It hurts you.
Every single time she passes judgement.
Every side eye, every eye roll, every head shake.
The slight tilt of a chin or turn of a cheek
You did not ask for the advice but she gives it.
You did not take the advice so she retracts the ounce of kindness she sprinkled out for the pigeons to come running up to.
She views you as a hungry bird.
Who swooped in, from who the hell knows where, and you are looking to eat off her floor. Off her family. Off her child.
Maybe this is her.
Maybe she casts a deep, thick, dark, fog whenever you are in close proximity.
And she finds every single little reason to suggest you do not like her.
That you do not value her ways.
That you do not do things how she did growing up.
And that makes you feel....
Well.. it makes you feel...
Even though you grit your teeth as you brush out your hair, do your makeup and put on your jewelry, mumbling "I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy" before you get into your car and go to that Womans' house.
Maybe, just maybe, you only have to walk into a different part of the house.
Maybe you live together.
And maybe this has been the hardest time of your life.
Because seeing her should feel exciting and warm. You expect hugs and love, a warm conversation about your dreams and how work is going. To tell her about your child's new funny thing or milestone they finally made.
And instead, the conversations are small.
Not small like, "How's the weather?"
SMALL, like "You gave my baby _______ today? Ah, ...and that's all?"
Then she turns her back right to you, grabs your baby up in her arms and says "grammas gonna feed you, you must be starving!"
And then you see her reaching for processed this, metal canned that, sugar and food coloring xyz.
Your first tightens behind your purse, hanging down over your nicely ironed outfit. You wanted to look presentable. Educated. Divine.
But all she thinks is that you are uptight, know nothing about anything, and certainly are too WELL kept to possibly be an attentive mother and wife.
Had you shown up in Jean's and a band Tee, she would have thought something like "wow, does this girl never do laundry in her own home?"
Had you shown up in the same outfit she was wearing, she would have ignored it but as you complimented her to point it out "oh this, I'm about to give it to good will anyways. It's dreary"
So why even try?
And why let it get to you?
Like your friends advise, just ignore it. Just forget it. Just act more in control. Just tell your husband. Just stand up to her.
But that is not YOU.
You hate confrontation.
You WANT TO BE LOVED.
You WANT TO LOVE HER.
In spite of the subtle cruelty that no one else sees within the family. That everyone laughs off.
That might even be socially and culturally appropriated.
You just don't get it. She has liked you less and less since the day you met her.
And the niceness she first had when you were a girlfriend, you found out was only because she thought YOU were TEMPORARY.
Now you have KIDS with your partner.
WHOM YOU LOVE AND ADORE. And is a godsend.
Because maybe your family always sucked.
Maybe your family was super small.
Maybe you do not have family at all.
So this, this is everything to you.
And you are so used to the rollercoaster now, you don't know what to do other than wait in line for another go.
Because leaving the amusement park is not an option. Or you will be leaving alone.
So you take it.
You tweak yourself.
You give up more and more.
Let her have her way more and more.
The times you have grown distant, she almost seems kind in return.
The quick, in and out, drop off of baby so you can get to work or run out has been kept brief and you just smile at baby, while giving her a quick thank you without eye contact and dash.
She does not seem unsettled.
You get in your car and you firmly grip the wheel as you drive off and ponder it all.
Why the hell does she not care?
Why is she dismissive? Hostile? Or passive aggressive?
Why does no one else see it?
Why am I the bad guy?
Why can't I have a normal relationship with her????
Doesn't she want a friend?
She doesn't seem to have any... just snow smile, "say hi to your family" type friends as she makes a trip to the mailbox or the market. And that is it.
No girls time. No outings. No vacations.
Just her, alone at home.
All. The. Effen. Time.
And nothing seems to make her smile.
She has no entertainment besides eerie crime shows and severely outdated soap operas featuring racial slang, cheating partners, whirlwind affairs and a baby no one knows the father to.
She does not know or see the modern world.
How technology can be helpful. How coffee trips are relaxing for modern mothers.
Starbucks is not an expensive cup of dirt but a way to get out of the God damned house for an hour or two to do work on your laptop. In your own business. That you started and run.
She does not know what that is like. Or means to you. Nor does she understand why you blow out your hair, get your nails painted or wear heels like daywear.
She has no idea how you grew up. Who you were before this. What you love and what your deepest joy comes from.
She does not know her child saved your heart from massacre after massacre of betrayals.
She does not know you have worked super hard to get where you are.
To be informed in medical decisions for your kid. To know the ingredients in the food you purchase and why you choose vegan or organic or pure grade.
She does not know what the dye in M&Ms causes and why a 1 year old should not get 5 every hour just for listening or clapping.
And as you spiral, as you defend yourself, you realize ------> she does not even know you.
Even if it's been X years.
You two have barely ever held a normal conversation.
You two have never gone anywhere together besides forced holiday celebrations -----> when she would not dare let her demons come out to play and have witnesses. So she hugged you and kissed you hello and goodbye.
And you now despise those hugs.
It is the one time a year she touches you.
And though you ache for that embrace, you have grown so much resentment that a touch of the hand to your back burns like a BRAND.
And it stings you all year long, a puppet on a string whenever she is around.
☆☆☆ I want to help you out ☆☆☆
And tell you something I only figured out after 1000 spirals.
Every time ANY family member [even my birth mother] behaved in a way that made me feel:
■ unfit as a mother
■ unloved as a daughter
■ unkept/ too kept as a woman
It was ALWAYS THEM, NOT ME.
Of course, my reactions always kept me on the perpetual rollercoaster.
Of course, I could have stood up to anyone or made my emotions known.
But all of that would not have done anything other than fuel the fire ...
Because all I did was think of myself.
☆☆☆Let's back up a moment... ☆☆☆
So your driving around, clutching that wheel and thinking in circles.
