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(26 Posts)
BigEasy Thu 16-Jul-15 17:40:14

Forgiveness, unless accompanied by genuine remorse of the transgressor, does nothing but do damage to the forgiver

Do you agree?

I have been approached by a member of my MILs church, to say she bitterly regrets treating me the way she has, and can she communicate with me some how, to ask for my forgiveness.


I had a row with my very volatile PIL, six years ago, and I basically haven't seen them since, apart from one disasterous meeting afterwards with my MIL. They have a long history of falling out with anyone who disagrees with them, or criticises them, and going NC, and never sorting it out.

I was very close to them, especially MIL, before this. We had just relocated to live close to them, we had 3 young children and I was pregnant at the time. I'm not British, so have no family nearby.

This is the sum total of the row-

Their friend had been accused of raping his own granddaughter, and they came to our house that day, quoting a DM article about false accusations of rape, and of men's lives being ruined.
The discussion became heated, I had lots of facts and figures about confiction rates, victim blaming etc.
I felt myself becoming weepy, so I left the house to calm down, and when I returned, after about 20 mins, my FIL was outraged that I had walked out, that I was insufferable because I always had to be right etc. He left our house.

MIL stayed for another few minutes, and was about to walk out too, so I told her the truth, that I had been raped. I repeated it, she just looked at me, and she walked out. I didn't think I needed to apologise for anything, but if they needed an explanation for my being emotional, that was it.

We didn't hear from them again.

DH finally contacted them, much later in the pregnancy, (34 weeks by then) to say how upsetting it was to be dumped over so little, and how cruel it was to be so unsympathetic. MIL denied that I had ever said it initially, and then said she never heard it (swore on the bible - she's a Christian)but that they would love to see the children, would DH bring them over the next day, and I should go too, to sort it all out.
I thought that it was a bad idea to discuss that in front of the DC, that they should contact me if they wanted to discuss it.

They didn't contact me.

A few days before my due date, MIL finally arranged to meet me, only to berate me for hurting her feelings for even thinking that she would ever have walked out of the house that day if she had heard me say, you know, that thing, that happened to me. That meeting was entirely pointless, but for one thing.
Because she was gas lighting me about my saying that I had been raped- (it was a HUGE thing for me to have told her), I recorded the whole conversation, so that I could not be misquoted again.

Over the following day or two, my DH received abusive text messages from other family members, quoting the terrible things that I had said. But I hadn't said them at all. They were false. But the only person I needed to believe me was DH, and he did. He was and is, wonderful.

I never followed it up - I walked away, because the entire pregnancy had been so distressing, and I had been so heartbroken over them, but I had a baby to have, and I needed to take care of me and my own.

They had turned on me, they must never have loved me.
They were showing me who they were, and it was time to start believing it.

I think it took about two years to stop thinking about this obsessively. The thoughts were intrusive, and I often felt like it was really affecting my mental health. I'm now on an even keel, and now they want back in.

DH has continued to see them, with the DC, 4 or 5 times a year, but they never discuss the 'situation'. He never told them I had recorded the conversation, and has never addressed the bad mouthing.

He went to see them the other day after the would be mediator contacted us. Yes, they're sorry, they blame themselves entirely, their anger is a huge problem for them, they've been in a jail cell for the last six years, can we leave it in the past, and build something new. MIL is more open to discussing it.

No, DH told them, in order to move on, they have to hear what I have to say, they won't like it, but they have to understand the enormity of the breach in trust that has occurred. MIL then said "you know BigEasy also said some terrible things", and told DH that I had threatened her with never seeing the GC. Of course, this is something I absolutely did not say, and she was shocked when DH finally told her that we have a recording, and about knowing about the false accusations.

DH doesn't want me to face them in person, as he's doubtful this will work, and he still saw flashes of anger in both of them, so I have recorded a 20 minute video, detailing the hurt and grievances ( only the big stuff).

DH thinks they will not be able to hear it, and that they will go apeshit. Neither of us think that I should hold back anything, and I don't think I have.

I want to move on, and I do think that I can forgive them, but it is entirely dependent on whether I believe their remorse. The one thing I am very clear about is that I want my good name back. They cannot apologise to me and ask for forgiveness, and allow the lies they have repeated over and over again to stand. They also need to understand that putting me under such stress while I was pregnant is something I am very angry about.

Do you think that's reasonable, or do you think I'm making it too hard on them, and sabotaging the whole thing.

DH, who has had to work through a lot of FOG in the last few years, says he's going NC with them if they don't see sense this time. He's done.

He's sitting on the video for a few days- after 6 years, they can wait.

Any thoughts?

