July 11, 2020, 05:49:46 pm


"Welcome to WiseWomenUnite.com -- When adult children marry and leave home, life can sometimes get more complex instead of simpler.  Being a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law can be tough.  How do we extend love and support to our mothers-in-law, adult children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren without interfering?  What do we do when there are communication problems?  How can we ask for help when we need it without being a burden?  And how do our family members feel about these issues?  We invite you to join our free forum, read some posts... and when you're ready...share your challenges and wisdom."

Recent posts

Pages 1 2 3 4 5 ... 10
Hello wise women! I am hoping for some support and advice as I try to navigate my way through the FOG (fear, obligation, and guilt) of a dysfunctional family relationship while trying to keep my sanity. There's always an issue and today is no exception. 

I've typed this post at least 5 times, deleted it, then somehow lost it. Re-typed it, then edit, edit, edit. I'm terribly unsure of what exactly to say to share the situation without typing a 100 page novel. However, I'll do my best to summarize the situation:

Covert narcissistic DIL has manipulated our family and abused me for over 10 years, almost always in private. I have tolerated it in order to maintain a relationship with my son and grandchildren. I'm so tired of living with the fear and worry, being told what to do, what to say and how to think. My son is trauma-bonded to her and bound to her family by golden handcuffs. I feel like we (DH and our family) are cast as either the villains or (occasionally) appreciated depending on whether we're fulfilling their needs at the moment. Their approval of us is transitory and totally dependent upon what we're doing for them TODAY. Anything we've done in the past is irrelevant unless it was hurtful - then it's brought up as a reminder of how terrible we are. I am constantly off balance in regard to these relationships and have developed a variety of stress related health problems - IBS, migraines, anxiety, depression, insomnia. I am so sick of this situation and want to make a change, but not sure how to take back my power without losing the relationship with my son and grandchildren. I feel like fear is my constant companion. 

A little of the backstory - youngest son and DIL have been together about 10 years. She is very beautiful and presents a lovely persona in public. She has many admirers who all think she is  wonderful and kind. There were red flags in the beginning, but our son was blind to them and we did not attempt to influence or intervene. Since they've been together DIL has been very difficult to get along with. Causing problems in the family and almost always doing something to ruin family events (birthdays and Christmas, especially). At one point she decided we were a bad influence and they cut off all contact with us for 18 months so they could "work on their marriage". Not just me and DH, but our entire extended family. It was completely devastating to me and I almost had a mental breakdown. Thank God for my DH, oldest son and my mother or I would have gone off the deep end. They even moved during this time and didn't tell us. After numerous failed attempts at reconciliation we were finally allowed back in their lives with a heaping dose of blame and shame, but things have not gone smoothly. As long as we are doing whatever they want we are in their good graces. The first sign of dissent and we are the bad guys again. I have been continuously traumatized by the cycle of narcissistic abuse. I now know that's what it is, but I'm still affected by it and seem powerless to stop it or my own reactions. She cares for me and is grateful for me when I'm doing what she wants. I'm a horrible unkind, uncaring person when I'm not. While she has never called me profane names she has called me all manner of awful things - disrespectful, rude, dysfunctional, deceptive, superficial, bad influence, among others. This is mostly via text with my son tag-teaming her and joining in the abuse. It's very insidious and sneaky the way they do it, as if all they want is a close, loving, kind relationship but whatever we're doing is preventing that because we're so awful for whatever particular reason - it changes frequently. As I said before, I could write pages and pages of descriptive scenarios, but you get the point. 

My son does not recognize that his wife is not mentally stable. He believes she is beautiful and kind and loving and he thinks the sun rises and sets in her presence. His personality has changed to be much like hers over the years. He has become short-tempered, argumentative and defensive where previously he was a pretty laid back, fun and happy guy. They are surrounded by enablers (her family) who are in their lives 24/7. They are all texting and calling each other many times throughout the day. We don't want to be that involved. We want them to live their own lives. We're often compared to her family as far as what they have given them financially. We are not able to help them in the same way, but there's a hefty measure of shame that's heaped on us because of it. Her family gave them X and Y, the least we could do is a little z. I'm ashamed to say that we have rolled over. Every. Single. Time. Even when it's not about money - her family has "supported them and rallied around them", but we always fall short no matter how much we try to do. We're only as good as what we are doing today or tomorrow. Not ever about what we've done in the past. For the first two years of my granddaughter's life I was the ever-available babysitter. DIL started treating me like an unpaid nanny and it got worse and worse to the point where I was just sick to death of being taken advantage of. Again, lots of stories but one scenario was that I'd go over there expecting her to go to work and she'd say she was going to lay down for a bit first because she wasn't feeling well. Then she'd go up in her room and close the door while I stayed downstairs with the little one. She'd stay up there all day, never end up going to work, and texting me to check on the baby. This became more frequent when she got pregnant with baby #2. It was totally bizarre and I seemed to be the only one who thought it was odd. Finally, I'd had enough and decided to go find a job before the new baby came. Since then I've been mostly devalued since I'm no longer available at their bidding, although we've been "allowed" to have our granddaughter to spend the night quite often. I haven't ever said no because I fear DIL would then find a reason to exclude me permanently. (We have had veiled threats of this in the past.)  

So, the issue du'jour - for the past several years my son has been having migraine headaches. Since the new baby came they have escalated to where he's having them several times a day and at night. He's had a lot of diagnostic testing which has so far all been negative. I'm sure it's from the stress of two little ones and trying to keep his wife happy (which I see as a nearly impossible task). I sympathize with him over the headaches, but I cannot fix this problem. However, DIL has now decided that someone from our family (me, DH and my 81 yr old mother) should come over and stay with him and help take care of the children every Friday and Saturday while she's at work. She doesn't think he should be alone with the kids in the event he may have a migraine. Seriously?!! My mother has gone over to their house the past 2 Fridays and I have gone over the past 2 Saturdays and then brought my granddaughter home with us, then returned her on Sunday. I don't want to do this every single weekend. I want time at home with my husband and to take care of my house. I want to have my granddaughter a couple times a month, not every weekend. 

I am sitting here with a text message on my phone giving me total anxiety. DIL is basically asking me whether I want to come to their house and stay Saturday or take GD home. My choice - whichever works best. I don't want to do either, but the minute I say no it will be off to the races and the blame/shame game will begin. Truth is I'm really sick today so I have a good excuse for tomorrow and I'm already busy next weekend, but that won't matter.  

I have no strong boundaries and I always cave, but I want to be strong. Help! 
Hi G!  We are glad you found us!  Like Luise my problem doesn't exactly mesh with yours but your situation reminds me of a problem my sister had with her daughter.  Her problem was that her daughter wanted to sleep with her mother every night.  Naturally this put a tremendous strain on my sister's married life but my sister was too soft hearted to put her foot down.  She finally worked out a solution.  She figured that she was making her daughter too comfortable in her bed so she stopped making allowances for her.  She actually deliberately elbowed her or stuck her knee into her back to make sleeping uncomfortable for her.  A few nights later my wonderful niece decided that she would stay in her own bed.  So my question to you is, what are you doing to make your daughter's life more comfortable?  What can you eliminate from your list of job duties to promote more independence in your daughter?  Do you do her laundry?  Cook her meals?  Pay her cell phone bill? Provide her with a car or insurance?  If her counselor has released her you should too.  Do not look on this as punitive, it is life pure and simple.  The more she does on her own the better she will feel about herself.

You deserve to enjoy the life you and your DH have built for yourselves.  I too know of a set of parents who moved out from around their daughter and sold the house.  It was a terrible decision and a long time coming.  Maybe just making your DD's life less cozy will do the trick.  I hope for your sake that it works!  Hugs!!
Welcome, G. If you have used your first initial and last name as your User Name here, please select another User Name that will allow you to remain anonymous. I am the only person using a given name, as this is my Website. 

We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Open Me First to read the posts we have placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit. We are a monitored Website.

I have not had a similar situation but I have a close friend who has gone through something very similar. What she told me, that I will share with you, is that while her adult son was doing as he pleased, she was tiptoeing around him and so was her husband as the quality of the lives and marriage disintegrated. Their son also acted rude and antisocial...and they were afraid to upset him. What they did was to find their own counselor and that worked in their case. They then chose to advise their son that their generosity was no longer available, that they had acted on his behalf in a crisis and since he had been discharged by his counselor, he had 30 days to make other arrangements. He refused, perhaps enjoying the power he had over them and the freedom that went with it. I have no idea. They continued counseling and decided that they were not powerless and, at the same time, did not want to take legal action. So they put their house up for sale, moved, and wished their son well. The last I heard, they were doing well and were happy again. Their son has gone his own way...not their choice but his...and they have accepted that.

I don't know what I would do if confronted with your issue. I hope I would gather up my self-respect like my friend did and move on. Yes, it was pretty drastic but they felt they had done their best and that they deserved to get their lives back, while at the same time, their son needed to learn and grow as a responsible adult. Wishing you well.
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Adult daughter living at home
Last post by gshipit - January 15, 2020, 10:14:15 am
My 35 year old daughter had a nervous breakdown last Spring and we encouraged her to come home.  She was not able to function.  She moved in, sold her condo. in another State and started counseling.  She and her counselor agreed about a month ago that further counseling wasn't needed.  We are looking for the right time to bring up the topic of her determining next steps and a path forward to independence.  The problem is that she is extremely quiet.  Other than meals she is in her room.  She says she is fine and doing well even. My husband and I are ready for her to move on both for her sake and ours since it's hurtful for us that she doesn't want to be around us.  Also, she is very isolated except for going to church and helping to watch our granddaughter so moving forward would seem healthy.  Any suggestions on how we can broach the subject in a way that doesn't encourage defensiveness on her part?  She is an extremely sensitive person and prone to take things the wrong way.  She has been rude to both of us on occasion which we believe to be unacceptable especially considering all that we've done and sacrificed which I won't go into here.   Comments would be very much appreciated!
Quote from: J Peters on December 29, 2019, 07:11:21 pmWell she came downstairs, called me all kinds of horrible things and told me to get out of her house.  My son did nothing
I am so sorry this happened to you. I have experienced very similar behavior in my DIL and my son. The phenomenon that your son is in right now is called trauma-bonding. It keeps him jumping to her tune in every situation and he really is incapable of caring about your feelings. If he doesn't follow along with her, then there is hell to pay so he will avoid that no matter what. I know that's horribly difficult to hear, but I have been a party to my DIL's abuse for 10 years now and my son has stood by and watched it happen so I know this to be true. My beloved son has even participated in the abuse, at times. In his eyes, she can do no wrong and if she tells him I'm the villain, he goes along with it. 

I've also been kicked out of their house and it's a traumatic experience. One time just last year I had babysat my granddaughter for 5 days while DIL was sick and my son was working. I had picked her up and dropped her off (a 45 minute drive through two towns each way). When I arrived with granddaughter I was only there about 10 minutes and getting ready to leave. I was telling my son a cute story about their daughter when DIL screamed down the stairs about how rude we were for leaving her out of the conversation. I ran upstairs to relay the same story to her when she rudely told me I needed to "leave right NOW!" My son just stood there and didn't say a word as I ran out of their house totally shocked. Not one word of thanks from either one of them. The next day I get this weird passive aggressive text telling me she was upset about something I said from nearly a month earlier, so now I was expected to apologize. She's certifiably nuts but my son can't see it.
I wouldn't completely write off your son, but maybe just stop reaching out to him and expecting anything in return. An occasional text or phone call to let him know you're thinking of him and love him but nothing more. Hopefully, he will maintain a relationship with you. Time will tell.
Welcome, M. If that is your given name, please select a new User Name so you can remain anonymous. We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under pen Me First to read the posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit for you. We are a monitored Website

Good for you for realizing that you deserve better and holding that line! No easy and freedom doesn't come overnight for most of us but it is possible! That's for adding your encouragement ad good luck!
Quote from: Stilllearning on January 01, 2020, 06:15:17 ammy DS and his wife are less happy than I would like to see them be but there is nothing I can do to change things for them and ruining my life over it is no longer an option I am willing to allow.
Amen to this! It has taken me a decade of pain, manipulation and humiliation to finally begin focusing on what's important - my own happiness and the relationships that give me joy. 

The difficulty I face is that they (YS and DIL) are still attempting to manipulate me to fall back in line. It's difficult, but I'm trying to hold my ground. Baby steps in the right direction are still steps forward.
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: son threw me out
Last post by luise.volta - January 10, 2020, 07:35:40 pm
Welcome, M. We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Read Me First, to read the posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to make sure WWU is a fit for you. We are a monitored Website.

I am so sorry that you are up against such a tough situation. None of us here have any training as counselors, we share our own experience and we care. My first thought is that if things had gotten that bad with my son, I think I would have gone to a counselor. What I learned in a much less volatile situation was what was going on with my son had nothing to do with me, even though he didn't see it that way. He simply wanted to blame me for anything and everything in his life that didn't suit him. It took me a long time to realize there was nothing I could do about any of that. He was an adult and he had to find his own solutions and if being estranged from me and teaching his sons to follow in his footsteps was the path he chose, that was up to him.

For a long time, I gave him my power. By that I mean I became the victim of his perceptions and actions and tried frantically to fix whatever was wrong. Eventually, I realized my power lay in how I lived my own life as a person...not as his mother. Like you, I gave it my best and he was no longer my dependent child. My job was done. I turned toward the things that brought me joy and fulfillment and took my life back without him and my grandchildren in it. My son has to deal with life just like we all do and hopefully learn to face the consequences of his actions. I love him and I wish him well. That's the best I can do and I do it silently and from a considerable distance. The only other thing I can think of to share is I'm happy.
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / son threw me out
Last post by metrvl - January 10, 2020, 05:27:09 pm
Xmas 2018 I drove 5 hours to deliver gifts. My dil walked out leaving him with 4 kids. 11yr, 6yr, twins 2yr. Stayed one nite n next day when I asked what he was going to do. His work is construction so long hours 6&7 days a week. He reacted to outrageous.. I did not say more than that question. Nor been derogatory in my remarks about dil. He became enraged. Grabbed my suitcase n threw it outside. Grabbed the bedding I had n out the door too. He grabbed me by my arms to throw me out. I walked out. I was shocked n utterly in total confusion. Was bruised n heartbroken. My son has tbi so his behavior has been out of control in the past. He is 33.  He wld not respond to texts and I was blocked on his phone. None of it made sense. Its been a rough year with the sorrow.  My only child. Now xmas 2019 he called but immediately called the number back. He answers n went I into a tirade how I would never see the kids. I just cried on the phone. Nothing was registering. I did not do him wrong as a child, I was involved, loving, caring and there for him. There is history of his erratic behaviors with his entire family on his dads side and no one wants anything to do with him. He burned his bridges and he screams how no one is there for him n he wants me out too.  Just heartbroken I dont kno how the gd kids are or what to do. I am grieving horribly. Any advise?
Happy New Year to you J! Sorry it took me so long to get back to you but it was New Years Eve, right? I remember when my DS picked his wife how totally horrified I was.  There were so many things wrong with the match in my opinion.....so many!  I could not keep my big mouth shut.  No I didn't tell him not to do it but I did ask him to wait, just wait a few months, get your feet under you before you jump into such a permanent obligation.  Her response to this request was to move the wedding up.  Well I learned my lesson. 

I suffered through the wedding and the rehearsal dinner.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, trying to smile while my heart was breaking.  Then came the children.  That is when you know your DS is truly stuck in the relationship.  Things were very bad for me for years.  I cried a lot and talked to everyone about how unfair the entire situation was, and it is totally wrong.  I raised a wonderful caring human who married a woman who has done nothing but hinder his chances for advancement both socially and economically.  It hurts my soul when I think about it.  Anyway talking about it all the time did only one thing.  It made people want to avoid me.  The situation was taking all the joy out of my life, ruining my relationships with my family, friends, even my DH.  I turned into a real party pooper.  And then I found this website and it changed my life.

It was here that I found women who knew what I was feeling and really empathized.  Through reading the posts here I found hope that I could once again enjoy my life.  I had to decide to let my DS learn his own lessons in life, his own way, even if I knew it was the hard way.  I stopped calling him, texting him, trying to fix things.  I just stopped.  It took him a few months to realize that I was no longer standing there waiting for him to return, so what did I do during those months?  I learned to think about something else.  I started putting myself first (something that is very hard for good mothers to do).  I spent time planning things for myself and my DH to enjoy.  When anyone asked me about my DS I would say "No news is good news" or "Not my circus, not my monkeys" and move to more pleasant topics.  The change in my life was huge.  I am really having a good time now.  My DH came up to me the other day and said he was the happiest he has been in years and I have to admit that I am too.

So my advice to you is.....you deserve to be happy and you can be.  You can borrow my three mantras (some are repeats but I repeated them daily for years and still do)

1) No news is good news
2) Not my circus, not my monkeys
3) What you focus on expands

The third one is really important!  Once I started focusing my thoughts on making myself happy, my happiness expanded.  It may sound selfish but I helped not only myself but also my DH and my other DS and my relatives and my friends.  We are all enjoying our lives more now.  Admittedly my DS and his wife are less happy than I would like to see them be but there is nothing I can do to change things for them and ruining my life over it is no longer an option I am willing to allow.  I matter too.  I want to enjoy the remainder of my life. 

Pages 1 2 3 4 5 ... 10