to primary school that I got a nose bleed that we had to go home and clean up.

What you saw with you BIL would probably be like someone seeing my final straw issue in my 20's - it might not have looked like much but it it came with a huge backstory.

twinklyfingers Wed 17-Jul-13 19:49:19

Think I find your last post odd. As if you are trying to categorise types of abuse and draw conclusions about what type of abuse warrants cutting someone out. It seems like you are saying sexual/physical abuse = cut them out, emotional/verbal/mental = forgive and forget. Wouldn't it be great if life was that simple? But it isn't.

I can only assume from this attitude that you have not systematically been lied to, lied about, had others poisoned against you, been insulted in the most hurtful way the abuser can think of, been stolen from, gaslighted, humiliated, and been expected to pick up the pieces when the abuser does this to others. Amongst a myriad of other emotional and mental abuse that can be hurled at someone.

I suppose I should take heart that you obviously have no direct experience on that which you are commenting. But actually your attitude is just making me sad and angry that some people are so very lacking in basic empathy.

SimLondon Wed 17-Jul-13 22:59:19

Wow - hugs folks, i thought i had a tough as a small kids.

I cut off my father aged erm 19 maybe - he was a violent drunk and i was very very scared of him. He had many chances.

My mother is narcissistic/toxic and im currently thinking about cutting her off.

TigerSwallowTail Thu 18-Jul-13 00:19:26

From my own experience, cutting someone out is definitely not the easier route. My life would be so much easier if I hadn't cut contact with my mother, but I have a duty to care for and protect my children and to protect my own emotional and psychological well being too and no contact is the only way I can do this. Yabu.

Morloth Thu 18-Jul-13 01:25:49

Some people don't deserve tolerance and forgiveness IMO.

I agree Morloth. And for those brought up by emotionally abusive, there's enough guilt and obligation without the rest of the world deciding that you are cruel and selfish for finally saying 'no'.

PurpleRayne Thu 18-Jul-13 11:05:47

How do you know 'they weren't abusive or anything'?

Why did she run away at 16?

Could you be being manipulated?

wordfactory Thu 18-Jul-13 11:30:06

My DH finally stopped contact with his parents. Nothing dramatic. No bust up. Just a realisation that they had made him miserable for forty years and he couldn't do a second longer. Tbh OP I felt like you and have cajoled Dh in continuing the relationship for the last fifteen years. I shouldn't have done that.

ZingWidge Thu 18-Jul-13 22:20:10

OP it would be great if people could forgive and be forgiven regardless of circumstances.
but it's really hard and some people find it impossible

holding a grudge is soul-destroying for all involved, but I think it is worse for the person who is unforgiving.

I have decided to forgive some people, because feeling angry and bitter made me feel awful.

some things I haven't been able to forgive yet fully or at all - and I don't think I will be 100% happy or free of hurt until I do.

so for me it is important to try and get rid of bad feelings by changing my attitude and reaction.

I can't be in control of what others do or say. so my only option is to try and be in control of myself.

it's a fucking hard struggle, but I see no other way for me then to try and try again.

If I can't actually forgive someone just yet I at least try to "forgive them in advance" - as in I tell myself I'll do it, but I need time to vent first.

(Disclaimer: I haven't had a tenth of the awful things that some people have gone through, so maybe it looks like it's easy for me to say these things. I guess maybe it is in comparison.
I don't know.

but I don't find trying to achieve self-control, patience or the process of forgiving easy at all)

I don't hold a grudge against my father, but I have no intention of ever seeing him again. In fact, months and months go by and I don't give him any thought whatsoever.

This is a consequence of his behaviour.

Cutting someone out doesn't mean you are filled with loathing and sadness, bearing a grudge forever more. It is hard at the time, sure, largely because you are caught up in fear, guilt and obligation. But a decade or so on, and you've moved on with your life. If that upsets the person you had to cut out, so be it.

MyDarlingClementine Thu 18-Jul-13 22:44:35

It is hard at the time, sure, largely because you are caught up in fear, guilt and obligation Absolutely.

its probably the hardest thing anyone has to do and its usually a last resort. It certainly was in my case with my Dsis. She has had many chances over many decades but she has proven time and time again she actually wishes me harm.

I am not a martyr I cannot carry on with it.

Also, cutting someone out can be a positive thing. If they are truly sorry and love you they will come back somehow.

Both parties can come back together after emotional distance and work together knowing their lives are better with each other in, and therefore work.

Joiningthegang Thu 18-Jul-13 23:07:33

People who get cut out generally deserve it
Me and do not seen our father for 25 years and we have 4 children he has never met
He is a grumpy fucker and its his loss - I hope he never meets his grandchildren as he doesn't deserve them

Joiningthegang Thu 18-Jul-13 23:09:13

And I agree with arbitrary

I give him not thought whatsoever , I don't hate him - I don't care enough for that

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 18-Jul-13 23:17:35

It's not easy to cut a family member out of your life. You have to admit to yourself that you will never have that relationship and that is hard, particularly with a parent. You can't replace those people with anyone else.
People who do this will have a very good reason.

PanickedandAnxious Thu 18-Jul-13 23:23:52

I took the decision a few weeks ago to cut off from my mother, stepfather, biological father and siblings. It took 40 years for me to realise how much an impact on me the scapegoating, psychological, physical and sexual abuse has had and how it has affected the way I feel about myself.

The only cruelty in it is in that they don't care that I have cut them off and never will. My mother, especially, has determined that I am mad and that I should just get over it and move on while still pretending that she did a great 'job'. Now that is cruel.

