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I actually hate very few people. It's such a strong emotion, but Deb's mother is verging on me hating her. I'm very close to joining Deb's brother in shutting her out of my life altogether. Normally i'd just ignore someone or not give them any attention whatsoever but she makes that impossible for me to do. She does every detestable thing you can think of that a mother-in-law would do and she's not even my mother in law yet. I guess I was spoiled by my relationship with my first wife's mother. We got olong great while I was married to her daughter and we are good friends now. And it's not for lack of me trying that Annette and I have not gotten along. I've more than given her the benefit of the doubt in several situations where others refused to give her any leeway. So what has she done?

1. She is a compulsive liar. And while this is fine for her, it rubs off on Deb and makes Deb think it's allright to do because her mother has gotten away with it for so long. I've spent years letting Deb know it's not OK. It was so ingrained that she didn't really even know she was doing it but I'd catch her at it and I'd let her know how harmful it can be. The worst part is, Annette is a horrible liar. Meaning she's bad at it. First rule of being a convincing liar is remembering what lies you told to what people. Second rule is keeping your story consistent no matter who you tell the lie to. She does neither, she forgets what she has said, even in the same conversation. She will give you three different versions of the story on any given day. Mostly this doesn't affect me except for what rubbed off on Deb that I have to deal with. Deb mostly lies when she's done something she thinks I will get pissed off about, which of course makes me more pissed off when I find out about it. And usually I find out from her because she feels guilty about telling me the lie in the first place and she has a million tells that she doesn't know about. It doesn't happen that often and she knows it's a problem and is working on it. Unlike her mother who never faces the music on anything. Her biggest thing is lying to her family about coming to visit them. I can't tell you how many family get togethers she has bailed on. And not small things like the odd family reunion. Major things like her Son's wedding rehearsal dinner, her daughter's 30th birthday party. Her grandson's birthdays or religious rites. You call to inviote her and she says she will be there. You give her responsibility and she accepts it. You call and confirm it and she will tell you everything is OK. The nthe day of the event she just doesn't show. If you call to find out what happend you will get one of two things 1) Her answering machine or 2) A cover lie that usually involves her car and the weather. She drives a 2002 Chrysler Siebring which maybe gets driven 1,000 miles in a year and that is pushing it. It has less than 10,000 miles on it but "seems" to break down everytime the weather changes or there is a family obligation. Lets see if I can remember all the things that have supposedly broken down on it. The oil pump, the brake cylinders, the transmission, the entire electrical system once, a piston supposedly froze up once, the headlights, the windshield wipers, various tire maladies, the seatbelts...there are more but I can't think of them right now. But somehow magically when Monday morning comes, she is able to drive the car to work. These lies might actually be believable if she had an older car or if they were somewhat related systems that chronically broke down. I think she gets online to an automotive troubleshooting site and just picks the wierdest problems she can find and uses that as an excuse. None of these broken things has ever been documented by anyone else but her. For years Deb would blame herself whenever her Mom took a powder. But after several years of talking to her and some counseling she finally realizes none of it is her fault and has begun to resent her mother like the rest of us. Her brother has recently said she cannot see her grandchildren without a confirmed apointment and only if the parents are there to supervise. Otherwise, he and his wife want nothing to do with her.

