To think cutting people out of your life is just cruel

(308 Posts)

I know I am risking a real flaming here, and I honestly do appreciate that every case is very different and I cannot judge anything without knowing each case. However I see a lot of advice on here, mostly in relationships, where the advice is to 'just walk away' or 'cut them out of your life'. Now, in many cases I can see the point BUT......

I have a MIL. She is enormously hard work. Totally selfish, manipulative, vindictive and cannot even conceive of not getting her own way, a real pain in the ass. She drives me scatty and on occasion her manipulation makes me very angry. She repeatedly gets the hump and has little hissy fits, stopping speaking to DP and I for months on end (once because DP told his grandmother the dog had died confused) then decides to make up. If you tackle her she tantrums - literally storming out screaming that she never wants to see you again. I suspect she could benefit from counselling but she won't even countenance it.

She is the mother to 4 grown up kids. 2 of them no longer speak to her and one is emigrating (in part I think to get away). This leaves DP. Oh joy. PIL are also homeless, having sold up to go travelling and when back in the UK they end up staying with us for months at a time, without really asking properly.

Anyway, sorry for length. Despite all this I see the total utter misery and heartbreak not seeing her 2 children causes her and I think they are really nasty for continuing to refuse to see her. At least part of her bad behaviour seems to stem from this misery. last week I could hear her crying her heart out (through the ceiling) and it turned out it was her 'lost' daughter's birthday (didn't talk to MIL, asked DP if he knew what was up). This is someone who ran away at 16 and is now back in touch with many others in the family but won't have anything to do with her parents.
They weren't abusive or anything, DP was living at home as an adult when she left and said at the time it just seemed like the usual teenage angst (ok, it's a bit more complicated but not wanting to out self or anyone else).

Everytime anyone asks PIL if DD is their first grandchild they just look stricken. They have 5 grandchildren but don't even know the names of all of them and have never met any but DD. Yes they are a nightmare but they don't deserve this misery.

Anyway - AIBU to think that people should sometimes be a bit more forgiving and tolerant? families can be a PITA but to just walk away because it makes life easier is just selfish and cruel.

Go on, tell me I don't know what I'm talking about.....

rabbitlady Sun 21-Jul-13 22:01:40

parents and grandparents can do terrible damage that it is not possible to forgive.
my mum is in end-of-life stage in a nursing home. i suspend all my sorrow, hurt and damage from my life as her daughter, and concentrate on the good parts, so that we can spend happy time together before we are apart for good. i can do this as long as she isn't being cruel - if she starts that, i leave and keep away for a few days. i enjoy the time when we are together, i enjoy telling her i love her so that if she has to go, she knows that she doesn't go unloved.
that's the best i can do.

TroublesomeEx Sun 21-Jul-13 21:16:45

The other thing is, OP, that even when if someone does change, quite often the damage is so great that people just aren't prepared to take the risk again.

That's not about being cruel or punishing someone either.

As people have said, it's rarely a knee jerk reaction, it's such a long time coming that by the time you have made peace with yourself for your decision, you have no need or desire to revise it.

It wouldn't benefit the people who have cut her out to let her back in, it might benefit her, but if that ship has sailed then that's just the way it is.

And I agree with the others, you will have one relationship with her as her DIL, and that's great. But you can't presume to understand anything about the relationship she has had with her children throughout their formative years, because you weren't there.

SarahAndFuck Sun 21-Jul-13 20:46:28

She may have changed OP, or she may not have.

For the past two years she has been better with her behaviour and that's a good thing.

But two years is short compared to the years her children lived with her and it might take them far longer than that to come to terms with things and trust the difference in her.

One word of advice. Don't say anything to anyone about how she deserves another chance.

I felt under pressure from relatives of PILs to forgive and forget, I kept hearing how they were sorry and had changed. But to me, it was just more proof that they hadn't, they were just using other people to put their pressure on me, they were still telling lies and giving half the story to other people. That's still a form of harassment you know, using someone else to speak to the person who doesn't want to speak to you.

You need to leave them all alone to do what they will and accept that they have their reasons which you may not know. And accept that change and reconciliation can take a long time, much longer than the almost two years you say your MIL has been better in.

The fact remains OP, that you judge your DP's siblings more harshly than his mother. You consider them cruel for cutting her out of their lives (which they have no doubt done out of self-preservation) but you don't consider her cruel, and are willing to gloss over her decades of cruelty to them on the basis that "this last couple of weeks I feel like MIL is improving a bit and maybe deserves a bit of time off for good behaviour." Seriously, two weeks and all is forgiven hmm?

So what if she "has repeatedly apologised to DBIL and DSIL" ? Sometimes, an apology is simply not enough. Particularly when the apologiser isn't really apologising because they still don't accept or understand that they were in the wrong, which is what you have implied ( "Though I admit [of her letters of apology to BIL/SIL] a lot of what she says is more along the lines of 'how could they do this to me' so maybe that is more what she really thinks." )

I am really struggling with how much you contradict yourself about this woman. You judge your BIL and SIL, yet you also say "Next week I will be on here ranting about my bloody impossible MIL and seriously considering walking away (after 14 years with DP we have had our fair share of times considering this option!)." You judge your BIL and SIL, yet you also say "I genuinely worry that she will drive DP and I away and then be left on her own utterly destroyed." You judge your BIL and SIL, yet you also say " I have said to DP that if she tries any of her hot and cold, not speaking for months tricks now we have DD I will run out of patience with her."

So which is it?

I can understand the self preservation point but then outcomes back to the fact that right now and for close to the last 2 years I don't seemy mil as the ogre I portrayed her as at the outset of this thread.

But ultimately it is true that she leaves me alone and I have only known her14 years not my childhood so it is just not the same as their experience.

twinklyfingers Sun 21-Jul-13 15:32:24

Fundamentally OP I don't think you know what it is to cut someone out of your life.

It is not punishment for bad behaviour (which could therefore be negated by good behaviour).

It is self preservation.

Perhaps if you can appreciate this you might be more understanding to your dp's siblings.

I was being flippant and self criticising when I said judge harshly! It was meant more of an admission of my mistake than to say it's ok. But just to temper it with saying even being that harsh is not something I'd do TO BIL

Asamumnonsense Sun 21-Jul-13 15:20:07

I left home at 19 to move abroad just to run away from my mum. I loved my mum but I had to put 'me' first. I could not breath! it was that or suicide. It took me about 7 years to get us into a 'normal' mother daughter relationship and we're still not over it. I am marked for life.
I do not think you should judge them for how they have decided to deal with it.
May be it is their time to put themselves first and I do not blame them.
They're not being cruel at all..They're protecting themselves and their children too I would assume.

Could you try not to judge him harshly, based on what you have learned from this thread, perhaps?

You have read and, if I am correct, accepted that you can't compare how your MIL's relationship to her children and how she was with them, to how is now, and your relationship with her - that of two adults, rather than the relationship of a toxic adult with children who wont have the coping mechanisms to deal with her behaviour, and who were totally dependant on her for the necessities of living, and remembering that you weren't brought up by her and conditioned by her toxic behaviour.

Your BIL's experience of his mother is clearly very different to your relationship with her, and so you can't use your relationship with her, and her behaviour towards you to judge his reaction to how she has treated him in e past.

You strike me as a very caring and understanding person - and I honestly think your BIL deserves as much, if not more of that care and understanding than your MIL. She mistreated a dependant, innocent child whose well being was her responsibility whilst he took a hard decision to protect himself from any further hurt and damage.

mrsdinklage Sun 21-Jul-13 15:06:19

WTF - you judge your BIL harshly but not your MIL
your lack of empathy is truly astounding sad
Like everyone else on here has said - you do not know what your DP's siblings went through - maybe he doesn't even know.
My friends DM is a narcissist - her DB is the golden child, she is the scapegoat - they are both adults - and he just doesn't see it.

But it's not just me she's being better with it is DP and SIL too.

I'm not being cruel to BIL at all. I'm not doing anything. I only see him about once a year and we talk about kids and blackadder. I won't pressure him as it's not my place. I will just go on anonymous Internet forums and judge him harshly. But what he doesn't know can't hurt him. I hope.

I do realise from all the posts that it is truly unreasonable to judge generally as there are so many good reasons for people's choices.

Sorry OP, but YAstillBU and I'm going to quote you to explain why I think so.

You're most recent post -

"BUT,* i think she has changed*. this struck me the other day. She is still a royal PITA sometimes but she isn't being vindictive or stroppy or particularly manipulative. When we found out i was pregnant she wasn't speaking to us and dp had to call up to let her know. That was 22 months ago and since then she has actually been incredibly well behaved. ... i think maybe this is why i am starting to feel a bit sorry for her. I think maybe she knows that she needs to change her behaviour and is making an effort. Outside of taking any responsibility for previous upset of course but at least recognising what isn't acceptable."

And before -

"She doesn't try anything with me because I think she knows it wouldn't get her anywhere as I see her behaviour as vaguely risible most of the time. BUT yes, to all posters who point out that it's different when you haven't grown up with it. I guess that's more true than I give credit for."

You are imagining that her behaviour has changed, but really it hasn't. Just because she is on best behaviour WITH YOU (because she knows it wouldn't get her anywhere) does not mean she would be on best behaviour WITH HER CHILDREN (because she trained them from birth to respond as she wanted). She's just the same as any other abuser who 'can't' control their temper around their spouse and children, but can miraculously do so around their employer. She just recognises that there will be consequences to bad behaviour towards you, so she's not doing it. Can you see that this means she CAN do it, but has, towards her own children, CHOSEN not to? And that she would always choose not to?

YABU, and rather cruel towards your DH's siblings.

puds11isNAUGHTYnotNAICE Sun 21-Jul-13 13:23:48

I have a very toxic and abusive mother. I cut her out of my life for a short amount of time. It was very difficult for me. Not only was it hard not to have my mother, I also got a lot of hassle from other people about my decision.

It's not easy for the person who decides to cut someone out of their life either. And in my experience, the person you are cutting out doesn't deserve the time of day let alone to see your children.

You don't know what went on and even if your husband was living there he still may not know the whole story. I know my siblings don't know the whole story between me and my mother.

Zazzles007 Sun 21-Jul-13 13:18:25

The OP still doesn't get it, even when there are nearly 300 messages saying that not only is BU, but that she has no idea. hmm

OP: Her relationship with you as a DIL doesn't necessarily give you insight into what she's like as a mother though.

I do think people can change, and if/when she has, then maybe her children will want to consider re-establishing some contact, but they should only do so if it will benefit them all equally, and if they honestly feel they can move past the pain that she has caused them, and the damage she has done. But they are under no obligation to do so, in my book - it is entirely up to them, harsh as that may sound.

I have tried to contact my bullies, and if they responded, and were truly sorry for, and appalled by, the damage they did, then I would think about having further contact, but I would be very wary.

Hi. I know the thread has evolved but i have been lurking and thinking a lot about what everyone has said.

I think that in summary there are a couple of key reasons that people have said IABU to think my IL should give their mum a second chance. (btw only 2 have NC, my other SIL is still very much in contact and loves her mum, she is just moving away).
Anyway, 2 reasons:
1. She isn't sorry. Doesn't understand she is to blame and still fundamentally blames them.
2. She hasn't changed

I have realised that maybe what is driving me thinking she derserves another chance is that 2 is not the case. I think she is sorry at the outcome but not necessarily understanding she caused it. She sometimes says "i didn't ought to have said xyz" (yeah, not sure of the grammar here but that's how she puts it) but in the context of thinking that both sides were at fault.

BUT, i think she has changed. this struck me the other day. She is still a royal PITA sometimes but she isn't being vindictive or stroppy or particularly manipulative. When we found out i was pregnant she wasn't speaking to us and dp had to call up to let her know. That was 22 months ago and since then she has actually been incredibly well behaved. In fact compared to some stories on here she has been a brilliant MIL in terms of not lecturing or taking over, just respecting my wishes etc. i think maybe this is why i am starting to feel a bit sorry for her. I think maybe she knows that she needs to change her behaviour and is making an effort. Outside of taking any responsibility for previous upset of course but at least recognising what isn't acceptable.

Maybe in time, if this continues BIL will think it is safe to be in touch. It's up to him and his wife though and we never discuss it (not my place).

Anyway, sorry if this is now off topic but it's been bugging me why my gut instinct was so at odds with what everyone else was saying. I may be being manipulated but if it is by good behaviour then i can live with that!

soundevenfruity Sun 21-Jul-13 02:46:06

YANBU. I am contemplating it at the moment and feel profoundly sad. I went through all the usual stages of being angry and self-righteous but the essence of it is that I have to release all hope of ever having this part of my life healthy and real. What I saw happening a lot with other people is what happens in sci-fi thrillers when a person leaving a ship full of zombi carries the virus within them. Disfunction thriving in families is not easily cut out and it just crops up down the line. It also makes cutting out a viable option for siblings, children etc to follow. Dysfunctional families are particularly bad at setting up and respecting boundaries so it's easier to stop all communications than to relearn how to do it properly.

Lurkymclurker Sun 21-Jul-13 02:44:46

I think everyone's situation is different, I put up with everything my parents did until I had dd, seeing her made me realise I had to protect her from them end of, the only way to do that was to walk away.

Hope your mil gets milder with age!

Thumbwitch Sun 21-Jul-13 01:53:23

I like the sound of Susan Forward. I also agree that forgiveness is not necessary to move on and shouldn't be seen as a necessary part of recovery.

I do think though that it is seen as a short cut to "letting go" - as if there are only 2 options, holding the grudge and forgiving - the first being equivalent to "not letting go" and the latter to "letting go".

I believe there are middle grounds - where you can let it go but without forgiving the person involved.

I used to suggest to various clients of mine that, rather than attempting to forgive the other person/people, they could try pitying them instead. Pity for their inadequacy, that they needed to do that to other people to make them feel good about themselves; pity their ignorance and lack of emotional growth/intelligence; pity them for whatever may have made them that way.
It worked for some people - others were still very much in the angry grudge-holding area of the scale and couldn't bring themselves to do it.

Pity is not such a great step as forgiveness. You can pity someone, and still hate what they've done, and still never care about seeing them again.
Forgiveness is much more of a "wiping the slate clean" action and is, in many cases, just too hard (understandably, IMO).

mercury7 Sun 21-Jul-13 01:31:36

I have done this
I agree that looking from the outside it looks cruel
I didnt do it to punish the other person, it wasnt an act of revenge.
I did it to save and protect myself

I dont especially wish the person ill
I can forgive her
but I dont trust her and I wont risk having her in my life

mrsdinklage Sun 21-Jul-13 00:23:56

Zing - I've always believed in forgiveness
I have done it so many times

Now I need to move on and sadly this could cost me dearly

Finacially - that could be bad - but Hey Ho
Emotionally- this might/could/will ?

I'm not quite sure what to do next ?

But tomorrow is another day

ZingWidge Sat 20-Jul-13 23:39:57

I'm not suggesting anyone what they should do.
I do believe that the person forgiving benefits more.

I've just read a story in a 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' book about a lady who forgave the guard who tortured her and her sister at a concentration camp.her sister died there
she said she had to forgive him and that she realized that forgiving is an action not an emotion.

I thought that was an interesting way of putting it.

wharrgarbl Sat 20-Jul-13 23:21:32

Oh, forgot to add, and this is why 'staying for the children' is a shit idea - we teach our children what normal is by their domestic life.

wharrgarbl Sat 20-Jul-13 23:20:36

But the people who have put up with bullshit from a partner are all from emotionally abusive homes, where they learned that abuse was 'normal'.

On a scale far, far smaller than some of the terrible stories above (Sarahandfuck, I just...speechless, the cruelty of some people. They are fucked in the head.), both my sister and I first married someone just as nasty and critical as our mother - it felt like 'home'. Fortunately, I left very quickly, and had had no children with the dickhead. Second husband is really different.
I wish all the people on this thread who had hellish parents the very best. I only had to read it - you had to live it and came out the other end. [applauds]

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now