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Appeal for Wise MN's, especially those who have weathered the storm of NC

(38 Posts)
WoollyWoodsters Fri 20-Jan-17 19:46:15

Namechange. Nothing to see here Daily FuckFace Mail, move along.

Following MN's previous advice (which saved my marriage) and ordering the recommended books, I have been NC with PIL. DH has chosen to maintain contact with them, although relations are somewhat strained.

Life has been somewhat challenging (ok, really unfair!) for me and being married and part of a loving caring family was wonderful. Until I became pregnant and unexpectedly severely ill with an auto-immune issue.

Fast forward through the last few years and I have had many MC's and been medically retired from work. Am still housebound, no children and have to restrict visitors as I have now been diagnosed with a 'severe' condition. I have made huge efforts to stay in touch with EVERYONE as strict isolation would probably finish me. Most people have been very understanding.

MIL has anxiety issues (I know no more) and when I became ill, was 'difficult', despite me keeping her in the loop. Her behaviour towards me gradually escalated into unbelievable proportions. I am too weak to list it all, but it came out that I had delayed the wedding (I hadn't, v short engagement) been 'making excuses for not seeing the family', had 'willfully planned my DH's childlessness' and even 'took up running because that's how you get rid of babies'. shock This is just the tip of the iceberg.

My FIL backed her up and threw a few more accusations my way, i.e. I was jealous of their close family and trying to break it up etc. I was clearly depressed, how I was ill and looking for a scapegoat to blame. They wouldn't listen to DH's explanations when he stood by me, they questioned whether it was love, or actually indoctrination? I couldn't believe it! MIL continued to be desperately over-involved in DH's lack of a baby. She was unable to look at me the last few times we met and said that I have hurt her child.

If I listed it all, it doesn't actually seem very believable..... I thought I was going mad confused

I will never forgive people who were so cruel to me (& DH!) at a time when we were fragile and grieving and needed (and asked for) support. I had thought we had a really good relationship with intelligent, lovely, supportive people. I think I'm still in shock.

After some distressing, unannounced visits and astounding e-mails, we established some healthy boundaries and they were asked to not visit or call the house. My anxiety levels have since been much easier to manage and I have been able to just focus on my life and health without the fear I had back then.

There has now been some rewriting of the script by the PIL and they carry on as if it never happened. They are popular, esteemed members of the local community and no-one would ever believe that they were capable of such behaviours. As I never see them, I no longer have to be part of this facade.

BUT. What would you do with gifts and cards lovingly arriving in the post for me ( & my family, who I haven't told). I have being extremely clear with DH, I do not ever want any contact with them again and that includes gifts. I know they can make life very difficult for people and I think DH does not want to rock the boat any further by refusing them. I do not open or acknowledge them.

I guess we can just not say anything and avoid re-fuelling their anger? However, as soon as I see that handwriting on yet another card -arriving in my safe sanctuary- I remember the vitriol they felt and I feel anxious it will start again. I do not trust them. I do not want anything from them! What would you do? Put them back in the post?

Oh and anyone been in this position and survive the battering? Did your marriage survive? Feeling a bit sad

I think I need some survival tips.

Gah! My New Year's Resolution to write shorter posts has gone right out the window grin

SeaEagleFeather Fri 20-Jan-17 20:40:19

Throw them in the bin. Unfortunately you can't stop the strong emotional reaction to seeing the presents.

If it really gets too bad, you could ask your husband to ask them to completely stop the presents. It might create a storm though (of the selfpitying kind; "but we only ever meant well for her, how could she react like this!") But in the end it might help.

Depending on what sort of people they are, would it help if your husband says that sending the presents is seen as a hostile and hurtful act and that if any healing in the relationship is to come, it's better to have a time of complete quietness? Some very socially-aware people might respond to this. For other people it might actually be a red rag to a bull.

The key here is that your husband really needs to be on your side and to understand that with fragile health, presents that evoke strong and unpleasant emotions are very very far from helpful.

OnTheRise Fri 20-Jan-17 21:58:24

Your husband needs to support you and if he can't or won't, he's part of the problem.

And I'd return the gifts and notes without comment. Don't engage, it'll only encourage them.

ScruffbagsRUs Sat 21-Jan-17 07:18:25

OP, what your IL's have put you and your DH through is typical narcissistic behaviours. I had the same thing with my mum where she would be incredibly nasty to me, which would leave me wondering what I'd done to upset or offend her. I've opened up numerous opportunities for mum to discuss any issues she has with me, but she has just wasted every single one of them.

Things started getting worse once I figured out what her game was and stopped crawling back for forgiveness. Then they escalated when I refused to give any more chances to talk about any issues she has with me. She also didn't like the idea that I would treat her the way she treats me, and that I would put in the same amount of effort into our relationship as she does (which is sweet FA). Now there is no contact between mum and myself/DH/DC's. DH and I vigorously encouraged the DC's to go round and see mum, but they come back feeling worthless, so we told them that they can go round when it suits them, and that we wouldn't push them to go.

I've had a bloody mouthful off my younger brother about it, but if there's one thing my staffies have taught me, it's to be steadfast in your choices. I now am doing Muay Thai/Muay Boran 5 days a week. It's tough going, but I'm not giving up on it. It's mainly for self defence if I'm in town and my brother decides to have a go at me (he's the type of person who cannot take not being able to counter any of his points being completely addressed and shut down IYSWIM). It's tough, but well worth it in the end.............just like going NC with toxic relatives.

Anyway, back to your OP, please to not give these people any headspace. They mentally/emotionally slaughtered you during an incredibly vulnerable time in your lives, and anyone who can do that instead of being supportive, doesn't deserve to be a part of your life. If nothing else, they could just have kept quiet and not commented at all, but your IL's had to stick their oar in and spout a bunch of crap to/about you.

FWIW, the people who have taken the time to get to know me know that I give many folk more chances than they deserve, but when I'm done, I'm done. My friends know that if I've gone NC with someone, that there has to be something going on (as I wouldn't go NC for no reason), and they know that I would advise them to get the other side of the story as well, not just mine (2 sides and all that).

Stay strong OP. It'll get easier as time passes, and I think the key is to rarely think about the NC bit. That said, you could step outside your comfort zone, ring them and ask them to stop sending stuff. If they fail to adhere to your request, you could make sure that they know the consequences of their actions. Continuing to send you things, after both your DH and you have asked them not to, is harassment, and you could have the police involved if you wish. TBH a bit of trouble/slander in the very short term is worth long term peace from them.

Hope you get the outcome you need OP smile

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 21-Jan-17 09:31:49


Do as you do now re their gifts (they are not gifts in the usual sense because they are unwanted and loaded with obligation. They are being used as an attempt to control you and bring you back into line); shred it all without opening and give any items they send to the charity shop. Do not acknowledge anything from them; you are no contact with his parents for good reason. Returning the goods even without comment is a response and you want to keep that Pandoras box well shut. Responding in any way gives them a response which is really what they want from you; do not give them the satisfaction of a reply. Radio silence from you must be maintained.

I also agree with Scruffbags about them being narcissistic; what you have described here re them is typical narcissistic behaviour. I would concur with all her post.

RaptorInaPorkPieHat Sat 21-Jan-17 11:13:23

I agree with Attila, continue to bin them. Anything else invites comment from them.

I understand your comment about how it feels when they arrive in your safe sanctuary, I have similar with MIL - a history of abusive behaviour, now rewritten, I have been NC for 15 years but still get birthday cards to "a special DIL". They are ripped up and recycled within seconds and then I get on with my life.


WoollyWoodsters Sat 21-Jan-17 14:41:58

star star star star star star You are all stars!!! Thank you for slogging through the long post. I was wiped out when I finished and then MN went down, so I thought it might sink.

