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"toxic" MIL wants to be back in our lives dont know what to do

(15 Posts)
QwertyQueen Mon 02-Feb-09 21:02:46

I will try to be brief...
She has always been demanding and difficult but when I was pregnant with DS it got worse and DH tried to talk to her about it saying we wanted a new, positive start etc. All the examples of her behaviour that he spoke of she managed to twist into being my fault and wrote me scathing e-mail which upset me and DH terribly and resulted in us cutting ties with her. I never responded as I felt that it would be fuel to the flames no matter what I said, and frankly I did not want to stoop to her level.
Anyway, DS is now 2.5 years and we have moved abroad and now suddenly she has initiated contact with me. She has sent a letter apologising and accepting full responsibility (although she does not refer to what she said in the e-mail). SHe said she knows that we can never have the relationship we used to and that maybe we can start by talking again. That she is going to counselling and trying to be less difficult.
BUT.... I feel like this letter is 3 years too late, and am quite happy without her or her drama in my life. DH feels the same way. I dont think I can get over her chosing to not be in DS's life for this long. Also, I am scared that if we try to rebuild a relationship with her, all the manipulation and attention seeking will start again. She is very good at playing the victim, and even in this letter I am feeling manipulated into doing what she wants me to. How can I not forgive her when she has said all the right things?
Was wondering if I should say that althgough I forgive her, the trust has been broken and we cannot rebuild the relationship we had although I will not stop her being in her grandson's life (although not delighted about that even!) Am I just being mean now???

eekamoose Mon 02-Feb-09 21:05:45

I think you have to give her a chance.

What exactly do you want from her? Are you quite sure you want her to leave you alone forever?

If she is having counselling that is a positive sign.

QwertyQueen Mon 02-Feb-09 21:16:31

I don't want anything from her. Really.
I had a terrible time coming to terms with what happened, and it took a long time for me to accept the situation and move on.

controlfreakythecontrolfreak Mon 02-Feb-09 21:21:21

you are right to be v cautious of her... but doesnt ds deserve to have a chance to know his grandmother? you dont have to forgive her, you dont have to say a fresh start is possible.... but maybe one step at a time... on your and dh's terms and letting her know you wont put up with any nonsense?

HecateQueenOfGhosts Mon 02-Feb-09 21:36:55

I'm going to go against the grain here grin and say that, in your position, (which I sort of am - I'll explain in a minute) I'd continue to get on with my life without her.

My dad's parents have not been a part of my life since I was 15. Big fallout - they said some VILE things and told some horrible lies and really upset me and whole family. They then turned all dads relatives against us. We had no contact with any of them for over 15 years, until sudden death of a relative, when mum persuaded dad to extend olive branch.

Olive branch accepted. Mum then wanted us all to, well, to not be not speaking any more grin iyswim. So we are not not speaking! But nothing has changed. We still have no relationship and never speak from year end to year end! We have nothing in common.

we exchange christmas gifts with dads parents (well, they give us a gift and I do not want to feel I owe them anything so I get one back! It's like an exchange of hostages grin ), but have no contact with anyone else ever. They are nothing to us and we are nothing to them. And none of us have ever lost anything by it.

Too much time has passed and too much was said that can never be unsaid, done that can never be undone. I am NOT a believer in Thou Must Embrace All Relatives And Be In Their Life. I think that is bollocks. Total bollocks.

So I'm afraid that in your position, I'd delete the email and get on with my life. Sometimes, you put a person behind you for a very good reason, and the fact that they are biologically related - irrelevent. this whole family at all costs stuff is a sack of shite, imo. You don't owe someone ANYTHING because of an accident of birth.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 02-Feb-09 21:38:24

I would trust your gut feeling here; this letter is too little too late though actions speak louder than words (the counsellor may well have suggested writing a letter). Presumably as well your DH reacted to her letter with the same amount of disdain as yourself. What does he think of her letter?.

No trust = no relationship in my view. Toxic people do not also readily change, rarely apologise and do not take any responsibility for their actions. She may be an exception here but it will take far more than one seemingly concilatory letter on her part to prove this to you both.

Your DH should write any reply to this letter. Does he have siblings, if so how do they get along with her?.

Where is her own husband if he is alive figure in all this?.

If you haven't already read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward it may be a good starting point.

100yearsofsolitude Mon 02-Feb-09 21:42:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ZZZen Mon 02-Feb-09 21:50:13

Bt if you live abroad now, the relationship to her can not become suffocatingly close really, can it?

Is there somewhere in the middle of deleting her email and restoring the close contact there was previously?

PinkyMinxy Mon 02-Feb-09 21:52:31

I don't think it is just her DH's choice, personally.
I have put up with years and years (well 30-odd, in fact) of crap from my parents, refusing to let DH say anything bad about them. I veil has recently been lifted from my eyes, and I can see how I have been manipulated.. and how this has affected DH, and our relationship. These people can do great harm.

I would feel no obligation, personally, on the basis of an emailed apology, 3 years too late, but if you and your DH would like to seee her, then this would be an opportunity.

QwertyQueen Tue 03-Feb-09 20:47:32

thanks for the replies
DH feels the same way I do. We have had to go through this process to get to a point where we are comfortable with admitting there is no relationship with her.
Hecate, your response really rings true with me. I feel like the 10 years BEFORE this all happened I allowed things to spiral out of control because "she is his mother", and I wanted a good relationship with her.
DH has said his life is better without her. He does not want to be close to her again BUT feels that DS has a right to know her. I get torn between agreeing and thinking we should protect DS from her potential influence, but it it is on our terms it should be fine. DH told me recently that he has realised she was not a good mother to him.
Atilla: the no trust=no relationship statement you made is so true!!! In answer to your question: he has a brother who knows about all this, but does not face the situation head on. He hates any conflict and tried to pacify and wants everyone to get on. He knows "what she is like" but chooses to just get on with it.
ZZZen... we have a fear that she is thinking of moving here, which might be why the letter was written!

more Tue 03-Feb-09 20:57:24

The fact that she wrote to you and not your husband shrieks "manipulation" to me.

QwertyQueen Tue 03-Feb-09 21:03:20

good point!
she has been in touch with him though.. about sending a christmas gift to DS..

more Tue 03-Feb-09 21:13:50

You both need to go with what makes you feel comfortable.
I am personally a believer in that my children don't need grandparents in their lives, they need their parents and their parents' love. It would be a bonus if they had happy and sane grandparents but they honestly don't need it. Hope that makes sense.

PinkyMinxy Tue 03-Feb-09 21:52:31

I feel much better the less I see of my parents.
I think more hass made some very good points there.
My mum is a dab hand at using my sister to get to me,and she lives on the other side of the world!

I worry about the influence she may have on my DC's, so keep contact to the minimun possible.

unavailable Tue 03-Feb-09 22:34:26

Could it be that she has written to you because she knows it was you she behaved badly to (rather than being manipulative)?

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