2. She is a kleptomaniac and paired with the next category, this makes her one of the most reprehensible people I've ever had the displeasure to meet. You never know what will capture her fancy to steal. We have long since learned not to leave out any money or valuables when she is around. On a trip through NC a few years back I went through Seagrove, a town dedicated to hand thrown pottery. I bought Deb these matching vases that are basically white with a cobalt blue overglaze dripping down from the top. She loved them and we placed one each in our corner cabinets in the living room stuffed with dried flowers and herbs. We had gone on vacation for a few days and asked her Mom to come by and feed our cats. We come back home and one ofthe vases was missing. We thought perhaps her mom had been looking at one and dropped it and broke it. So we asked her if she's seen it and she said no. Weeks later, we were over at her house for dinner and up on a kitchen cabinet sits our vase, complete with the dried herbs that we put in it. So we say that it looks an awful lot like the ones we have and she has the balls to tell us she liked the ones we have and so when she saw a similar one at a yard sale, she had to have it. Later I went back to Seagrove and bought Deb the matching vase again. Then when Annette saw our new one she commented on how much it looked like hers. Almost like she was the first one to buy it and we copied her. Money has turned up missing from Deb's purse and from the basket where I empty my pockets when I come home. Bottles of wine that we were trying to collect. Food from our fridge or cabinets. Beer from our fridge. Deb's brother inherited a very old custom pool cue from one of his uncles. Annete was at his house and saw it and asked to borrow it for a pool tournament she was supposedly playing in. (I could beat Annette in pool with my eyes closed and one hand to hold the cue...I'm serious...so it's doubtful she ever had a tournament to play in.) So Mark, Deb's brother, trying to be friendly to his Mom, sayis it's OK. That was the last he eveer saw of it. For several years she kept saying she would return it. Now she claims not to remember ever borrowing it or seeing it. Over the weekend when I went down to the farm, Deb had to work. She came home Sunday just wanting to get some rest as she was very tired and crampy with her period coming on. Her Mom just shows up out of the blue and wants to watch TV. like she doesn't have a big screen tv of her own to watch at her own house. Deb tells her she is going to bed and can she take a raincheck (even though she never invited Annette over in the first place). Annette says sure and asks to use the bathroom. Deb tells her fine and to let herself out. Later she discovers 2 sixpacks of Pyramid Amber Weizen Beer that I bought, missing out of the fridge. She tells me about this yesterday and I pretty much came unglued adn asked if I needed to go over and confront her mother at her own house. Deb says she will handle it because she knows I will be loud enough about it that Annette's neighbors will be able to hear the whole thing and Deb will never hear the end of it. She asks her Mom about the beer and Annette actually admits to taking it. When asked why, she tries to justify it by saying she has brought us lots of beer over the years. I have this reply to that - 1) That does not mean you can simply come in and steal our beer whenver it suits your fancy 2) We have never in 10 years asked you to bring us any beer. we are perfectly capable of buying our own beer. 3) The rerason you do bring beer over is because it was part of your secret stash and you don't want to get caught by the cops with a half empty six pack in your car and beer on your breath. 4) You drink cheap ass beer like Natural Lite or Keystone Lite. A sixpack of the beer I drink costs more than a 12 pack of your shitty beer.

3. She is a closet alcoholic. When I met Deb she had a drinking problem. I won't say she was an alcoholic or at least not yet. She might have gotten there eventually. But I pretty much let her know early on I would not tolerate being associated with a drunk on a romantic level. So we have worked on it and she now drinks reasonably. A couple beers or glasses of wine a night. Sometimes nothing at all. But while we were working on it, her Mom would just pop in with an opened 12 pack of some shitty beer and want Deb to sit there with her while she told her boring fucking lies/stories over and over again or made us listen to tales of woe about her car or her job or her shitty life. I fianlly made the rule that no alcohol came into that house unless I bought it or I aprroved ahead of time of it being bought by Deb. I hated doing that but at least Deb could then tell her Mom that it was my rule and she didn't have to take the heat or the questions about the rule. I also told her the next time I came home to find a 12 pack of shitty beer in my fridge, I was going to take it over to her mom's condo, dump it on the front yard and put up a big sign that said "Annette Sullivan is a lying, thieving alcoholic bitch with no regard or respect for the rules of other people's families! Here is your shitty beer back. Don't ever come over again."