Thenapoleonofcrime Thu 16-Jul-15 17:57:51

I think a video is an extremely bad idea, surely when people try to make up, it's about having a conversation that can be dynamic and in which people try to find some common ground. You want them to sit there and basically be punished for the bad thing they did (which they did, no doubt about that) and they won't just sit there and take it. I wouldn't listen to a video someone had made about how shit I was, even if I had been shit if you see what I mean. It is not allowing for the normal human emotion of feeling attacked, even though everything you are saying is correct. I don't see what this is achieving at all and I think the end result will be more hurt and sorrow, they will lash out at the accusations and you will end up no contact anyway.

That's just my opinion though, I feel the same about letters- once something is concrete, it can't be undone or softened. Perhaps you don't actually mind that as all you want is for them to listen to your grievances. If you then go NC that may not be a bad thing.

I think you are setting yourself up for more hurt by imagining playing this video is going to lead to a reconciliation, because I very much doubt they will be truly sorry, they have their own version of events, and they will probably hurt you all over again.

I don't know the solution, but this doesn't seem it, to me.

EstaRive Thu 16-Jul-15 18:38:42

I don't think the video is a good idea, either. If you have to resort to recordings and videos to have a relationship with them, you have to ask yourself honestly - is it worth it? It is all totally bonkers and will never get you what you want - which is a healthy, happy relationship with your ILs. Good relationships don't need video statements and recorded evidence.

If you are feeling OK about your life now, after being NC with them, I would stay NC. Keep your stable, happy life. They still get to see your DH and the DC a few times a year, you say? Fair compromise.

The fact that they defended a rapist would have been a deal breaker for me, too. I have cut off half my family for defending a paedophile cousin. Fuck them.

BigEasy Thu 16-Jul-15 19:07:01

Thank you both so much for replying - the OP is epic, and off putting.

I wanted to go and do it face to face, but I know I won't get to express even a quarter of what I want to say. I kept crying even trying to gather my thoughts for the recording. Actually, it is just that,a recording. The plan is (was?) that DH go over with it on his I-pad, and play it for them and be able to talk about stuff with them - stop and start, rewind etc. it was never our intention to leave them with a document they could pour over.

The other thing is that I say first off, that I don't expect them to agree with everything I say, and I don't expect apologies for everything I talk about. I talk about the love we all had, and I talk about my happy marriage, how I love DH, how great our kids are. I only ask for 2 apologies in the whole thing, the slander, and for MiL inviting me to that meeting and turning it into a Pity Party. She has already told DH that she bitterly regrets making it all about her.

She has also said that she is ashamed of those opinions expressed on the first day, and sees how wrong they were.

Esta, thank you for the Fuck them, I've said it many times, but I love my DH way more than I hate them, and I want to give it ONE shot to give DH a more normal life.

I'm really interested in everyone's advice, and I know how invaluable it to me smile

WhoNickedMyName Thu 16-Jul-15 19:33:45

The recording of the conversation and a video sounds a bit batshit crazy - sorry.

It seems to me you've got an ideal set up - as emotionally healthy for you as it's going to be - you are NC and your DH and DC see them a few times a year - perfect.

You don't owe your IL's your forgiveness and if you don't want to pursue a reconciliation they'll just have to suck it up, but to ask them to sit thru a recording or whatever your plan is, is not the way to go about anything.

Puzzledandpissedoff Thu 16-Jul-15 19:53:49

The thing that stood out for me is that, after the mediator made contact, they told your DH that "they blame themselves entirely" ... but then immediately lied again about threats they claimed you'd made

Sorry, but to me that sounds more like manipulation than genuine remorse (and I imagine the remorse would have to be real for you to make meaningful progress here)

Not my decision of course, but as a PP said you've now got a fairly calm situation where DH visits occasionally but you don't have to see them - is it really worth upsetting something that's more or less working for you?

pocketsaviour Thu 16-Jul-15 19:55:36

Your DH knows them best. Does he feel they have genuinely changed and been able to see their own toxicity?

If he feels there is genuine remorse there (not just some hand-wringing and tears because they feel like they're getting too many awkward questions from other people about why they're not in contact with their DiL) then it might be worth a shot.

Under the circs - and I've dealt with my own set of lying, manipulative, poisonous family members - I think a video might well be the best way of addressing this. They have hurt you and traumatised you, and before you expose yourself to be potentially abused again, this would help you get the measure of them. And if, as your DH suspects, they go bananas, then you can all walk away.

