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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.....

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.

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.

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

trashcanjunkie Tue 16-Jul-13 10:09:33

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.

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Tue 16-Jul-13 10:10:49

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?

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Tue 16-Jul-13 10:14:58

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>>

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