Friday, August 29, 2008

Bitchfest

I'd like to welcome the ever-popular Anonymous to my blog. She's here to bitch and boy, does she have a good one. It's part of the Bitchfest put on by Her Bad Mother. Bitch on, people. It's quite therapeutic. Especially when you can do it anonymously.

ETA: Mine will be up sometime this weekend, at another blog. If you want to read it, feel free to email me and I'll send you the link.



When the man-who-would-be-Hubbz and I started to really get serious, we used to talk about lucky we were that our families were so great, so supportive, so non-drama-causing. We had friends whose own families or future in-laws would do the most selfish, meanest, rage-inducing things to them. And it broke my heart to see my friends suffering at the hands of their own families. Hubbz would just sit back and say, “If that happened to me, I’d say ‘Screw you. You don’t support my new wife? That’s your problem.” Cough, cough, ahem… if only.

My struggles with my ILs, my FIL in particular, are well documented on my own blog. But I always feel that I have to restrain myself because my husband will stop by from time to time unannounced. He claims it’s to check in on me to see how I’m doing when he’s traveling (I suffer from depression and am not always great at expressing myself and how I’m feeling to him), but more often that not, his visits correspond with an incident with the ILs that has set me off and we end up in a fight because Why didn’t I just tell him what was wrong? He has to find out by reading my blog? Something that anyone else in the world can read?

Well, yes. Actually. Because that’s the only place I feel safe in honesty and openly expressing myself. You see, he never says “Screw you” to his family when they treat me like shit or act inappropriately. He says “They didn’t mean it. That’s how they are. You have to deal with it.” And I can’t imagine a less supportive thing.

They are a clan, Hubbz and his family. They lived on the opposite end of the country from their extended families during their formative years as a family and they are a tight-knit gang of four. And they can do no wrong. If you ask them, at least.

Hubbz and I have never had bigger arguments than when we butt heads about his family. And he always takes their side, even when he says he’s taking my side. Because he never actually does or says anything to try and change their attitude or behavior.

My FIL is openly hostile to me at times, to the point where I’ve been brought to tears (in private, I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of crying in front of him). Hubbz says he understands why I’m upset and that his dad was out of line. But only to me. Never to him. FIL disguises his passive-aggressiveness with laughter. If he says something nasty, but does it with a smile on his face, he can always fall back on the “What? I was only joking” excuse if I ever push back.

It’s gotten to a point where I am actively resentful of him and everything he says and does. I I question the motives behind every conversation, every suggestion. And I absolutely dread spending time with my ILs. I expect our get togethers to go badly, and they often do. Self-fulfilling prophecy? Perhaps. But I can only let so much go. I can only ignore the veiled insults and second guessing for so long.

Every decision we make in our lives – for ourselves, for our children, for our family in general – he feels the need to comment on. He treats his children as though they are incapable of making a decision unless he first points out every single obvious question they should answer or issue they should consider. He is an over-bearing know it all, who, more often than not, knows absolutely nothing about what he’s talking about. He’s an obnoxious blowhard who always has to be the center of attention, even at the expense of his own grandchildren. He’s controlling and domineering over his wife and children, and it absolutely makes my skin crawl.

I know he has a lot of good qualities as well, but it is very hard for me to see them most days. I find myself wondering what our life will be like after he’s gone and we’re no longer under his thumb, and I know that makes me a horrible person. I would never wish ill of him, but I have to say there’s a part of me that will be breathing a sigh of relief when the sad day comes.

It’s that bad. And I can’t talk to Hubbz about it because he just gets defensive and starts pointing out things my family does to irritate him. Oh really? My dad is a low-talker, so it’s hard for you to have a conversation with him? And no one in my family likes sports so you don’t have anyone to talk to at family gatherings? Wah wah… at least no one is flinging passive aggressive arrows directly at you. And only you.

That’s what gets me. No one else gets this treatment. My BIL – the other member of the family by marriage – gets treated like a second class citizen along with me, and my boys get the shaft in terms of time and attention. But no one else gets attacked so directly.

And I don’t know what I did to deserve it. Other than be myself. And stand up to him. And be sarcastic and joke around with him and – gasp! – not treat him like he walks on water or put him on a pedestal. I treat him like I treat every one else I know. But the difference is his self-esteem is so wrapped up in feeling revered and being the center of attention that he doesn’t know how to take my ribbing and well-meaning barbs.

