Most of May 2010 passed without major incident, since DH and I did a lot of traveling that month and were not around long enough to be hassled by his self-righteous-woe-begone FOO. To our great surprise, we found out that we were pregnant for a second time, and before leaving on our three week trip we told my parents the exciting news. They were as thrilled the second time around as they were the first and wrapped their happiness around us like a warm blanket. DH and I settled into our lives with a sense of contentment: We had everything we wanted and things were on the up-and-up. We had each other, our DD and a new baby on the way, and a new house to call our own. I look back on the months after our wedding with a great sense of relief and vivacity. We were thriving and continue to thrive. We were happy and our happiness has never disappeared.
No matter what manipulative tactics DH's FOO has pulled.
A few days before leaving on our trip in May, EFIL and L had us over for dinner. We decided not to tell them about our pregnancy at that time, as we were waiting to tell DH's family when we were further into the pregnancy. It would be a cold day in hell before I'd risk letting them into that private world of mine so easily: it was still early enough in the pregnancy that the risk of miscarriage was high and if I had lost the baby, I would not have wanted to be forced to share that pain or sadness with them. DH supported my decision to wait.
The dinner did not include our DD because, as per usual, EFIL and L were merely squeezing us in to their jam-packed agenda and wouldn't entertain early enough to make allowances for an infant's schedule. DD is in bed by seven every night. EFIL and L were hosting dinner at seven thirty. They live forty five minutes away. We enlisted my mom to babysit because I wasn't going to interrupt my daughter's sleeping schedule to behoove DH's Dear-Old-Dad. When I spoke with L about the plans over the phone, she asked if DD would be coming too. I told her that I would love to bring her, but would be unable to as long as they kept such late dinner plans. As per usual, L had a slew of reasons for wanting to have dinner late, so I told her that was fine but DH and I would still be arriving sans daughter.
The only aspect of that occasion I remember is our forgiveness talk, which took place while we were watching the wedding video that EFIL and L shot at our wedding. For once, it was only the four of us in a more intimate setting, rather than the crowd that normally attended EFIL and L's dinner gatherings, and we sat on the couch watching the video. The experience would have been enjoyable, had the parental units decided to shelve their forgiveness rant for another time. To be clear, Dear Reader, neither ever mentioned NMIL, but I am one hundred percent sure she was at the heart of that conversation. Oh, they danced around the point of their lectures like true manipulative experts, never explaining why they felt it was so important to "teach" us about forgiveness. But it was obvious to me who they wanted us to forgive. It was obvious that L thought we were spiteful and behaving with unsportsmanlike conduct in regards to NMIL. It was obvious that they were thumping their invisible bibles in our faces, telling us how unChristian they thought we were. They sat there imposing their "shoulds" on us, most likely hoping we would obey.
I wish that I could remember our discussion, word for word. The fact that I can't is my first indication that there was very serious manipulation going on. I've learned the hard way, through self-inflicted, albeit temporary involvement in manipulative relationships, that when I start forgetting, shit's going down. There is nothing wrong with my memory, after all, and in fact, I seem to have an eye for details. Thus, it is clear to me that my poor recollection of our discussion had nothing to do with a faulty memory, and everything to do with EFIL and L's common forms of communication. I have a very difficult time speaking with L - she rarely allows anyone else to have a say, usually interrupts, and never seems to shut up long enough to actually listen. Her constant changes of subject and word-game manipulations make it very hard to stay on track. I have no idea how the forgiveness crap started, but I have a very good idea where it ended up.
L did most of the talking. She asked us if we have a hard time forgiving people. I believe I said something to the effect of, "No, not if the person I am forgiving deserves it."
She launched into a judgment jive, which may have lacked bible-speak, but smacked of invisible religious references. It was apparent that she didn't agree or understand my feelings that a person should not be "forgiven" unless they've offered a sincere apology in addition to plans to fix their behaviors. I could see her flipping the pages of her mental bible as she told us we should not judge people and we should love everyone. I knew where she was pulling her thoughts on "being nice to other people because you want to be treated the same way, don't you" bullshit. Any time DH and I tried to interject our thoughts or feelings, even when we waited patiently for her rant to be over, she interrupted us. I tried to explain my feelings on judgment - that it is okay to judge people for the sake of protecting yourself from abuse or poor treatment. L then brought up her personal stories of how she doesn't judge people, as a way to indicate that we should do the same. I remember her using the word "doormat" as though she knew what it meant. She said that she wouldn't let people treat her like a doormat, but even if someone did something unkind to her, she would still invite them into her home if a situation called for it. My innards were telling me: This woman is so full of shit it's starting to seep out her mouth.
She and EFIL talked about how L's daughter once dated a guy who killed an ex-girlfriend while driving under the influence. The point of their story was that they had no right to judge their daughter's boyfriend and that they should forgive him for his sin because he was probably miserable for what he had done anyway. I remember saying, "That may very well be true. The guy may be sad for the rest of his life because he killed his ex-girlfriend. But what if he isn't sorry? What if he does it again and it's your daughter he kills next time? What has he done to prove that he has learned and won't drink and drive again? That's not judging someone for the sake of being cruel, that's just practical."
L said, "Well it's not for us to judge him. It's not for anyone to judge him."
I said, "What about the girl's family?"
L said, "They should not judge either. He didn't mean to kill her."
"I disagree," I replied. "That girl is dead. Because of him. Whether he meant to or not, she's still gone. I don't believe her family has to forgive him."
I knew what L meant by forgiveness, and it wasn't the kind of forgiveness I believe in. Next, Team-NMIL brought up EFIL's brothers and explained how, even though EFIL didn't get along with them, they would still be invited to family gatherings every year so that they would be the jerks when they didn't show up. She wanted to show us that she was the "bigger" person. The underlying message in all her talk of forgiveness and judgment was that we should forgive DH's NM. Having never mentioned NMIL, she didn't tell us what, precisely, it was she wanted us to forgive. So DH and I were left with the distinct feeling that this is what EFIL and L were really saying: You should forgive NMIL for anything bad she has ever done. She LOVES you oh so much, and that should be enough for you to forgive her. NMIL is DH's mother, don't you understand? And being his mother should be enough of a reason for you to give up your pointless crusade for respect, acceptance, and honor. Forgiveness means allowing people to treat you badly and never standing up for yourself. Forgiveness means giving up and letting go of your rights so that things can go back to normal...back to the way they were before. Perhaps that is not what EFIL and L were saying, but that is what DH and I heard. And that is not a version of forgiveness that we choose to subscribe to.