PanickedandAnxious Thu 18-Jul-13 23:34:42

And Yes it is the hardest thing I had ever had to do as I deeply love my very toxic, nasty mother, not because of her, but because of my empathetic nature. I am still caught up in the FOG but am hoping with the emotional distance that will lift someday. I worry all the time that she may die and I won't know about it or be there for her but that's something I have to get over.

I actually made the decision after she started calling my beautiful, caring, sensitive DS the same names she used to call me, in front of me (tame ones by her standards)!

middleagefrumptynumpty Fri 19-Jul-13 01:27:07

I nearly cut out my Dad. I lost my mum in my teens and he has had a partner ever since who has been very nasty to me and my siblings and manipulative of my dad. After a poisonous episode where she said that my kids (then age 2 and 5) annoy her and irritate her and "think they know it all" shock I stopped contacting my dad. When we eventually talked, after about 2 months, he told me he was sorry and I didn't have to see her any more. He knew that I had cut contact and he was really upset about that.

I've never had a bad word with any of my siblings or my Dad (despite his friend) and so my benchmark is that you don't hurt those you love. My DH's family on the other hand go at each others throats and say things that are terrible. They have gone at my throat in the past and were then surprised when I said that I didn't want anything to do with them if they were going to treat me like that. Since then they have been a bit wary of me, so my DH says, because they know that I'll stand there and defend myself, but then shrug my shoulders and say "OK, well it's not OK to talk to me like that/ treat me like that. I don't need that grief. Enjoy the rest of your life. Ciao" I know that this is perhaps not the best way to deal with things, but unfortunately this is the way I am programmed. I can't argue with someone and sit there and listen to someone slag me off and then let it go.

middleagefrumptynumpty Fri 19-Jul-13 01:34:39

To answer your Q. YABU. It is not cruel.

I am a very, very firm believer in you reap what you sow.

Zazzles007 Fri 19-Jul-13 02:19:58

OP, I'm another one that thinks that you don't know what you are talking about. I have cut out my sister and parents (and thus the rest of my family) because of their crappy, crappy treatment of me.

My sister and I have never had a close relationship because of the sibling rivalry instituted in my family by my grandmother and mother. As teens my sister would openly ignore me in public and we never spoke to each other during school hours.

In my mid-twenties, I was overseas for two years after finishing university. When I returned, I found that my mother and sister had conveniently bundled up all the family's problems and scapegoated/blamed me to 2 of my cousins in my absence. I wasn't even there to defend myself. And of course nothing was said on my return, I only found out about this a year or so later. Needless to say, my sister 'apologised', but effectively said she was going to do nothing to fix the damaged relationship between me and my cousins. That was when I realised that I did not need such an uncaring and unremorseful person in my life.

My mother is a completely nutter I have realised recently, but she is very good at 'appearing' normal. You only have to scratch the surface a little to realise that she is completely nuts. FFS, she and my father believe that "food and money are love", they even said this to me a little while ago. No they are not, only love is love, and no amount of food and money can replace that. After a lifetime of her lies, manipulation, backstabbing, triangulation, lack of love, gaslighting, neglect, lack of guidance etc etc, I have decided that there is nothing positive that she (and my father) bring to this relationship and I have cut them off. I thought about it for a several months before deciding to do this and felt enormous (but misplaced) guilt, which I am now training myself out of.

As some other have said, there was a final straw that broke the camels back. Just before I decided on NC, I had been putting in small boundaries with her, such as "please don't ask me when I am going to go to bed every time I am here, I am a adult who can decide for myself when I go to bed". Her reply was "But I ask your father that question and its ok with him (!)" FFS, although my father and I are very alike, she cannot see that we are 2 different people! She complained that I was 'disrespecting' her, and had a complete strop at me, shouting at me until I broke down in tears. I have not seen her since.

A few months ago my father got her to apologise, but it is in the vein of those apologies that other posters have talked about. She said she "was sorry that we fought", not that she was sorry that she shouted at and upset me. A huge difference - she is absolving herself of any responsibility and effectively still thinks that she is in the right. I have ignored any attempts from them to get in contact with me. The last letter from my father said "this is a small thing that should have been forgiven and forgotten about." In other words, "Suck it up sunshine, we should be able to treat you this way and you should take it because you are our daughter. You have no right to expect any other sort of treatment".

I know that I am a product of mental illness on both sides of the family, and effectively I am the black sheep because I am a rational and psychologically normal person. I can see narcissism in my maternal grandmother, mother and sister, and to a lesser extent in an aunt and her 2 daughters. My father has schizoid personality disorder due to the schizophrenic mother that he grew up with. Three of the women in my father's side of my family committed suicide, probably due to the lack of care and neglect they received as they were growing up. The last one to commit suicide was several years ago, my father's sister (my aunt) who was only 4-5 years older than me, and who I used to play with as a child. At the time, she left a devastated man who loved her dearly and an 18 month old baby. The only way I can protect myself from this level of emotional abuse from people who cannot see what they are doing, is to have no contact with them. I will not be judged as cruel by someone as you, who clearly has no idea. I would give anything to have you subjected to 45 years of emotional abuse from mentally ill individuals, and not come to the same conclusions I have. As they say, walk a mile in my shoes...

Mimishimi Fri 19-Jul-13 03:57:26

I've practically cut out my grandfather since he told me to "bugger off" in a really nasty way. He had a history of verbal abuse and angry outbursts with my grandmother, mum and aunt a long time ago when I was a child but after he almost completely alienated his entire family (after the death of my grandmother), he did come to his senses, improved dramatically and we used to visit him fairly regularly.

Anyway, a week before, he had been complaining royally about how noone, apart from myself and my kids, ever visits him and whoever does, it isn't often/good enough. That there are no excuses (except most of them live 3+ hours away). That he has a visitor's book in which he records who visited him and for how long, what was talked about etc (that shocked me a bit). In particular, he complained about one brother/SIL of mine who had just had their first baby almost a year ago. The next day, said brother contacted me through Facebook to invite us to the christening of my nephew . I rang up my grandfather and offered to drive him down there which he accepted, seemingly happily. Night before, I ring up to arrange a time to pick him up and he umms and ahhs and tells me he has decided not to go. Not only that, he does his level best to try and get us to not go as well because the weather will be dreadful etc. He got all huffy when I said we were still going but when I told him "Fine, but I don't want you to complain to me again about my brother not visiting you" he shouted "bugger off". I said "excuse me, what did you say?" at which point he said it again and I promptly hung up. So next day we go, have a lovely time and dad told me that he was upset at my brother for not sending him a formal invitation (as in printed on a fancy card etc). Noone received a formal invitation but it was a huge family turnout so obviously everyone rang around those who aren't connected.

Anyway, so we did 'bugger off' for about eight months (was overseas for a few months over the Christmas period). In March, he was hospitalised with what they initially thought was pneumonia but turned out to be anxiety attacks (he's trying to sell his family home of 50+ years with a couple of neighbours as a development site for apartments). So I visited him a couple of times in hospital and at his home. Last time I visited, my aunty was there from interstate to help him pack up etc and she told me someone had to stay for over two hours to qualfy for entry into his vsitors book. So any friends/family who pop in for afternoon tea don't qualify. Then a neighbour came over and talked to him for a while and they must have been talking about me before they came into the drawing room and my grandfather laughingly said to her, right in front of me, "So ,yes, mimishimi used to look very good when she was younger". He has always made comments about my personal appearance which made me feel slightly uncomfortable "your hair looks good today mimishimi, did you brush it?" but this really made me feel quite annoyed and avoided visiting after that. Of course, he'd never apologised for his earlier outburst but I didn't expect it, so decided to put it in the past for kids sake.

Then my brother rang up one day just over a month ago and asked if he could visit. He had driven about 3 hours up to Sydney with his family (now two kids - boy 2 and girl 4 months) just to visit my grandfather, aunty from other side of country and cousin who had just come over. Apparently my grandfather did not say a single word to him or my SIL the whole time and did not speak to/fuss over the children (he fusses over mine ). He sulkily took his sandwiches out to the sunroom when everyone else had their lunch in the dining room. My brother laughed it off saying it was good to see the others anyway but I was livid on his behalf. My grandfather is completely compis mentis so this was really too childish of him. So I really don't make the time for him now, abetted in large part by the fact we don't have a car now due to an accident so what was once a twenty minute drive away is now at least an hour by train.

Maybe I might regret it for the childrens sake though, as admittedly he has been lovely with them over the years. We haven't 'cut him off' officially but have no inclination to visit.

Torrorosso Fri 19-Jul-13 10:34:08

My parents were abusive physically and emotionally. I cut them off temporarily when I witnessed my dad assaulting my nephew, 5 at the time.

They eventually asked me to make up, and we did. That changed me though and I no longer let them speak to me in the same way - they knew a line had been crossed.

My mum is now dead and I am closer to my dad. He knows not to play games or become offensive because I won't stand for it.

These were very hard things to do, and if they hadn't made the move, we would never have spoken again, but I had to let them know violence against children was unacceptable and was prepared not to speak to them to reinforce it.

What I'm saying is that sometimes cutting off is the most positive, but difficult, thing to do. It's not selfish.

TroublesomeEx Fri 19-Jul-13 18:17:40

I don't hold a grudge against my mother.

The longer I spend without her in my life, the more I 'get' her.

I have forgiven her for not loving me. But I can't forgive her for the way that made her behave towards my children and me.

I don't hold a grudge. I'm not angry, I don't hate her. I just don't ever want to see her ever again.

TroublesomeEx Fri 19-Jul-13 18:20:10

What I'm saying is that sometimes cutting off is the most positive, but difficult, thing to do. It's not selfish.


grumpyoldbat Fri 19-Jul-13 18:21:38

For many it's not an inability to forgive abuse or other bad behaviour but a last resort to try and stop further abuse and protect their own dc.

TroublesomeEx Fri 19-Jul-13 18:22:11

And that ^^

CheungFun Fri 19-Jul-13 18:25:32

I cut off my grandma, my grandad, and my dad and life is much better without them smile

Yes, there are two sides to every story, but I think if someone has gone as far as cutting someone out of their lives, they would have done so for a very good reason.

LittlePeaPod Fri 19-Jul-13 18:46:13

YABU.. Going by your theory I should forgive my evil shit of a father and let him see my first child due in January. He should have thought about the consequences before beating my mother to a pulp in front of her kids.

His now old, lonely and apparently desperate for forgiveness and for us to get back in touch. Well you know what I say... Good riddens!

DontmindifIdo Fri 19-Jul-13 22:03:28

Another thing (if you ever come back to this thread OP!)

