Thursday, July 2, 2009

Have a very merry un-vacation …

Ok or something like that. Actually there were a lot of good things about my vacation but it was more than a little stressful. I want to share a lot of the good things including pictures, but I don't want to really mix the good with the bad so I'm gonna pull all that out right here right now.

Let me just say that 2 weeks was neither long enough and way too long. It wasn't long enough because there are things I wanted to do that we didn't have time for and it was way too long because of all the stuff we did do. My mother-in-law (MIL) is the root of most of the problems. She isn't a terrible person, but she is pretty self-centered and thinks I'm a villain. Seriously.

When my wife and I were dating she told everyone to pray for us to break up because I was a witch or satanist. She thinks anyone "evil" is a witch or satanist. She thinks I'm abusive to my wife and children now. She has often told me and my wife this. Needless to say her outlook taints her view of me. For years I tried but I pretty well gave up. I don't go out of my way to make her mad but I'm not out to make her happy either. In the end she gets mad at me either way so I just don't waste my energy.

That is the background on the problem between my MIL and me. Of course that is the simple version. She just can't help herself. It isn't just me she is really mean to everyone but doesn't get it. She told my sister-in-law that she wasn't good enough for her son. My brother-in-law didn't believe her but now my SIL will not stay in the same room as my MIL by herself.

Anyways, when we got there I was trying to play nice. I complimented my MIL right off the bat and she rejected the compliment. I was kind and courteous until she started complaining that my wife wanted to ride with me. It was the day before our 10 year anniversary. I had to put all our anniversary plans on hold because of this vacation which was scheduled to be convenient for my MIL. It is horribly inconvenient for me as any YP could tell you. My wife had been riding everywhere with my MIL and she wanted to come with me. My MIL pitched a huge fit and I just walked away. I wasn't rude or hateful I just left.

Later I got into a fight with my wife and my MIL felt the need to get in the middle. This time when I walked away my MIL followed and kept getting in my face over it. I told her blatantly that I didn't want to talk but she didn't get the hint. I let her keep talking but didn't even look at her much less talk. She went on and on and on then got mad because I wasn't responding. She said, "what have I done to you to be treated this way?" Yes, I understand she was trying to be helpful but she can't help when she won't listen. She is busy trying to help the wrong thing because she refuses to listen.

That is really the heart of it all. She hears what she wants. She thinks I'm a villain so everything she hears is translated into villain speak. Tuesday we had to drive back to San Francisco and she wanted to take her sister into LA and go all over downtown LA. She wanted my wife and daughter to come and my wife told her yes, but that she wanted to leave before 1pm. The is reasonable because much later and it would take a couple hours to leave LA. My MIL wanted to stay there till 4pm because it was only a 6 hour trip. She wouldn't listen and got into a fight with my wife. She kept asking my wife "what do you want to do?" My wife kept telling her she wanted to go but to leave by 1pm. My MIL would respond with, "what if I don't want to leave that early" to which my wife got upset because my MIL would then ask what she wanted to do as if the question was never asked and answered before. Eventually my wife broke down and yelled "I'm sorry I'm a horrible daughter. I should just go kill myself." Then she threw the phone she was holding and ran outside.

She eventually calmed down and my MIL talked with her but didn't hear anything she said. I know because the end result was that she got her way but whatever.