Well done for recording the convo. People with normal families will not understand and may call you paranoid; those of us with our own set of lunatics know exactly where you were coming from.

hollyisalovelyname Thu 16-Jul-15 20:03:07

OP I think recording the conversation was genius.
I don't think the video is a good idea though.
And your pil's call themselves Christian.
Christians my **!!!

elizalovelacey Thu 16-Jul-15 20:09:38

Why bother with people who really dislike you,have zero respect for you and could hurt you time and time again. Leave these folks out of your life.

goddessofsmallthings Thu 16-Jul-15 20:18:42

As long as your dh isn't proposing to give them a copy which can be edited to portray you in the worst possible light showing them the video he's made will at least serve to concentrate their minds on the fact that, should need arise, it can also be shown to others.

wannabestressfree Thu 16-Jul-15 21:27:59

I really think the video even as a thing your dh can take as a point of discussion is nuts sorry. Maybe I am too cut and dried but I see it as a fairly quick conversation that your dh should be trusted to steer with his parents.
All the hand wringing, professions of love etc are unnecessary and detract from the crux of what the issue is.

BigEasy Thu 16-Jul-15 22:05:44

Thank you! Thank you!

I've deleated the recordings. It is batshit crazy, I agree. Ive been so muddled, and haven't been seeing anything logically. I really appreciate Pocket understanding that I made the recordings because I knew I was dealing with crazies, rather than because I'm a loon!

I've told DH (deleted the videos in front of him) that if his bastard parents have anything to say to me, they know where to find me, and they can say it to the whites of my eyes.
They have never got out of their armchairs in the last 6 years to make it right, and they still have everyone doing all the running. Fuck them.
The church friend contacts DH. DH discusses with me. DH trots off to their house. They sit in their fucking armchairs. DH trots back and I go into agonies ( benefit- have lost 4 pounds!!!). I spend a few days figuring out and record it in one. All the while, all they do is sit in their fucking armchairs, doing fuck all as ever.
2 days worrying, and then post on MN. By 8pm tonight, I have deleted the videos, told DH to stop being their whipping boy. I've fucking had it. I said to stop being a go between - it has to happen face to face- what the fuck should I be afraid of these fuckers???

He supported me, gave me all the right chat, and then said, so what date would suit you? No, no no. They have my landline, let them fucking ring me.

And actually, it's not acceptable. They speak against me, I know they are utterly reckless with love and people, they have no respect for me and our marriage-why should they be an influence on my children? DH has said clearly that it's cant be acceptable, now that the DC are at an age where they question why PIl and I never meet, that this go on.

The ball is in their court. They have to make the next move. No more mediators. And if it all goes tits up, and they show their nasty face again, that's it, and I'll be keeping my children away too. I show them too much respect, and they show me none.

My DH said, during my 8pm epiphany tonight -" But they're 70!!"

They were fucking 64 when they started this shit.


Thank you so much to everyone who chipped in tonight - you have changed me x

Inexperiencedchick Thu 16-Jul-15 22:07:05

I agree with your question.

No matter if you forgive the person/people and they don't understand the core matter of the situation, you don't have the choice as to walk away.

Please keep as less contact as possible. For the sake of your own sanity.

You are lucky to have an understanding and supportive husband.

Good luck.

KatyLovesKats Fri 17-Jul-15 00:30:10

I'm sorry, but I don't think they will be any different. People like that want to be right all the time, can't see anyone else's point of view and basically want to sweep it all under the carpet and pretend it never happened, or that you were in the wrong, or perhaps that you were in the wrong too.

They will never listen to what you have to say and say "Oh gosh, you were right, we were wrong." Or "we're sorry".

They want to make it all look ok again, so life can be cosy and they can see their grandchildren. They are superficial and selfish.

I think the best you can hope for is to keep the peace by allowing them to get away with dreadful behavior. No apology from them, you say nothing and let it go, harmony restored. I think you have too much integrity for this.

Some people can't face the truth. You can, they can't.

I would stick to the truth and sadly face the fact that you are not going to get on, that contact will be restricted to your husband taking the children to see them a few times a year. I admire you, and am glad your husband is sticking by you.

Sorry, it is late and I have skip-read the thread but you know you will never be able to trust them again. Your story reminds me of all these news item about those old men: should we forgive these people who committed atrocious crimes (WWII for example) because they are now old and in poor health? Hell no! Call me cynical but why should they get off lightly because you're older than me?! They should know better!
Stay strong girl!

buttonmoonboots Fri 17-Jul-15 02:05:23

I absolutely agree with your opening statement. I'm a Christian. Forgiveness is not about just brushing things under the carpet and tidying them away to make other people happier or more comfortable. If he repents, forgive him. Oh, and forgiveness is meant to be for you, not for the other person! All it really means, in my view, is letting go of the idea that things could have been different. It doesn't mean what happened was okay, or doesn't matter, or that you necessarily need to see the person again.