When you are unable to get out for counselling and are both faced with a topic which brings up some really strong emotions, it can be really hard to handle. MN is so fab and I wish it has been around in my earlier life.

You have all voiced many thoughts I had whirling around. Throw in some chronic illness, anxiety and isolation and it can be really difficult to think logically, so thanks for helping me to straighten them all out.

I had thought about to putting card/gifts back in the post so that they would 'get the message'. Of course it hasn't worked so far and 'engaging' with them would make it worse. Thanks OnTheRise. And yes SeaEagle I have already seen a self-pitying storm so it would more than likely be repeated.

Crikey Scruffbags that's rough. At least I don't have to think of defending myself physically....standing up would be hard enough! Never heard of Muay Thai. Phew it looks quite vicious. It is a good idea to feel you can protect yourself at any time though, physically or emotionally. I think that's why I feel so vulnerable, because being ill I struggle with the emotionally manipulative behaviours. I can relate to you as someone who says that I give many folk more chances than they deserve, but when I'm done, I'm done. Same here! And I'm done.

WoollyWoodsters Sat 21-Jan-17 14:48:55

So, Stay Strong, Do Not Engage,/Respond, Radio Silence, Keep Pandora's Box shut etc

Yes I have suspected narcissism before Attila That can be only the explanation for not being able to establish reasonable lines of communication with 'normal, intelligent, loving people'. None of it made sense. I actually feel really sorry for them all, particularly those directly in the firing line. I still hurt from being 'excluded' from the family, but it will be easier to not be there. Thanks Scruff I do hope it gets easier.

WoollyWoodsters Sat 21-Jan-17 14:50:09

the only explanation. Brain fade confused

WoollyWoodsters Sat 21-Jan-17 15:01:20

Raptor (excellent name) I can't believe you are STILL receiving unwanted cards. God, I hope it doesn't go on that long.

Why do intelligent people think they can throw malicious accusations around and criticise everything about you and your choices and then act surprised and hurt (to everyone else) when you draw up healthy boundaries and refuse to engage? sad. I feel sad for DH that "we" are the villains in all this. Well, me. They have such a lovely large friendship group too and I was looking forward to seeing them all again. Ah well, life is too short.

DH is going to re-establish the no gifts/cards thing with them again. I don't fancy that conversation. It is cheeky though to keep my family in the loop and send such "lovely cards" & money to them after all this. Perhaps when I have more energy I should be more honest with my family. They would be horrified.

SeaEagleFeather Sat 21-Jan-17 16:05:32

Why do intelligent people think they can throw malicious accusations around and criticise everything about you and your choices and then act surprised and hurt (to everyone else)

Because some people 1) need to control those around them, specially their closest and 2) actually some people are just nasty bits of work but very good at covering it up.

Sometimes just one poor person is the repository for their venom and no one else can see it. But it's very real and it comes from the bullies' need to deposit all their hidden hatred onto someone.

Sometimes a few other people can see what's going on but often don't speak up.

Actually you are right. Honesty and openness about what's going on is the only way to establish your boundaries. It does not have to descend into a pile of 'look how awful they are!". If you say what's going on with dignity, never exaggerating and never moving from your ground, then it's the best way to stand up to them. You have to have a lot of faith in yourself to do it though.

Actually, the other thing that helps a great deal is to simply record every incident in a diary. Voice recordings are even better. Not that you will ever use them, but knowing you have them at your back and how shocked people would be, can be a real source of inner strength. It's so easy for popular and apparently lovely people to persuade others that they are the bewildered, kind, terribly hurt victims here - instead of what can actually go on which is diametrically the opposite.

OnTheRise Sat 21-Jan-17 16:16:24

DH is going to re-establish the no gifts/cards thing with them again. I don't fancy that conversation.

If your husband will listen to you (and if he won't, he is part of the problem) then tell him not to have a conversation with them about this. He needs to hand the gifts back, tell them just once that you don't want anything from them and if they do send you anything else you'll destroy it unopened, and NOT ENGAGE with them about it at all. Because giving the gifts now is their attempt to draw him or you into a conversation about not having gifts, why you don't want the gifts, how unpleasant you're being when they're trying to be kind and give you gifts, and so on and so forth. It's just a creative way to create more drama.

Perhaps when I have more energy I should be more honest with my family. They would be horrified.

So long as they're rock-solidly kind to you then you could tell them. Getting stuff out into the open reduces its power. But be prepared for them to question your husband's role in this. If he's trying to appease them all the time then he's enabling their bad behaviour rather than stopping it. It's hard when you've been conditioned to do so all your life, but if you want this nonsense to stop you and your husband have to be on the same page. Counselling might be in order.

FirmAndAmpleGusset Sat 21-Jan-17 16:18:08

I thought i was going mad .... woolly so did I. Sad though these circumstances are and the reasons that drove you to them you have done absolutely the right thing.
As PPs, said do not ever make any form of contact as that then gives them the power to break into your safe haven. If any more cards come to you, then bin/burn them without opening.
I'm in my late 50's. It took until 2 years ago to break free of my tormentor(s). I grew up believing I was useless, stupid,no good and a trouble maker...because i was told this every day. That my life was a pity and a shame. I carried a weight of guilt around that he put on me re my mother. If she was ill it was my fault. If i did something wrong (in their eyes), it would make her ill and would be my fault....because He said so.
Everytime I tried to break free I would be subjected to personal verbal attacks followed by long silences.

I thought I was going mad........until the last one when something in my head flipped and I walked out of their house.
Months later my mother called me and spoke as if nothing had happened, and at that point I realised that she was his (dads) enabler, and had used me as a buffer between her and him all my protect herself.

That was the last time I cried.

I moved house to live with my wonderful partner and didn't give them my address, though they have (always had) my mobile, and my life has changed beyond recognition.

I'm not stupid/no good, a pity/ a shame/
I'm actually pretty successful in my work, happy, and guilt free.

These people will never change. They are always right. You are always wrong. If you are the scapegoat (like me) they will ensure everyone hears and believes (if they can)their side of the story. Yes, we are the 'villains', but you know what, I really don't care any more. Because I'm free.

It is unbelievable to read the words your MIL flung at you. Heartless, but also manipulative, and downright nasty, for Narcs do know EXACTLY what they say and do. And if you try to call them out and challenge them on it, they will out and out deny it.
Stand strong against this vileness. You can do it.

Re your own family, tell them. Stop protecting your PILS from what your family will think. They've created this, let them deal with the fall out.

flowers & [hugs] for all that life has thrown at you re health. I too have a [sometimes] disabling condition, but with the love of a good DP it's easily dealt with.

RaptorInaPorkPieHat Sat 21-Jan-17 17:16:16

I probably shouldn't have mentioned 15 years woolly grin

On the plus side it's been 15 years of not a lot other than the birthday cards, which is a big improvement on what it was before the NC smile

WoollyWoodsters Sun 22-Jan-17 13:19:40

You are all superstars star I was in such a bad place when I posted this. I am so grateful to you all for posting and giving me such strength and confidence when it's difficult to find it within my own depleted reserves. Today I feel much safer.

I want to write more (always do!) but I'm in a relapse and trying to prevent sliding in any further.

Firm So sad reading your story. Thank you for sharing. Hugs flowers

Will be back tomorrow! smile

ExplodedCloud Sun 22-Jan-17 13:39:01

I used to get the rage with the ILs cards for me particularly. I did open one at one point just to see what was said. It was "To <exploded> Love from Mum & Dad". Which was all kinds of wrong.
I have a mum & dad who do indeed love me. The ILs don't and I never called them Mum or Dad. Nor did it make any mention of the vile things that were said to and about me.
Other than that one occasion they were all binned, unopened on receipt. I used to be on edge for days knowing it was coming. Took about 6 years for it to stop. DH drove the NC so there was no way of stopping it.

BubblingUp Sun 22-Jan-17 14:01:14

Almost 20 years NC with my dad. I don't acknowledge or return anything he sends. If it's gift cards, I just put them away. I am sure he is checking balances on the cards online to know when they are used, so I can't pass them on to anyone. He'll think it was me using the cards and he will think he "won" something if he sees the balances down to zero.

Returning stuff is engaging with them, so I would not advise that. Your ILs do sound narcissistic and it seems to me these types thrive on any attention - good bad positive negative - so for the ILs having the gifts and cards returned is better than no response at all. They've rattled your cage and so they think they won that round.

WoollyWoodsters Mon 23-Jan-17 12:56:36

I'm here! Sorry folks, my hands were bad over the weekend. Much as I wanted to be on here furiously typing away, I needed food and rest more. I wish I had a PA. In the last few years MN has been a godsend. I have learned so much but have only really 'answered' posts in my mind. Both talking and typing are such an exhausting emotional drain, so I've spent a lot of time living in my head.

I guess not feeling strong enough has made this whole situation far worse. I've felt weak and vulnerable -in my own home- and that's an unusual, miserable place to be. I think that's why I'm so unsettled. To think that 'nice' people have invaded with cruel accusations when I'm at my lowest. Being suspected of planning the whole thing and being responsible for ensuring I would never give my beloved DH a child. It could not be further from the truth and it really really hurts. I wish I could forward wind away from the pain. Until then I will take all your wise words that come from being further along the path than I am. flowers for you all

WoollyWoodsters Mon 23-Jan-17 13:16:47

Firm it must be very difficult when it's your own family. I can relate to a little of it as the situation became very similiar for me when serious mental health triggered the breakdown of my 'safe' family unit. That's another reason this hurts so much, I've already been pushed out and I certainly wasn't expecting it to happen twice in my lifetime!

I am so, so sorry it took until so late in your life to break free and realise that you are totally worth something. These people that hold such positions of trust can break you down so badly and destroy years of possible happiness. There should be strict screening for all potential parents. We would never allow them contact with the young and vulnerable in the professional world would we?!!!

Your folks remind me a little of PIL. DH is so kind and thoughtful and has been totally enmeshed 'in the family love' for so long. He had many calls from DF about how ill we were making DM (!) and how poor her health was. When he finally stood up to them he really believed it would affect his DM's lifespan. (If anything, I think the ensuing fireworks have injected a bit more life in that direction wink)

I am so happy to hear you have a loving partner and they do not even know where you live. I would like that! Now, you are no longer 'going mad' and as you said, you're FREE!!!!

wine cake flowers to you for getting there. I hope the rest of your life is full of love, light, laughter, warmth and the best of health that you deserve.

WoollyWoodsters Mon 23-Jan-17 13:25:27

I am using visualisation to help me feel stronger. I have a vision of FirmAndAmpleGusset and RaptorinaPorkPieHat stood either side of our front door. SeaEagle is soaring above with ExplodedCloud over the doormat. OnTheRise is nearby watching over the garden hedge and Scruff behind the tree. Attila will be answering the door on my behalf!


Thanks Team! Will be back later <waves from bed>

FirmAndAmpleGusset Mon 23-Jan-17 20:18:55

I'm glad you rested over the weekend and that you felt strong enough to come back on here. flowers cake wine

Like yourself, MN has been a total education for me, and it is through this website, and the wise words written either to others, or on one occasion myself, that finally gave me the power in my mind to believe myself, and not what I was being told by him.

Woolly, you have absolutely nothing to apologise to me for, those that should be apologising never will, and to be honest if they did, it would be fake and empty and meaningless.
Like you they gave me trauma over a child - my child - my boy. Only I lost him, he died, and I was told I 'just had to get on with it'. Though as HE had already told me to 'get rid of him if he turned out to be a wrong'un' , (and this said in front of my boy who was 5 at the time), he obviously wasn't bothered who he hurt. I spent 15 years in freefall inside my head, all the time trying to please a bastard, trying to gain his praise, no matter how small.
But my brother the golden child and his children, well, that's another story.

Your MIL has absolutely no right to harrass you like this over children. Discussing the possibility, deciding to have children - or not, is totally a private thing between you and your DH, and has absolutely NOTHING to do with her or anyone else. NOTHING!
But these Narcs, they do make it all about their selves don't they. like others said, Stay strong. Do not engage. Ignore.

And get well soon.x.

WoollyWoodsters Tue 24-Jan-17 13:33:44

Oops. Been sleeping so much these last few days. I hope it's healing!

Oh Firm sad. I am so sad to read about your boy. And just when you are open and raw with grief and shock, you got the complete opposite of the love and support you needed. No wonder you are NC. I don't think you ever forget how it feels when someone digs the knife in at a time when you're at your lowest ebb. I hope you were able to find support elsewhere. [Hugs] flowers

I have raw experience of a golden child too. The dynamics changed due to a bereavement though, so I do not still have to contend with that. Do you see your DB?

And thank you for your good wishes. It's good to hear what you think. I have found the intrusion into our personal lives very...?...invasive. 'Family Planning' means just that in this family and everyone has been involved in everyone's fertility. They have been very angry that I wanted to keep ttc in private and was suspecting I had no intention of it as it wasn't being publicly discussed. I have been criticised for not starting quickly enough, not going for IVF and not alerting PIL to pregnancies. I have even been offered a large sum of money to have a child (at the exact time I was quietly and privately miscarrying the first). angry

WoollyWoodsters Tue 24-Jan-17 13:43:44

Explodedcloud thank you for sharing. I too, get THE RAGE angry and want it stopped. Both the deliveries AND the rage grin. I know it's not good for my health, but I just can't help it. Perhaps Firm's post above has highlighted why. Being treated so horribly during the lowest point of your life stores up disbelief and resentment. Being too ill to communicate sufficiently during that time, the feelings were 'filed' and stored away. Maybe I am beginning to recover now and the anger is bubbling out.

Poor DH. I know he is still grieving over the whole situation <in a manly, busy kind of way!> I would love to know how to help him. Getting angry about people who he still wants a relationship with is not helping him I know. I am still finding it very hard when I know he is seeing them. I just don't trust them at all. Maybe I am waiting for a counter-attack.....

WoollyWoodsters Tue 24-Jan-17 13:54:56

Bubbling thank you!

Returning stuff is engaging with them, so I would not advise that. Your ILs do sound narcissistic and it seems to me these types thrive on any attention - good bad positive negative - so for the ILs having the gifts and cards returned is better than no response at all. They've rattled your cage and so they think they won that round.

I've read over this and I think you're right. I'll just leave stuff unopened and pass it on. It will be easier for both of us.

I was wondering if a quick e-mail from DH to remind about no gifts/cards would help? That way there is a clear boundary again. Any comeback will then be in print and not as an earache for DH. Exploded I totally get what you mean about being on edge for days! That's precisely what I want to avoid. I'm not sure I could cope with another 6 years of this or Raptorina's 15 years or Bubbling's 20 years! shock

They have not respected our requests in the past & I'm not sure they will. (Although they don't now call the house or visit). Has anyone asked a third party (a neutral bod or family member) to pass the message on, firmly and clearly? Would this get it stopped once and for all?

WoollyWoodsters Tue 24-Jan-17 14:03:30

The last post is a bit contradictory!! Come on brain blush

I meant we won't give the previous parcels/letters back. But should we prevent future ones? There really is no point. Surely they realise that?

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