Back when Deb was really having health problems was when her Mom was worst about bringing beer over. Deb was completely on the wagon and really trying to get past her problems with alcohol. Trying to find a healthy medium between giving it up altogether or going over the deep end with it. She was taking a daily cocktail of mind/mood altering prescription drugs that didn't contribute to the best judgement anyway so I had outlawed alcohol in the hosue altogether reasoning that if it were not available, it would not be a temptation. But Annette would sit down the block and wait for me to leave for work or better yet to the farm and come by with a bottle of wine or some beer or something harder and try to convince her daugter to get drunk with her. Once I came home and Annette was sitting on our front steps beer in hand and arguing with Deb about how she should "loosen up, have fun and drink more." I got in her face and told her in no uncertain terms that if she ever brought alcohol into my house again that she would never be welcome there again. Deb got so upset over the whole scene that she passed out on the front lawn and had a seizure. I scooped her up, threw her over my shoulder and as I went into the house with her, gave Annette one of those "if looks could kill" looks and told her this is exactly why Deb did not need to be drinking. She had enough other things to poison her system with and that if Annette kept up her behaviour, I would quit my job and move us so far away she would never see her daughter again. (I'm still not sure this would not be the best solution).

I'm convinced that Annette is sober less than she is drunk. She is one of those drunks who functions better drunk than sober. When she does attend family functions she will make some excuse and leave early. If you watch, the first thing she does is go to her trunk and get out one of the coold beers she has secreted away in a small cooler so she will have something to keep her company on the drive home. After a particularly frightening birthday dinner for me where Annette drove, I have refused to drive anywher with her and forbade Deb to ride with her either.

4. She is a compulsive money borrower. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm generous to a fault. But there is a practical limit. I won't lend/gift money if it is going to make me not be able to pay bills or buy food or other neccesities. Debra has for the last 3 years been on dissability and thus a very fixed income. Her mother has a good job working for a mortgage broker/realtor. Yet she seems to be perpetually broke. She has long since realized her son will not lend her money and is scared of me so doesn't ask. So she will wait until I am not around and hit her daughter up. She will always preface it with some desperate need like the brakes have gone out on her car and she can't drive to work unless she gets them fixed. I have no problem helping people out but unless I state that it is a gift i think i have a reasonable expectation of getting the money back sometime in the future. To my knowledge, Annette has never paid any money back that she has borrowed from others. She owes her sister over $1,000 and her sister works as a waitress to make ends meet and pay off medical bills steming from the long term sickness of her late husband. She now owes Deb in excess of $3,000 that she "needed" at various times to buy groceries, pay bills or get her car fixed." And yet she can afford to make payments on her townhouse and drive a more than $20,000 car and she seems to have a never ending supply of beer (except when she steals from us). She can also somehow afford to take a yearly vacation with girlfriends from high school. She has an internet connection and Cable TV with HBO. So there is no such thing as a loan to Annette. You might as well consider it a gift. I have since forbade Deb to give her any money. I told her to tell Annette to call me if she ever questions it. So far no calls to me.

5. She talks incessantly about nothing at all. I hate getting dragged into a conversation with her because she has this annoying habit of forgetting what she just told you so she tells you again. So if you have a convo with her you get to hear everything at least three times. Maybe if she layed off the sauce she could remember what she just said. Every night after work she will call Deb and want to talk to her about her day. Deb says this is easier than ignoring her phone calls because eventually Annette will get "concerned" about Deb and just come over and bring beer to see what is up. Still we ignore her about half the time. The other half of the time I have specific instructions to call her and interupt her phone call or if I'm home, to make up some excuse for Deb to get off the phone. "Babe, I need some help with the groceries!" "Time for dinner Babe!" Annette has been known to go on for 3 hours straight about nothing at all.

What just tears me up is that because of her mother's behavior, I have to make rules that end up restricting our enjoyment of life just so we don't get taken advantage of. Not to mention the stress of having to deal with her shit all the time. Deb's brother is actually lucky in that he lives 2 hours away and so she won't just jump in the car and drive cross town to come see him. But even he has had to make rules for his family concerning his mother's behaviour.

end of rant.



( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 9th, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC)
*sigh* Yeah, I can definitely see how you wouldn't want to associate with her. She fails to confront her own issues, but rather wants to share them with Deb.

Keep your rules, they sound just fine to me.
May. 9th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
She is the reason mother-in-laws have a bad rep.

May. 9th, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
Checks mirror to be sure I'm me...

