Saturday, April 30, 2011

Shameless

Several weeks prior to the birth of our daughter, DH informed NMIL of where she fit in to our plans. The instructions we gave her were simple: We informed her that we would call her on the way to the hospital, and then again after the baby was born. We also asked that she refrain from calling any of her friends after the birth, and that she inform only DH's aunts and uncles until we deemed it appropriate for members outside the family to hear the news. Upon my request, DH specifically instructed his mother not to come to the hospital until we gave her permission to do so. I'm telling you now, Dear Reader, that had she shown her face at the hospital at any point before we called her, all hell would have broken loose. Luckily, for her, she made the smart choice and stayed home. That's not to say, however, that she was being respectful or considerate. She has never been either of those things.

Per our discussion, she verbally acknowledged that she "understood" our needs and desires, and agreed to respect them. But. She's a liar.

After I labored at home for fourteen hours, DH and I decided it was time to go to the hospital. Once we got in the car, DH made two phone calls: the first to my mother, who already knew I was in labor because I had made as many phone calls to her as I had to my doctor in the hours leading up to our trip to the hospital. When he called to inform her that we were on our way, her response was appropriate: "Okay, good luck! Call me when you get a chance with updates! We love you." And DH hung up. His second call was to NMIL, who's blatant disrespect of our needs and underestimation of our intelligence couldn't have been more obvious. Hang on, Dear Reader, this is about to get really disgusting. Please allow me to set the scene. It was a rainy day and the air was foggy. I was having sporadic contractions that had been going on for over 12 hours and I was exhausted. DH was anxious, worried, and excited, all at once. He was unprepared to handle his mother's manipulations. A transcript:

DH - Hi mom, I'm just letting you know that Jonsi and I are on our way to the hospital to have the baby.
NMIL - Oh, you are?
DH - Yes. So we'll call you after the baby is born, okay?
NMIL - Oh! Do you want me to come to the hospital? What hospital are you going to be at again? I think you told me but I forgot. Would you like me to come down and wait there?
[I was shaking my head, vigorously, back and forth, fearing that he had forgotten that we had asked his mother not to show up until we asked. I remember gripping the arm rest as waves of contractions overtook me, while trying to focus as much on getting through the pain, as listening to what was being said.]
DH - No mom, you don't have to come to the hospital, we'll call you after the baby is born.
NMIL - Oh, are you sure? I don't mind, I'll come down and wait if you want to.
DH - No, mom really that's okay.
[At this point, I felt like the conversation had gone on long enough. It was supposed to be a quick 30 second deal, not a debate about whether this bitch was allowed to wait in the waiting room while I labored for 24 more hours. I was fearful that she would show up anyway, that she'd attempt to find us in the hospital, that she would try to see the baby before my mother did. It annoyed me terribly that NMIL was already disrespecting our wishes and need for space.]
NMIL - Oh. Okay. So anyway. You'll probably be needing a new car soon, right?
DH - Um, gee mom, I don't know. Yeah, at some point, I guess.
[I was frantically trying to get DH's attention. I kept whispering, "Tell her you're driving! Tell her it's raining and WE ARE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL." I guess I had stopped whispering. I heard the discussion heading in a place it had NO BUSINESS heading in and started to get really, really pissed. DH was too afraid to hang up on her, even though she clearly wasn't going to get off the phone with him any time soon, and had every intention of making the birth of our first child all about her. I grew tired of her games.]
NMIL - So, I'm getting rid of our car soon. I was wondering if you wanted to buy it? I'll give it to you for pretty cheap. I was thinking maybe you could just buy it for a couple hundred dollars and we could make a trade or something. It would be cheaper for you to buy my car than it would for you to buy one somewhere else. I figured I could save you a ton of money.
DH - Mom, I don't know. I thought you said there was something wrong with that car a couple weeks ago anyway? But, I'm driving right now mom. We're going to the hospital now. So, I really can't talk anymore.
NMIL - Well, okay. Let me know about the car, if you want it. And, are you positive you don't want me to come to the hospital now? How long do you think it'll be 'til the baby is born?
DH - I don't know mom, it could be hours away. Really mom, you don't have to come to the hospital. Thanks though. We'll just call you later.
[How I managed to restrain myself from grabbing his phone and screaming, "Back the fuck off, bitch!" into it, I'll never know.]
NMIL - Okay, well, like I said, you know, we'll come if you want.
DH - Thanks mom, that's alright. Okay, we'll talk to you when the baby is born.
NMIL - Can you at least call me and let me know how things are going?
DH - Yeah, when the baby is born. Okay bye!
NMIL - We're so excited! Everyone is so excited! SIL can't wait to meet the baby! Okay I love you. Byeeeeeeee!

I wish I was kidding. I wish I was describing the plot of some ridiculous monster-in-law movie, that we could all laugh about. I wish this kind of shit never happened to anyone. But unfortunately, I am not kidding, this was not a movie, and shit like this happens all the time to people who aren't ready to fight it.

I was in labor for another twenty two hours before our beautiful baby girl was born, and no thoughts of NMIL ruined any of our precious time together as a new family. She did not show up to the hospital until we called her because she knew I would not have allowed that. She did not see the baby before my family did because she knew I would not have allowed that either. In my book, the rules aren't meant to be broken. And when they are, you'd better believe there are consequences. NMIL knew she could only push DH so much before I pushed back. She underestimated me and she underestimated her son. She made a major mistake in thinking that DH's loyalties still remained with her, and that he would allow her access to our baby, or me without my consent. DH may not have had the skills at the time to stop her manipulative chit-chat, but he showed me that he could overcome his own guilt and discomfort long enough to uphold my rights when she tried to violate them. His skills needed refining, but I could see that the desire was there to protect his new family.

NMIL showed up to the hospital as soon as she could, I'm sure. I remember her asking DH when he called to tell her our daughter was born, if my family was already at the hospital. I heard jealousy, Dear Reader, and insecurity. DH told her "No, but they'll probably be here soon since they only live a few minutes away." I'd bet my bottom dollar that DH had no idea the frenzy that statement caused in her mind. I'm guessing that she wanted to be the first person to see our baby because that sort of thing mattered to her. Yes, the person who bought the biggest item on our baby registry because "that's what grammas do," even though she knew perfectly well that it had already been purchased...you'd better believe it mattered to her that she wasn't going to get to see the baby first. So she hopped in her car immediately and made the forty-five minute trip to the hospital in record time, probably hoping against hope that she would somehow make it before my family.

She made a big show of washing her hands when DH wheeled our daughter into the room, so that she could be the first one to hold her, and I'm not sure if she knew that she wasn't actually the first person to see the baby (my parents were). She exchanged superficial chatter with anyone who was willing to oblige - mostly, EF and his wife. I assure you, Dear Reader, my wonderful family are not the type to be put off by that sort of thing. They know who NMIL is, they've always known who she is, and my mother, in particular, holds no grudge against people as miniscule as that woman.

NMIL took pictures so she could play the "doting gramma" to her friends and family, snapping them off one after the other so as to make sure she had a huge stockpile. She returned the next day with SIL, to take more photos and pretend to care about DH's fiance and new baby. She probably imagined how much narcissistic supply she would be on the receiving end of when she showed these images to the world. It is my feeling, Dear Reader, that she cared more about the photographs, than she ever would the people in them.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Was That a Pig I Just Saw, Wearing a Tuxedo?

DH once told me that he had always thought his (now ex) best friend was better looking than he was. That admission was no great shock to me, since he had a mother who called him a "dog-faced-boy" his whole life, thereby ensuring that his self-esteem remained nonexistent so that she could manipulate him with greater ease.

We'll call this ex-best-friend Pig, since that is a name most reflective of his character. And it is my opinion, however biased, that he was never better looking than DH. I recognize that Pig is considered "attractive" by standards of society but I'm not going to bother with a physical description because I would rather spend the time discussing his innards. If you have a need to "see" him in your mind's eye, just open up the nearest woman's magazine and find an ad for Armani where the dude is wearing white briefs and cowboy boots, smoking a cigarette. Pig looks like that, only less chiseled. But, no matter how prettily packaged, this dude is still just a walking, talking penis. I am a woman who looks much deeper than most, and I don't like what I See when he crosses my line of sight. Care for a helping of evidence?

1. The night of his wedding rehearsal, he leaned in to hug me goodbye and said, "Take care of your boobs for me." I kid you not. I was so stunned by it that I didn't know how to react. It wasn't until I got in the car that what he had said actually hit me. By then, of course it was too late, and whatever retorts I came up with were useless. I can say them here though..."Sure, pal, right after I kick you in the balls." or "Are you actually going to kiss your wife with that mouth? Oh wait, you two actually deserve each other." or "Fuck off, penis head." or SLAP!
2. He openly discussed his excitement over having gotten a chance to see NMIL's boob when she "accidentally" let it fall out of her shirt a couple of years ago. I know, Dear Reader, yuck. Yuck to Pig, who was excited about that sort of thing, and yuck to DH's pedophile momster.
3. He took great pride in vaguely referencing events from DH's sexual past, while wink-winking and implying that he was special because he was privy to information that I was not.
4. While on the phone with DH, his reason for not openly speaking about his feelings concerning DH's "situation" (read: the mother of his child and woman he would be marrying) was because DH was in "mixed company." The "mixed company" he was referring to was me. Once I left the room and could no longer hear the conversation, he let it rip. He showed his true colors as a Flying Monkey in those moments, by expressing his "concerns" for NMIL and her hurt feelings. He also made it clear that his loyalties did not remain with DH, but with DH's mother.
5. He wanted strippers at his bachelor party. Call me a prude, if you like, but I think that speaks volumes about this guy's priorities and morals.

I'll leave it up to you, Dear Reader, to decide if "Pig" is an appropriate name for this guy. I realize I am painting a rather ugly picture of him, and that it may be unfair of me to do so. He may very well have good qualities. I've just never seen them. I had the displeasure of sharing his company only a handful of times, and none of them were very pleasant, so I've based my opinion of him on those experiences. Pig was the "best friend" who showed up to DH's Unbirthday Party without acknowledging DH's birthday in June of 2009. Pig was the "best friend" who accepted invitations to NMIL's holiday parties, even when DH wasn't going. Pig was the "best friend" who was devastated that DH got rid of texting because "Now we'll never be able to talk to each other!" Pig was the "best friend" who didn't include me on the wedding invitation, even though DH and I were pregnant, engaged, and obviously a legitimate couple. Pig was the "best friend" who spent more time telling DH not to marry that crazy bitch, than actually listening and being supportive. Pig was the "best friend" who entertained all of NMIL's crazy talk and even eagerly flew out to do her bidding. But wait, Dear Reader, there is more. Pig was also the "best friend" who found every reason to hate me because I took the "doormat" out from under his feet. And he was the "best friend" who wanted DH to sleep over his house the night before his wedding, and got angry when DH declined because his fiance might go into labor. Immature much? Narcissistic much? Obnoxious much? I mean, really, wouldn't you just love to have a best friend like that, Dear Reader?

But Pig made me sad much more than he made me angry. It sucked seeing DH get treated like dirt by seemingly every single damn person in his life. It seemed that, since abuse was the only thing he ever knew from his mother growing up, he didn't know how to avoid it, even when he had the option to do so. NMIL taught him how to be abused, not how to stand up for himself. She taught him how to ignore and rationalize the abuse away, not how to recognize it and take action. So he went out into the world and picked out friends and girlfriends that would fit in well to the world she had created. He chose people who would either allow him to be abused by her, or else abuse him themselves. He chose people who didn't care about him or his feelings and only wanted to manipulate him for their own personal gain.

Until he met me, that is, and something clicked. I provided him with something solid and real, something truthful and tangible. I offered him love, respect, and honesty. I saw in him a depth yet discovered, and endless possibilities. I cared about him, not because of what he could do for me, but because of who he was.

Oh, Pig must have hated that. And therefore, he clung even tighter to his source of power, NMIL. Why, Dear Reader, he even invited her to his wedding, where she sat at our table with her human shield for a daughter (who came to her brother's friend's wedding, but not her her future sister-in-law's baby shower). That's right, he made sure to invite DH's mother and sister, but not his very pregnant wife-to-be. I went to the festivities anyway, and got some super good food out of the deal, but the fact that Pig was going to all that trouble to make sure everyone knew how he felt about me was ridiculously obvious. He might as well have taken the microphone from the DJ and made an announcement. I wouldn't have been surprised.

Eh, pigs. Flying Monkeys. What's the difference, right?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three Dollar Bill

My mother threw me a baby shower at the end of August in 2009. The decorations were fun and whimsical, the food delicious, and most of the company, supportive. Even though the skies in the morning looked a little grey, the weather turned out to be sunny-side-up, so it was held outside on my mom's patio. It was a buffet-style brunch, and felt more like a fun party than a baby shower. I've never been one to enjoy habitual traditions, I find typical shower games, like baby bingo and pin the diaper on the baby, to be outdated, overrated, and boring. Hint: I didn't go to my high school senior prom and I have no regrets about that. Hint: I didn't go to my college graduation ceremony and I think school reunions are pathetic. Hint: I didn't have a bachelorette party. If other people enjoy these events, that doesn't bother me in the slightest, I've just always had a problem with the idea that the hype should be worth my time, just because everyone else makes it worth theirs. So, needless to say, the baby shower was everything I wanted it to be and nothing I didn't.

I wanted to point out that I enjoyed my baby shower, because I've never believed that NMIL ruined any of our big events with her immaturity or guilt-peddling. I imagine that she wanted to and had high hopes that she did. But her attempts at crashing my party, on any level, represented nothing more than a slight hindrance. More than anything, I took these occasions to observe her behavior and learn from them, rather than get angry or annoyed. I found that if I paid more attention to her behaviors and the potential motives behind them, then I didn't feel as upset about what she was doing. It was a big deal, believe me, but not so much that I would have allowed her petty narco antics to ruin my good time.

But Dear Reader, would you like to know how she attempted to do that? Let's take a look, shall we?

About a month before the event, and a few days before she would receive the invitation, NMIL contacted DH, via email, to ask this:

Tue, Jul 28, 2009
2:28 PM
From: NMIL


…as the other Gramma of Baby Jonsi, I would like to get something big but you have to tell me what that is – you know like the stroller or car seat or crib or something. That’s what Grammas do – well they knit things too but I don’t really knit (smiley face)


My first thought? "Gramma" has no idea what it takes to be a grandparent. "Grammas" may very well knit and buy expensive things for their grandchildren; but their most important job, and the only requirement I have of them, is to love. I felt as though, if she were capable of honesty, it would have read, "That's what Gramma's do - well, they love their grandchildren too, but I don't really love. (Smiley face)" That's so much more accurate. Creepier, but depressingly accurate. I already knew what this woman was capable of, and what she was not. And she was no more capable of being a loving grandmother, than she had been a loving mother or a respectful future MIL. So her idea of being a "Gramma" meant buying the biggest, most expensive gift on our registry in order to show her "love." She was all about the showmanship, the facade. Of course she wanted to be privy to information about the "biggest" item on our registry - she just wanted to show up all of the other guests. You know, the bigger the gift, the bigger her "love." Whelp, I decided, that wasn't any kind of love we were looking for.

DH's response to NMIL's question was this:

Tues, July 28, 2009
2:32 PM
From: DH

Well she is registered at Store 1 and Store 2, and I think one of the things on [the registry] is a stroller/car seat, thing. I don't know. But look there for starters. And you can give it to us at the baby shower.

She responded, Ok, will do. XOXOXOXOXOXO

DH didn't know that my mother and aunt had already purchased the most expensive item on my registry (ie the stroller/car seat thing). I registered with my mother and best friend, both of whom went out the very next day to get first "dibs" on whatever they wanted to buy for me before the invitations went out. Now, sometimes, store registries have glitches and it doesn't show up online when a person purchases something off of the list. However, we know for a fact that the registry was accurate because my mother and several other family members went on to check after they made their purchases. NMIL DID know that the big gift she had her eye on had already been purchased. Keep this in mind, Dear Reader, as the story continues to unfold.

NMIL didn't RSVP for the shower until three days before. That's right Dear Reader, the woman who claimed to have our best interests at heart and who "loved her son" dearly, was the very last person to respond to our invitation. Why? Let's take a gander at her possible motives: 1. She was miffed that we didn't ask her for help, in any way. She was not involved in the planning or preparations for my shower, and therefore wanted to make it known that we got under her skin. Like a child sulking, she used her actions to say, "I can't have my way? Fine then, I'll just go sit in the corner here until you come get me." We didn't go get her. That probably made her angrier. 2. She intended to hurt DH by showing him that she didn't care about his wife-to-be, the mother of his child. She wanted it to be perfectly clear that anything that came out of me was something to be ignored. 3. She was too afraid to call my mother. NMIL is a very small woman, Dear Reader, and I don't mean in stature. If she is afraid of me, she's terrified of my mother. And that's who she had to work up the courage to call in order to say she would be in attendance. And I'll tell you now, no such courage ever came. She called all right, but not because she found some inner strength that allowed her to do so.

Naunt was the second to last person to call in her attendance to the event. My mom described the short conversation to me:

Naunt (in little girl voice) - Hello...is this Jonsi's mom's name?
Mom - Yes it is, may I ask who is calling?
Naunt - Oh, yes, this is Naunt's name, DH's Aunt. I'm just calling to say I'll be attending Jonsi's baby shower.
Mom - Alright, we'll see you then.
Naunt - Oh, but, you see, I just have a question about, um, well I wanted to know if it would be alright if my daughter came? Um, will there be any other children there? She was, you see she's just so excited to, um, she wants to come and...
Mom - Oh, we don't usually have children at these events so there won't be any other children her age here. But she is welcome to come.
Naunt - Oh, no that's alright. I'll tell her. Okay. Then it will just be NMIL and I coming.
Mom - (Pause) Oh. Is she coming?
Naunt - Oh yes! She didn't call you yet?
Mom - No, I haven't heard from her.
Naunt - Oh! Well yes. We're coming together.
Mom - I see. Well, we'll see you then.

A few moments later, the phone rang. It was NMIL. My mom said NMIL spoke with the same little girl voice. She had a laughable excuse. You might want to sit down for this one, Dear Reader. I don't want you to be knocked down by the sheer ridiculousness of it:

Mom - We hadn't heard from you so we assumed you weren't coming.
NMIL - Oh, of course I'm coming. And, well, you see, I was so excited about the shower...I forgot to call.

So excited, she forgot to call! Oh, Dear Readers, isn't that rich? Good stuff. What a quality excuse right there. Really, she should get an academy award. What brilliance! Oh, wipe the tear from my eye, it's that moving. I'm surprised she doesn't fool EVERYONE with her sheer creativity. Oh! That mad genius! And to think, all that time, I thought she wasn't happy for us. Oh, how wrong I was!

It is truly amazing to me that she fools as many people as she does. Are people that stupid, or just wildly afraid to see the Truth? Anyway, she finished her RSVP on the note that she and her daughter would be in attendance.

Two days before the baby shower, NMIL again contacted DH via email:

Fri, Aug 28, 2009
5:07 PM
From: NMIL


The gift I have for you and Jonsi is in a HUGE box – do you want me to keep it till [sic] end of October till [sic] right before Baby is born? You don’t have any room for it really yet...it’s up to you honey!!!

Love you!

Ma


Sat, Aug 29, 2009
8:59 AM
From: DH


What? No, of course not, it's a baby shower present, it [sic] supposed to be given at the shower. We'll figure out something to do with it...Thanks though!

See you soon!


Have you guessed what's going on here yet, Dear Reader? Well, if you've figured out that she bought the big gift anyway, even though she knew it had already been purchased, and was trying to get us to take it prior to the shower so that she could say she was the "first" one to give it to us, and possibly so that she could avoid the embarrassment of showing up to the shower with a gift that everyone knew had already been bought...then you would be correct.

NMIL showed up to the shower, with her HUGE gift, but without her daughter-dearest in tow, most likely because she only forces her to be a human shield when she knows she isn't going to be surrounded by her other cronies. She knew she was "safe" because her own sister would be there, she didn't need her daughter. Of course, that's not what she said to us about why DH's sister wasn't in attendance. What she said to us about it was...nothing.

So, there you have it, my Dear Reader. More evidence that this woman is more phony than a three dollar bill, and unwilling to see the Truth.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Now's the Time to Face your Lies

A friend of mine in college turned me on to the Guano Apes and their awesome music. I've been rocking out to this song for years now but it dawned on me today that it would work well as an anthem for anyone who has been unlucky enough to be in a relationship with a Narc. Haven't we all said these things to the Narcs in our lives? And, if you are the adult son/daughter of a N, haven't you said the same things to yourself?


Open Your Eyes
by Guano Apes

Hide your face forever
Dream and search forever

Have you ever been for sale
When your isms get smart
Oh so selfish and mindless
With that comment in your eye

Do you think that you are hard?
Really harder than the other?
Man, you're acting cold
If you're not in charge

Don't split your mentality
Without thinking twice
Your voice has got no reason
Now is the time to face your lies

Open your eyes, open your mind
Proud like a god, don't pretend to be blind
Trapped in yourself, break out instead
Beat the machine that works in your head

Will you offer me some tricks
If I ever need them?
Would you go into that room
If I call 'em?

Do you think that you are better
Really better than the rest?
Realize that there's a problem
I know that you can give your best

Have you ever had a dream
Or is life just a trip?
A trip without chances
A chance to grow up quick

Open your eyes, open your mind
Proud like a god, don't pretend to be blind
Trapped in yourself, break out instead
Beat the machine that works in your head

Hide your face forever
Dream and search forever
Night and night, you feel nothing
There's no way outside of my land

Open your eyes, open your mind
Proud like a god, don't pretend to be blind
Trapped in yourself, break out instead
Beat the machine that works in your head

Open your eyes, open your mind
Proud like a god, don't pretend to be blind
Trapped in yourself, break out instead
Beat the machine that works in your head

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fireworks

In July of 2009, DH still wanted to bury his head in the sand, despite all of the Truths blowing up around us like fireworks on Independence Day. The little boy who had opened his mother's unbirthday card and cried was the same little boy who felt obligated to attend his sister's birthday party that year. Just two weeks after NMIL had sucker-punched him in his emotional gut, we came back for more.

I was well aware at that time, of the gossip being spread about us. I didn't have to stumble upon some blog or read his mother's Facebook page to know exactly what they thought of me - they had already made that perfectly clear. Needless to say, I was much less than thrilled about showing up at NMIL's house, where every one of her roadies could whisper behind their hands about us, given my awareness of the situation. I was even less thrilled when NMIL called DH a few days before his sister's birthday to ask him if he could invite his friends to her party because "there aren't going to be a lot of people here this year and your sister is going to be so sad!"

I had to roll that one over in my mind several times before I could figure out what felt so wrong about it. I came to the conclusion that I didn't like NMIL making SIL's happiness DH's responsibility. I tore it apart, piece by piece for DH so that my thoughts on the matter might be easier to swallow. I told him that his mother's theories were wrong for a couple reasons. She was, first and foremost, telling DH that the main requirement for a good party is the size of the guest list. And I argued that a huge party does not equal a good time...it quickly turned into the old "Quality, not quantity" argument. I, personally, would rather enjoy the company of a few people who genuinely care about me, than that of one hundred people who don't. I told DH that his friends showing up at his sister's birthday party would be completely inappropriate, AND would do nothing to make her feel more loved. I reminded him that the shindig my parents threw for him boasted no more than eight people (myself and DH included in that number) and he still felt validated and loved. I assured him that his sister was not so different than him that she required an exorbitant number of people to allow her to feel the same.

"She's like you, DH" I said. "She just wants to feel loved." And having all the people in the world at her party wasn't going to accomplish that for her. I believe, in the forsaken depth of her emotions, SIL is aware of that too. On a superficial level, she probably does think that her worth is reflected in the number of relationships she maintains in her life. DH and I have had many talks about how he misappropriated his own self-worth into the bank of relationships he had procured. I reminded DH that his and his sister's value did not reside in the amount of people they called "Friend."

I told DH that it wasn't up to him to make it all better for her. "The only thing we can do," I said, "The only appropriate and healthy thing to do, is to go there and show her our true love and support." DH agreed, but I couldn't shake the thought that he still felt responsible for his sister's feelings. My thoughts only seemed to make DH choke, no matter how tiny I cut up the pieces. It is true, I didn't want to go to the party. In fact, I was dreading it. I did not want to put myself in a situation where I'd be surrounded by people who weren't aware of the truth and didn't want to be made aware of it. I did not want to be surrounded by NMIL and her cronies.

I went because I had to. I went for DH. I went because he loves his sister. I went because I recognized that she was an innocent bystander, just like DH was for so many years, and she didn't deserve to be ignored because of her mother's nonsensical-narco-nonsense. I went to show our support for her, in spite of what her family had done. I went, Dear Reader, because I wanted to tell her that we are happy she was born. This is not to say that she should not also be held accountable for her actions, or that she can use her FOO as an excuse for her own bad behaviors. But, I fully recognize that SIL has an inner child that was very badly hurt too, just like DH, and that child is not undeserving of compassion.

I know she didn't want me there. I also know that she is too blinded by her mother's jaded view of the world to See that I want her to have a deep, meaningful relationship with her brother. At some point, Dear Reader, she'll have to own her dysfunctions too, just like my DH is doing. If she doesn't, she'll remain stuck, in them like her NM.

The party was typical. NMIL took photos of herself and her two children, as her way of proclaiming, "THIS is my family." She purposely took DH and SIL aside and asked one of her friends to take photos of the three of them standing together on the deck, so that the world would know, indeed her children would know, that her family did not include me, and in turn, that they were HERS. It was as much a statement of possession as it was a warning. DH seemed oblivious to the dynamics, and SIL smiled for the camera, probably feeling more at ease that things were "back to normal" if only for the length of time it took to snap a few photos. I felt out-of-place there and that was what NMIL intended. It was the same photo she took every year, minus her divorced (second) husband. She was not about to change it up, particularly if that change meant having to accept me as DH's life-partner. The symbolism of keeping me "out of the picture" is not lost on me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Enveloped in Love

My parents had a real birthday party for DH a few days after his Unbirthday Party. They didn't do it because NMIL's party was a failure. They didn't do it because they were trying to outshine his FOO. And they didn't do it out of obligation. Their motive was unconditional love, pure and simple. They have always respected and accepted DH, even knowing how extensive his dysfunctions are. Imagine, my family threw him a birthday party after only knowing him for a few months. They didn't expect anything in return. There were no strings attached. DH didn't leave feeling sad or guilty.

It was a small gathering, the guest list short: my parents, my aunt, my oldest brother and his family, and my youngest brother. I have a third brother who was unavailable, but would not have missed it had he been able to come. My mom asked DH what kind of cake he wanted and if he had any requests for dinner. I think we even sang "Happy Birthday" before we cut the cake. There were a few presents - a new tool box, a drill, a gift-card to home depot. I still remember how proud DH looked when we walked out of the house with his new tool box and tools, a spring in his step and his head held high. I think he even jokingly said, "I'm a real man now!" as we were walking to the car. His mannerisms reminded me of a happy little boy - instead of being crushed with the pain of defeat, as he had been after his mother's "party," DH seemed to be happy and content. The little boy DH had gotten what he needed - validation, acceptance, perhaps a little attention.

DH's real party was spectacular in its symbolism and meaningful despite it's lack of extravagance. DH didn't need a lot of people, expensive gifts, or a card with a huge sum of money stuffed inside. He just needed love. I know DH being loved by my FOO is not the same as being loved by his. But I can't help but feel that we're lucky to have at least one family that loves us unconditionally and truly has our best interests at heart. Their love envelopes our growing family. It made me so happy to see that they could provide for him what he never had growing up - love. True unadulterated love.

What is a birthday party for, anyway? It's about recognizing that your special someone was created; acknowledging his existence, wrapping him in a warm embrace and telling him you are happy he was born. I am happy DH was born. He's my Jonsi, my best friend, my soul mate. My FOO is happy he was born because they recognize what a beautiful soul he has and how happy he has made me; how happy we have made each other. It is so, so sad that NMIL can't See that as well. But at the end of the day, he and I have each other. We don't ever have to worry about Unbirthdays again.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

My dear friend and fellow Truth-warrior, Upsi, has a special name for the mindless followers who get sent out in swarms to do the dirty deeds of NP. She calls them Flying Monkeys**, in reference, of course to The Wizard of Oz. I find that phrase to be stunningly on-point.  The Flying Monkeys get sent from the Wicked Witch, to attack, maim, and frighten her victims. They get maneuvered in such a way, that they believe they are acting of their own accord. The Flying Monkeys protect their Master, at all costs and flow out into the world ready to do her bidding, no matter how heinous.  They are rather pitiful, dreadful creatures on their own, who most likely, could not survive without direction from a more powerful source. Enter, Exhibit A.

The following is a prime example of the work of one Flying Monkey. I stumbled across a blog several months ago, that was very obviously written by one childhood "friend" of DH. This person also attended the Unbirthday Party and the following day, sat down at her computer to tell the world what she thought of DH's newest life choices. Would you care for a taste, Dear Reader? One Flying Monkey, coming right up:

June XX, 2009 

I need to vent. I HATE YOUR GIRLFRIEND. SHE'S NASTY AND ANNOYING. AND CONTROLLING. AND NOT ATTRACTIVE. I can't believe you would get yourself into this. You've been dating four months, and she's four months pregnant. If [sic] the baby even yours? I know you're not reading this, but I just needed to vent. Your family and friends don't like her. You're not yourself when you're around her. Now you've changed your number, got [sic] rid of texting and facebook, so it's hard to contact you. I'm afraid if I e-mail you, she'll read it. We all want you to be happy, but you don't seem like you are with her. You and your sister were so close, and now it seems she doesn't want to see you, because she knows that you'll be with your girlfriend. I think the only reason you're with her is because you felt like you were getting too old, and wanted to get married. You found the wrong girl. I know that no matter what happens with her, you'll be a great father, I have no doubt about that. But you should sit back, and look at everything; think everything through before rushing into it all. You'll have a baby in November. I hope you can see where I'm coming from. Love you.

Let's take this one apart, shall we? I find "hate" to be such an interesting word choice for Exhibit A to use, particularly when I also found the phrase - "i don’t believe in hate" on another of her personal blogs. I have learned that usually, when people feel hatred towards another human being, it is because there is some investment in that relationship, or else some powerful underlying fear and insecurities are present. In this case, I believe that Exhibit A expressed her hatred of me because she feared the loss of the relationship she had with DH that she, perhaps, placed more significance on than was appropriate or realistic. She deluded herself into thinking that she was important enough in DH's life to warrant her continued presence in it. Her hatred stems from some debilitating insecurities that cause her to live life in the shallow end of the swimming pool. Attacking my physical appearance is primo evidence of her poor self-esteem...it actually reflects quite deeply on her feelings about her Self, more than how she feels about me. Only insecure and shallow people use their target's external appearance as a legitimate reason for their own negative feelings.

Exhibit A uses some very unambiguous words to describe her other reasons for hating me: nasty, annoying, and controlling. It could very well be that her initial perception, after seeing me for the first time at the Unbirthday Party, was that I was annoying. I accept that some people in the world see me that way, and that they have a right to feel annoyed by my actions and behaviors. However, I would have less of a problem with these word choices, if I honestly believed she was the ultimate source of them. It is very unlikely that she came to the conclusion that I am "nasty" or "controlling" based solely on her extremely limited exposure to me. More than likely, she was privy to distorted information that not only led her to believe these "tags" to be accurate, but also that she had come up with them all on her own.

She says, "I can't believe you would get yourself into this." And just that quickly, it becomes apparent exactly what kind of distortions and spin DH and I were up against. She expresses her disgust with DH for her interpretation of the situation that he had "gotten himself" into. Her interpretation is this, as is made poignantly clear: DH was tricked by me, a cold-hearted, ugly bitch, into having a relationship with him. Either she thinks I am much more powerful than I am, or else she believes that DH is just a limp noodle. DH did not share much information about our pregnancy, or our lives, with any of NMIL's Flying Monkeys, nor did I. This means that most of the information being spread around to "hangers-on" such as Exhibit A, came from NMIL. NMIL, in turn, took whatever information she gleaned from us and made her distorted versions of reality be known to all. Her Flying Monkeys, being pitiful and powerless on their own, soaked up her gossip and attention, feeling proud to be a part of her inner circle. It is obvious, therefore, that Exhibit A got wind of my "nasty" and "controlling" nature well before she ever met me and made up her mind to let NMIL make up her mind for her.

She says, "Your family and friends don't like her." There it is. She proves my last point for me. If we want to know what kind of picture DH's "family" and "friends" were painting of me, we need look no further. Exhibit A makes a connection, just as NMIL wanted her to, that no one liked his girlfriend because she made him change. Again, this places a lot of power on the shoulders of one woman (me) while simultaneously emasculating DH, whom she later claims to "love." She says he is no longer "himself" and uses the facts that he got rid of Facebook and texting as evidence that he is a lesser person than he was before he met his girlfriend. She cites his extraction from the superficial world of social networking as an obvious proof that he is bad. She says she has difficulty contacting him since he ended those modes of communication, and expresses her desire to have private conversations with him, that she feels his significant other should not be privy to. But, here's the Truth: DH can have any conversations with any individual he so chooses. That has always been the case. I have never forced him to share information with me, or stop speaking with his friends or family. That is a game his NM plays, not me. DH has shared conversations with me on his own accord because we respect each other enough that there are no secrets between us.

Then, Exhibit A pulls out the old "I'm only saying this because I care about you" card. And to that end, I say, "You couldn't come up with anything more compelling to explain your motives?" Anyone who has lived in the Narco's world, for even a little while, knows that phrase well because it is the biggest line of bullshit ever and it's a personal favorite of all Narcs. Exhibit A couldn't come up with anything better because she lacked the originality to do so, and had to borrow the idea from her Master. That phrase was just a trickle-down from the Wicked Witch, and Exhibit A licked it up like frosting off a cupcake. Anyone who refused to See or accept DH's happiness was either drinking NM's Kool-Aide or else was lying about having his "best interests" at heart. DH made it abundantly clear what his best interests have been - the Flying Monkeys just weren't listening.

Next, Exhibit A unveils perhaps NMIL's greatest weapon - The Sister. She says, "You and your sister were so close, and now it seems she doesn't want to see you, because she knows that you'll be with your girlfriend." The "closeness" she describes, is, unfortunately, another distortion, and not one that DH himself can't take some blame for. DH was raised to believe that the unhealthy relationship he had with his sister was a deep, meaningful, and healthy one. But, like every other relationship he participated in, NMIL had her hand in that one too. She inserted herself, as early as possible, between them, so that any connection they had to each other had to be maintained by her. Therefore, when Exhibit A mentions that I ruined DH's "closeness" with his sister, it is a theory founded on distortions and unmaintained facts. DH was never actually "close" with his sister to begin with, and therefore no girlfriend of his could legitimately be the source of the relationship's ultimate downfall. Furthermore, Exhibit A helped paint the larger picture that SIL was being used as a pawn by NMIL. NMIL fed SIL with inaccurate and harmful information about me as well as her brother, and then set her out into the world to systematically germinate the seeds of hatred. SIL watered those seeds diligently.

The entire last portion of Exhibit A's diatribe is evidence, again, that she desperately wanted to believe that her thoughts and opinions mattered to DH. By inserting her own theories about what would be "best" for him she indicated a very delusional mindset. It was as though she was hoping DH would "just happen" to find her blog, so that he could see how she honestly felt about his girlfriend. Dear Reader, all the while she was writing these things about DH, she WAS attempting to reach out to him via email - and she never once mentioned any of her "real" conclusions. I believe she was afraid to contact him about her thoughts on the matter, not because she feared I would read them, as she stated, but because she instinctively knew that her accusations and judgments were not based in reality.

Title Credit - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, by AC/DC
**Note - Upsi has informed me that the term "Flying Monkey" is not of her own creation. I apologize to Upsi and Bonnie for my mistake.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Unbirthday Party

Two weeks after the Naunt Apartment Fiasco, we attended a party at NMIL's house. If it had been up to me, I would have forgone that particular excursion entirely and chosen, instead, to spend time with people who actually respect me and DH. Sadly, DH was still under the impression, as a result of deep denial, that his NM and her cronies were in possession of eyes with which to See him and hearts with which to Love him. I, on the other hand, entertained very little hope that these people genuinely cared about him at all, and no hope whatsoever that they thought fondly of me.

The reasons why we attended the party were three-fold: 1. We had, prior to either apartment fiasco, agreed to be there and I generally feel bound to my word, although in this rare case, I could have made an exception. 2. DH wanted to go because he was trained to "forget" about any instances where he was treated like garbage, and therefore, the lies, manipulation, and blatant disrespect his FOO had shown us in the weeks prior were swept under his mental rug faster than NMIL could shove a guilt-broom into his hands. 3. NMIL told DH it was a party to celebrate his birthday, which was just a few days after the party.

My instincts, at this point, were on red alert. I remembered back to her informal invitation for the party. I have this very clear image engraved in my brain of the three of us standing in her kitchen, when she said, "Oh, I'm having a party on such-and-such date." She was looking at a calendar on the table and DH was standing to the right of me. I had thought about it for a moment and then asked, "That's only a few days away from DH's birthday. Is it a birthday party for him?" At first she said, "No." And then she said, "Well, uh, sure, I guess it could be, um yeah, we can call it that, sure." I wasn't convinced. But at some point, whether it was in the moment or sometime after we got home and looked at our calendar, we agreed to attend the sort-of-kind-of-not-really birthday party.

After all the apartment nonsense that went down, I knew that his mother was lying about her intentions. I knew that the party was, most likely, not being thrown in honor of DH's special day. I knew that NMIL was a woman who would say anything to get her way. I knew that she was capable of telling huge porkies about really important things and that she probably wouldn't feel any remorse for telling them. I knew that she behaved in very manipulative and cruel ways, and had little to no respect for her son, let alone me. I knew that going to her party would send her the message that we would accept her shitty behaviors and might even let her do it again. She wanted us to put on our pretty faces and join the fucking party. We obliged, against my overwhelming urge not to.

I tried to warn DH. I told him, flat out, that I believed she was lying about the reason for the party. I told him I felt that she was just saying it was a birthday party so that he would feel obligated to go. I told him my well-thought out theories about her motives: NMIL wanted him to attend the party to show what a good little boy he was; that she could inflict whatever cruel and unusual punishment on him she wanted and he would still come back for more. NMIL wanted him to attend the party because it would look bad for her carefully molded image if she threw a party and her little "precious" wasn't in attendance. NMIL wanted her son's pregnant girlfriend to be there so that everyone could meet the cold-hearted bitch who had "knocked herself up" and was trying to steal him away. NMIL wanted the cold-hearted bitch to be run off by her cult of followers.

So DH called her, a week before, to ask if it was going to be a birthday party. She said yes. He chose to believe her.

I reminded him of my suspicions before we got out of the car to go in for the party. I told him, one more time, my very strong conviction that this was no birthday party. I hoped that if I warned him enough, then the slap wouldn't sting him as much. I hoped that if I said it a different way, then he would finally understand my suspicions and take my word for it. I hoped that he would See the truth for what it was, cold, shriveled, and black as it might have been. My hopes died in vain.

There were no presents, no cake, or balloons. No one wished him a happy birthday - not even his sister, his Naunt, or his (now-ex) best friend. No one handed him a birthday card or asked him how old he was. There were no streamers, no candles, no birthday. It was, as I had suspected, a celebration for his NM. She soaked up the attention, happily flitting around, absorbing the NS which came in the form of lavish praise and whispered gossip. "Oh, NMIL!" all her guests cried. "The food is spectacular! The house looks lovely! Your children are so beautiful!" She snapped photo after photo of her "happy" son and future daughter-in-law, perhaps to show to anyone who hadn't been able to attend the party, or else to put up on her bulletin board as proof that she "loved" her children. She oozed buckets of charm in her superficial, me-me-me world. Her friends and family ate it up, happy to be a part of it all. And, to reward her son, who had been such a good little boy for coming, NMIL handed him an envelope as we walked out the door.

DH waited until we got home to open it. When he saw the $200 stuffed inside of a birthday card, his eyes filled with tears. He said quietly , "She doesn't mean it."

"Who?" I asked. "Doesn't mean what?"

"My mother" He answered. "She doesn't mean to be so cruel."

I'm sad to say, after seeing her treat my DH this way so many times, that I believe she does mean to be cruel. I believe she does it with intent and full-awareness. I believe she aims to kill. I believe she makes the choice, every day, to hurt those that she is supposed to love. And you know what, even if she doesn't mean it, the results are still the same. In my mind, NMIL is as close to Evil as any human being can possibly get. It could be that I am wrong, but she has yet to prove that I am.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What's the Big Deal?

Let me start this post with a charming email conversation between DH, who had only just begun to open his eyes, and NMIL. Let me know, Dear Reader, if you can pick up the not-so-subtle resentment this woman was spewing in my general direction:

Fri, Jun 5, 2009
12:03 PM
From NMIL


Hi [DH's childhood nickname]

Naunt just called. [Naunt's son] just got suspended and she is extremely upset right now – [Naunt's husband] is on his way back with [Naunt's son] from school right now. I know you have been going back and forth with her about some things which she [sic] has been concerning her quite a bit. Please give her some space -this is not a time for her to deal with any of the “Jonsi wants this or Jonsi wants that stuff, ” which has become terribly upsetting for her. I know she has expressed her concerns to you, and I hope they have not fallen on deaf ears. If I had to make some recommendations, I would say don’t paint right now and you will absolutely hate the brown. Save your money – Jonsi should understand that budget is important. I am hoping your remember the word “partnership” in the coming days, weeks and months as it appears very one-sided and it doesn’t have to be that way. I am worried about you and I love you very much and I am hoping you will find balance.

I want you to be happy and secure and I just hope you are not creating an environment of anxiety that won’t bring you happiness.

Love,

Mom

Friday, June 05, 2009
12:25 PM
From: DH


[Naunt' son] was suspended? Good grief, I hope it wasn't something serious.

Stop worrying about me.

I helped pick the brown. I do like it. Stop telling me what I will and will not like.

I will suggest to Jonsi that we talk to Auntie at a later date. We already bought the paint.

I am hoping you remember that this is my relationship. Let me make my own choices about it. And yes it about what Jonsi wants right now, because she is going to be with the baby everyday whereas I will be working. She wants it to be as homey as possible, and you know what, I am perfectly happy with that.

Fri, Jun 5, 2009
1:53 PM
From: NMIL


It’s about you too [DH's childhood nickname], not just her.

Fri, Jun 5, 2009
2:00 PM
From: DH


I get that thank you


Now, the following is a vignette of what I call the Naunt Apartment Fiasco. No, one fiasco wasn't good enough. DH's FOO just had to do it twice, and preface it with all of that lovely banter you just read. Did you pick up on the barely-concealed accusations that DH must be an uncaring and inconsiderate jerk because he hasn't "backed off" of Auntie in her time of "great distress?" Or, how about this woman's apparent feeling of authority, as though she has a right to insert her opinions wherever she chooses to stick them? Did you spot the "shoulds," both spoken and unspoken, where NMIL imposes her control? And the sticky-sweet proclamations of "love" and "respect" that follow all of her covert passive-aggressive bullshit? And, Dear Reader, it gets worse, because Naunt and NMIL are cut from the same cloth. They play the same games. Please, allow me to show you:

"What do you mean she said we can't put up any shelves in the apartment? What does she think we're going to do? Bust gaping holes in the walls?" I asked. I was picturing tap-tap-tapping my hammer innocently on a nail and the sheetrock suddenly exploding into ridiculous chunks into the room next door. It made me giggle.

He shrugged. "I don't know."

I was bewildered - DH and I were going to be having a baby. We were trying to figure out a way to squeeze the three of us into a one bedroom apartment by creating as much extra space as possible. We had figured that using wall space and moving furniture around would be a really good place to start.  I was at a total loss, we weren't going to be renting from just any landlord, she was DH's aunt. She had seemed so excited a few weeks before that I was going to be moving in with him. She told us it was great that we'd be right next door because we'd be just be thirty seconds away and we could bring the baby over to visit all the time. She even added some story about how excited her 8 year old daughter was about me moving in.  I also remember his "Auntie" bragging about how she knew so much about babies and how she could help me if I needed anything. She had this know-it-all attitude about breastfeeding and infant sleeping habits. I had felt a bit awkward when she asked me, "Are you planning on breastfeeding?" I didn't feel like it was any of her business, but at the time, I had just chalked it up to her desire to help.  Her denial of our request to put up shelving seemed a bit off from the way she had been acting toward me before. I shrugged and said, "Well, let's just go over and talk to her about it. We'll figure it out, there must be some reason why she's so upset about this." I really thought we'd just use logic and it would all work out.

DH looked uncomfortable. His brows were furrowed in apparent worry. He didn't say anything else and we made our way over to "Auntie's" kitchen, where she was baking chocolate chip cookies. The house smelled delicious, but there was something unpleasant in the air. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on. It turned my stomach sour.

"Oh hello DH!" She said with her Betty Crocker smile.

She barely glanced at me, as she thrust a plate in my direction, "Have a cookie."

I took one, but I didn't really want it. My mouth was very dry and I felt a bit nauseous.

DH took several cookies and stuffed them into his mouth. "Auntie," he said. "Can we talk to you about some of that apartment stuff now?"

"Why don't we sit down?" She asked. "I think it would be a good idea to stop assuming things now. You remember that lease I had you sign when you first moved in back in January, honey?" She moved to the cabinet behind us and pulled out a white piece of paper, presenting it to DH. It seemed to me that she was avoiding turning her gaze in my general direction, instead focusing only on her nephew, as though he were the only one in the room. She sat down across from me, next to DH and said, "Well, I figured you could re-sign it and I'll write in there all the stuff about you painting and all that. You can repaint, that's fine, as long as you paint it back to white before you move out. Actually, you can keep the bedroom blue, if you like, I always liked that color."

"No, it's not really about the paint, Auntie. Well, that's part of what we wanted to talk to you about too, but there are some other things that I brought up the other day. Jonsi wanted to come and talk to you about" he paused and it looked painful, "some of that stuff." I couldn't help but think that he wanted me to do the hard part. He wanted me to bring up the "stuff" because he had a tickle in his brain that warned him this whole conversation was going to wind up in the shitter really quickly.

I took the cue and said, "I'm just wondering why you are so worried about allowing my cat to live in the apartment. She's declawed and-"

Auntie cut me off, "You never said anything about a cat whenever we talked about you moving in here. The first I heard about it was from my daughter. She told me that you said you were bringing your cat."

I talked slowly, as though I was convincing her not to jump, "I did. Because I have a cat. And if I live here than I would like her to be here too." I had come in with a whole slew of  logical reasons that I was realizing were going to be completely worthless. "DH said that your last tenant had a cat. And my cat is also declawed."

"Yes well, that cat did all sorts of damage to the apartment. It messed up the floors and everything." Auntie began to stutter. I couldn't tell if it was because she was lying, or she was getting flustered over my requests. "You can't have a cat here. The other cat...it...the litter box was....it was in the corner...and it damaged...it damaged the floors. You can't have a cat here."

I'm not sure how much of what she said was true - She knew I had obviously been in the apartment, so she couldn't have assumed that I wouldn't have noticed such apparent damage to the floors, walls, or furniture. I walked through the apartment in my mind and couldn't find any evidence of such. I thought, maybe she'd had the floors redone before we moved in and that was why I had never seen the damage she was speaking of. My gut was screaming not to give her the benefit of my doubts.  My empathetic nature however, was putting up less of a fight.

I was at a loss for words for a moment, I just didn't know what else to say. I felt confused and a bit side-swiped. Not a week before, this woman was telling me that we were all going to be so close and she would do anything, absolutely anything, to help us. But now she was making things really hard, because of a cat. It just didn't make sense, no matter how many times I flipped it over in my pregnant, hormone-ious brain. I couldn't get rid of the burning sensation in the pit of my stomach. It was my body's way of saying, "Something is really fucking wrong here. This woman must be bat-shit crazy...Hello? Um, Hello? Brain? Are you listening to me? I said, THIS WOMAN IS LOONY!"

I decided to switch topics instead of listening to my war-torn innards so that I could try and buy some time to get my thoughts together. The shelves, I figured. There was plenty of logic to discuss on that matter.

I didn't take my eyes off of Auntie. In my periphery, I could see DH, looking desperately back and forth between us. The aura in the room was rapidly becoming more ominous. The cookie I hadn't wanted to eat, but did anyway, was threatening to make a second appearance.

I said, "And what about the shelving issue? I don't understand - "

Again I was cut off as she said, "I don't like these demands you're making of me. I don't like you coming in here and telling me what you are going to do or not do. This is MY house." Her anger had come out of nowhere, like a switch was flicked. Last I checked, I hadn't been making demands. I wondered when asking questions in a polite tone of voice meant that a person was "making demands."  But before I could begin to organize my thoughts on the matter of her anger, she switched tactics all together and started to cry. Not a raging-river-of-tears cry, but a voice-quivering, borderline-weeping, tears-brimming cry. It felt fake to me. DH seemed to be melting though, into a somewhat useless puddle of "oh-shit-what-the-hell-do-I-do-now" guilt. His body language was one of the defeat, not of the team-captain who had captured the flag.

My face started to get hot and I began to sweat. That's the way I always look physically when I'm involved in a verbal altercation. I hate that my body gives me away. When I'm nervous, my face gets unbearably hot and flushed, which just lets the bullies know that it bothers me when they call me names.

"What demands?" I asked. I was trying desperately to keep the quiver out of my voice. And I felt like crying....but I was pregnant damn it, everything makes a pregnant woman cry. I kept telling myself that because I couldn't believe, in that moment, that what was happening was really hurting me. I had to believe I was invincible in order to get through to the next moment.  "I'm not demanding anything. I have only made polite requests and nothing that you are saying is making any sense." 

DH looked back and forth between us, desperate to do something, but he was frozen.

"Uh, uh. Auntie? Jonsi isn't demanding anything, honestly. We're just trying to do everything we can to make the apartment into a home for when the baby is here." Bless his heart, he was trying. But I found myself wishing he wasn't so damn nice.

She began talking in a sickly sweet voice, the crocodile tears having been turned off. "Oh sweetie," she said. "You should know that it doesn't take things to make a house a home. I only want what's best for you. Please believe me, I really just want what's best for you. You just have to make the best of it with what you have."

I have always felt that anger was safer than tears. I had a brief moment of wishing I could be more like my mom, who wouldn't let any of this nonsense get to her before saying through clenched teeth, "You're not letting us make the best with what we have. We need to use wall space. We won't have enough room. We aren't going to damage anything by putting up a few shelves." 

"No, no shelves." She said.

I was growing increasingly frustrated every time she opened her mouth. "Why not," I asked.

Again, with the stuttering, she said, "Because there will be big holes in the walls that...we won't...you won't be able to...you won't repair when you leave...and I have to...to rent this place out...when you leave...and there will be holes in the walls...that...won't be fixable...and...the holes."

Oh, for fuck's sake, I thought. This woman didn't have a fucking clue what she was talking about. She was talking right out her ass in an attempt to get me to back down. I felt as though, every time I motioned to speak, she was holding her metaphorical hands over her ears and saying, "Nonny nonny poo poo. I don't have to listen to you."

I knew it was pointless, but I said, "We're not going to put holes in the walls that are huge or that can't be covered up." 

DH kindly added, "Yeah, Auntie, she lived in an apartment before and they let her put up shelving on the walls."

She said, "You're going to be having a baby soon. You need to think about...saving money...and doing the best with what you have. You'll just have to...buy some buckets for storage or something like that. Or, you know...babies are small, they don't need that much stuff...and...you can't put up shelves." 

I felt like reaching out, grabbing the freshly-printed lease from her hands and ripping it into miniscule pieces, before sprinkling them into the sink and flicking on the garbage disposal.

DH tried, in vain, for civility, "We are trying to make the best of it, Auntie. But you're making things so difficult It almost seems you want us to leave or something."

It seemed like the moment she had been waiting for. She pounced. "Oh no, we don't want you to leave." She said slowly, for the first time looking directly at me. There was a brief pause, for effect, and then she turned back to DH and said, "Well...we don't want YOU to leave, [DH's childhood nickname.]"

And all of a sudden, I got it. This was not about a cat or shelving. This was about her wanting me GONE. This was about her not liking me. I had no idea why, of what I could possibly have done to make her feel that way, but it was this brief, defining moment that allowed me to pick up my truths, which had fallen somewhere on the floor and been kicked under the kitchen table, and re-pack my emotional suitcase. 

DH knew that it was time to go. There must have been something in the way I stood up, the way I held my head high, as I said, "WE are not re-signing your lease" that let him know it was time-to-fucking-go.

When we got inside his apartment and his front door closed, I burst into tears. 

"That was horrible." I said in the darkened stairwell.

I sobbed in anger and hurt and frustration. But mostly, I just felt fucking ready.

There is more to the story - most of it all drama. DH's mother got involved. She then called his father and his best friend in order to enlist their help in convincing him that he was doing something terrible.

The following day, I sent DH over to get our rent money back (as it was already paid only days prior in anticipation of the two of us living together) and she, not surprisingly, refused to give it back. Yeah sure, this was someone who really just wanted "what was best for us."

At one point, when DH went over to pick up his laundry, Naunt cornered him, crying and displaying her self-righteous anger, and told him that what I did was wrong and implied that he was such a bad boy to let me talk to her so disrespectfully.  Then, when he was melted into another puddle of guilt, she changed tactics and said, "You know I love you. If it doesn't work out, I'll keep the apartment open for you." I remember feeling so angry when he told me she said that. There I was, scrubbing dishes furiously, raging inside about her veiled insult. DH looked at me and asked cautiously, "What's wrong with that? I thought it was nice?"

"No, DH, it was not nice," I said. "You know what she was really saying?? She was saying, "When it doesn't work out, you can come back....and the 'it' she was referring to was not about us finding another apartment...it was our relationship."

I spent the whole day packing to leave. I knew I couldn't stay there. DH made the choice to leave with me, and lose the $700 we had already paid for that month's rent. I found it unfortunate that we'd lost the money, and annoying that I had already brought and unpacked most of my belongings in preparation of moving in, but in the end, I knew we had to get the fuck out of Dodge.

When we left the next day, to go live with my parents until we could find another apartment, my DH asked if I could write a thank you card. A thank you card? I was fuming. "Oh sure," I told him, "I'll write her a thank you card. It will read: Naunt, THANK YOU for your lies. THANK YOU for saying you care so much but then not giving us our rent money back. THANK YOU for your pettiness and immaturity. THANK YOU also for involving other people when they had no business being involved. THANK YOU...."

"I said a thank you card," DH said quietly, "Not a fuck you very much card."

To this day, I like that phrase. Fuck you very much.
I raise my metaphorical middle finger, in a solute to ALL Narcs who treat their "loved ones" this way.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Would I Lie to You?

Our saga continues with what I call "NMIL's Apartment Fiasco." It took four months, and one HUGE lie, for me to See everything I needed to see about DH's wicked mother. After all the minor red flags that were raised in the first few months that DH and I were dating, this was the Big One and I feel it finalized the drawing of this woman in my head. Where once I had a hazy outline of the Monster, the apartment fiasco solidified the edges and NMIL took her true shape. In DH's family, these types of things are quickly forgiven and forgotten. Not so where I come from - I have a nose for deception. I smell lies like shit on a shoe...and this was not shit I could ignore, however much DH wanted me to.

After sharing our pregnancy news with our families, DH and I began our search for an apartment. Although DH was renting an in-law apartment from his Naunt, we weren't entirely sure we wanted to stay there because it wasn't as spacious as we would have liked, given the circumstances and our growing family. I was living at home with my parents after having moved out of an apartment with my N ex-roommate in 2008 (more on that story later). It didn't take long for NMIL to dangle a carrot under our noses, with her offer of an apartment. I can't say enough, looking back on all of it now, how truly insidious her motives must have been. I know, I'll never know what her intentions really were, and she'll never be honest about them. But with the power of hindsight, I can easily see that her offer to "help" was more a show then a genuine desire to make things easier for us. To an outside observer, and perhaps to someone who isn't well-versed in the ways of Narcs, her "help" might have seemed genuine. But if we are to take a step back, look at the circumstances under which the "help" was being offered, and really pick apart the details, her actions give some really important clues as to what her true motivations were.

Fact: The apartment she wanted to rent us was the top story of a house she owns and runs her business out of.
Fact: This apartment is also located in her home town, which is at least a forty-five minute drive from my FOO.
Fact: The apartment was quite a bit larger than the one DH was currently living in.
Fact: NMIL took us out to breakfast to tell us that we could live in the apartment rent free for several months (never indicating exactly how long "a few months" even meant, thereby keeping the details vague).
Fact: We offered to pay her $400 a month because we didn't want to take advantage of her and felt it was only right to pay rent, even though she was offering we live there for free. She agreed to our terms.
Fact: DH and I went not once, but twice, to see the apartment and I fell in love with it. The house was old and charming and felt like a dream-come-true. Even though it was far away from my FOO, I couldn't help but feel that we'd never be able to beat the price anywhere else, and that was enough reason, in my mind, to move out of arm's reach of my loved ones. There was even a cute park located a stones throw away from the apartment, with little kid swings and a big slide. I had my heart set on moving in to this cute red house, with it's old shutters and winding staircase.
Fact: NMIL's best friend - the very same best friend she just had to text her son's pregnancy news to - already lived in that apartment. We were promised that she'd be moving out "soon."
Fact: We were desperately excited to move in and to really start our lives together. We wanted to set up the apartment and get everything ready for the baby we'd be having in just a few month's time. We felt pressed for time because there was a lot of work to be done before the birth of our baby.

So, Dear Reader, does anything seem at all amiss about the facts I have just presented so far? Perhaps not yet, but please allow me to delve a bit deeper. What could be the motivation behind this woman wanting us to move in to an apartment so close to her? Not only was it close to her house, she worked right down the stairs. Let's look at possible motivations for this: 1. NMIL genuinely wanted to help us and knew that, were we close, she could offer her aid whenever we needed it. 2. She wanted her son to remain under her thumb and she recognized that physical distance would pose a threat to that control. 3. She lives by the motto, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." I'll give you one guess who her enemy in all of this is. Okay, so again, perhaps we don't have enough circumstantial evidence, as proof of her motives.

Let's keep going. Why might it suit NMIL for me to be far away from my FOO? Possible motives: 1. She honestly believed she could be of more help to us than my family. 2. She knew, based on what kind of person I am, that my FOO would be similar - strong, demanding of respect, intelligent, honest, and compassionate. All of the things she didn't want her Dear Doormat Son to be around, because it would threaten the control she had over him his whole life. 3. She wanted us to struggle and knew that physical distance from my FOO would make it harder to receive the help they would offer us.

Do we need more evidence? Please, allow me to present you with more facts.
Fact: After NMIL told us, on several occasions, that we would be paying $400 a month to live in her apartment, we learned that it was a blatant lie. Naunt informed DH, via email, that she was surprised we wanted to live in NMIL's apartment, given that we'd be paying so much more than what we'd be paying if we stayed at HER apartment instead. Lest we get too ahead of ourselves and think that Naunt might have been operating under pure motives, let me assure you, she was merely stirring the pot. Her part in this mess is just as insidious (more on that in the next post).
Fact: When DH confronted NMIL, telling her that he felt he had been deceived, she reluctantly began to share more information about how much we'd ACTUALLY be paying if we lived in her apartment. There was never a final number because she only ever spoke in vague generalities. However, the general idea of a number was over $1,000 a month, which we could not afford, with the added possibility of that number being raised indefinitely. During all our talk about price, she also "forgot" to mention that there was potential she would have be selling the property to the company that had bought our her business, thereby releasing control of the rent to them.
Fact: We were never given a definite answer about when NMIL's friend would be moving out of the apartment, or if it was really going to happen at all.
Fact: Any of the times DH texted, emailed, or called his mother about the status of the apartment (i.e when NMIL's friend would be moving out, when we could move in, etc) his attempts at communication were ignored. Remember though, NMIL is a woman who texted her way through an entire meal, in which she was supposed to be getting to know her son's girlfriend (whom he was genuinely crazy about). NMIL is not a woman who doesn't get your communications...unless, of course, she doesn't WANT to get them. No, this is a woman who is not without her cell phone, ever. As soon as you hit "send," believe me, she's gotten your damn message.

Dear Reader, do you still need more? I can provide it for you!
Let's look at the emails that went back and forth between DH and NMIL, after he exposed her lies.

The Emails:

Fri, May 29, 2009
1:28 PM
From: NMIL


DH –

I love you very much and have always supported you both personally and financially. What you are going through now is a HUGE deal and you have become short and demanding to both Naunt and to me. And today on text you were terribly unkind. I have respected you and your opinions and thoughts throughout this ordeal and you insulted me today. Even if there was a communication error on either of side, mine or yours, that is no reason to disrespect me and say I was “playing” you. You would have to assume I know what you don’t know and that is impossible. Like I told you before, you have some big decisions and issues and you shouldn’t treat those around you as though they put you in a bad situation. I have supported you since minute one and you have lashed out at me several times already. I am so upset at how you are treating me and I don’t understand it. We have such a good relationship and I feel like you are taking advantage of mine and Naunt's support. I feel like you are trying to make Jonsi happy at the cost of those around you that are trying to help you. Not saying she is making you do that, it’s your actions that are reflecting that.

You and Jonsi are responsible for your lives and the baby’s life and that means figuring out the money situation before you get excited about moving. Maybe you should stay at Naunt's apartment until the baby is born as it is much more affordable for you and perhaps you can save money that you will so desperately need after it’s born. This is a very adult situation and you need to handle it as such. Weigh the monetary issues – rent, utilities, gas, furniture – and see what you can afford. If you are strapped now, it doesn’t get better after the baby is born. Diapers, formula, babywipes, doctor appts, car seats, bath stuff -it all gets very expensive.

I am not drowning in money here DH. The divorce was costly and the economy has drained my accounts considerably. I don’t have the disposable income I used to have and remember last year I did not take a salary for 6 months. You know I will help you, but you also have to understand the real costs of this new life you are entering into. Also keep in mind as I told you earlier that if partnering business doesn’t renew the lease here for NMIL's Co. in December, and NMIL's Co. has to move, the mortgage is no longer covered and I can’t afford that you only pay $500 a month rent. These are all real issues we both have to deal with.

I love you and we can talk more about this tomorrow.

Mom

Fri, May 29, 2009
1:55 PM
From: DH


I will say that you did not tell me anything about the partnering business ordeal. The only thing I knew about partnering business [was] that you had merged. You told both Jonsi and I that your company pays the rent on the house and you would let us stay there rent free should we need it. We then said that was ridiculous and we want to pay you something and we said like 400 to start and you said fine. You did not mention utilities, and I had no idea what it would be like since it was a house and not really an apartment. Jonsi was under the same impression, so perhaps you should have been more forward about that. I did feel like you weren't honest with us since this came after I had to bring it up. I understand that you love and support me, but perhaps you should think before you offer us something like that. Especially when we're in dire need of space. This is a huge deal which is why we were so quick to jump as you offered us a huge helping hand. Were you to give us all the information it would be different.

I am not attacking Naunt, you leave her out of this. I am indeed trying to make Jonsi happy. That is what husbands-to-be do. Please do not tell me otherwise. I have learned what I want to be and what I don't want to be observing your relationships and my father's. Perhaps there are times I get upset, but I am not taking advantage of anyone. Go ahead, tell Naunt that I am, but you're digging yourself a hole, not me. You also should not put words in Naunt's mouth and if she's got something to say to me, then she will say it. She doesn't need you to talk to me about anything. I live right next door for goodness sakes. I am not yelling at you now, nor was I via text. If were talking in person I would have been very calm about it. Granted I am very disappointed that we will not be able to move in now, and the reason I was disappointed in you (which you have said that to be in the past so I don't understand why it doesn't work both ways, I am an adult and entitled to my opinions and emotions AND I never questioned our relationship when you said it to me) was because you lead us to believe we could move in soon and save MORE money than if we stayed next to Naunt. I don't know why you would do that especially since we have such a good relationship. I would have thought you would have provided us with everything we needed to know.

I think I repeated some things but anyway, I realize you're hurting for money. I didn't realize to what extent though. I'm not asking for a freebie here. Why would I, that's stupid to assume. As it looks now, it's not a good idea for us to move in there now, since we will be paying more and there's a chance rent could skyrocket at the end of the year.

I guess Jonsi and I will get back to you later.

Friday, May 29, 2009
2:34 PM
From: DH


Also, let me not forget to say that I do love you Mom and I just didn't like being let down like that.

On Fri, May 29, 2009
3:06 PM
From: NMIL


I agree with you – maybe we are both feeling the same way. I love you too honey.

How about if you come over first thing in the morning tomorrow and we chat? Or meet halfway for coffee?

Friday, May 29, 2009
3:09 PM
From: DH


Sure. I have to get my car washed, pick up my cleaners, and I'll head up there. I'm playing ball with a friend anyway in the morning and I have to drop off some stuff at another friend's house.

I will say that there is a chance we will have to stay in Naunt's apartment for the time being. But I still have to talk to Jonsi.


Fri, May 29, 2009
3:12 PM
From: NMIL


Well maybe that is the best thing - I always thought it was a better idea to wait after the baby was born anyway. We will talk more in the morning though. Love you.

Friday, May 29, 2009
3:15 PM
From: DH


Yes. Talk soon. Love you too.

Fri, May 29, 2009
4:28 PM
From: NMIL


And honey I never led you to believe you could move in soon – you got excited about it and you wanted it to become a reality. There is nothing wrong with getting excited but I just don’t want you to think things that perhaps were misconstrued. Remember there are two sides to this – for example you didn’t know you had to pay utilities and I didn’t know that you thought you didn’t have to. I wouldn’t assume you thought NMIL's Co. would be paying your cable bill right? I was not dishonest with you, but I agree there was a communication breakdown on both our parts.

I told you the thing about partnering business and the lease on the phone that morning we originally talked about it and that is why I originally said for after the baby is born – but I do understand that we talked about a bunch of things and perhaps it didn’t click. There is a lot on your mind rightfully so.

And one last point….the ironic thing is that you are doing something very similar with Jonsi that I did with J – go to great lengths to make someone happy no matter what the cost. J didn’t make me do that – I chose it and obviously it didn’t work out that well. Balance is very important - I even mentioned that to both of you at breakfast that morning. If anything, I hope that you learned a healthy balance is important in a relationship. I know you love Jonsi and that is not the issue at all.

I love you lots and lots still.

Mom


Oh, but doesn't it ring true, Dear Reader, how the truth is in the details?
Let's take it apart, step by step.

I have respected you and your opinions and thoughts throughout this ordeal and you insulted me today.
This ordeal? What ordeal, NMIL? Why would you be referring to our pregnancy as an "ordeal?" I realize that DH was a bit more nervous about it than I ever was, but he and I talked about it many times and it was never something we described as an "ordeal." Oh, could it have been an ordeal for you, because you were so afraid of your son's happiness? So afraid that Jonsi had come to take away your precious doormat that you couldn't be happy for him and saw only the threat of loss? You could play your word games, and say the "this" you were referring to was something else - perhaps our search for an apartment, or our financial troubles - but between you and I, Mommy Dearest, I'm well aware that those are not the "ordeals" you are referencing.

...you have some big decisions and issues and you shouldn’t treat those around you as though they put you in a bad situation.
Again, with the not-so-subtle, barely concealed, insinuations about how you really felt concerning DH's growing FOC. This is what I see: DH the ISSUE of your wife and unborn child is really a BAD SITUATION for you to be in. So, even though I have lied to you, while attempting to sabotage your new relationship and future family, don't blame me for whatever shit ends up happening as a result of those lies.

NMIL's emails are filled with distortions, guilt-peddling, and manipulations. She tells DH that he was "unkind" because he called out her lies. She starts off her email diatribe by saying that she has "always supported him," as though that gives her a right to lie and hurt him. She claims the "lies" were not really lies because someone (DH, really) misunderstood and miscommunicated. She calls him stupid when she says he presupposed something about her intentions. She tells him he's taking advantage - how? We offered to pay her rent when she said we could live there for free. She brilliantly insinuates that I am making him treat others poorly in order to get what I want, and then out the other side of her mouth, says she's not insinuating that at all. She offers that it is wrong to want to make someone happy, unless, of course, it's HER. She treats him like a child, explaining to him about how he'll need to make "adult decisions" and think about the new life he's bringing into the world. As though all the decisions we were making were NOT based on the needs of our growing family. She pawns off her deceptions on the weak argument that she doesn't have any money and "suddenly" can't afford for us to pay the monthly rent that she had agreed on. She implies that SHE has been let down because DH has been so, so horrible to her. She talks about our relationship and choices as though she should have a say in them, even going so far as to offer her unrequested advice concerning where and how we should live. She continues to lie about lying, and never admits to any wrong-doing. Her crazy making is apparent through-out, as she so condescendingly tells DH that "he must have forgotten" the information she had already shared with him. She tells him that I am making him behave a certain way, she implies that it's all my fault, and soothes him with the unspoken promise that, if I just go away, things can get back to normal and she will love him again. She finishes off her email by mentioning how she went to "such great lengths" to appease her second ex-husband that they ended up divorced.

She cheated on her second ex-husband.
DH found out about it when he found her chats with whatever loverboy she was having an affair with, on DH's computer. If those are the "great lengths" she went to to ensure her second husband's happiness, and she actually believes that such a story is an accurate indication of "balance" in a relationship, then her advice to DH was just as fucked up as I always believed.

Would she lie to us? Absolutely.

**Title credit - Would I Lie to You
by the Eurythmics

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This is What it Should Look Like

The story of my parents' reaction to our pregnancy news is completely different to that of NMIL's reaction. Despite our growing excitement about having a baby, I was hesitant to tell my mom and dad because I was afraid they might be upset that we'd been dating such a short time before getting pregnant. I knew that my parents thought rather highly of DH, and that they were happy for us in our new relationship. My mom confided that "Anyone who doesn't see how much you love each other is missing something." Despite my mom's fondness of DH, however, I was terrified that she would be disappointed in us for not waiting longer to have a baby. In hindsight, my anxieties were completely unfounded.

In trying to decide how we were going to give the news, we joked that it might be a good idea to just "slip it in" to the conversation over dinner. DH suggested I say, "We're having a baby could you pass the peas?" Laughing about it before-hand helped me settle my nerves a bit, but I still remember sitting there all through dinner with DH holding my sweaty hand firmly in his under the table, and my stomach all aflutter with nervousness. I had settled on the pass-the-ultrasound-photo-while-mentioning-that-my-parents-were-going-to-have-another-grandchild to add to the one they'd be getting from my brother in a few months. I waited through the entire meal and when I couldn't take it anymore, I handed the photo to my mother, picture-side down and spoke the news. Oh god, my hand did shake. My mother's response to our news brought overwhelming joy and relief and immediate tears to my eyes. She took the photo and it only took the briefest second for her to say "Woo hoo!" and I knew that everything was going to be fine. I just started crying, and laughing, with tears rolling down my cheeks. I turned to DH and he said, "See? I said you didn't have to worry about it!" and he hugged me and kissed me and my parents got up and took turns hugging each of us. There was a flurry of questions,
"Was is planned?"
"When is the due date?"
"Will you get married before or after?"
"Will you find out the baby's sex?"
"Will you be moving in together? When?"
Then my mom said she had known for weeks that I was pregnant and she was going to just come out and ask me if I didn't get to telling her about it. Oh, I couldn't have been happier or any less surprised! It took me some time to get over the shock that she had known all along and that I could have just told her weeks before.
There were no judgments being made, no anger, just love. Love and joy. My parents was genuinely happy for us, and reveling in our happiness together. As we all cleared the dishes together, my mom and I talked more about pregnancy - how she felt during her three pregnancies, how my body was reacting to pregnancy just like hers had, what else I could expect in the upcoming months. I even remember my mom saying something like, "Well, I guess I'll be planning another baby shower this year, then!"

DH and I had waited the obligatory three months to spread the news of our pregnancy, but I STILL have guilt about waiting to tell my parents and for telling them after we told NMIL. My mom has reassured me that it didn't hurt her feelings to be told second in the line-up. I believe her. My mother is the most honest person I know. DH's parent's reactions paled in comparison to my parent's. The funny thing is that I really think, had this happened with any one of the other guys I had dated over the years, my parents would not have been quite as happy. I've always believed that their happiness was due, at least in part, to the fact that it was DH this was happening with. But you know what? Looking back at all the schmucks I dated...DH made all the difference to me, too. This couldn't have happened with a better person...just another reason why I feel so lucky that he and I found each other. He's a beautiful person, and together, we've started a beautiful family.

Metaphorical Dust

DH and I got pregnant very early on in our relationship. Truth be told, we had only a few brief moments of surprise before we succumbed to excitement and joy. Our pregnancy was never something to be ashamed or afraid of, we always had a sense that, even though it happened as quickly as it did, the pregnancy was something to be happy about. When it came time to tell the parental units, the reactions of both sets, mine and his, were strikingly different.

We showed up at NMIL's house to tell her the news - our arrival had been prefaced by two phone calls from DH; the first to ask if we could stop over to talk, the second to inform her that we were on our way. During the second phone call, NMIL kept trying to get him to give us a reason for the visit and what we wanted to talk to her about. Like a true gossip monger and drama queen, NMIL seemed eager to hear our news, I think, because she wanted to pass it out like Halloween candy in order to soak up the NS she'd get from her cult of followers. She actually guessed the news over the phone, saying, "You guys aren't pregnant, are you?" But I had already advised DH to just keep repeating, "Mom, it's not appropriate to discuss this now, we'll talk to you once we get there." I found it slightly disturbing at the time that she had reacted in such a way - as though whatever news her son wished to share was just a juicy bit of gossip, rather than an important life-changing event, opportunity, or decision. It was as though we were celebrities coming to her house, rather than her son and his girlfriend. It was more than annoying that she wouldn't even entertain our request to wait until we got to her house to tell her the news. Actually, I felt rather uneasy in the car on the ride there, knowing that she wasn't respecting our needs as to the circumstances under which we wanted to speak with her.

When we arrived, we noticed that NMIL's boyfriend was there. DH was disappointed that his mother had invited him over knowing full-well that we were coming to share some private news with her. I also thought it was a rather uncomfortable scenario and wondered about her intentions - she had known we were coming over for several hours and it was not at all appropriate for her boyfriend of a few months to be present. How is that for some serious boundary-crossing? I figured she did invited her boyfriend on purpose, to make us more uncomfortable and to give herself and audience for whatever performance she had planned. She was also dressed, I kid you not, in what appeared to be clothing from her daughter's wardrobe. She had on a jean mini-skirt and a tie-dye t-shirt that hung off of one shoulder. I remember wondering if DH noticed how his mother was dressed and if it embarrassed him. I was embarrassed for him. It was something of a trippy experience to be telling this forty-something year old woman who was dressed like a teenager that she was going to be a grandmother. I didn't find her appearance attractive.

We requested to speak with her in private and she obliged. DH handed her a photo from the ultrasound and said something to the effect of, "This is your grandchild." I don't recall her looking at the photograph before she threw open the door, shouted, "I was right boyfriend's nickname!" and ran back to where her loverboy was waiting in the kitchen, leaving DH and I in a cloud of metaphorical dust. I looked at DH, laughing a bit out of discomfort and then shared a sort of puzzled moment with him. It was not at all like any sort of reaction that I had imagined, and neither one of us knew what to say. We just stood there and blinked at each other stuttering, "Uh. Uh. Okay. Uh." before heading to the kitchen.

And, after being there for over an hour, we NEVER got any sort of "normal" reaction. Instead, there was a comment, "Can I text NMIL's friend?" to which DH replied, "You have to ask Jonsi" and I said reluctantly, "I guess so." I hadn't yet met the friend she mentioned and knew only that she was one of NMIL's best friends. Once again, I felt more like I had just presented a piece of gossip, rather than the most wonderful news of our lives.

DH and I having a baby became all about NMIL. During the course of the conversation, she told us, "I'm too young to be a grandmother. Can the baby call me NMIL's name?" Right. At the time, I was mostly bewildered. What kind of a fruitcake wants her grandchild to call her by name? It didn't take me long to realize that this pitiful little narcissistic woman would make E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G about her if given the opportunity. I knew from early on that I would do everything in my power to make sure she didn't have many such opportunities. I don't believe that people deserve my respect, if respect means I have to let them walk all over me and my loved ones. This woman is not, nor has she ever been, a grandmother and I have no problem with my children calling her by her first name when they speak with or about her. That is her choice, she said it herself, and so far as I can tell, has never had a change of...mind. It would be inaccurate for me to say I believe she is in possession of a heart - any heart she has must be some shriveled up shadow of a thing, that has long since been out of use.

Something else I remember: We stayed at NMIL's house for a few hours after we shared our news and, though the memory gets a bit foggy after her initial reaction, I do recall NMIL and her boyfriend trying to give us advice about our..."situation." While NMIL giggled and clung to him like a giddy school girl, her boyfriend made insinuations about how she looked good in a bikini while sipping a glass of red wine and sharing his own story...which was nothing like ours. He started off by talking about how he'd had a one-night stand with some woman that resulted in a daughter that he was currently trying to reconnect with. He then went on to talk about his other children and how he didn't get to see them as often as he liked. We didn't realize it until later, but DH and I have reason to believe that Mr. Swanky Frank was having an affair with Ms. Tie-Dye T-Shirt. At one point during the advice session, she asked her boyfriend how old his youngest child was. And after he answered, she said something like, "Oh, it makes me feel better to imagine that your youngest child is older than that." Eew.

But, Dear Reader, I have gotten ahead of myself. I realize that the story unfolding so far may not be evidence enough that this woman has never had our best interests at heart or that she is a slimy excuse for a human being. All I ask is that you keep this story in mind as we continue our journey. I believe that you will See all there is to see, as I shine the light on the Monster under our bed.