You are judging the decision to cut someone off as in some way about punishing the person cut off. Few people who have cut someone out are doing it to hurt the person they cut off, it's not about them. If they get hurt, that's not the point of going non-contact, so appeals to them saying that the person being cut off is hurt by their action or is sorry won't make a difference because it's not about that. It's about protecting the person who is doing the cutting off (as you can see from this thread). They are trying to avoid their own hurt, not primarily trying to hurt someone else.

You said that your MIL is still showing bad behaviours to you, so she hasn't changed, so the people who have cut her off are right to continue to cut her out, because she will still hurt them if they let her back in. It doesn't really matter that she's upset. It matters that they are now not.

mrsdinklage Sat 20-Jul-13 00:29:40

OP won't be back - because we are all evil and cruel hmm

None of us went NC - because we are evil and cruel

We're The Self Preservation Society wink




ZingWidge Sat 20-Jul-13 00:57:35


I wonder of OP has hidden this thread.

would that mean we are all cruelly cut out of her life?


mrsdinklage Sat 20-Jul-13 08:21:58

Zing - your right - she has cruelly - cut us all out of her life shock

SarahAndFuck Sat 20-Jul-13 10:24:50

ZingWidge - I don't think it's a case of forgive or hold a grudge.

I haven't forgiven my PILs, but I don't hold a grudge either.

They pushed me to breaking point and made me ill over a period of months and years. I cut them out to protect myself and my child rather than to punish them and it has helped.

My relationship with them is dead now. I don't have feelings for them, not even ones of dislike or hate. I feel nothing for them. It's a shame for DH and it may all rear up once DS is older and gets curious about them but at the moment all they are to me are people that I used to know, who I don't want to know any more.

Susan Forward has written some interesting things about forgiveness in her books, Toxic Parents and Toxic In-Laws where she is of the opinion that forgiveness to someone who has hurt you does not have to be part of your healing process.

Many people torment themselves over not feeling ready or able to forgive and SF is quite firm about the fact that forgiveness doesn't come at the beginning of a healing process and might not come at the end of one either, furthermore she doesn't believe forgiveness is necessary or always deserved.

I agree with her.

My PILs were and still are awful. They've affected all their children, one is now an alcoholic and drug user, another is emotionally reserved and has emigrated, the third has never had a functioning relationship but has picked a series of users and abusers and the fourth, DH, believes that he is responsible for his parents emotional wellbeing and must do everything they ask or cause a mental breakdown. He's suffered from self-esteem and anger issues because of this.

All four have spent their lives struggling against their emotionally abusive, controlled upbringing and PILs have held them, and now the extended family, to ransom with emotional blackmail, tantrums, anger, threats of disownment and withholding love and support until they get their own way.

One of their most bizarre family stories is the one where DH's pet rabbit was ill and instead of taking it to the vets they had a neighbour break it's neck and then leave it for DH to find. Then they laugh about how he came inside to tell them it was dead and then ran upstairs to cry. They have a lot of stories like this, including a really funny one about their friend in the army who would go away for weeks on end but they always knew when he was home because they'd see his wife with a black eye.

I feel into the same pattern of being controlled to keep the peace and probably still would be doing so, if not for the fact that we lost our son to stillbirth and MIL took it upon herself to subject me to a barrage of nastiness including asking me, three days after our son was stillborn, if it hurts to give birth to a dead baby. We later lost our daughter to prematurity and again MIL was deliberately cruel, eventually making comments about our children not being proper grandchildren, not counting as family and wondering aloud if our daughter was born with a whole face or with bits of it missing.

When I told them this was unacceptable and I would no longer put up with their nasty behaviour they spent months pretty much stalking me and telling lies about me and trying to convince DH to leave me, not by saying anything outright but by telling him lies about things I had supposedly done and said to them. None of them were true.

They tried to split up my marriage, not caring that by then we had a baby DS to consider, because they were not used to having someone stand up to them and say enough was enough and they didn't like it.

And when that didn't work, they deliberately started to interfere with our babies grave, taking fresh flowers away and leaving strange ornaments that looked to be stolen from other graves, putting things inside the metal holder that goes in the vase, balancing weird objects on it. It was like a bizarre version of an animal marking it's territory by pissing on something. They were marking our children's grave to let us know they had been there, taking away the things we had left and doing what they liked with it. We had to get the police involved before it stopped, and still I feel on edge and stressed whenever we go to the cemetery in case they have been back and done something odd.

It's upsetting because I feel like my children are being used and hurt, even though they are dead, and that I can't protect them because they are buried in a public place and I can't stand guard over them 24 hours a day.

Can I forgive all of that? Not yet. Maybe never. Do I still bear a grudge? No. I'm just glad that they are out of my life now and that they are not yet able to drip their poison onto our DS. I hope they never can. Do they deserve forgiveness? I don't think so. And OP, is it cruel to cut these people out? Not as cruel as they would still be being to us if we hadn't.

expatinscotland Sat 20-Jul-13 10:29:40


WinkyWinkola Sat 20-Jul-13 11:03:12

SarahandFuck, oh my bloody god.

What hideous, vile, cruel and yes, evil people your pil are.

I am stunned by some of MNers family history on this thread. And in awe too by the managing and survival of it.

Cutting off family definitely seems to be the healthy and strong thing to do in many cases.

All power to those who just want to remove the corrosive rotten apples from their lives. Too many nasty pieces of work are tolerated.

Op, yabu.

Zazzles007 Sat 20-Jul-13 11:09:52

I don't think the OP is going to come back to this thread. From what I can see from her posts, although she thinks her MIL is a PITA, self-serving, manipulative etc, I rather think that she is on the MIL's side, as it were. There are 2 types of people who will continue to hang around such dysfunctional people as her MIL - the children who are still in the FOG, and those like the OP, who essentially agree with the MIL's stance because in essence, they are more similar to the MIL than not. It is very telling that despite so many posters giving another view of her MIL, OP decided to run and hide, most probably not keeping up with this thread. Something I read last resonates enormously here - if you want to keep lying to yourself, then turn down the light of awareness. Deception is something that is best done in the dark.

Thumbwitch Sat 20-Jul-13 12:51:13

SarahandFuck - you are pretty amazing to even feel nothing for those bastards. I'd still be hating the very thought of them. So sorry about them desecrating your children's graves, how inhumane of them. sad angry

Zazzles - I'm not sure I agree with your assessment that the OP agrees with the MIL because she is more similar to her than not (although I could be wrong) - I think she just has troubles believing, from what SHE has experienced, that her DH's siblings have had it SO bad that they need to cut MIL off. And that's because she is basing it only on her own experience, which is completely self-absorbed and limiting, rather than trying to consider that her DH and siblings might have good reason to do what they have done. Perhaps more a lack of empathy with others' experience than a tendency to emotional manipulation and abuse.

Zazzles007 Sat 20-Jul-13 13:03:50

Ah, you have expressed what I am thinking much better than I have Thumbwitch. I do think the OP seems to have rather self-absorbed tendencies much like her MIL, and so in that sense is more like her than not.

ZingWidge Sat 20-Jul-13 13:09:06


those things you described are horrible.
no wonder you have a totally different view on forgivness, because these evil things done to you and your family are way above and beyond the grudge category!

I said grudge because that's how I feel about my "problems".
apart from 2 things that were particularly bad and I find hard to forgive.
so although I feel I'm holding a grudge, maybe that is not a good description, it's just my angle and my lack of knowledge on synonyms and their correct meanings ( I'm not English)

I'm really sorry for all the hurt caused to you and your family.
so sorry for your losses as well

Also in my head there's a little difference between rejecting someone (cut off) or being unavailable to them (say you move away to lose contact)
but again that is just my take.
I don't think there are only 2 "choices" of holding a grudge or forgiving either, but they have been the most relevant for me so far.
there are many other levels.
I hope you see what I mean.

Thumbwitch Sat 20-Jul-13 13:14:50

Ah I see, Zazzles - in which case we agree! grin

mrsdinklage Sat 20-Jul-13 13:15:21

SarahAndFuck - that is truly dreadful. Does your DH still see his P's ? I really do not think I could cope with that level of abuse.

BCBG Sat 20-Jul-13 13:24:33

OP - I have only read about half the thread blush and I can see that there are strong views, and I understand them, but I just wanted to say I think you sound like a truly lovely person flowers. I had a mum like you describe, and she and her sister fell out for forty years. When my aunt was dying in hospital her son contacted my mum (his aunt) to tell her and my mum called the hospital and sent a card etc. She never got a reply and they were never reconciled before the sister died. My mum died a few years later. A lifetime of regrets for things said and unsaid. You can't decide what is right for your inlaws, but you can be the loving and tolerant person you are and bring your DCs up to be the same, and hopefully the next generation won't repeat the mistakes of the last. All any of us can hope for at times. Like I said, you sound a really kind person.

SarahAndFuck Sat 20-Jul-13 18:14:05

Thank you all.

ZingWidge I think I do understand. It is hard to find the right words to describe something so complex.

I think my feelings tie into what Thumbwich was saying about feeling nothing for them. I don't know if that's the middle ground between forgiveness and grudge, because I can't see myself ever forgiving them. But I feel that I have released myself in some way by not letting them control me through my own anger and upset. It's not easy to let that go, but ultimately I feel better for trying even though it hasn't resulted in forgiveness and reconciliation with them.

mrsdinklage he does still see them. Not often, but he does. As with his siblings, he finds it hard to admit to himself what sort of people they really are and he hasn't really accepted that he is not responsible for giving them everything they want.

He wants them to be different, so each time they tell him they have changed he takes them at face value and ends up getting hurt again. I think he knows deep down that nothing ever has or ever will change with them, but he hopes.

The brother who emigrated sees things the other way, he has convinced himself that they are too set in their ways to change and thinks it best if everyone just pretends all is well now matter how upsetting they are. Which is easy to do from the other side of the world.

All four of them go through stages of either admitting how things are with their parents or trying to pretend things are normal.

What stood out to me was ThinkAboutItTomorrow saying something along the lines of everyone deserving a second chance. I suspect that the three siblings who have gone NC have given her many, many second chances, and have finally decided enough is enough - for their own self-protection, not to be cruel to her.

SarahAndFuck - my heart goes out to you - to go through all you have been through and to have your PIL doing such cruel things to you - how can anyone be that horrible?

I was very interested to read your mentioning the writer who thinks that you don't have to forgive in order to heal. I know it is nothing like any of the stories on this thread, but I was badly bullied at school, and have suffered from depression ever since (I was suicidal at 14) - and on several occasions I have been told that I should forgive the children who bullied me, in order to let go of that pain, and have felt like a huge failure because I can't forgive them, and am not sure if I ever will be able to.

SarahStrattonIsBackForJustABit Sat 20-Jul-13 19:19:58

I don't see why you should forgive them either. Forget them? Yes, if you can. But I don't plan on doing any forgiving, nor do I plan on letting anyone like that back in my life.

I really can't see the point of that tbh.

mrsdinklage Sat 20-Jul-13 19:40:40

Yep - no forgiveness here either.

I don't think you need to forgive to heal. You need to move on and accept what happened to you, but you don't need to forgive whoever did it.

SarahAndFuck Sat 20-Jul-13 22:05:37

SDTG that's one of the things Susan Forward thinks is wrong, that people are told the first step of healing is to forgive those who hurt you.

Many people find that impossible and because they have been hurt or abused, they see that as failure or proof that there is something wrong with them and their abusers/bullies were right.

She says that forgiveness, if it comes at all, is not something you can always do right at the start of any healing process and it's not something you have to do at all in order to move on and heal.

I think that's a good way to look at it. It does seem backwards to me. It's like asking a patient in hospital to make a full recovery before they've had any medicine. I think peace with yourself is much more important than forgiveness for someone else.

My heart goes out to you too. Your bullies sound awful and you are not a failure for not being able to forgive them.

Thank-you, Sarah and Arbitrary.

SDTG: sometimes forgiveness seems more about the forgiven than the forgiver. In your case, your bullies don't deserve enough of your attention to forgive them, and doing so changes nothing in your lfe, so focusing on that doesn't really help you. Accepting what happened to you and being able to move on from it and not give those bullies any thought is probably the most useful thing for you.

In other cases, people may gain something from forgiving someone. And that's great. But for many people what is needed is to not think about the person/people ever again.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I don't think it is necessary to forgive to move on. And I agree that sometimes it invalidates your feelings to do so. For me the important thing has been to look forward. It may be a cliche to say you can't change the past but I'm sure as hell not going to let it govern my future.

ouryve Sat 20-Jul-13 22:48:51

Sarah, your ILs are beyond vile. Good for you for standing up to them. flowers


One more thing that took me a long time to get my head around is "it's not you it's them". Bullies bully because the are the ones who have something wrong with them: the problem lies with them not the victim. Abusers abuse because they are nasty or flawed or damaged: they are the ones with the problem not the victim.

The victim doesn't need to change or try to be different because they aren't the problem at all. The problem is the distorted thinking and behaviour of the abuser/ bully.

wharrgarbl Sat 20-Jul-13 23:20:36

But the people who have put up with bullshit from a partner are all from emotionally abusive homes, where they learned that abuse was 'normal'.

On a scale far, far smaller than some of the terrible stories above (Sarahandfuck, I just...speechless, the cruelty of some people. They are fucked in the head.), both my sister and I first married someone just as nasty and critical as our mother - it felt like 'home'. Fortunately, I left very quickly, and had had no children with the dickhead. Second husband is really different.
I wish all the people on this thread who had hellish parents the very best. I only had to read it - you had to live it and came out the other end. [applauds]

wharrgarbl Sat 20-Jul-13 23:21:32

Oh, forgot to add, and this is why 'staying for the children' is a shit idea - we teach our children what normal is by their domestic life.

ZingWidge Sat 20-Jul-13 23:39:57

I'm not suggesting anyone what they should do.
I do believe that the person forgiving benefits more.

I've just read a story in a 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' book about a lady who forgave the guard who tortured her and her sister at a concentration camp.her sister died there
she said she had to forgive him and that she realized that forgiving is an action not an emotion.

I thought that was an interesting way of putting it.

mrsdinklage Sun 21-Jul-13 00:23:56

Zing - I've always believed in forgiveness
I have done it so many times

Now I need to move on and sadly this could cost me dearly

Finacially - that could be bad - but Hey Ho
Emotionally- this might/could/will ?

I'm not quite sure what to do next ?

But tomorrow is another day

mercury7 Sun 21-Jul-13 01:31:36

I have done this
I agree that looking from the outside it looks cruel
I didnt do it to punish the other person, it wasnt an act of revenge.
I did it to save and protect myself

I dont especially wish the person ill
I can forgive her
but I dont trust her and I wont risk having her in my life

Thumbwitch Sun 21-Jul-13 01:53:23

I like the sound of Susan Forward. I also agree that forgiveness is not necessary to move on and shouldn't be seen as a necessary part of recovery.

I do think though that it is seen as a short cut to "letting go" - as if there are only 2 options, holding the grudge and forgiving - the first being equivalent to "not letting go" and the latter to "letting go".

I believe there are middle grounds - where you can let it go but without forgiving the person involved.

I used to suggest to various clients of mine that, rather than attempting to forgive the other person/people, they could try pitying them instead. Pity for their inadequacy, that they needed to do that to other people to make them feel good about themselves; pity their ignorance and lack of emotional growth/intelligence; pity them for whatever may have made them that way.
It worked for some people - others were still very much in the angry grudge-holding area of the scale and couldn't bring themselves to do it.

Pity is not such a great step as forgiveness. You can pity someone, and still hate what they've done, and still never care about seeing them again.
Forgiveness is much more of a "wiping the slate clean" action and is, in many cases, just too hard (understandably, IMO).

Lurkymclurker Sun 21-Jul-13 02:44:46

I think everyone's situation is different, I put up with everything my parents did until I had dd, seeing her made me realise I had to protect her from them end of, the only way to do that was to walk away.