You could be describing my mother, with a few variations... (i.e. wine instead of beer, etc)

I have to be honest with you, if my mother *were* a part of my life when I met and married my husband, it wouldn't have ever happened.

Over the years, we've had fits and starts trying to have a relationship - but it doesn't work.

It's not that I don't love my mother - it's that she's a toxic person.
The alcohol, the narcissism, the lying, the manipulation... it's nearly impossible not to get sucked into that maelstrom yourself. Especially when you grew up with it as "normal."

The only thing that really worries me here is that it's *you* making the 'rules' and not Deb.
In a way - that relieves her of the burden of learning to cope with it herself and that means that those behaviors will lie dormant within her until she acts on them as a form of "rebellion" against you.

Until Deb decides that she's not going to put up with the behavior and draws her own lines, she hasn't really rejected the behavior so much as she's accepted your rejection of it.

You do what you have to do for you and yours... but rather than hate the woman, try to mutate that into pity.
Hatred requires all kinds of energy and focus on your part and none on hers... pity? not so much.

To quote some internet pundit "hating someone is like letting them live rent free in your head..."

You have my sympathy... and my ear should you need it. I've been dealing with this for years - from the perspective of the child who has to say "nope... here's the line Mom... sorry if you can't respect that, then you'll have to stay away."
May. 9th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
Deb has started to draw her lines. I just try to keep her Mom at enough of an arm's length that she can continue to do so. She did grow up with it and it was made worse by the fact that when her parents split, Deb went with her Mom and Mark went with her Dad. For years there was little contact because Annette would not allow it. So Mark really has less problem drawing the lines because in his eyes, his mother left a long time ago. But then she acts like she wants to mend fences with her son. For Deb, her mother was all she knew of how to act around other people for a long time.

But her Mom is toxic as you say. And she knows I seek to break the toxic ties between them. More than once she has tried to convince Deb that I am trying to make it so they never see each other. I think Annette sees me as the one who came along and took her drinking buddy away.

It was Deb who initially came to me and asked me for help in breaking her Mom's influence over her. She's learning gradually how to put her foot down. She won't lend her Mom money anymore. She tells her she just doesn't have it to give.

(no subject) - wander - May. 9th, 2006 07:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yndy - May. 9th, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wander - May. 9th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 9th, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
oh... wow.
May. 9th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
You never know how good you have it until you hear other people's shit do you?


May. 9th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)

And agreed with everything said in the above comment (except the comparisson between mothers and the like)

That woman sounds like she needs a therapist and a few bottles of happy pills. Kudos to Deb for trying to be strong and get over some of her problems. And kudos to you for standing by her in the most compassionate non-tyranical way that you can. I think the rules you've set might be a tad crossing the line into the controlling category, but when it comes to major issues like alchohol or a family history of lying, it almost seems appropriate. As long as it isn't causing conflict within your relationship with Deb, as long as she isn't feeling like you are being controlling (from other entries that I've read about the dynamics of your relationship, you seem far from that type of character) then certain rules are just fine in certain situations.

Thankfully for me, my mother in law is the best mother in law I could have dreamt of. I've heard horrible stories about Kyle's sister Brandi's mother-in-law though.

Still, yours takes the cake.
May. 9th, 2006 07:42 pm (UTC)
I don't like making rules. I love letting relationships develop along natural courses but given the choice of excersizing a bit of control or letting her Mom have her way, I'll take the control.

(no subject) - ilovemypamiuw - May. 9th, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wander - May. 9th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wander - May. 9th, 2006 07:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ilovemypamiuw - May. 9th, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 9th, 2006 07:43 pm (UTC)
You know the mother sounds like a genuinely mentally ill person, untreated, and self medicating with alcohol.

Hate's not such a bad thing, in it's right place. I could rattle on along on that forever, but McLaren's Emotional Genius gives a better map, talking as she does about hate as the emotion that indicates something needs to be protected past where anger can do the work:

Side A: What must be protected? What is hatred, and why is it a healthy feeling? . The obsessive nature of hatred. The fascinating relationship between hate partners. Projection-based love. Hatred: a twisted kind of love? . Our shadow selves. Restoring your boundaries. Hate exercise. Why it takes work to transform hatred into love. Hatred as a guide: "All Right" (poem). The true source of peace, mercy, and forgiveness. The fallacy of oneness with all things. More
May. 9th, 2006 07:48 pm (UTC)
Everyone in family agrees she is mentally ill but we also agree she will never admit it to herself or others and ask for help. What truly scares me is that at some point she will be unable to take care of herself and it will fall to Deb to take care of her. I hope we are far away when that happens. It does not matter to me if she and I never have a relationship so I don't feel bad for hating her or at this point at least despising her. But I can see what it does to Deb who quite reasonably wants to have a relationship with her mother.

Teaching Barishnakov to dance - chimerae - May. 9th, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Teaching Barishnakov to dance - wander - May. 9th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 9th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
Damn. I am soo lucky B's folks and I get along. Heck, they are much nicer people that I am!
May. 9th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
Well that would be hard to do because you are so nice...hehehehe. Yeah, I have a great relationship with my ex-inlaws.

May. 9th, 2006 09:08 pm (UTC)
Ugh, that's a shame... and it's so hard to impose boundaries on someone like that, particularly your S/O's parent, if they are not actively showing solidarity with you.

I would wish she could change, but people like that seldom do unless they hit a wall, and even then they sometimes blame others for it rather than accept responsibility for themselves :-(
May. 9th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
I actually wouldn't care if she didn't change as long as she didn't force us to deal with her crap. There are things about my own parents I wish they wouldn't do but they live 1200 miles away so I don't have to deal with them that often. One of these days I'll find an opportunity within this company that will allow us to move away then I think we will be done with most of her behaviour because she won't want to travel to where we are to bug us.

May. 9th, 2006 10:05 pm (UTC)
Fuck man, that's just bad news. Reading about this made me feel sick to my stomach. I cannot even imagine what it must be like for you and Deb. You're doing the right thing in distancing yourself from the woman. She is poison and probably won't ever realise it. Deb is lucky that you are so loving and patient with her flaws. The way you spoke of her in this post really expressed the unconditional love you have for her.
May. 9th, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
Re: peace.
It's not her fault her mom is a whack job. Yeah as suggested by another commentor, I'm going to try some around the house rituals to try and keep her more at arm's length. If we ever get a chance with my job that allows us to move back to the farm, that would end most of it as she won't travel in bad weather or after dark.

By the way, It's really good to see you commenting. I hope you are feeling better.

May. 9th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
I remember you telling me about her. I never met my mother in law as she passed away long before Jim and I met. I've heard stories though.

Some of what you said about her though reminds me a little of my sister. She is the toxic one in my family. I've told you about her.

I can understand Deb's need to have a relationship with her mom. I'm sorry it won't be what she wants. I can understand the heartbreak in that because I never had one with my father. Some day I'll have to tell you about that one. I know I never discussed him because I rarely give him space in my mind anymore.
May. 9th, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC)
Yep, she's one of the most toxic people I've ever met and that's saying something.

May. 10th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)
I feel for Deb as I know you deeply do. My dad seems like a saint compared to her. He's just selfish and cheats on my mom. It's disappointing how we are all conditioned to look up to our parents as role models and sometimes they absolutely fail to meet those expectations. It's hard to disassociate one from a family member because the foundation of a family is so important.

Everything that you have done and all the boundaries that you have set are essential. I admire your patience and strength to stand up to such atrocities.
May. 10th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
As I said in another comment, Deb can't help it if her Mom is a whack job. The only thing I can do is deal with the situation. Strength maybe, patience is long gone.

May. 10th, 2006 11:42 pm (UTC)
what scares me most is this woman is driving under the influence!! It's a miracle Deb turned out fine b/c most girls learn how to be a woman from their mother. :-/
May. 10th, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
Deb's mostly a Tomboy, probably in spite of her mother. Yes the driving under the influence scares me as well. Next time I know it for a fact I'm calling the polive to report her.

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )