July 21, 2019, 08:58:23 am


"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."

Friday Fiasco with Ex-DIL

Started by luise.volta, July 13, 2009, 09:42:55 am

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Well, last March I put together a "Simmer Picnic" for yesterday, my youngest son's 54th birthday. (He's our webmaster.) Not a Birthday Party as such, per his request, but an extended family thing for 20 of us at a County, salt water park close to home. Because of my husband's age, I had to be able to get him back home for his nap, and yet not be gone long since I was the one with the permit to use the covered picnic area on the beach.

If you want to reserve a space there in the summer, you have to do it in the winter. My ex-DIL and very dear friend was in on all of this. As you all know from experience, it takes some organizational skills to pull it off.

Friday she emailed me that she was canceling. I was surprised, hurt and disappointed but it surfaced as anger. She has canceled out on me more than everyone else I know put together. She always has an excuse that makes her blameless. I lashed out and she replied "Ouch!"

Then I backed up...(it would have been better to not have had to, of course) and told her that the other side of the coin was that where she goes and what she does is her business, not mine, and how I react is my business, not hers. That's where Alicev's quote comes in:

"When we stop gossiping, complaining, giving guilt trips, forcing ourselves on others, and start taking responsibility for our own feelings and let other people be who they truly are - we do the right thing."

The clue in all of this is my reference above regarding my ex-DILs pattern of letting other people down by canceling at the last minute. That's what she often, but not always, does. She was just being how she is.

At 82, I think one of the last lessons I am ever going to get in this lifetime is that how I perceive something is not how it is. It sure looks (to me) like that's how it is...but others often have radically different takes on things.

My closest friend, who died in May, was a great teacher of this principle by example. Something would happen where I would get my feeling hurt and I'd come unglued. Then, later something very similar would happen to her and instead of feeling rejected etc., etc...she would be genuinely perplexed and say "How weird that he/she doesn't see how great I am." And that would be the end of it.   ;D

Love you guys!

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


It is sooo very irritatiing when the use of canceling at the last minute is the method used as control.  That's exactly what it is, though.  I don't care how many platitudes you recite, it's still infuriating.

I wish I could pass it off as saying, "oh, look at what she's missing out on".  I can't because it's one of the things my DIL does deliberately and often.  She has a twisted view of what an invitation means.  She thinks you're trying to control her.

She turns around and controls YOU by canceling.


Hi luise -

I wonder what would her reaction have been if you had told her "Ouch! That did not feel good!" after she canceled? She said "Ouch" when you reacted and something clicked inside you, right?  Canceling sure did hurt you, after all the time and energy you put into this. How willing are we in general to say Ouch! when we encounter something that hurts us?


What I have the most trouble with is the excuse thing. Saying "Ouch" is out of the question because she manipulates. It's never her fault and so she never means to hurt anyone. As in "How could you say 'ouch" when I would be there if I could. I thought you would understand". And then, one more time, she looks good and I fall short. Clever to the max.

Much of it has to do with her not managing her energy and health well, burning the candle at both ends and then crashing and being surprised.

I have never looked closely at it before. Certainly, I have never seen it as controlling because she's always all broken up about having to cancel. Hummmm.....

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


You can say "Ouch" because that is what you feel. Nobody can question what you feel. If your DIL says: "How can you say ouch when I would be there if I could .....". Then I would have responded: Yes, I can say ouch because I feel that way.

What is she going to do then? Say: No, you don't feel hurt?

How can anyone tell us our feelings? How can anyone see inside us and tell that no you don't feel a certain way? How can she debate whether it was a real feeling or not?

Your hurt was legitimate, it was real, you felt it.

It is hard to deal with manipulative people. We often react and shut down and feel guilty in the end when we were not even the culprit! I also think that your ex DIL is probably someone that cannot be trusted to keep her word.

Sorry you had to go through that.


Just to let you know Luise, I do relate to not being able to say Ouch to someone who is manipulative. My fear is the same - that when I say "ouch" the other person would go after me even more and try to give me further guilt trips. 

When we step on the dog's tail, the dog yelps and we feel guilt /sorry and back off. So in theory saying ouch ought to make the other person back off and if they have a heart also let them know they have crossed the line.

Easy to say, hard to do, huh! :)

I think one reason why it is hard - is that expressing feeling of hurt makes us vulnerable. It says we do care. Anyways, when I have been able to say ouch to someone, especially if that person is not on top of my list, I will let you guys know how it went. After all there can be two outcomes: they either do feel guilty and apologize or they will go further after me. If the latter happens, I will know that most likely I would not want to have to deal with them at all.


Well, this is the same ex-DIL I wrote the poem about and she is very dear to my heart. I think I could have said "Ouch!"...when she canceled, and should have. I can see that, now.

It would probably have been a lot better than coming at her with anger. I was surprised and disappointed and yet again...let down by her not living her life in a responsible way so she can keep her commitments. It has happened over and over again.