On Sunday before this we were talking about something much the same and my wife kept telling her what she wanted but my MIL wouldn't listen and kept saying what she wanted. My wife was getting frustrated so I tried getting her some space and told my MIL she needed time to think but my MIL accused me of trying to manipulate my wife. This whole time she was giving my very rude and hateful looks. She does this quite often because she wears her thoughts on her face and she is rarely happy. Her eyes were narrowed, her forehead scrunched, and her lips pursed. I know I shouldn't have but after nearly 2 weeks of getting the look and getting griped out I had to burn off some steam. I started mimicking her face. She got really mad. I've made her more mad but I think this was the most angry I made her on this trip. Later she walked up to me and said, "I'm sorry." So I told her, "I forgive you." I knew she wasn't sorry. She didn't sound recalcitrant but I forgave her anyways. Then she said, "Now you're supposed to say you are sorry." Yep, there it is. She wouldn't even say what she was sorry for because the point was to get me to apologize. I gave her the same apology she gave me and she fished for more. "You should say you are sorry for making faces at me." Then she went on to explain that she can't help it and so it is wrong and I'm not honoring her and I wouldn't treat me own mother this way …. Of course it doesn't occur to her that my mother would never treat me like that either. My mother wouldn't treat anyone like that and she would reprimand me for treating my MIL like I did even if she did laugh after I left the room.

So the day we were leaving my MIL was trying to talk to me again saying we needed to work all this out. I've had this talk with her pretty much every trip. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. I guess I'm not as crazy as most people say because after running headlong into a brick wall enough times I give up and go around. I said pretty much that in nicer terms and kindly told her I didn't really want to talk this through with her as we got ready to leave. She kept insisting so I told her a bit more bluntly that I have no need to try and work things out with her when she thinks I'm evil. She kept going and eventually said, "Well maybe I unconsciously make hateful faces but maybe you unconsciously try to stop me from being a grandmother."

I think that gives a pretty clear picture of the problem. She thinks I'm evil and that shades her view of me and explains away her rudeness to me, but no matter what I do she has always thought I was evil. I know it isn't just me. In fact, the fact that she treats most people like this assures me that I'm not the evil person she thinks. When everyone in the world is the problem maybe they aren't the problem.


jasonS said...

Phew... that sounds rough and exhausting. I was exhausted reading it. I've been in situations like that before, but never on a consistent basis.

Wendy said...

Aren't you glad to be home? I'd be glad to be home. She's a piece of work. Is there really a need to continue to go visit her? It just doesn't sound healthy for you or your wife to be around her. There's a lot to be said for phone calls instead of visits...

Helen said...

Dear Nick,
Obviously a rough situation. I feel sorry for her. Her grandchildren should be the joy of her life, but they are going to learn she lies about daddy (just from listening to her own speech), and grow to not want to be around her either. How sad.

Annie K said...

Nick, I know people...

BeckeyZ said...

Nick, you need a cyber hug ((((((Nick)))))). Makes me thankful my MIL is Japanese and I don't understand a thing she says.

I know people like your MIL. They just have cold hearts. And they take every little thing personally.

I'll pray for you and your wife, bro.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

After struggling through this for 3 hours (ok, I stopped and made dinner, then some salsa, then grilled some shrimp...did some packing) but kept coming back to this hoping the story would change.

Next time stay home. It has to be easier on all of you - even her.

Beth said...

My mother in law and I definitely don't see eye to eye on some things. After a couple of days we both get on each others' nerves. But when it comes down to it, we both love and appreciate each other, and this post makes me want to go and kiss her feet!


At least you have a blog where you can write about it...and an entire country that separates you most of the time....right?

Nick the Geek said...

Yes exhausting but also fun. I'll be posting about the good later.

Very glad to be home. I told my wife we might want to just send her and the kids since my MIL would prefer that but my wife insists I come.

I feel sorry for her as well. She is so concerned about herself that she is always hurting herself. A great illustration of having to die to self in order to live.

Annie K.
I think Helen probably knows people too, but with a continent in between I'm happy to let her be.


I wish I could stay home. We are seriously talking about flying out to LA next time for 2 weeks but only telling them about the 2nd of the 2 weeks. 1 week will be easier than 2 and my kids really love their cousins.

Yeah she is on the other side of the continent and so things are much easier most of the time. I have to say my FIL is an absolute saint because she isn't any nicer to him.

Anyways, thanks all for your sympathy. Trust me when I say the vacation did have many good points.

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