I think the way they behaved is absolutely fucking despicable, from their initial rape apologism/denial to their behaviour towards you. It sounds like it might have actually caused, or exacerbated, PTSD if you were having intrusive thoughts about it. I think this person has an absolute nerve approaching you without finding out how you are feeling and just pushing the idea of forgiveness on you because it's what someone else wants.

I don't think the video is a good idea, however, as pp have said. The fact is they're not going to back down and truly hear you, and you'll just look mad. You can't make them see; all you can do is take care of your own boundaries.

Church friend is not behaving appropriately. Google 'flying monkey', in fact.

AcrossthePond55 Fri 17-Jul-15 02:23:53

I absolutely agree with your opening statement. I'm a Christian. Forgiveness is not about just brushing things under the carpet and tidying them away to make other people happier or more comfortable. If he repents, forgive him. Oh, and forgiveness is meant to be for you, not for the other person! All it really means, in my view, is letting go of the idea that things could have been different. It doesn't mean what happened was okay, or doesn't matter, or that you necessarily need to see the person again.

Brilliantly put, Button.

I wonder if PiL would be so all fired anxious for your forgiveness if they were told that yes you forgive them, but that you still never want to see them again. A true Christian would accept that as the price they must pay for what they did.

Isetan Fri 17-Jul-15 03:19:49

Christian my arse! They are a pair of lying hypocrites, who are confusing forgiveness with you developing amnesia. The 'forgiveness' they seek is all about them and their failure to acknowledge their behaviour and the impact it had on you, demonstrates that forgiveness isn't what they're after.

I see your DH has still some residual FOG going on but you won't let their advancing age be used as an instrument of emotional blackmail. Your integrity and self worth are far too damn important to sacrifice, to pretend that their behaviour was acceptable.

You my love are kick arse and your kids are extremely lucky in having such a strong role model. Stick to your guns, you're doing marvellously.

Canyouforgiveher Fri 17-Jul-15 03:21:41

I think your PILs are drama queens. I think they are looking for some more fresh drama and this is why you are now facing this issue.

Your PIL are in touch with your dh and see your children 4-5 times a year. At any one of those meetings they could have slipped a note into dh's hand saying "give this to bigeasy" and the note could have had an apology. Or they could have said "son, I am so sorry what happened. It should never have happened. please tell BE we are sorry and would love to see her again"

But they didn't. Instead you get an approach through a member of her church. Bet they had loads of fun with the drama of "omg were we wrong. Well BE was very difficult but we were wrong and now look at us being good and asking forgiveness" Loads of affirmation from the congregation and even more fun ... getting someone from the church to contact you. DRAMA! grist to their mill.

I would stay well out of it. no videos no nothing. Ask your dh to say any time they want to say sorry they can. And then decide if you want to have them in your life again.

But if you do ... guarantee you within 6 months there will be another drama/misunderstanding.

oh and never tell them you deleted the recordings.

Puzzledandpissedoff Fri 17-Jul-15 11:58:47

An absolutely stellar post, Canyouforgiveher - of course you're quite right about what they could have chosen to do, and the attention seeking behaviour

BigEasy I'm really glad your DH is mostly onside with this (believe me I know what it's like when they're not) However I'd caution against the "but they're 70!!" nonsense ... it's simply a year above 69, and IME unpleasant people remain unpleasant people, but just an older version

BigEasy Fri 17-Jul-15 15:47:29

Such wisdom and insight from everyone - each and every post has helped.
I recorded the video message in two parts, so that's what I meant when I said I had deleted the messages. I did not delete the original audio recording of the meeting - that would be bonkers!

Only MIL is a born again- PIL is an atheist, and they are very unhappily married- so it has always perplexed me how they've stood together like this.

Katy, when you say how the only way this will work is if you accept their bad behaviour, say nothing, get no apology etc, this is how DH functions with them. MIL's eyes become black when she is in a temper, and the rest of the family do anything to placate her.

I love isetan's " confusing forgiveness with developing amnesia smile

Something that has really stood out for me is Button's timely reminder that forgiving them is for me. In fact, I don't think I've ever thought about it that way. And that forgiving them does not grant them an invitation back into my life.
canyouforgiverher - did you NC for this thread?? It's like you know her- yes she is a total drama queen- she has started many a huge row, mostly over the most innocuous of subjects. She has alway hidden behind her faith- she prays about stuff, and "shares" at church, rather than going and sorting out the problem. I've had 6 years off, but before that, she'd invent a row about once a year.

