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She said, I said, He said...Gaslighting 101.

(18 Posts)
BoltingBrenda Sat 09-Mar-13 15:59:18

Sorry Mumsnet, you are MY only outlet.

Feel like I just want to curl up and die. Half my life has been turned into a lie. I am a woman in my 40's and could possibly deal with the pain and disappointment in time - but to see the future and know that young children will suffer to shore up a family of emotionally frozen and inadequate adults, I just cannot contemplate or condone without screaming at the whole bloody unjustness of it.

You are walking about with a hangdog expression as if to say 'Why is this happening to me, why is she doing this to me?' never once admitting I have been driven to this, never once facing up to the facts. Ok, so you really WANT it all to be solely your fault? Ok then, it IS all your fault if that's what you need it to be. So YOUR behaviour and actions are the only reason I will have rip our children's security to pieces? Because that way you can diminish any uncomfortable feelings that examining the almighty fuck-up that is your Family might cause you?

In the past I have raised issues and sought to 'Hate the deed not the person' - you yourself have conceded THAT. Yes, you have been guilty of complaining about me to your family without explaining your part, yes you have been economical with the truth and sought their sympathy whilst denying any fault or causation of your own, yes you have allowed yourself to be supported by them while knowing that without their previous lies and actions (and my subsequent responses) there would be nothing for me to be crying over now.

I feel I have been forced take this path, because soul-searching (and a lot of reading on MN) makes me finally realise that you will NEVER be able to acknowledge the dire emotional abuse and manipulation that you were subjected to while growing up (and continue to be a victim of). You do know that you can still love someone but not like/condone aspects of their behaviour don't you? I have only mentioned it, once, twice, a hundred times. No, it's all or nothing for you.

I am aghast, incredulous, devastated, and totally broken, by the fact that you are choosing your adult family after all that you have seen and heard, all that I have been put through and wept bitterly about. And STILL, to lessen the emotional impact on you, I sought to minimise their behaviour, looked for excuses for the outrageous damage they have caused, emphasised with their personal issues, difficulties and sadness's - something which they clearly have never afforded me - and for what? So that you can swing between appearing to almost reach some insight and then, defending them against me to the point of sheer bloody insanity (mine obviously). It all depends on who you've last spoken to. You return home after seeing your Mum or cousin, all filled with self-righteous anger that I am the unreasonable cause of all this 'trouble'. We talk (well I do, you are there with your sad face, too bound up in dysfunctional familial knots to articulate anything) and then you do almost agree, you do almost SEE, you add MORE (hurtful) evidence to support my assertions, and yet, and yet, you still cannot bear to bring yourself to an acceptance that your adult family could be deceitful (and FULLY cognisant all the while) in their thoughts, words, and deeds.

In the past week you actually got to witness your wife being lied to, repeatedly, to her face by a close member of your family (NO 'she said, I said' ambiguity) AND you 'moued' and sympathised with the liar's upset (?!) midway through - whilst KNOWING that everything that they were saying WAS utter and complete self-supporting LIES. If my anger at that wasn't so overwhelming I would be rendered speechless with incredulity (you wish). This week you have been with your family and watched them pick me to pieces, seen them tell each other MORE lies to support the lies they have already told, and you've still NOT SPOKEN OUT. You have allowed your family to dismiss my attempts to speak with them to try and salvage something, anything, from this unholy mess. They don't want to talk to me, not interested in 'She said, and she said' apparently, but willing to be visited by, and listen to, the person that lied in front of you only days earlier.

And the pressure now is that my behaviour has to be impeccable, I have to be reasonable, calm, gracious, and magnanimous, all to effect a smoothing of the future path for our children, AND you and your family. Anything else would give weight to the 'told you so, she's mad, bad, and dangerous to know' thinking that constitutes your family's opinion of me. Inside I am raw, bleeding, howling with the sheer pain and unfairness, the betrayal, the out and out cruelty I feel now and see ahead in the future. Thanks a bunch you man-child, you coward, you fake.

I have lost you, my only love - exchanged for lies, deceit, and something dangled and intangibly unreachable, but that thing you are always seeking and never finding, your Mother's love and approval.

Sorry, just had to get this all out of my head and heart. Thank you MN, I am grateful to you for being there and letting me articulate this.

MrsMorton Sat 09-Mar-13 22:27:13

sad I'm sorry for you.

MN is an amazing resource, I would probably have killed myself if I didn't have this place to come. You're amongst friends.

jynier Sun 10-Mar-13 04:31:07

BoltingBrenda - So sorry for your anguish; you are clearly going through insufferable personal torment and torture. The brilliant ladies who are "MN Royalty" will help you, I hope!

Stay on here to receive their advice!

MN Royalty ... over to you

Salbertina Sun 10-Mar-13 05:03:26

Really sorry to hear that sad
Could you drag him to counseling?

Lizzabadger Sun 10-Mar-13 06:49:18

Heavens - don't take him to counselling.

It's not totally clear what's been going on but it's clear you need to get well away from it.

You need to end the relationship.

minmooch Sun 10-Mar-13 07:01:25

You sound wretched and torn to shreds emotionally. You and your children deserve so much more. You have proved to yourself you have done everything to make things good, now don't waste another moment, walk away with your head held high.

You cannot love someone better. Let him and his family be someone else's problem.

Be kind to yourself.

BoltingBrenda Sun 10-Mar-13 08:15:27

Good morning, and thank you for the replies. I know how great MN are when the going gets tough - and it's helpful to have some validation for my feelings whilst it's completely lacking in RL.

I KNOW I have to end my marriage. Have appointment with Lawyer next week.

With regards to counselling - my Husband probably would agree to see someone impartial if I asked him to, but I am well aware that it would make no difference - after the most recent events there is absolutely no doubt left in my mind that he cannot mentally escape the confines of an emotionally abusing, controlling, passive-aggressive upbringing (as an ironic aside my job is in Counselling/Therapeutic Interventions).

I had held out a last bit of hope when I asked him to be with me when I spoke to one of his relatives (this to ensure there would be no later ambiguity about what was actually said). The relative lied and lied and lied, all to justify their appalling and manipulative behaviour. I could visibly see the pain this was causing my Husband, his face looked tortured. This was not because he knew the relative was lying, but rather I think because his relative was being asked to answer for their manipulative actions and they couldn't. Oh, and they made every move I had predicted before the conversation - the shrugging of the shoulders, the minimisation and dismissal of my concerns, the oh well, if you feel like that, the tears, the you're paranoid, the well I'm sorry if you feel like that, the it wasn't meant like that...AAAaaargh, I have rarely felt rage like it.

The main issue surrounds the (witnessed - personally, impartially, and most recently by my Husband) behaviour of my Mil towards one of our DC. Behaviour that not just favours a particular child (I get having a favourite, no problem there) but actively segregates and puts the other sibling down in subtle and insidious ways. I can deal with how badly they treat me, but no way are they continuing the cycle of abuse with my children. Husband's family wanted 'proof' of the above - I pointed at my Husband and said there's x amount of years of proof! - this was before my Husband caught witnessed his mother verbally putting down one of the DC. I thought THAT might spark some insight, but sadly no - after the initial upset he felt, it was then played down and minimised (fair enough, on it's own the comment she made wasn't earthshattering but taken along with all the other niggles and incidents it was my final straw).

My Husband's family doesn't do anger (they DO do 'suitably outraged' but it's hard to spot). It's all kept bubbling under the surface, hence it's me that looks like the unreasonable one, and their behaviour 'excused'. Husband's family have been in touch with him asking 'are you ok', not a word for me (obviously, and totally expected!) but not one word of concern about our (young) children...who are these frozen robots?!!!

Thank you for letting me get this out on here, I'm pretty much on my own with this.

BoltingBrenda Sat 13-Apr-13 16:08:35

Will try to be succinct as the urge to scream seems to take over every time I think of this incident.

There is a venting mix of what I guessed at the time, and what I found out later. The previous posts happened after the incident I'm describing below. Didn't post previously about it as very conflicted about everything that took place, and contains very identifiable information. I feel a namechange coming on.

Met H’s cousin in town unexpectedly late on a Saturday afternoon. (H not present as works away for long periods of time). Went for a café meal with them and all our DCs (mine under 6, theirs 18+) – enquired if H’s sibling and family had arrived (live more than 5 hours drive away) as they were meant to be visiting Mil at some point that weekend. Have had little contact with H’s sibling and Mil due to past events (Mil has been emotionally abusive to DC1, I asked H to not leave DCs alone when he visited Mil to avoid this, he agreed). I am NC with MIL after (yet) another abusive incident directed at me personally. H’s cousin pleaded ignorance of any knowledge about arrival of H’s sibling, length of stay etc.

Discussed with cousin’s DC2 about local event that was taking place the next day – both they and my DC1 would be taking part – H’s cousin listened to this conversation but made no comment.

H’s Cousin texted at 8.20am the next morning, offering to drive DC1 to event with her middle DC and to have my other DC at her home ‘to give me a break’. This was followed by a phone conversation to make arrangements. (Guessed at the time that Mil may have phoned cousin prior to this – Mil’s MO is early morning telephone calls) but no mention of this in text or telephone call).

H’s cousin arrived 40 minutes earlier than agreed, and without her DC2 – I asked where DC2 was – H’s cousin replied “Oh, I forgot that they were staying overnight with a friend” (?!) (not mentioned in text or during phonecall) – I ascertained where the friend lived and said I could have collected DC2 as the location was much closer to me. H’s cousin shrugged this off. And still no mention of H’s sibling visit. Just before cousin left I pointed out that H and I had agreed to no unsupervised contact between Mil and DCs – Cousin made no comment.

Cousin left with DCs. I was stuck in house waiting for a local repairman to fix heating system – but had a growing unease about what was going on. Text from cousin two hours later requesting that I collect DC1 and her DC and return them to her house later that afternoon – also advised that H’s sibling and family ‘may’ be visiting cousin, but not Mil.

I collected the DCs and drove to cousin’s house – H’s sibling and family were there, as was Mil – the atmosphere felt even more strained than usual but I stuck around for a coffee. DC1 had had a very successful day at event but when this was mentioned nothing was said – par for the course – DC2 of course was being fawned over throughout.

Found out later that Mil had telephoned cousin in the a.m prior to contacting me, to arrange a meet-up, Cousin went straight to Mil’s house after leaving mine. Previously arranged as cousin had telephoned her DC prior to arriving at my house to tell them to meet cousin at Mil’s house.

At some point before I arrived at cousin's house, cousin ‘confided’ in H’s sibling’s partner that ‘BB had said there was to be no unsupervised contact with Mil’ – ("but I told her not to tell anyone - I was just so upset about what you said I had to speak to someone" - my ARSE you manipulative, lying, backstabbing piece of shit) of course partner just HAD to tell H’s sibling, and they just HAD to tell Mil - cue outraged in-laws and the end of my marriage as H later backed up his emotionally frozen and emotionally abusive family.

I am still howling with pain and outrage that they effectively bypassed my rights and responsibilities as a mother, and think that they have the right to use my children to gain family ‘brownie points’. NC with all of my H’s family now – and I’m the (getting a divorce asap) scapegoat.

Bastards the lot of them.

LineRunner Sat 13-Apr-13 16:38:14

I'm so sorry I have only just seen this, and that you've been a month between posts.

It is a dreadful and stressful situation to be lied to and put down by a partner's family, when there should be kindness and respect.

Have you thought how you and your H will handle contact if and when you part? Could you make it possible and 'easy' for him to see the DCs in your home? Otherwise you will worry every time he collects them (or you drop them off) that he is taking them straight round to toxic relatives.

Sorry you are going through this.

BoltingBrenda Sat 13-Apr-13 17:09:37

Thank you Linerunner for your kind reply - month's gap due to more emotionally abusive tussles with H, the usual nice/nasty script.

Intention is to (eventually) move far away from the 'toxics' and closer to my own family - although they know nothing about these difficulties, yet - and the risk of exposure to harm will lessen due to the distances involved.

I have not 'barred' H and DCs from having contact with in-laws at any time - just been clear that I would prefer it to be supervised. H has in the intervening period had little contact with his family (he says he doesn't 'feel he can be in touch with them' - this is a ploy as he has telephone and text contact with them, it's more to do with all his lies catching up with him, and to paint himself as the victim...again!)

H away at work for next few weeks so I imagine there will be the usual flurry of texts and phonecalls between them all - more-self supporting justification of their atrocious behaviour. His last text to me, a few days ago, was concilatory in tone, and contained yet another lie! - I haven't replied.

Thank you for letting me get my fury at them off my chest - you can imagine that there is so much more to it all that time and MN'ers patience doesn't allow for - but to remove our children from their home (and mother) under false pretences is crazymaking.

and breathe... smile

LineRunner Sat 13-Apr-13 20:56:21

If you move, will your husband consider going with you?

And do you think that will help?

BoltingBrenda Sun 14-Apr-13 10:49:45

Hello Linerunner - that's a very pertinent question (thankyou!)

If I suggested it as an option he may say he would, however he is so enmeshed in their toxic ways the end result would be more blame for me. He would (probably) say 'I moved for you', I left my family for you'... Victim status ad infinitum!

Spoke briefly on the phone last night - circular argument, all about how he's feeling. Lots of references to 'This', or, ''What's happened' - when pressed to explain what 'This' is, or what has happened exactly? he simply cannot say - 'I lied to you, I lied to my family about you, they lied to you, I manipulated you, they manipulated you'. He is the pin in the centre of the wheel and has convinced (by commission and omission) more than 20 people (his family) to believe that I am the problem.

Would you like a laugh?! H said to me (sad voice and everything) "I don't think I can forgive you for all the bad things you've said about my family"...but he can, clearly, forgive himself and them for lying, manipulating, and being out and out toxic scoundrels? If I didn't laugh I'd cry.

(OR, (sad voice again) "I'm not anything of those things you said I was" (emotionally abusive, a liar, manipulative, a bully) No? I must be imagining it then!)

Of course I am mourning our relationship (the good bits), but value the emotional health and welfare of our DC above all else - shame he and his family do not.

I've been reading S. Forward and L. Bancroft so feeling quite strong at the moment, but I have some wobbles as is to be expected.

Thank you for listening.

BoltingBrenda Sun 14-Apr-13 11:10:20

Just remembered another gem.

"I DO love you...(dramatic pause)...I think I just don't love myself".

Aww, the wee shame grin

AmateurMarriage Sun 14-Apr-13 11:21:42

marking this to read later. my x was very similar. such a martyr. the script will NEVER change, you will always be the bad one for having drawn a line in the sand and said 'no more, I will not endure this any longer'.

AmateurMarriage Sun 14-Apr-13 11:43:14

Wow. Just read your post properly now and I agree with the poster who says don't bother with counselling. He knows on one level, several levels, and YET his primary drive, need, objective is to continue to have you and have his family. He can't do this by being honest, so he perpetuates a wilful ignorance and a wilful misunderstanding and a wilful blindness and a wilful lack of LOYALTY to his wife, he does all of this because he selfishly wants to hold on to what he has, EVEN IF YOU ARE DRIVEN MAD colluding with the farce. You know it's a total farce but this set up still suits him better than having to nail his cowardly colours to the mast, having to stand up to his family, having to DEAL with the awkwardness. Honestly he is just burying his head in the sand and he expects you to do the same, and is martyred that you won't bury your head in the sand with him?!??!?!?! he is really asking a lot of you! but in a poor little me, poor lost boy, wouldn't your heart bleed for me here style. OH i could murder him!!!!

I nc a lot but I recognise your story. Leave the fekker and whatever his mother and sister say about you, it will cease to bother you. I can assure you. It used to upset me that my x's family only saw me through his eyes, and had no reason, no willingness whatsoever to see my side but now, years later i honestly couldn't give a flying fuck what his family think, i could NOT care less and there's freedom in that. They were all a bit shocked when they realised I no longer gave a shit what they thought of me. I think they thought I'd carry on appealing to them to be fair for ever. Now, I'm like 'of course, of course'. It discombobulates them more than any thing you could ever say in your defense will. No new way of piecing the words together will ever pierce their forcefields of denial. They will never have that moment of lucidity where they finally get it. BUT by never ever communicating with them you will get to the stage where you couldn't give a rat's ass what they think of you.

FrauMoose Sun 14-Apr-13 14:19:08

Would be interested to know how your children get on with your husband's parents. Will any of them miss seeing their grandparents if you move to be nearer their own parents? I can imagine a move being the right thing for you to do - I am just wondering if there were positives for some of them, sometimes, in being near/seeing your husband's family. If anybody says stuff like, 'I miss Grandma,' or 'I miss Uncle X' or 'Why don't we go and see Auntie Y so much?' how might you deal with that. (Though if you are planning a separation, perhaps the questions they'd be asking would be different ones?) Sorry if this seems nosey. It's just that although my own husband's family are fine, there are other similarities with my broader family circumstances.....

BoltingBrenda Sun 14-Apr-13 14:47:23

AmateurMarriage - WOW, just WOW, at your insight and hitting the nail on the head'ness! Thank you so much for taking the time to post.

I can agree with every statement you made.

I don't care anymore what his family think - I know their mindset is based on lies, delusion, and their 'family values' (but when family values cover up historical sexual abuse, inter-generational substance addiction, and the preservation of the toxic status quo, well then I'm not playing thank you very much!)

To be truthful, I feel that H has engineered me to cause much (all!) of the problems - he has a lot of baggage from his childhood (wholly denied of course) but it's apparent that all the issues he seemed to have problems with have come to light - via ME of course. No blame or responsibilty landing on him, his grievances out there, and I'm the histrionic, unstable Woman - result or what?!

I was very close to his cousin throughout our marriage - H adores them - cousin has/d! a, from childhood, deep loathing of Mil, now they are so close...it's laughable! Bonding over the wicked Dil much?!

An adult in-law walked into my home, took my children away under false pretences (pre-mediated and planned), lied to me by omission, caused a massive and unfixable issue and paradigm for me, lied (repeatedly) when asked to explain, made some truly surreal shit up, H wept for his relative, expressed sympathy for his relative, hasn't to date (10 weeks later) confronted them in any way about it...and I'm the problem? If I had been made aware of the arrangements and been asked beforehand I would not be so aggrieved at only finding out afterwards – and angry that my entire presence, feelings, and rights as my children's mother were ignored, overridden, and totally dismissed.

Gave him 'Toxic Parents' to read - "No, there's nothing that I can identify with". ( I'd turned down the corners of every second page!)

I asked begged in desperation, 'What do you want'? - The (tearful) reply? "I just want to be with my family" - except of course he meant his FAMILY, NOT his wife and children...

Asked him to look at Passive Aggressive behaviour on the Internet - First response - " Found some eye-opening and helpful stuff", followed by a "I had a quick look" when asked about it. Wanted me to text some links to sites and when I realised the pointlessness of doing so he texted " I hoped the links would do some good" - Aaarggghhh!

This was followed by " I would like to find out about Counselling" (What's to 'find out' about it? Go and get some).

It's so pathetic sad.

I'd call H a cunt, but you know he lacks the depth and warmth for that moniker.

Thank you so much for your time and words - strengthens my resolve beautifully, and helps me over the wobbles.

BoltingBrenda Sun 14-Apr-13 15:43:03

Hello FrauMoose smile

A main issue, I feel, is the negation of DC1 at the expense of DC2 by my in-laws. I asked H if the scenario played out above - manipulated and lied to about the motives of wanting to remove my children for the day - would have happened if it was DC1 that was presented to the in-laws that day. H said "I'd like to think so", he's wrong, sadly. Mil on hearing the news of DC1's birth exclaimed "Oh, I was so sure it would be a...(opposite gender to DC1). Funnily enough it was H's cousin that passed that little nugget of information along to me not long after I gave birth.

H did finally WITNESS Mil being verbally and emotionally abusive towards DC1!!!! He said to me after it had happened "I wasn't going to tell you this" (?!) After all I'd only informed him of my experience of seeing this for myself on several occasions, AND told him of being informed about a similar incident from a totally impartial source. It was all minimised and dismissed by H as nothing later on of course. (Cognitive dissonance par excellance). My point being is that if Mil can do/say that kind of damaging crap IN front of the child's mother/father, what the hell is she saying when there is no other adult there?

I asked my H recently what he thought his family could give to our DC - "Love" he replied - that'll be the lying, backstabbing, denial, manipulative, emotionally abusing, abuse apologist, kind of love that children need? I replied.

DCs do have a bond with in-laws, I have no doubt of that, but maintaining that kind of bond, I feel, would only serve to perpetuate the emotionally damaging beliefs for yet another generation. The DCs are (at both under 6 years of age) clearly aware that something in their world is happening and are not mentioning anyone from H's family - I could, and do, weep for them - and for the changes that they have yet to live through - all to support ADULTS that can't see beyond the end of their faux 'good family name'.

I, and my family, are by no means perfect - however I believe that you can love the person and still think they are wrong/challenge them about it - that's the difference between H and I.

Mil's needs took my H away from our family, H's needs took me away from focusing on our children - I've been such a fool and have been conned into pandering to an emotionally damaged man at the expense of our truly innocent children. I share the blame, but at least I'm trying to do something about it.

Does any of the above ring true for you FrauMoose? I'm pleased that your DH seems not be the issue.

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