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To think cutting people out of your life is just cruel

(308 Posts)
ThinkAboutItTomorrow Tue 16-Jul-13 09:44:42

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!

AKissIsNotAContract Tue 16-Jul-13 09:53:57

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?

ThisReallyIsNotSPNopeNotAtAll Tue 16-Jul-13 09:54:52

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.

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Tue 16-Jul-13 09:57:09

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?

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