You are wondering WHY and HOW and WHEN she began to hate YOU.
But you are missing something.
Your point of view SUCKS.
And here is why.
Let's examine the facts:
•Woman, older aged, married or widowed quite possibly.
•Has grown up children now.
•Is always home.
•Has no real visitors and no close family or deceased family.
•Has never really shared any stories or thoughts.
•Only communicates indirectly, is awkward, seems upset when nothing has happened.
• Always defensive
• Always ready to find a flaw
• Simultaneously does what they say they hate. [She probably says dont eat fatty foods but dismisses chocolate as a culprit for any ailments or weight gain]
•Illogically gets offended or rubbed the wrong way
• Keeps silent around the men. Makes no jokes. Makes only small talk to them. Then caters to their every need.
•Has no hobbies and barely makes any trips, like ever.
CONNECT THE DOTS HERE.
This is about her.
This is about trauma.
This is where you need to put on your therapist glasses and do some digging. No. Not on her.
Into the books. Or your ipad.
And google trauma.
Look up traditional values of women from her era.
Think about how she was raised, in what condition, with whom, and If she had any money. Or siblings. Or parents.
Break down her life. Understand it through research.
If she behaves _____________ now, statistically speaking, what likely happened to her in her youth?
"Well she grew up well off, with rich and providing parents" ......
Ok. Did they provide love? Teach empathy? Pay attention to her? Guide her? Make her feel safe?
"Well she grew up poor and her mother died young".
Ok. Loss of parent. No maternal influence. Poor. Struggling. Disassociation. Depression. Anxiety.
Ask yourself what your hobbies bring you in your life.
What that coffee every other thursday with your friends does for you...
What it means to have a modern husband who supports you starting a business, uses technology with you and WANTS to actively be your best friend.
Was her marriage like that?
Or did she marry say at 18...and have kids right away.
Can you imagine yourself at 18 being a housewife and having babies, with no thought about work or college or your own passions?
Because only 28% of women worked in the 1940s. That rose to 34% in the 50s.
Now, ALL the moms in your area:
¤ take yoga
¤ have a side gig
¤ talk about pleasure + sex + femininity
¤ have a partner who helps with chores/kids
¤ have a two income household
¤ support open communication
¤ see a therapist if needed. And are proud to
THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU.
Now suppose you dive into ABUSE statistics.
And you guess the probability of her having experienced rape or abuse or assault in her lifetime.
Just the general probability.
Now guess the general probability of the likelihood of her being taught AS A CUSTOM that women do not speak of ill things.
Women do not speak much at all.
Women cannot report attacks or abuse.
Let's say she was VERY fortunate to not have experienced sexual assault or abuse.
What is the probability that she faced:
You know those things you have now learned in society are a big FREAKING NO NO.
This woman lived through them.
First hand. Or second hand.
It does not even matter.
Now I am not asking you to look at her as a victim and excuse the way she treats you.
But I am asking you to STEP OUTSIDE of your own struggles to see hers.
And to realize -----> she has no clue how to treat you.
SHE DOES NOT KNOW what to do that will please you or make you feel whole.
No one ever did that for her!!!!
And if only one person ever did, or anyone tried to, most likely she shunned it.
Like she shuns you.
Because kindness and happiness are A THREAT. A RED FLAG.
When someone has been through abuse, kindness is a prelude to destruction.
Destruction of body, heart and mind.
She is hurting.
BECAUSE HURT PEOPLE HURT.
So loosen your grip.
Relax your shoulders.
Stretch out your neck.
Take a DEEP breathe.
-----> Your MIL is hurting.
And if you or anyone else for a second thinks "it's too late to help" ----> realize that is the same mentality as getting back in line for the same rollercoaster that makes you throw up.
Stop. Assess. And do something REALLY HARD BUT ALSO REALLY EASY.
Be an informed, compassionate, lucky woman.
Make it not about you. Not for you.
You are not able to cure people out of your own need to.
But you do need to be the light.
You NEED to be GENUINE and yourself.
You NEED to let go the personal attack you feel.
If anyone in your life shows signs of abusing you, you can STOP having them in your life.
If someone is just behaving insensitivity, unkindly or sucks ----> they are likely suffering.
And though baking her cookies + asking her out to a nail day will not CURE her issues, you CAN be kind + genuine + considerate with her.
You can be YOU and not SHRIVEL UP.
You also can do things to nudge her.
Like leaving a book or getting a subscription that is MODERN and EMPOWERING.
Let her LEARN and BE INSPIRED but you leave those dang crumbs.
No. Set the EMPOWERMENT STRUDEL on the counter when you drop off your baby.
DO WHAT NO ONE HAS EVER DONE FOR HER.
Gently. But directly.
We are NOT going to enable abuse.
We are not going to take it when someone hurts us.
But hurt people hurt.
And when we are hurt and react, we perpetuate the rollercoaster ride.
Get off THE RIDE.
Accept the now but carve the future.
And good god woman. Dress the way you want to.
Don't be fake by accident.
Be exactly who you are. For everybody.
So you can break that cycle.
And show your kid(s) that AUTHENTICITY and LOVE rule the family.
J.S. Jaded Savior
Published by Jean Soto JS Jaded Savior blog: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Soto, mother of 3 and wife, is a writer + artist in the Hudson Valley, NY community.
Content mention of Rape, Abuse, Neglect, Addictions, Mental Illness, Kidnap, Molestation, Child abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, birth, body image, gender/identity dysphoria, sexuality, personal trauma, domestic violence and other extremely personal stories. Please practice caution. I am not a licensed physician or mental health professional. No medical prescribing is provided on this site, Only personal insights, experience stories, and advice; All stories published have had prior authorization. Questions? Contact Jean at: email@example.com
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