Hope your mil gets milder with age!

soundevenfruity Sun 21-Jul-13 02:46:06

YANBU. I am contemplating it at the moment and feel profoundly sad. I went through all the usual stages of being angry and self-righteous but the essence of it is that I have to release all hope of ever having this part of my life healthy and real. What I saw happening a lot with other people is what happens in sci-fi thrillers when a person leaving a ship full of zombi carries the virus within them. Disfunction thriving in families is not easily cut out and it just crops up down the line. It also makes cutting out a viable option for siblings, children etc to follow. Dysfunctional families are particularly bad at setting up and respecting boundaries so it's easier to stop all communications than to relearn how to do it properly.

Hi. I know the thread has evolved but i have been lurking and thinking a lot about what everyone has said.

I think that in summary there are a couple of key reasons that people have said IABU to think my IL should give their mum a second chance. (btw only 2 have NC, my other SIL is still very much in contact and loves her mum, she is just moving away).
Anyway, 2 reasons:
1. She isn't sorry. Doesn't understand she is to blame and still fundamentally blames them.
2. She hasn't changed

I have realised that maybe what is driving me thinking she derserves another chance is that 2 is not the case. I think she is sorry at the outcome but not necessarily understanding she caused it. She sometimes says "i didn't ought to have said xyz" (yeah, not sure of the grammar here but that's how she puts it) but in the context of thinking that both sides were at fault.

BUT, i think she has changed. this struck me the other day. She is still a royal PITA sometimes but she isn't being vindictive or stroppy or particularly manipulative. When we found out i was pregnant she wasn't speaking to us and dp had to call up to let her know. That was 22 months ago and since then she has actually been incredibly well behaved. In fact compared to some stories on here she has been a brilliant MIL in terms of not lecturing or taking over, just respecting my wishes etc. i think maybe this is why i am starting to feel a bit sorry for her. I think maybe she knows that she needs to change her behaviour and is making an effort. Outside of taking any responsibility for previous upset of course but at least recognising what isn't acceptable.

Maybe in time, if this continues BIL will think it is safe to be in touch. It's up to him and his wife though and we never discuss it (not my place).

Anyway, sorry if this is now off topic but it's been bugging me why my gut instinct was so at odds with what everyone else was saying. I may be being manipulated but if it is by good behaviour then i can live with that!

I do think people can change, and if/when she has, then maybe her children will want to consider re-establishing some contact, but they should only do so if it will benefit them all equally, and if they honestly feel they can move past the pain that she has caused them, and the damage she has done. But they are under no obligation to do so, in my book - it is entirely up to them, harsh as that may sound.

I have tried to contact my bullies, and if they responded, and were truly sorry for, and appalled by, the damage they did, then I would think about having further contact, but I would be very wary.

OP: Her relationship with you as a DIL doesn't necessarily give you insight into what she's like as a mother though.

Zazzles007 Sun 21-Jul-13 13:18:25

The OP still doesn't get it, even when there are nearly 300 messages saying that not only is BU, but that she has no idea. hmm

puds11isNAUGHTYnotNAICE Sun 21-Jul-13 13:23:48

I have a very toxic and abusive mother. I cut her out of my life for a short amount of time. It was very difficult for me. Not only was it hard not to have my mother, I also got a lot of hassle from other people about my decision.

It's not easy for the person who decides to cut someone out of their life either. And in my experience, the person you are cutting out doesn't deserve the time of day let alone to see your children.

You don't know what went on and even if your husband was living there he still may not know the whole story. I know my siblings don't know the whole story between me and my mother.

Sorry OP, but YAstillBU and I'm going to quote you to explain why I think so.

You're most recent post -

"BUT,* i think she has changed*. this struck me the other day. She is still a royal PITA sometimes but she isn't being vindictive or stroppy or particularly manipulative. When we found out i was pregnant she wasn't speaking to us and dp had to call up to let her know. That was 22 months ago and since then she has actually been incredibly well behaved. ... i think maybe this is why i am starting to feel a bit sorry for her. I think maybe she knows that she needs to change her behaviour and is making an effort. Outside of taking any responsibility for previous upset of course but at least recognising what isn't acceptable."

And before -

"She doesn't try anything with me because I think she knows it wouldn't get her anywhere as I see her behaviour as vaguely risible most of the time. BUT yes, to all posters who point out that it's different when you haven't grown up with it. I guess that's more true than I give credit for."

You are imagining that her behaviour has changed, but really it hasn't. Just because she is on best behaviour WITH YOU (because she knows it wouldn't get her anywhere) does not mean she would be on best behaviour WITH HER CHILDREN (because she trained them from birth to respond as she wanted). She's just the same as any other abuser who 'can't' control their temper around their spouse and children, but can miraculously do so around their employer. She just recognises that there will be consequences to bad behaviour towards you, so she's not doing it. Can you see that this means she CAN do it, but has, towards her own children, CHOSEN not to? And that she would always choose not to?

YABU, and rather cruel towards your DH's siblings.

But it's not just me she's being better with it is DP and SIL too.

I'm not being cruel to BIL at all. I'm not doing anything. I only see him about once a year and we talk about kids and blackadder. I won't pressure him as it's not my place. I will just go on anonymous Internet forums and judge him harshly. But what he doesn't know can't hurt him. I hope.

I do realise from all the posts that it is truly unreasonable to judge generally as there are so many good reasons for people's choices.

mrsdinklage Sun 21-Jul-13 15:06:19

WTF - you judge your BIL harshly but not your MIL
your lack of empathy is truly astounding sad
Like everyone else on here has said - you do not know what your DP's siblings went through - maybe he doesn't even know.
My friends DM is a narcissist - her DB is the golden child, she is the scapegoat - they are both adults - and he just doesn't see it.

Could you try not to judge him harshly, based on what you have learned from this thread, perhaps?

You have read and, if I am correct, accepted that you can't compare how your MIL's relationship to her children and how she was with them, to how is now, and your relationship with her - that of two adults, rather than the relationship of a toxic adult with children who wont have the coping mechanisms to deal with her behaviour, and who were totally dependant on her for the necessities of living, and remembering that you weren't brought up by her and conditioned by her toxic behaviour.

Your BIL's experience of his mother is clearly very different to your relationship with her, and so you can't use your relationship with her, and her behaviour towards you to judge his reaction to how she has treated him in e past.

You strike me as a very caring and understanding person - and I honestly think your BIL deserves as much, if not more of that care and understanding than your MIL. She mistreated a dependant, innocent child whose well being was her responsibility whilst he took a hard decision to protect himself from any further hurt and damage.

Asamumnonsense Sun 21-Jul-13 15:20:07

I left home at 19 to move abroad just to run away from my mum. I loved my mum but I had to put 'me' first. I could not breath! it was that or suicide. It took me about 7 years to get us into a 'normal' mother daughter relationship and we're still not over it. I am marked for life.
I do not think you should judge them for how they have decided to deal with it.
May be it is their time to put themselves first and I do not blame them.
They're not being cruel at all..They're protecting themselves and their children too I would assume.

I was being flippant and self criticising when I said judge harshly! It was meant more of an admission of my mistake than to say it's ok. But just to temper it with saying even being that harsh is not something I'd do TO BIL

twinklyfingers Sun 21-Jul-13 15:32:24

Fundamentally OP I don't think you know what it is to cut someone out of your life.

It is not punishment for bad behaviour (which could therefore be negated by good behaviour).

It is self preservation.

Perhaps if you can appreciate this you might be more understanding to your dp's siblings.

I can understand the self preservation point but then outcomes back to the fact that right now and for close to the last 2 years I don't seemy mil as the ogre I portrayed her as at the outset of this thread.

But ultimately it is true that she leaves me alone and I have only known her14 years not my childhood so it is just not the same as their experience.

The fact remains OP, that you judge your DP's siblings more harshly than his mother. You consider them cruel for cutting her out of their lives (which they have no doubt done out of self-preservation) but you don't consider her cruel, and are willing to gloss over her decades of cruelty to them on the basis that "this last couple of weeks I feel like MIL is improving a bit and maybe deserves a bit of time off for good behaviour." Seriously, two weeks and all is forgiven hmm?

So what if she "has repeatedly apologised to DBIL and DSIL" ? Sometimes, an apology is simply not enough. Particularly when the apologiser isn't really apologising because they still don't accept or understand that they were in the wrong, which is what you have implied ( "Though I admit [of her letters of apology to BIL/SIL] a lot of what she says is more along the lines of 'how could they do this to me' so maybe that is more what she really thinks." )

I am really struggling with how much you contradict yourself about this woman. You judge your BIL and SIL, yet you also say "Next week I will be on here ranting about my bloody impossible MIL and seriously considering walking away (after 14 years with DP we have had our fair share of times considering this option!)." You judge your BIL and SIL, yet you also say "I genuinely worry that she will drive DP and I away and then be left on her own utterly destroyed." You judge your BIL and SIL, yet you also say " I have said to DP that if she tries any of her hot and cold, not speaking for months tricks now we have DD I will run out of patience with her."

So which is it?

SarahAndFuck Sun 21-Jul-13 20:46:28

She may have changed OP, or she may not have.

For the past two years she has been better with her behaviour and that's a good thing.

But two years is short compared to the years her children lived with her and it might take them far longer than that to come to terms with things and trust the difference in her.

One word of advice. Don't say anything to anyone about how she deserves another chance.

I felt under pressure from relatives of PILs to forgive and forget, I kept hearing how they were sorry and had changed. But to me, it was just more proof that they hadn't, they were just using other people to put their pressure on me, they were still telling lies and giving half the story to other people. That's still a form of harassment you know, using someone else to speak to the person who doesn't want to speak to you.

You need to leave them all alone to do what they will and accept that they have their reasons which you may not know. And accept that change and reconciliation can take a long time, much longer than the almost two years you say your MIL has been better in.

TroublesomeEx Sun 21-Jul-13 21:16:45

The other thing is, OP, that even when if someone does change, quite often the damage is so great that people just aren't prepared to take the risk again.

That's not about being cruel or punishing someone either.

As people have said, it's rarely a knee jerk reaction, it's such a long time coming that by the time you have made peace with yourself for your decision, you have no need or desire to revise it.

It wouldn't benefit the people who have cut her out to let her back in, it might benefit her, but if that ship has sailed then that's just the way it is.

And I agree with the others, you will have one relationship with her as her DIL, and that's great. But you can't presume to understand anything about the relationship she has had with her children throughout their formative years, because you weren't there.

rabbitlady Sun 21-Jul-13 22:01:40

parents and grandparents can do terrible damage that it is not possible to forgive.
my mum is in end-of-life stage in a nursing home. i suspend all my sorrow, hurt and damage from my life as her daughter, and concentrate on the good parts, so that we can spend happy time together before we are apart for good. i can do this as long as she isn't being cruel - if she starts that, i leave and keep away for a few days. i enjoy the time when we are together, i enjoy telling her i love her so that if she has to go, she knows that she doesn't go unloved.
that's the best i can do.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now