But then I get lulled into trusting her because for a long stretch, she will do what she says she will do. She and her now-husband are usually very attentive and on holidays they always show up so we have someone special here with us. In comparison, my husband's son wants us to go to their place and it's too long a drive and too long a day.

I think my greatest enemy is surprise. She did the same thing when I gave my husband a party here at our retirement center for his 95th birthday and she has canceled endless mini-retreats, dinners and lunches over the years.

It's always about burn-out. She used to be an over-achiever and now she has slowed way down from an accident two years ago. She's 63.

I saw her doing too much before this gathering yesterday...taking a long road trip with a friend from out of state and then having an open house for her. When she got to me and supporting my plans...she was "out of gas."

A family "do" just isn't complete without her. Everyone wanted to know where they were.

She didn't make me, or to the point, my gathering a priority and plan her life in such a way that she would be able to come for sure and support me in putting on the event. There's the issue. She says she did see it as a priority and it was just unfortunate and I say she didn't.

We're back to having her be how she is...aren't we?

I still have strong feelings about it as you can tell. I think as I age, counting on others gets to matter more and more. It's a vulnerable time.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Thanks for giving me so much to think about here. For now, there is no open conflict. She emailed me asking how it went and I responded about other things, not that. When the next occasion arises, I will have to decide what to do. I can't trust her. I doubt I ever will be able to.

I know no one is totally trustworthy. I'm certainly not. And I know we all have differing ideas about being accountable. The bind comes at that point. Her accountability makes sense to her. It doesn't to me and it is totally reasonable that she live by her standards, of course. I am just flailing around when I feel that I have again been hung out to dry. 

I want to take some kind of a stand after 25 years of this. I don't want to have to adapt to it any more. I feel done with it but not with her. Never with her. Yet, not making plans with her in the future feels like cutting off my nose to spite my face.

I can learn to say "Ouch" immediately but I want to circumvent the trauma by not putting myself in her path and at her mercy or lack thereof.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Luise, I think you need to look deeper. It feels to me like your reaction is out of proportion to the circumstances. How can you still be surprised after 25 years of this? That's what she sometimes does. It's part of who she is. We are all a combination of pluses and minuses. What's going on with you?


Sorry for butting in here since this is addressed to Luise but I have this same thing happen to me and only when it happens to you time and time again would you understand how infuriating it can be.

There isn't anything 'going on' with Luise.  I think you need to walk in her shoes and then you can criticize. Obviously you haven't.


You aren't butting in, Prissy! It's an open post and I really appreciate everyone's feedback.

And, SouthernBelle, I am willing to look more closely at this. Several people have told me that I over-reacted and that's usually about the person who is angry...not the one who set it in motion. So, thanks.

One dear friend who lives out of state and who experienced my wrath over this via email, said that she had never seen me so upset. She jokingly said that her computer was steaming and the plastic parts melted. ;D

I'll be getting back to all of you when I have something to report. In the meantime, it is priceless to feel supported as I dig further.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Dear Luise - you are so brave - to put your thoughts re your ex DIL out there for all to see (I just commented on your lovely poem re her).  Does she read your blog?  I agree with the others who feel cancelling is a form of controlling - But now I have something to fall back on - my husband says "What would Mary do?" when he is put in a situation with poor quality work, pesty salesmen, etc.  Now I will say to myself "What would Luise do?" and if I get a bit angry feel less on myself because I know you mght do that also. and I admire you very much.    My husband calls it justifiable anger  - I just blame myself  Hope I am making sense? 




Hi Mary and All,,

Ah, the humanness in all of us; the vulnerability, the fallibility and the inconsistency. Reassuring sometimes, isn't it?  :D

My best friend who died in May, (I think I wrote about her death under the Grab Bag heading), had a very strong sense of self-worth. So, when someone knocked me over with a feather and I doubted myself, I'd think (like your husband), "What would Dotte say or do?" Any criticism just caused her to roll her eyes and wonder why the other person didn't see how wonderful she was! It never fazed her!  ;D

I doubt that my ex-DIL reads this blog but if she does, there is nothing here I haven't expressed openly (if not as emotionally) to her. After reading what SouthernBelle wrote (thank you, SouthernBelle) and doing some soul-searching, I honestly think my over-reaction to being canceled may stem from the seemingly endless cancellations in my childhood. My mother wasn't all that hearty and  often used her limited energy irresponsibly without looking ahead to the foreseeable consequences of her burning the candle from both ends. We were all at the effect of that as well as being stuck with where to put our disappointment and anger when long-anticipated family events got canceled. She was always seen as helpless and of course, blameless.

I have shared my revelation with my ex-DIL and apologized for over-reacting. Isn't it interesting that inner trauma has such a long shelf-life? Everyone involved in those early dynamics has passed on but I am still at the effect of it at times.

The little verse I wrote about my ex-DIL and published here was written at the time of my friend's death. Thanks for reading it and appreciating it, Mary. (You also might get a kick out of my description of my own MIL and our early relationship under Success Stories. What an air-head I was! ::)

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama