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Is it hopeless?

Started by Stilllearning, April 04, 2013, 06:35:23 am

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Let me start out by thanking you for having this forum!!  I am the only one in my large family who is having troubles right now (some have worked through issues...lucky them!) and I was feeling very alone :(   It is a wonderful gift to find out that there are so many who have similar problems although I really wish NONE of us were in such emotional distress!!

My eldest DS was doing nicely until he met his wife.  He had a job that he had kept for years and his employer (who was wonderfully understanding with a 16 year old's work ethic) was assigning him more and more responsible duties.  In his senior year he started to do things that I disagreed with but I knew I had to loosen the reigns and he was not (and still is not) involved with drugs or in trouble with the law so I decided to let sleeping dogs lie.  He went to a college in town and lived here for a semester and then he moved out.  I did not stand in his a matter of fact I helped him (as much as he would let me).  He met my DIL while he was living at home and the relationship continued with only a few minor glitches until they married.  When he told me they were going to wed I asked him to wait until he was out of college.  BIG MISTAKE!!  Instead of waiting they moved the date up by two months.  Guess I learned my lesson.  When I asked them to wait I said "you are already living together, what is the rush?"  I have since found out that DIL took that as me calling her, well, let's just say loose. 

I tried in the months preceding the wedding to make Friends with DIL...all the way up to visiting her therapist with her (where I found out I had 'separation issues' and she was perfectly justified in refusing to visit my house) another BIG MISTAKE!!  She said I made her uncomfortable because I tried to talk her into trying some outdoor stuff....started with canoeing and camping which the family (including DS) loved and then moved onto less adventurous things like hiking and such.   She feels that I am too pushy.  Hmmmm...  She says that I hate her...ever hear of a self fulfilling prophesy? 

I have been unfriended on facebook by her and two other members of her family and no, I did not post anything about her there although I hear she called me and a few of my kin alcoholics.  DH and myself gave a rehearsal dinner for them and she told me TWO WEEKS before the date that she did not want any wine with dinner.  Did you know you cannot take wine back?  I do now!  My family loves to have a good time and that usually includes alcohol but no one gets up in the morning and has a liquid breakfast or spends the night worshiping the "porcelain god" (if you know what I mean).   So I got to pay for a dinner without being able to supply the things my relatives enjoy.  Boy that was fun!!! 

Since then I have gotten the silent treatment except when they want or need something.  Now there is a GC on the way.  I am uncertain if I even want to try to get involved with that!!  If I fall in love with the GC then it will give them more power over me.  I have finally wrestled the reigns for my heart back and I do not want to just hand them back to DIL and DS.  I am honestly happier NOT knowing what is happening.  My wonderful sister is offering to give them a shower and I don't want to attend.  I went to a bridal shower and I felt like I was walking into a den of wolves (her family) and I do not care to suffer that again.  They have not acknowledged their wedding presents (two year anniversary was this week) and when I send them something they do not let me know they got it. Now they have moved and not told us their new address (I only went to their last address once in their year there.  I have not just 'dropped in' ). 

I told my sister that she could give the shower if she wanted but I am not going.  Now I feel like a real cad. 

Any thoughts??
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown

Keys Girl

April 04, 2013, 07:59:32 am #1 Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 06:06:26 pm by luise.volta
You are feeling like a cad because other people made you the target of hostility?  Because you don't like being the ATM parent? Are you kidding me? 

I too got the "we aren't giving you our new address", and I haven't been in touch with my son for the last few years.

I can't imagine why your sister would give them a shower.  They are showering you with hostility and animosity.  I'd take the money, and spend it on a big party for the family members who act in a loving and caring fashion, with booze of course.

I wouldn't say it's hopeless because there is always the chance that the dynamics of the relationship will change, but the pattern that is emerging is one that is so familiar to so many of us here.

I can't believe that a therapist would actually see two people and blame you for "separation anxiety".  Don't sound too professional to me.

In my experience:
-Nothing you do will be appreciated, fault will be found with everything, vast sums of money could be spent with nothing more than a hand reaching out for more in the future.
-My approach was to stop giving anything.  If everything I was going to do or try was going to be target of fault finding, I decided to please myself. (Garden Party, a song by Rick Nelson) used to play over and over in my head.
-I'm sorry about the arrival of the GC, I might have one, I don't know, but I know that so many women on this board have been held hostage by hostile AC sons and daughters.

This is not a good highway to be on, but I do my best to stay out of the ditch by taking care of Job #1, which is me.

Good luck,
"Today I will be as happy as a seagull with a french fry." Author Unknown


Thank you thank you Keys Girl!!  You knew just what I needed to hear!  I am glad to know someone else is refusing to be held hostage.  It seems like everyone else thinks we should be voiceless doormats.  I know that not letting them push my buttons but maintaining contact would be better for them but I am tired of doing what is better for them and by golly they can pick up a phone too.  I want to do what is better for ME and DH is sick of hearing about it ::)  Thanks again!!

Why is it that this forum needs to know if I can add??  LOL :)
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Welcome JoAnna.  Please take a moment to read the posts under, "Open Me First" to familiarize yourself with the rules and how the forum flows.  Nothing wrong with your post, we ask all new members to do so.

Well, from your post, I can tell that you fell into the same trap I did.  Trying to be a parent and ended up insulting the intended.  You had your reasons for saying what you did about waiting to get married, but she took it personally.  I had the same issue and never could get DIL to understand it wasn't about her at all.  That if she wasn't in the picture and he had told me that he was going to buy a house, I would have given him the same speech. 

As far as the rehearsal dinner, although you and DH may have been footing the bill, IMO, I do think that the bride should be able to have input.  It's her day and if she didn't want alcohol at it, then I have to agree with her that you should comply.  Now, she should have conveyed her wishes on the alcohol sooner before it put you in a bind, and just because you drink, doesn't make you an alcoholic and that's wrong of her to imply that.

As far as the silent treatment unless they want or need something?  That seems to be pretty common here in estranged relationships.  I came to the conclusion after a while that I deserved better than that.  Along with my help comes self-respect and it's a two way street.  When it's only a one sided relationship, that's where I withdraw my help.  It does make it harder when there are GC involved or on the way, but I also don't want my GC to see that it's ok to treat GM with respect only when it's convenient to them.  It's a hard decision.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


I can relate to your thoughts about not getting too attached to the GS. It truly hurts when our children use their offspring as a lever; ...and it really does give them control. I think it's wise to protect yourself ahead of time, and just go and enjoy your life. There are other families who don't have grandparents, and would love to be loved,  - if you ever needed that. I believe blood isn't necessarily thicker. It's the people who respect and value us that are our family.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne


If you read through the posts here, you'll see that it's never hopeless.  It seems to me that your relationship with your DIL started with some unfortunate miscommunications and now things have snowballed into actual hostility.  Putting myself in your DILs shoes, I think I'd be insulted if my FMIL wanted us to postpone the wedding.  They were already living together so asking them to hold off getting married can sound like "It's okay for you to have sex with my son, but I don't want you officially in the family."  As a mother, I sympathize with you wanting your DS to finish college, but people often get messages from our words and actions that we don't mean to convey.  You don't say whether your son finished college and if he is currently gainfully employed. 

Regarding the alcohol at the rehearsal dinner, you don't say why DIL didn't want any there.  If it was for religious reasons or a history of alcoholism in her family or she had a previous relationship with an alcoholic, it's pretty understandable.  It would have been nice if that info had been shared before you paid for the wine, but wine has a pretty long shelf-life, so hopefully you've been able to use it in the two years since the wedding.  It's possible that DIL thought you knew she wouldn't want alcohol there or DS was supposed to have told you much earlier and he dropped the ball. 

I am not that outdoorsy myself, so I can sympathize with DIL not wanting to canoe or camp or hike.  If you suggested doing something and she said No, then you tried to change her mind, I can see how she would view you as pushy. Some people have an extremely low tolerance for trying to have their minds changed.  She may be of the mindset "I already said NO, case closed!"  It's possible that you unknowingly touched on a sensitive topic.  Maybe she was sent to a summer camp where she was bullied.  Maybe she was teased by her own family for not being outdoorsy.  Maybe she was once literally lost in the woods.  When our AC get married and bring someone new to the family, it can be quite the balancing act in accommodating new views with long-standing traditions.  Just because DS enjoys outdoor activities doesn't mean his wife has to bite the bullet and start going on family canoeing trips.  That's something between them.

I am someone who thinks written thank you notes are a necessity upon receipt of a gift.  However, I have to acknowledge that in the past few decades thank you notes are considered optional or even useless by a segment of the population.  DS and DIL not sending thank you's for their wedding gifts is their decision.  Maybe they're being deliberately rude.  Maybe they are just lazy.  Maybe they just don't care.  Don't take their decision as a reflection on you.  If you don't want to give gifts to people who do not acknowledge the gift, that's your decision, but you'll only give yourself an ulcer holding a grudge about it or assuming they are trying to make a dig at you.

Only calling when they want something and moving without giving a new address is immature and rude.  I can't blame you for not wanting anything else to do with them.  I applaud you no end for being ok with sister throwing a baby shower even though you don't want to go.  I cringe when people draw in other relatives into a dispute.  It serves no purpose and will make things worse 99% of the time.  I would suggest getting counseling for yourself before you make the rather huge decision to not have any contact with a GC.  That's the type of decision that it can be nigh on impossible to recover from.  A trained professional who can be objective and with whom you can give all the details might be able to help you find a way to connect with your GC without being victimized by DS and DIL. 

Good Luck. 


Joanna 16,

Never hopeless but this forum has helped me realize that I am in control if nothing else.  That I make the calls on what I will or will not do, and with their support I am starting to win the battle.

