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MIL refusing to distance herself, any ideas seriously welcome.

(117 Posts)
BatShite Fri 03-Apr-20 16:22:26

I know this will seem trivial in comparison to others issues at the moment, but this is causing a huge rift in my family, and is actively starting to make me hate my mother in law. Shes always been quite selfish, I won't go into all of that but its not been too much of a surprise the way shes going on because of this, just didn't expect it to be this bad. I have made a couple of posts in other threads about this, but am now at wits end and have no idea what I can do to stop this.

MIL is over 70. She also has a fair few serious medical problems which put her at very very high risk of complications if she catches this virus. However, ever since lockdown, she has been pushing it and pushing it and trying to convince others to just ignore the rules. I am at my wits end now and despite not really being an angry person, I am dangerously close to snapping, which I do not want to do for obvious reasons!

So we just had to, again, make MIL get back into the taxi she got, and go home. This is now the third time in a week she has tried to..sneak up here. First time she just said she was coming, ignored us saying no and turned up, stroled into the house and started crying when we told her to leave. Second time, luckily, the taxi she booked..the driver is family and rang us in advance, so she was basically turned away before getting in, resulting in wailing fits apparently, and again today, kidds were getting air in the garden and DD came flying in teeling us grandma is here and has brought loads of sweets! Yet again, a massive scene was made, with her crying and saying we are just being horrible and why don't we want to see her, etc etc.

She seems to have convinced herself that everyone is just 'using' this as a reason to avoid her. This includes us, neigbbours, and even an accusation that the GP surgery is trying to keep her away for reasons unknown hmm Shes always seemed a touch narcisistic but this is..beyond a joke now. She is still visiting the shop multiple times a day, for different newspapers, biscuits, etc. When we offered to get her shopping and that weeks back to help her distance, she took that as us trying to 'stop her going out when she likes going out'. We have had a fair few complaints from neighbours, of her knocking on their doors and making scenes when they say no she cannot come in for a cuppa, and she has even started visiting town..for reasons unknown as before this virus, she never ever went t town and when we asked her once if she wanted to come to the cinema with us, she almost had a breakdown saying she couldnt be around that many people (anxiety issues have gone on for years)

I really do not know what to do, neither does DH, and we seem to have tried this from every angle possible but she is determined to put herself and others at risk. In the interest of keeping this thread shorter, I will try and go through approaches we have tried but not go into massive detail, as I swear I could write a novel at this stage..

- You are high risk in multiple ways, its much better for you to stay in for your own good. Variations of this have included also going into detail about how she would use up a lot of medical staff/supplies etc if she did get it bad. We had to resort to that when she decided that she 'would rather die than not see people for a few weeks'. When she got into that mindset, she became more stubborn, however she has not yet tried to make out she would not call for help if she became ill (though we are expecting that another excuse). Pointed out that because of people refusing to disnace, hospitals will be overwhelmed and other peple will die, not just those who are ill with the virus, and possibly unnecessarily too as if everyone did what they were meat to, there wouldn't be so much of an issue. Apparently its a myth that the NHS is on its knees hmm and there are more than enough staff, and everytime she goes to hospital all she sees are nueses and such sitting around drinking tea and talking. This one has maybe enraged me more than any others..

- DD has asthma, as does DH. We have tried from the angle that she might make them ill, given shes out and about all the time. She took this massively personally, and devcided that we were saying she was dirty and diseased and of course she wouldn't come up if she was having symptoms. Pointing out that many do not get symptoms til later/at all went in one ear and out of the other, apparently she doesn't believe that as if its as dangerous as 'we are meant to believe' then everyone who had it would be deathly ill. No amount of attempting to explain this is clearly not the case..has got through. She has also decided that only those who have 'serious' asthma are at risk anyway, meaning those who are regularly hospitalised rather than those who 'just' have a few inhalers they have to take sometimes.

- Its not forever, its short term (hopefuly) and massively needed for multiple reasons. But being alone for long periods of time makes her down she says. She will end up killing herself. This one enraged me, possibly more than it should. I know she doesn't like being alone, not many people do, but threatening suicide as we are trying to keep our family (and her..) safe and trying not to increase pressure on the NHS is just vile. This is not the first time she has used suicide in this way, its depressingly common when she has been told no for something. I highly doubt she would ever do it. But even if she did, we cannot just allow her to do what she what she likes as she threatens this. I mean, yeah we would probablly feel guilty if she did go down this route, but..what can you do really. My main problem with this one also has been, its clearly malicious and not something shes saying out of desperation, and she said it infront of our 7 year old..whch then got herself all upset and we had a very difficult conversation about suicide, with a child. This part has actually made me consider cutting off ALL contact, forever. Its just horrible.

- Once a vaccine is made, or some plan is formed to fight this..everything will go back to normal. But no, Everyone is just trying to avoid her randomly. No reason why, just the whole world decided at the same point that they wanted nothing to dfo with her. Newspapers are clearly playing alng too and there is no crisis, just everyone has became selfish and no longer wants the burden of older/ill people hmm This is not any genuine paranoia, or certainly does not sem that way, its just more being self centred. She actually looked me in the eye while DH was putting her bags back in the taxi and told me that she has been trying to get a GP appointment for 2 weeks now and even they are ignoring her, so even they don't want to see her. She wants an appointment just to 'talk' apparently. I get that that can help some, but in the middle of this crisis, health workers cannot be allowing appointments for no medical reason! Shes been offered one for in 5 weeks apparently, bt this is no good as she wants to talk now.

No amount of talking on the phone is helping. We have been in contact with her a few times a day to try and stop her feeling lonely. But this is not good enough. We are just being horrible. Nehgbours are just being horrible. Doctors are also. Shopkeeper is starting to be awkward and only allowing 2 people in shop at same time, probably to try and discourage people from going to the shop so they can just close and get time off as they are lazy and want paid for nothing. Its just..insane.

Only practical thing we have managed to get done so far, has been to talk a couple of local taxi companies round to not letting her book taxis from her home to ours. Which again, seems harsh and wrong but we cannot have her keep turning up! Also that seems to have made her more determined, as suddenly taxi drivers were added to her list of people who are just trying to ignore her.when she was cntinually told there was nothing available. Obviously this does nothing really though as there are so many companies about and no way would all of them agree to just put her off when she tries either..we were lucky that those 2 did, and its only as we are so friendly with the owner of one and have used them for years, and DHs uncle is part owner of the other. One f the other companies here als has stopped taking house to house bookings fullstop (apparently are only doing runs to hospitals and such), so they wouldn't bring her to start with..starting to wish all the companies took that approach really.

Does anyone have any suggestions that they can think of that might help?! I think we have probably tried all by this stage and nothings changing, and maybe I don't expect advice but just want to get this rant out or something but..I have never ever felt this stressed in my life and it really is starting to make me dislike her intensely. I have always found her self centred and manipulative mind, but it was kind of just an element of her personality that I could try to ignore, there were good parts of her too. But recently, the good seems to be disappearing and just being replaced with pure selfishness. DH doesn't know what to do either, he was actually crying last night while we were trying to figure a way to sort this, as he feels on the one hand shes his mother, on the other shes clearly being a massive massive cunt. He said he is considering cutting contact totally when this is over, due to her behaviour. Not sure if this would happen, though I am tempted too, as once the crisis is gone, the good will start showing again too I suspect, but for now, we want nothing at all to do with her. Which feels wrong. Its always been a bit of a tightrope walk keeping her happy, or happy enough not to cause issues. Now, it seems the only way she will stop behaving in this way is if we just let her walk all over us and put the whole family at risk, because she won't spend a few weeks in her house.

Any suggestions welcome, literally anything at all. Also prepared to be told we are in the wrong with how we are attempting to deal, so don't hold back (not that MN ever does grin )

OP’s posts: |
PeterWeg Fri 03-Apr-20 16:42:30

Her life, let her go ahead and catch it. Lock your doors.
She won't be seeing the inside of a hospital if she's sick.

satansbumhole Fri 03-Apr-20 16:47:51

All you can do is keep your door locked I`m afraid. You sound like you`ve done all you can!

what a silly, selfish woman! any history of MH issues???

RevIMJolly Fri 03-Apr-20 16:49:47

Firstly I would tell your DH not to worry about what to do when this is all over. You just have to deal with what's in front of you at the moment. There is no point in getting stressed about what may or may not happen in the next 3/6/12 months.

Secondly, tell her you love her but you are socially isolating from everyone and that includes her. Explain that you will not be seeing her in person, but are prepared to speak to her on the phone.

You can tell her to modify her general behaviour, but it sounds as if she won't pay any attention. She's an adult.

And finally just lock your doors, lock your gate. Do not let her in.

It's a cliche, but it's true that you can't control her behaviour, you can just control your reactions to it.

Good luck!

justasking111 Fri 03-Apr-20 16:53:44

Has she always been this bad or is this a new thing?

EasyTarget Fri 03-Apr-20 16:53:49

Let her get on with it, you can't stop her. You can protect your family by sending her away if she turns up.
If she does have narcissistic tendencies no amount of talking will make her see. If she believes everything I the world revolves around her, you can't change that incorrect perception.

PickAChew Fri 03-Apr-20 16:54:08

Yes, keep your door locked.

And make it clear that you do want to socially distance, all the more from people who don't take it seriously. Even if she doesn't care about her own risk, you care about your family's risk, so she can kindly bugger off and stop acting like a petulant child.

AnotherEmma Fri 03-Apr-20 16:57:07

Strolled into the house?! hmm Just lock your front door. Why didn't you keep it locked after the first time?

Stop engaging with her. Do not answer the door if she turns up. Once you've seen it's her, walk away from the door/windows, don't look and don't talk to her. If she phones, don't answer.

I also suggest you keep regular contact to a minimum. Perhaps one phone call per day and if she starts with the blame, manipulation, etc, just shut it down, change the subject or if necessary end the call.

trotabitwalkabit Fri 03-Apr-20 16:57:10

Do you think she might be starting with dementia? If someone is a horrible person anyway, that might mask the signs. I speak from experience with my dad- hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I’d follow the Rev’s advice. Stay strong.

catsandlavender Fri 03-Apr-20 16:58:11

Read r/justnoMIL on reddit. Seriously post this there, it’s a forum for people with awful MILs and you’ll get tons of advice and solidarity. Not saying you won’t here, but try there too.

She’s obviously totally nuts, tbh I can imagine my grandma having gone down this route if it happened ten years ago. She now is in a care home with dementia and doesn’t really know what’s going on which is sort of a blessing for her (and us).

There’s really nothing you can do that you haven’t tried already. Don’t let her in, and I would actually limit the amount of calls. Once a day is all she needs, and anything more is getting manipulative. It probably isn’t helping her to just rant and complain to you and it’s certainly not helping you to listen to it!

Stonewall her comments about people ignoring her. Don’t agree, disagree or try and reason. Just make a neutral sound and change the subject. Rinse and repeat.

You cannot control what she does, which is really hard as she is family and you don’t want to see her get sick (plus the wider risk to others etc). All you can do is control your response to it, and you and your DH and DC are the ones who need to come first. Limit contact and don’t get drawn into her craziness about people ignoring her etc. You can’t help her or make her see sense so you may as well put your effort into making things as easy as possible for you and your household flowers

definitelygc Fri 03-Apr-20 16:58:57

This might be totally wrong but is there a chance she has dementia? I only ask because I have a family member with vascular dementia and one of the first signs of it was quite strange decision making and her not being able to understand why certain things were happening.

catsandlavender Fri 03-Apr-20 16:59:28


Good point, it took us ages to realise my grandma was getting vascular dementia as she had been pretty horrible since my grandpa died. The personality changes that we would have noticed didn’t really raise a red flag at that point.

definitelygc Fri 03-Apr-20 17:00:12

Cross-posted with @trotabitwalkabit. Interesting that it wasn't just me thinking it

Beamur Fri 03-Apr-20 17:05:05

I read an article from Italy and one of the comments in it was how uncooperative many older people were with the lockdown.
All you can do is keep saying the same thing, lock your front door and pray this is all over soon!

bellabelly Fri 03-Apr-20 17:09:27

Whatever the reasons behind her behaviour, you and DH need to stand firm. That's all you can do really, if she is not listening / not understanding the reason for staying home, saying it again won't make any difference. Could your DH contact GP if dementia might be an issue?

sandragreen Fri 03-Apr-20 17:10:28

How is she just strolling into your house? confused Lucky it was just her if it was left unlocked.

If she has a key, can DH change the lock? Or can he add a bolt so she can't get in?

Basically you are going to have to lock her out if she won't listen to you. She sounds awful. GIven the back story though, it does sound ore like an extension of her usual behaviour than dementia. flowers

JKScot4 Fri 03-Apr-20 17:11:13

She sounds mentally unstable, very irrational, could it be dementia?

socksmcgraw Fri 03-Apr-20 17:15:57

So sorry you are going through this - very very similar to my situation with my mum. Have also tried everything and I am afraid I have no other advice. Very similar personality type but my mum has dementia and reading this made me also think this sounds like dementia too (on top of what she is like anyway). I would speak to her GP if you can for advise on that. So difficult and you have my absolute sympathy. Keep your family safe first and foremost though and don't feel bad about that. Much love to you even though we don't say that here thanksthanksthanks

PlanDeRaccordement Fri 03-Apr-20 17:16:55

I am thinking dementia or even senility also.
If it were her thinking just you are horrible, I’d think I’d was her being stubborn and selfish. But it is across the board she thinks the entire world is being horrible- shop keepers, GP, taxi drivers, neighbours. It is very much like she does not even comprehend or understand the existence of COVID 19 and so is baffled about why the world and her life/routine has to change.
I’d call the GP and social services, because it doesn’t sound like she is in her right mind.

socksmcgraw Fri 03-Apr-20 17:18:06

So sorry you are going through this - very very similar to my situation with my mum. Have also tried everything and I am afraid I have no other advice. Very similar personality type but my mum has dementia and reading this made me also think this sounds like dementia too (on top of what she is like anyway). I would speak to her GP if you can for advise on that. So difficult and you have my absolute sympathy. Keep your family safe first and foremost though and don't feel bad about that. Much love to you even though we don't say that here thanksthanksthanks

Ps meant to add also maybe try and get people in authority to speak to her and any friends she respects ie her GP, minister etc.

HyacynthBucket Fri 03-Apr-20 17:20:13

Nobody should use emotional blackmail - the suicide thing - so please don't fall for her threats. If she did do something, having had the self distancing thing explained to her, it would be no one's responsibility but her own. In the meantime, maybe explain it one more time to her that everyone has to be distant, its not just her, and then literally close the door against her. Unless she has mh issues, she is being incredibly self-centred, and like some other people totally in denial about the emergency we are facing. If she does have mh problems, maybe social services or Mind could point you to advice.

forgetthehousework Fri 03-Apr-20 17:20:23

I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with this now. I'm afraid I haven't got any practical suggestions about how to get through to MIL, because it sounds like she just doesn't want to know but I just wanted to let you know I feel for you.
(My MIL was expert at winding up my DH by being selectively stupid, she died 2 years ago, but although annoying at least that wasn't actively dangerous).
You are doing the correct thing by isolating from her, I think you're amazingly patient to be still talking to her more than once a day (obviously your DH will want to check that she is actually ok).
Perhaps you could suggest that if she wants company she makes a list of friends and arranges to phone each of them at a particular time each day to chat for a few minutes; they might all be glad of the contact.
You don't say if your DH has siblings, if he has get them to speak to her too - I'd guess from your post that you are the closest even if there are other family members!
If she is a churchgoer ask her minister if he can speak with her.
The bottom line is that you cannot be responsible for her actions, you can only make sure she doesn't break your own efforts to behave responsibly.
Stay safe, support your DH, look after your DC. Have a virtual hugflowers

CrystalAlligator Fri 03-Apr-20 17:20:41

Read this and see what you think.

sonjadog Fri 03-Apr-20 17:23:20

My first reaction to reading your post was that this could be dementia related. Have you noticed any other possible signs?

Littlepickle90 Fri 03-Apr-20 17:23:38

@BatShite you're doing the right thing just make sure to look after yourself in all of this. It sounds like your MIL is emotionally blackmailing your family so please keep strong. Maybe call her bluff on not asking for help if she gets ill, ask if her will is in order and if she wants to be noted as DNR?x

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