Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Feeling pissed off and down today...

This started last year actually. MIL had been pushing dh to take ds to the zoo. Every chance she got, she'd bring it up. Well, then SIL got some coupons that would give us a discount to the zoo and MIL really stepped up her pushing to the point that dh was ready to go. 

What's the problem, you ask? Well, for one, the zoo is located WAY out of my 'safe zone' with regards to my anxiety/PTSD. It's about an hour and 45 minute drive from where we live and anything outside of 20 minutes or so is hugely anxiety producing for me and I tend to avoid anything outside that circle. Then there's the fact that the zoo is HUGE and is basically an all day thing involving LOTS of walking, which I cannot do. I've had two back surgeries and have other issues that have stemmed from that. Basically, the longer/more I walk, the more painful my lower back and side gets and if I push it too far, then I'm in horrid pain. 

The zoo DOES offer buses/trams to get you from certain areas of the zoo to another area BUT, because of my anxiety, I don't ride passenger on anything. Day to day, if I can't drive, I don't go. Period. I CAN occasionally ride with dh as the driver but that's it. I don't ride with anyone else. And since I don't think the zoo is going to let me drive the bus/tram, that's out of the question. So basically, going to the zoo for me (at least at this time) is physically and emotionally out of the question.

When the issue come up last year and dh seemed to be intent on taking ds with MIL, I had a serious talk with dh and told him I was really upset at the thought of them going. I felt and feel that certain things - like ds' first trip to the zoo - is something that his parents, BOTH his parents, should do with him, that it should be him and I with MIL as the tag along and not dh and his mom (MIL) taking ds while I remain at home. After a long discussion and much back and forth, dh finally (albeit somewhat reluctantly) agreed to put the trip off until this year at which point we'd re-evaluate my health.

I've come a long way with my anxiety issues but I still can't ride passenger and I still have my issue of not being comfortable traveling outside a certain 'safe zone' area. Dh recently brought up the zoo issue again briefly but not much was said about it and I'd thought the issue was settled for now. Well, ds was over at my IL's for the weekend a week or so ago and SIL helps ds send an email to dh and I that reads, "Daddy can I go to the zoo?". I felt/feel MIL was likely the one to bring it up yet again and coaxed ds into sending it and so, I was PISSED. What IS it with these people - almost entirely MIL - pushing to take ds to the zoo so freaking much? I get that it's nice to take ds to these sorts of things because he enjoys them and it's fun to do as a family but a) I'M his MOTHER, NOT MIL and b) there are other things closer to home, things that *I* can also participate in that don't involve excluding me!

For example, I found a local smaller zoo that is only about 30 minutes from where we live. Still a little outside my comfort zone but much more "do-able", ya know? Not only that but it's like a safari type thing where you can either take a horse-drawn wagon through the place OR you can ride in your own vehicle which I thought was pretty cool. Best of all, the animals are all free-roaming and come right up the car where you can see and feed them. I've been to the bigger zoo many times on field trips when I was in school and you can't see half the animals because the enclosures are so damn big and/or the animals don't want to venture outside and be seen for whatever reason. And other than some possible farm animals in the petting zoo section, you certainly can't feed or pet and get up close and personal with any of the animals.

I mentioned this smaller zoo idea to dh earlier and he was all, "Sounds lame. I think ds would like the larger zoo a LOT better." Well, YEAH, he probably would but I can't GO to the bigger zoo which means, if they go, I'll have to sit at home, all alone. Worse, you can bet MIL will be there front and center, playing mommy to MY ds and having a wonderful time.

I've been doing so good with my anxiety issues. I've stuck with the therapy, done everything and then some that my T has told me to do and worked my ass off to try and get better. I've even pushed myself to go outside my comfort zone on numerous occasions and have been making a huge effort to do more stuff outside the home with ds, like when we went bowling the other week. I had much anxiety the whole time but I went because I want ds to remember doing fun stuff with BOTH his parents and not look back and say, "I had a lot of fun with my nana and dad but mom was always home with her anxiety and back issues." So even though I paid for the it the next day with back pain, I went bowling and am glad I did because ds had a great time and seeing him smile made it all worth it.

I just wish that MIL would back the fuck off and quit trying to play mommy to my ds and that dh would stand up for me and work WITH me on some things a bit more. Like this local, smaller zoo. Okay, so it's not as awesome as the big zoo but so what? It's a zoo, ds would love it (we watched the little video on the site and ds said it looked fun) and, best of all, we could ALL go together as a family. Instead, dh says we can "work on" my anxiety and stuff so that I can go to the larger zoo. (The loose "plan" between dh and MIL is to go to the zoo within the next month or two. Gee, that should be PLENTY of time for me to magically erase years worth of trauma and anxiety! NOT.) 

As for MIL, she brings up going to the zoo at least once every other week lately. The next time she brings it up, I think I'm going to have to be blunt and say something like, "ENOUGH about the zoo already! When DH and I are ready to take OUR son to the zoo, we'll let you know. Until then, this matter is no longer up for discussion." as clearly my previous, subtle comments have not been heard by her.

I wish so much I had a friend or relative I could count on and vent to. My four "parents" aren't worth a shit, my IL's tend to see me as "over-reacting" or "too sensitive" and/or side with their son 99.9% of the time and I have no friends that I can call up or go visit and talk to. I DO have my aunt N who will listen and be sympathetic but a) she's going through some serious stuff right now with her IL's failing health and b) since she works a lot, it generally takes her a few days to respond via email.

I suppose I should say here that, generally speaking, dh is very loving and supportive. I couldn't have made it as far as I have in my healing process without his steadfast love and support and I love and appreciate him very much. But when it comes to his mother, it's like his head goes out the window sometimes and he's blind to her manipulations. As for MIL, she and I generally get along okay but when it comes to my ds, we've had issues from day one. I felt then and continue to feel to a large degree that she sees herself as more of a mother to ds than a GM and, as ds' mother, I find this to be a threat and I don't like it. Actually, I don't know that it's so much that she sees herself as ds' mother as it is that she doesn't seem to acknowledge that there should be certain boundaries that, as ds' GM, she shouldn't cross.

*I* am ds' mother. *I* carried him in MY womb for nearly 10 months and it was ME who went through 26 hours of un-medicated labor and complications resulting in an emergency c-section to bring him into this world, NOT MIL. As I said just previously, there are certain things, boundaries, IMHO, that it's just understood aren't to be crossed. Things that are for a child's PARENTS to have the right and privilege to do with their child. Things that MIL seems to think she has a right to step forward and push to do, like the zoo thing or ds' first Easter Egg hunt. Dh and I showed up at the church only to have MIL snatch ds up and refuse to put him down the entire time we were there. She walked around with MY child in her arms and helped him collect eggs as if SHE were his mother instead of me. When I finally had enough and said something to dh, he defended MIL saying that she was just excited about showing him off to her church lady friends.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's important for ds to have a good relationship with his GP's and I encourage that in many ways, such as trying to include them in various activities that we do as a family. But they should be there as our invited guests, NOT acting as ds' parents. Again, there are just certain things that, to me, are off limits and a child's "firsts" are a big one. As a GP, unless invited to take charge, to me, they should stand back and allow the parents of the child to take the lead role and not try to interfere or take charge. By all means, feel free to voice suggestions or opinions from time to time but don't step in and tell me how to raise my child or try to take over things that you have no business taking over!

I don't know, is it just me here? Maybe I just have a screwed up version of how family should be, specifically with regard to GP's roles? After all, it's not like I had the best example of family to go by. I just know it feels wrong how MIL acts sometimes. She had her chance with her own children and, in all honesty, she was a good mom to them and did a great job. But ds is MY son and all I ask is that she step back (and step off!) and allow me to experience the joys of raising my own child instead of repeatedly trying to step in and take over my place. It just feels like she knows my weaknesses with regard to my anxiety and PTSD and tries to use those to her benefit so that she can re-live the glory days of motherhood with my child. Doesn't feel good and I don't like it one bit.


  1. I don't want to give things away that are too personal (There were a couple things I wanted to say, but in case anyone ever finds my blog, I don't want them to see certain personal things). But I will say that I can relate to this post A LOT. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I spoke with MIL earlier on the phone. She had called to see if ds wanted to come over for the day. While I was on the phone with her, I mentioned the smaller local zoo I had found online and MIL responded by mentioning ANOTHER zoo, this one slightly larger than the one I'd found and quite a bit farther drive - one hour as opposed to 20/30 minutes. Honestly, maybe it's just me but it's like she always has to be in control on stuff like this, like heaven forbid *I*, the child's MOTHER, get to have the say on where we'll go. It also didn't escape my attention that she's always mentioning places well outside my 'safe zone', as if she's hoping to use my issues against me to exclude me so that she can have dh and ds all to herself.

    As I read this I realize I sound like a paranoid, delusional woman but, honestly, THAT'S HOW IT FEELS!

    Yet one more thing I hate about being a DoNM - is it ingrained paranoia or is there something to be legitimately suspicious and wary about?

  3. i think whatever you feel is legitimate. paranoia is extremely over-exaggerated. who cares if someone calls you paranoid, you feel it!

    i dunno about this one. your mil sounds annoying with the zoo pushiness (i mean, why the fuck does it matter to her?) and you should be there on his first time. i don't know if she's mentioning those places because she wants ds to herself, maybe she's just being insensitive to your emotions and maybe she wants to push you a little.

    i have a book recommendation for anxiety. it's called 'things might go terribly horribly wrong.' i think cutting your mom out of your life will also help.

  4. Hey there DA,

    I really think going with your feelings is important. The behavior you described at church my NMonster did to me at a family reunion..and anywhere she could. Except with NM giving me the same reason your MIL's son is trained to give (I'll get to that in a moment). She would try to take over events (Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc.) for my baby. To protect my dd, I simply wouldn't do it.

    Honestly, I haven't read a lot of your blog (yet), but my MIL is nothing like this. She is NORMAL. She would never take away an event from me. She would never be pushy about places. She asks me before she does things for the kids.

    My point is, your MIL sounds like a NM. Perhaps MIL is NMIL instead. At least that is what I read here. Pushing, Manipulating, taking control, lack of respect for your feelings....and etc. It also sounds like dh is unaware/denial about her as well. He should be supporting you...he made his vow to you. Not his mother. (You probably know this already...admittedly, I didn't read enough here to know).

    Normal people do not do the above. She should be respecting your boundaries, I am not hearing any respect here.

    If it were me, I would go to the zoo that YOU chose. You did it to put yourself in a safe zone for you. I would invite her to join the family (if you want) and if she says she would rather go to the other, I would tell her to have a nice time. No excuses. You don't owe it to anyone. If she gives you a hard time, just tell her what N's love to say "I am sorry YOU feel that way."

    You are stronger now than you have ever been. You deserve your life with your family. You lost so much through your own childhood with an NM. You deserve the rewards of this part of your life. Insist on it. MIL had her time to take her ds to the zoo....this is your time. You get to choose! YOU deserve it!

  5. If I am wrong about MIL, and this is a normal gm relationship issue....then you just need to set boundaries and be firm with them. Something as Daughters of Narcissists, we have trouble with doing...as we were never allowed to have them.

    Just read these comments for yourself. They were intended as notes to you :-)

  6. @ GrownUpAlice - My MIL certain has her N moments but I've seen too many instances of her being kind and going out of her way to help others (and getting zip in return) to believe she's full N. More like she has a few N tendencies. I get along with her for the most part but there are just certain things, like this zoo thing, that chap my behind. I think about the only thing I can do to combat it is to set firm boundaries and be better about standing up for myself and enforcing those boundaries. It's VERY easy for me to fall back into old doormat behaviors and allow others to push me around.

    Interestingly enough, when it comes to other people - particularly her two sons and FIL - MIL is a total doormat. She lets FIL in particular boss her around and treat her like crap. I've felt for a long time that MIL senses the weakness in me (my unwillingness to stand up for myself) and exploits it as a way of taking back a little of her power that she's allowed to be stolen from her. It's not right by any stretch of the imagination but I think I understand where it comes from.