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.