In March of this year, we decided to give NMIL what should have been considered the most golden of all golden opportunities: We invited her to one therapy session with us. Only a fool wouldn't see our invitation for what it was: one last chance.
But, so we're clear Dear Reader, this was not something either of us was doing for her. DH's reason for inviting NMIL was simple: He wished to offer his mother the choice to construct an appropriate and respectful communication bridge between us. My reason was even simpler: I wanted DH to be happy. I knew he would not have been happy if he hadn't made every possible effort to repair the damage of his mother's "love." Though I had a very strong sense that his NM is beyond hope, I knew it was something DH would have to See and acknowledge for himself.
So started yet another unnecessary power struggle.
NMIL picked up the phone when DH called and offered some ridiculous niceties - the superficial-hi-how-are-you crap that she has always perpetuated in spite of the absurd levels of tension she had been cultivating for years. DH's plan for this part of the conversation was that he would try to move on to the reason for the call as quickly as possible, rather than get caught up in her superficial bullshit. He succeeded. So he got to the reason for the call and put in his request - the where, the who, the when.
She said "yes" to the request. If you're surprised by that, you need only look a little bit deeper and then I think you'll find her response to be right-on-cue. I was not surprised by her agreement because I knew that at any point, if she thought it wouldn't work in her favor, she would revoke the promise of her participation. Furthermore, I knew that her immediate response meant that she thought she could fool our therapist. The N doesn't play where she thinks she won't win.
NMIL then asked DH if the therapist was just HIS, or if she was OURS (mine and DH's) - This merely showed her obvious trepidation and disapproval for doing anything that might level the playing field - she would feel much better if she knew that this therapist, whom she assumed was gullible and stupid like all other people she manipulates, had NOT heard my side of the story or knew anything about me. She did not want to work with US, and that was abundantly clear by comments such as these.
She then told him, "You know, I'd be happy to do this, just you and me." - This was the "I'd rather do this under my terms, and not yours" moment. She was letting him know that she may have said yes, but that he'd be paying an emotional price for it. A big one. Furthermore, this was yet another moment where she was letting him know that she did not want me, or our therapist involved. Narcs operate best when NO ONE ELSE IS AROUND. The Momster does not want to deal with people who can sniff out her bullshit. She knows I am one such person. And she wasn't sure about the therapist.
She asked him how long he and I had been seeing this therapist - She was attempting to scope out what she was up against and how hard she'd have to work to manipulate the therapist. She must have figured that if we'd only seen the therapist a few times then it would be more likely to get her where she wanted her - on her side. Shit, if she could manage to compromise OUR therapist, then she'd really be golden, wouldn't she? But DH knew something was wrong with this question and he did not oblige with a specific answer - instead, he gave her a vague non-answer.
NMIL pushed on, and asked if his sister was going to be included in the group therapy - It was one-half guilt trip (what's wrong with you, don't you want to work on things with her too?) and the other half power-play (I want, I want, I want!) Momster has always wanted as many people on her side as possible, even her seventeen-year-old daughter who has always been used intermittently as a pawn and a human shield. SIL remains, and probably will always remain the GC because of her inability to rise above the superficiality and complete dysfunction of her upbringing. In other words, SIL represents the perfect guilt-trip. But DH did not fall for it and informed his NM that SIL was not invited.
NMIL attempted to engage him in a conversation about when she should go, but he stopped that effectively and quickly. We had already discussed with the therapist that we were not responsible for setting up an appointment for his mother - his mother was. Though he had to repeat to her several times that he didn't know the therapists schedule and that his mother would have to call her to set things up, he was able to stick to his guns and she was forced to move on.
Finally, she kept him on the phone longer than he wanted to be by bringing up something that was not her business to be discussing in the first place and which had nothing to do with the conversation at hand. This was a way of letting DH know that she may have said yes, but SHE was still going to control the conversation: when it ended and what it was about. The information she used to keep him on the phone was senseless drivel at worst and guilt-inducing at it's "best." She essentially scolded him for not responding to some alleged communication from his Naunt regarding his cousin's birthday party / graduation party. Not only was this relay of information inappropriate because it had nothing to do with the conversation they were having, but it was not her business to be sharing in the first place. She pulled it out of her bag of tricks because she wanted him to feel badly about the fact that he had not responded to his Naunt about his younger cousin's special day. NMIL was trying to pull the old familiar strings of obligation.
DH and I had practiced ad nauseam before the call, so he handled her attacks very well. By the end of their call, though he had stayed on the phone several minutes longer than he had planned, he managed to avoid most of her manipulative tactics. He didn't get off scot-free, but it was damn-near close to it.
The very next day, SIL took to her twitter account with the following message: We are all starting to forget you were ever a part of this family.
SIL's fourteen-word-message to the world was the biggest clue we were going to get about what NMIL was saying regarding our offer for group therapy once she got off the phone with DH. And I'll say this, she did not think it was a golden anything. For SIL to have THAT thought, it was clear that our offer was being shit on and shit out. It was clear that the moment NMIL hung up the phone, she was doing nothing but bad-mouth us to everyone she possibly could. It was clear that she was going to continue to piss on her chances and try to take everyone out with her.
It's really quite appalling that an offer to go to therapy to work out our problems would be reason for such blatant disregard. But there you have it, Dear Reader, that is narcissism at it's finest. The minute we refused to allow the abuse any longer, the very second we called her bluff, NMIL set about sabotaging any chance at a relationship she could have possibly had with us. If it wasn't under her terms, she didn't want it. Period.
In case you are wondering, Dear Reader, in spite of the evidence that therapy would be a flop before we even went through with it, we were still, at least at that point in time, planning on seeing it through. Better to let her fuck it all up, we figured, than to bear the burden of that responsibility ourselves.