Saturday, September 27, 2014

In which Primo and I dialogue further about Sly and Doris and do not come to any solutions

  • Primo


    My parents couldn't stand Isabel, and they had some good reasons. They actually visited us a few times, and Isabel was a terrible hostess. (The house wouldn't be ready when they arrived, for example, and I had to do everything.)

  • Me


    Did they complain to you that she didn't write to them?

    I would be annoyed if my stay at home spouse did not get the house ready for company!



  • Primo


    They did not want contact with Isabel.

  • Me


    they don't want contact with me, either!

    so why are they complaining?

  • Primo


    They want you to be a better wife than Isabel, but they think you must not be better because you don't want contact with them.

  • Primo


    You're supposed to want contact with them regardless of what they want.

  • Me


    would you have left Isabel earlier if your parents hadn't been so critical of her?

  • Primo


    You're supposed to EARN their admiration and affection.

  • Me


    but I don't want it!

  • Primo


    There is where I sympathize with them, at least a bit. You should work on having at least a somewhat better relationship with them because doing so will make my life easier.

  • Me


    well, that is why I do it

    that is why I write to your mother

    they have made it so clear that they do not like me

    and I am not going to grovel

    but I will write to her if it will keep them off your back

  • Primo


    But you need to acknowledge my dad, too.

  • Me


    they have never been nice to me, not even from day 1

    the first time we went to visit, they didn't even give me the benefit of the doubt

  • Primo


    Was my mom nice to you when you went with her alone to that place by the lake?

  • Me


    she was nice, but I think it was mostly because she was happy to be away from your dad!

    Sweetie, I wrote the letter to both of them

  • Primo


    I know.

  • Me


    I will do what I need to do to get them off your back

  • Primo


    But only for the first time.

  • Me


    but for my own sake, I don't care any more if they approve of me

    because they won't - no matter what I do, they will always criticize

    and move the goalposts

  • Primo


    I know, but it's in our mutual interest for them to not actively dislike you.

  • Me


    I know

    but if there are any more threats of disinheritance

    which is soooo insulting to you!

    that you are nice to them only becaus eyou are hoping for a payoff

    I hope you tell them again what you told them last year

  • Primo


    They feel abandoned.

  • Me


    but you cannot fix that, sweetie

    they are old and lonely and have no friends

  • Primo


    I could spend more time there. They'd feel less abandoned.

  • Me


    but it is not your fault

  • Primo


    I know.

  • Me



    so why didn't you move there?

  • Primo


    I moved here before they moved there!

    I was within driving distance of them for all of 9 months.

  • Me


    you could have moved to [by them]


    you knew

    you knew what life would be like living near them

    it's OK to love them but not want to be living near them

    they are hard to deal with

    doesn't mean you don't love them

    but you can't fix their lives

  • Primo


    If I had waited to move from [where he used to live] until later, then my sister had died and they had stayed in [where they used to live], I might have gone there.

    Maybe.

  • Me


    maybe

  • Primo


    I didn't consider moving to [where they used to live] because of Nancy, not because of them.

  • Me


    but seriously - why am I criticized for not doing it right when Isabel was not?

  • Primo


    You're supposed to be better than Isabel.

  • Me


    maybe I'm not!

  • Primo


    She was criticized for being a bad wife and mother. There was plenty of criticism.

  • Me


    nice for you, huh?

    I wish they would be nicer to you

    more grateful for what you do

  • Primo


    But I'm not doing it right!

    They need to let me know.

  • Me


    not complaining and not criticizing you

    no they don't

  • Primo


    But they need to criticize everyone who isn't doing it right.

  • Me


    why?

  • Primo


    Because that's how my dad is.

    Which is why he is lonely and bitter, unfortunately.

  • Me


    he has alienated people

    it is his own fault

  • Primo


    But he thinks it's not his problem and everyone else needs to start doing things right.

  • Me


    then he could be happy

    if everyone else would change

  • Primo


    Yep.

    It's hard to live in a world where one is superior to everyone else but is not recognized for it.

  • Me


    I would be bitter, too

7 comments:

  1. Wow, that is the problem with family members: you don't get to pick them. Most times the people you end up with are great, but sometimes...you end up with Doris and Sly.

    I totally get this. I had this issue for many years with a member of my family. There was a lifetime of pretending to this person's face and venting behind this person's back. And finally, I couldn't take it anymore and I said all of the things that I had been saying for years behind this person's back to this person's face.

    The confrontation was nasty and painful.

    Afterwards, there was a six month period where we did not speak, and honestly, I was so tired of pretending that we had a normal familial relationship that I was ok with that. In fact, I was prepared to never speak with this family member again.

    However, we did eventually speak, and now we have a great relationship that is based on honesty. After saying what I said during our confrontation, there was pretty much nothing we couldn't be honest about.going forward, and that has been a good thing for us.

    However, it could have easily gone the other way. I give this family member a lot of credit for really listening to what I said and making a huge behavioral change. That sounds like it may not be possible for you and your in-laws.

    The thing is, it is a two-way street. I feel bad for you and especially for Primo, who still has to pretend. A relationship based on pretense is awful and now that I am middle-aged I have decided that I just won't do it, no matter who is involved.

    Good luck to you both. By the way, I think you are right for not participating in the pretense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon, I am impressed that you took that route. I would actually be willing to be completely blunt with Sly and Doris, but Primo thinks it would totally backfire - your conclusion is probably correct.

      I would be so happy never to speak to them again, but that would make it harder for Primo.

      I would love to hear the whole story of your blowup! (Yes, I am nosy. And I want to know I am not alone in having crazy in laws/family member.)

      Delete
  2. Confession. I'm with Primo here. Just do whatever it takes to make his life easier. Confession. I'm with you too. If you just do it, everyone will then SEE that the goalposts move. The secret victory of surrender.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The hard part is I don't know what they really want! I started writing letters to his mom and then she complained that I didn't address them properly. So I changed how I addressed them and now it's that I don't include Sly. After the last letter I wrote, Doris complained to Primo that I was complaining about him because I said he wasn't interested in gardening.

      But yes - I should probably think of something else so they will get off his back.

      Delete
  3. Dear GD.
    My difficult family member is my mother. She was a single parent. It was tough for her and she never let me and my siblings forget it. I grew up believing that I owed my mother for raising me and that idea persisted even after I left home. The game to please mother was difficult as she was never happy; as LPC noted, the goalposts always moved because my mother was selfish and extremely insecure and there could never be “enough.” The position of favorite sibling rotated constantly according to who did mother the latest favor/bought her the last gift/made the last phone call to her. You’re familiar with these little petty homages as it sounds like Sly and Doris demand them, too.

    The confrontation took place after a sibling’s birthday dinner. A restaurant was chosen but when mother was consulted she made it clear that she was not happy about the choice (insert pouty face/stony silence here). This meant that she was not only unhappy about the restaurant but also angry and insulted that we had asked her about the restaurant, because if we really loved her we should have known what she wanted. Situations like this were typically followed by pleading and all-out groveling on our part to get Mother out of her funk. However, we had reservations and didn’t have time for that, so we headed off in two cars to the restaurant (I was not with mother).

    Halfway to the restaurant I got a call from birthday sibling. “We’re not going to X restaurant, we’re going to Y.” My response was, “Don’t cave in to her” to which birthday sibling replied, “It’s better this way. Trust me.” We changed directions and off to restaurant Y we went. Still, mother was not happy and she let her displeasure show throughout dinner and afterwards when we returned to birthday sibling’s house. Trying to be nice, I asked mother how her dinner was and she replied, “It was terrible, the food was cold and the waitress was snotty.” I responded that I thought she liked that restaurant and that was why we went to restaurant Y instead of restaurant X. She replied, “I didn’t want to go to either of them” and that is when I lost it.

    I told her that I was tired of walking on eggshells and trying to guess what she wanted and that I would not be manipulated any longer; I was tired of trying to repay her for raising me. I explained that loving my children meant giving to them freely without any expectation of reciprocation and that I found it sad that she didn’t feel that same way about me and my siblings. I stated that I refused to participate in our sick relationship any longer because I didn’t have space in my life for people who didn’t treat me well, no matter who they were.

    I was prepared to never speak or see my mother again. However, months later we did reconcile and we have built a new and much healthier relationship. I give my mother a lot of credit for this; I suspect that she was tired of the pretense in our relationship, too. Because we have been honest with each other, mother’s been able to talk about mistakes she made while raising us, and getting forgiveness from us for her mistakes along with non-forced recognition of the many good things she did for us has made her feel better about herself and she is thus much less needy.

    This kind of cleansing may not be possible for Primo and Sly/Doris. Primo would have to be prepared to have no relationship with his parents after the confrontation; I spoke out only after deciding that I didn’t have space in my life for a toxic relationship with anybody. I am also not a sentimental person, so it was easy for me to overlook the idea of familial bond and analyze my relationship with my mother in a logical manner. A lot of people can’t do that. Thankfully I have a husband who appreciates sensibility over sentiment.

    Good luck to you. I am sorry that Sly and Doris do not appreciate you as your writing tells me that you are intelligent, insightful, and funny. I’m sure that is what allows Primo to overlook your awful bacon eating habits and lack of proper letter-writing skills.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holy smoke! That took a lot of guts for you to stand up to your mom, even if you were fed up with things. I am glad it turned out so well - although I also agree with you that there is no reason to keep toxic people in your life.

      I read your comment out loud to Primo and he was nodding in agreement to the parts about manipulation and moving the goalposts. I am prepared for him to have no relationship with his parents, but he is not. I wish he were.

      Delete
  4. Oh dear, I am sorry.

    BTW, I do like the fake divorce idea, but agree that it would be a lot of work to keep up the premise.

    ReplyDelete

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