Now, I will say that 90% of our interactions are perfectly pleasant. But the 10% that isn’t has just ruined our relationship. They put me in therapy. Well, not literally. But last year when I was in therapy, after I got through the initial issues I was trying to work through, the remaining time was spent talking about them. What they did to undermine my parenting. What they said to me or about me. I finally had to quit because I could bitch about my ILs to my girlfriends over cocktails. I didn’t need to pay someone $150 for that. That, and the more I talked about it, the madder I got. I wasn’t able to just talk about it and move on like I can with other issues. The talking about it only brought it closer to the surface and made me realize how powerless I am do do anything about it. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I’m just going to have to take it – with a smile on my face – to keep Hubbz happy and to not impact my boys’ relationship with their grandparents.

I don’t really know how to end this, other than to thank Julia for letting me spew a little bile all over her pretty little place in cyberspace. I’ve said things here I’ve never said out loud to anyone. Not my husband. Not my therapist. Not even to my girlfriends over cocktails. And it does feel good to get them out of my head. Maybe I can try to let go a little bit now. Yeah right…MIL’s birthday party is this weekend so I’m in full-on dread mode right now. Pass me the chardonnay folks.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks again!

Scar said...

Girl, I feel for you! Sounds horrible... and like your father-in-law needs taking down a peg or two (or six... or ten...)

Shonda Little said...

I kinda want to kiss you right now. My husband and I really fight about nothing except his mom. She lives 1000 feet from us. He's all about taking care of her and I respect him for that.
But, she's here all the time and is constantly questioning ridicules bullshit in my parenting, things that don't even matter, and he won't say anything to her because he says, that's just the way she is or it's a little thing, it doesn't matter.

whensheworeponytails said...

It's awesome to me that so many of these rants are about in laws. These people drive us nuts and we have to put up with them because they are "family". Guh. I feel your pain, though!

crazymumma said...

I so hear you on the inlaw front. My therapist said that there are things in marriages called perpetual problems. Things you cannot change in the other person.

don't know if that helps. But it stopped me from beating my head against the wall all the time you know?

sandy shoes said...

Well. I think your FIL sucks out loud.

Something to say in response to "I was only joking": "If you're the only one laughing, maybe it's not such a good joke."

But I know, you can't win with people who will just tell you to lighten up as if everything is your problem.

Possibly the greatest blessing of my married life (aside from the offspring) is that my inlaws live on the other side of the continent. It would send me to a padded cell, dealing with some of this crap.

Ree said...

I had a MIL like your FIL. I divorced her son - for reasons other than her, but it felt sooooo good to be done with her.

Not that I would recommend that drastic a step, you understand. I just didn't want you to think you were alone.

Of course, my current MIL haven't spoken in about 7 years...and my FIL is dead.

I hope you giggled a little at that?!?

Immoral Matriarch said...

Your FIL...wow. Just wow. There's not much I can even say but that.



Wow.

caramama said...

That just sucks. On all sides. Not that you asked for advice, but have you tried sitting down and having a serious conversation with your FIL about how he treats you? Granted, it should be your hubby having that talk. But it's just a shame you have to put up with that kind of rudness!

Britt said...

i actually threw my husband out for letting his mother try to run our lives and told him he could kiss her ass from her own house, not mine. i'm the only bitch running my household and needless to say MIL and i hate each other, so i totally feel your pain!

Shutter Bitch said...

Your story and mine are very similar. Although for me, my husband is a bit more in agreement with me on some things and agrees when his parents (mostly his dad) are out of line. But like yours, he won’t stand up to him, unless it's really bad. And if we try to talk to FIL, he gets so defensive that a cathartic, get it all out there conversation to resolve these issues is impossible. I feel your pain, deeply. I hope you are able to find the inner strength to deal with it. I hope the same for me, too.

Ms Picket To You said...

this is pretty much what I say (in my head) all the time. i feel better that you said it out loud. so thanks.

stepping over the junk said...

this is where I say, "it's nice to be divorced, with no inlaws!"

Bunny said...

I think we have the same father-in-law. Mine is a retired auto manufacturer exec who retired very young. Because he no longer has underlings who kiss his ass, he wants everyone else to do so. He singles me out for belittling in ways he would never, ever consider with his other DIL. Then he gives us money and it's supposed to make it all right. And then he's got the "we'll take his money but we don't respect him" argument if I sass back or stand up to his abuse. Sometimes I hate that MoFo.

BandK said...

Ah, yes, the passive-aggressive "But I was just joking! Geez!" And then you get that "You don't have a sense of humor" look when you don't think it's funny.

Yep, I've met a few of those in my life. My hubby being one of them. Using "joking" to disguse a pointed remark, and then accusing you of not having a sense of humor when you get upset. Yep. Been there, own the t-shirt.

*Sigh*

BandK said...

And Bunny? I've been there, too -- people using money to try and control you.

There's an easy way to shut the MoFO up. Say NO to the money. That way they have no hold over you. Even if you have to cancel cable or something.

Just a thought.