I always thought that she would eventually get someone from the church to intervene- never thought it would take 6 years. I've been on MN for years, under all sorts of names, but have never posted about this before. I should have - you have really clarified my thinking, and I'm very touched that people spent so much time giving me such well thought out responses. I will do the same next time x

Buttonmoonboots Sat 18-Jul-15 13:07:01

Glad it helped. Forgiveness is indeed for you. If someone else wants it, they should show remorse and seek your forgiveness by asking what they can do to fix things. Not focus on how they feel or send flying monkeys to hoover you.

It vexes me when people push the agenda of blind forgiveness and call it Christianity.

Buttonmoonboots Sat 18-Jul-15 13:10:55

Oh and they should respect your wishes if you aren't ready for that, if that didn't come across.

BigEasy Sun 19-Jul-15 12:38:54

Dear Button, I want to ask for your imput on a few more things. I was going to PM you, but thought better of it. The next tortured soul who searches for threads on forgiveness might benefit from my agonising, and your wisdom.

You mentioned PTSD in a previous post, I don't know anything about it but all the anxiety and early waking, and weight loss and general obsessing have come back. I don't necessarily mind trying to work through it at the moment, it's normal for me to get stressed out like this, it's if it carries on afterwards that makes me very wary.

I'm troubled by how DH seems to have to negotiate this peace. Surely if they are truely sorry, they would just apologise? That's all they really need to say.
Why do they have to have such advance notice of all my feelings, and grievances? Certainly in MIL's case, if she's working in a Christian framework, would she not have 'surrendered' (for want of a better word) to her wrongness, or culpability, and accept my anger?
I just want them to be sorry- not to make them sorry, not to make them suffer.
My anger is normal, it should be expected, and it should be acceptable. In the Christian understanding of it, - is this the case? Certainly in my non Christian experience of remorse, you have to just suck it up, if you have been in the wrong.

I have this idea, from my own experiences of being in the wrong. I was very unfair to someone, and when I calmed down, and realised how in the wrong I had been, nothing would do for me but to go to her and offer her a full apology and retraction. To paraphrase Elizabeth Bettet, I couldn't exist in the world with her thinking ill of me. And I didn't even particularly like this woman- but I knew I had been a dickhead, and I had to put it right. I was compelled to. Because I was ashamed of myself. Although my back ground is Christian, I'm not a Believer. I suppose it is a moral imperative to do the right thing. ( and it only took 24 hours)

But MIL, despite saying that they have both accepted that they have done wrong, and want to be forgiven, still said " but BigEasy did say some terrible things". The fact that it was a misquote is actually a red herring. The big problem here is that she still isn't taking responsibility. She's still trying to spread the blame. That's not remorse, is it? They're going to break my heart all over again. They've spent 6 years manipulating everything and everyone to make me the bad guy, and they haven't let it go.

You said in a PP "they should show remorse and seek my forgiveness by asking what they can do to fix things". Is that directly based on something biblical?
Does MIL, a full blown, church is her life, Born Again Christian, need to told all this? By DH? Because she doesn't know it?
DH just want this to go as well as it can, and he doesn't want them to hurt me anymore. But should either of them, and particularly the Christian one, need coaching?
Love one another as I have loved you. How could she profess to love Jesus everyday, while I was heavily pregnant and had 3 other children aged 3 and under, and a DH who worked away, and no family, and no support network?
Why would it take 6 years to be sorry for that?

Buttonmoonboots Sun 19-Jul-15 12:49:56

I mentioned PTSD because intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of this, or of anxiety.

would she not have 'surrendered' (for want of a better word) to her wrongness, or culpability, and accept my anger?

This is not how human beings actually operate. Most people are defensive when they know they are in the wrong. Also, your MIL has her own perspective which is different to yours.

You are giving them way too much power. You make it sound like them being sorry is some kind of life-changing panacea. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but you are making them the gatekeepers of your own happiness.

You said in a PP "they should show remorse and seek my forgiveness by asking what they can do to fix things". Is that directly based on something biblical?

No, it's just my opinion on how they might have gone about this in a more healthy way.

You seem completely obsessed by the need for them to be sorry, which isn't healthy, and I'm willing to bet that even if they were you wouldn't actually feel better.

Your MIL has behaved badly but ruminating constantly about the need to have her be sorry is helping nobody. I would strongly suggest working through your trauma with a professional.

I'm sorry but I don't feel able to give more thorough advice.

BigEasy Sun 19-Jul-15 15:10:33

Thank you so much for responding - I tend to post when I'm feeling particularly upset so I can see how it reads like that. You are very wise, and I will get therapy if this continues - I've been fine and tough for years x

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