My DIL and I had it out, and is no longer speaking to me, be thankful they do not live with you.  Mine does and now I am not permitted to see the GC unless my son brings they up stairs.  It reached a point where I would no take the lack of respect.

Your sister should not be providing a baby shower with the situation, that is my opinion, other may differ, but I believe that family sticks together.

As for funding, don't do what I have done, spent thoustands on trying to help because I cared, and it was taken as I am trying to buy their love.  Not the case at all.   Bottom line is I am not not able to retire until I pay off all the debt I have for things that I bought them.

We all are here for you, this forum has really be a life saver for me.


Pooh...I would have done things entirely differently for the rehearsal dinner if she had made her view clear to me in the early planning stages!!  The places that serve alcohol are quite different from the establishments that do not and quite expensive so I rented a huge house and cooked lasagna.  Had I known I probably would have gotten a banquet hall somewhere that does not serve drinks and saved myself ALOT of money and EVEN MORE WORK!!  You are right about the "wait to get married" talk although her Mom told her the same thing....go figure.  She just feels threatened by me and has done her best to convince my DS that it is all my fault.  The older we get the more we realize that it is NEVER all one persons fault and I can certainly see where I could have done things better but I did the best I could.  Oh well.......

Freespirit....It had not even occurred to me that the way my DIL and DS treat me will teach my GC how to treat me.  Maybe it is better to just step back and let things play out.  I am no doctor but I do believe that her family is disfunctional.  Everyone except her Mom has ADD and it was, after all, HER therapist. 

Herbalescapes.....The things you are so willing to over look seem ruder to me than the one you chose to object to.  Funny how that works out.  Yes he is in school but he quit yet another job this week.  DIL is about to graduate but has decided that although teaching is what she has wanted all her life and will be getting her degree in she cannot do it.  Teaching is a really difficult career so I can understand that.  She has decided to go back to school and get a masters degree in art.  Do you know what you use a masters in art for if you do not teach?  I can't think of anything.  She is a wonderful artist though!!  I asked her to do a picture for me and it is really wonderful!  I don't think I could sell it for $500 and that is what she charged me to do it.  If she can sell them for that much she should just start making those!  It took her less than a week.  Sounds like good money to me.  Unfortunately I am her only customer..... 

Ladystar....bless your heart!  I am so sorry things have gotten so bad!  They better be glad they have you instead of me because I would send them packing.  You are a much stronger person than I am.  Hope things improve!

Thanks again for the wonderful ideas and thoughtfull replies!  My DH thanks you too!!  LOL
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Without open communication which includes the opportunity to clarify the intent of words spoken, the nuances of meaning, I think we are constrained, in varying degrees, in the quality and depth of connection to those we love.  I struggle with it often in the slow rebuilding of a sense of belonging with my DS and DIl and now little grandchild. Accepting what is, waiting when my adult child wanted no contact, changing my expectations, and learning to discern what I really wanted rather than what others want me to do are all lessons which taxed me as a  parent of ds and dil.  Who ever knew it would be this way? I didn't for sure. Despite all that, the best I can do is to concentrate on myself and find peace and love in my life from whatever quarters it is available. If I held on to resentment of what happened to me, what was done to me actually in my opinion, I do not think there would have been an opening for re-connection. I had to let it go and learn not to look for the slights which are ever present in my connection to dil. I know it will get passed to grand child too, and yet I can do nothing about that, so I do not focus there.  I want to live in the moment when there is love with them available to me and not miss what can be, even though it looks so different that what I imagined so long ago. I want you to know there is hope for this peace, I found it after much searching and wailing and breaking of my heart. All the lessons to be learned are here in the stories of these ladies. Read and reread them as often as you need. Know you are not alone - that most of all.

Keys Girl

"Today I will be as happy as a seagull with a french fry." Author Unknown


I with those who have already responded, 100%. And the reason you were asked to add two numbers together when you registered is because SPAM BOTS can't! LOL!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


JoAnna, I'm sorry you've had to go through this. I believe that sometimes people have an agenda and will justify seeing it through no matter what. Some of our DIL's and MIL's are like this, IMO. Perhaps that's what is happening to you. Your DIL might have treated any MIL the same way, so it's really not personal even though it feels that way.

As a young DIL many years ago, I tried skiing, flying, backpacking, water skiing and heaps of other new things when I married DH#1 because he & his FOO were major sport-os. I loved him & didn't want to pull him away from his FOO or from the activities he loved & shared w/them. In return I learned that I enjoyed many or those activities too and continue to participate in them today although we divorced many decades ago.

Too bad my DIL isn't as open-minded. DH & I miss our DS and we know he misses us. We most definitely have been, and will continue to be when GC arrive, "agenda-ed."
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Thank you for all of the wonderful replies!!  I think you can lock this topic unless you think others can learn more from more replies....

Thanks again!!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


OK. Please stay with us if it works for you. There are a lot of other topics afoot. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama