Thursday, June 23, 2011

NMIL: The Puppeteer

Yesterday, DH received an onslaught of strings-attached communication from his FOO regarding his birthday. DH wrote about his feelings on their use of his birthday to attack him and I think what he had to say was very powerful. DH doesn't tend to write out their messages word-for-word, but he was willing to let me share a more concise version of their pseudo-birthday-wishes on my blog. He helped me transcribe all of their sappy emails and voice mails so that I could present them here. I've written them in the order that DH received them. Be prepared for a shit-storm of guilt-trip bullshit, Dear Reader.

He received the following email from his Naunt, first thing in the morning. Naunt was, no doubt, hoping to be the first person to wish him a happy birthday, in order to show him how very much she loves him. This is what she wrote:

From: Naunt
Date: Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 7:36 AM
Subject: Happy Birthday
To: DH

DH's Childhood nickname,

I wanted to wish you a very Happy Birthday today. I realize you don't want to have anything to do with any of us, but I want you to know I am still thinking about you today and every day.

We all still love you and will always be here for you. Take good care and I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

Naunt's first name

My interpretation: All the correspondence from DH's FOO yesterday was more about THEM than about DH. They all used his birthday as an excuse to contact DH and offer him their underhanded opinions about what he has decided to do. I focused mainly on the phrase, "I realize you don't want to have anything to do with us..." Naunt used that particular phrase to imply that DH is the bad guy. She very specifically used the word "want" because she wanted to make it clear that the responsibility for his estrangement lies solely on his shoulders.

My very first thought was that the estrangement is not about what DH wants. He did not wake up one day and say, "I WANT to disengage with my family of origin." No, he woke up and said, "I NEED to disengage with my family of origin in order to maintain my physical, mental, and emotional well-being. I NEED to disengage with them because their behaviors are unhealthy for me, my wife, and my children." This estrangement did not begin under the circumstances that Naunt has stated. To say "DH does not want to have anything to do with his family of origin" is completely inaccurate, unfair, and demeaning. He WANTS to have a relationship with all of them, but no longer at the expense of himself. He WANTS to have a relationship with them, so long as they are willing to take responsibility for the wrongs they have committed and begin to make honest and appropriate changes in their behaviors. He WANTS to feel loved by his FOO and know that they have accepted his life choices and the woman he has chosen to spend his life with.

Naunt concludes that thought, "but I want you to know I am still thinking about you today and every day." She might as well say, "I believe you hate me, but I still love you. You're the bad one, see? I love you, but you don't love me. Go ahead, try to love us, I dare you. You can't love us while you are doing what you are doing." It's like a taunt that she's throwing in his face: "La la la, I'm over here thinking about you and there's nothing you can do about it."

She says, "We all STILL love you." It's the "still" that's a problem. The use of that word implies that they "love" him "in spite of what he has done." My main concern with this is that they have held this sentiment since WELL-BEFORE DH decided to go NC. We've seen that phrase pop-up time and again from NMIL, EFIL, and Naunt, and the rest of their elk. The problem is that it implies that DH is the one wronging everyone and they are such wonderful people that they will just forgive him and love him anyway. NMIL used that phrase in her "special card" to "just DH" on the day of our wedding. In other words, "Even though you're getting married, I STILL love you, because I'm the bigger person in all of this." Or, "Even though you're getting married TO HER, I still love you, because I'm the bigger person in all of this." The use of that one word implies that THEY are the ones being hurt by DH's actions. In their view, DH wronged them when he dated me. He wronged them when he married me. He wronged them when we decided to have children together. He wronged them by not doing everything they wanted. He wronged them by not being their doormat anymore. And now he's wronged them by going NC. But, you know, they still love him, in spite of all that. Because they are such good people. BARF.

She says, "We'll always be here for you." I know, without a doubt, that she's throwing around phrases she's heard before that seem appropriate for this situation, without knowing what they mean or being able to stand behind them. What that phrase should mean is that DH's FOO support him and accept his choices. It should mean that they will accept and welcome the family he has created and validate his thoughts and feelings. It should mean that they will stop blaming him for everything they feel has gone wrong and take responsibility for their fair share. It should mean that they will stop attempting to manipulate him and actually listen to what he has to say.

But, Naunt uses that phrase to say, "I hope this email changes your mind and you come back to us. I hope that you know when it doesn't work out, we'll be willing to accept you back into the fold as our little doormat. We're willing to let things get back to the way they were before." That mentality is precisely what DH is fighting. He no longer wants to be their emotional doormat. He no longer wants to be treated as though he has no feelings and his opinions don't matter. He no longer wants to watch his NM and Naunt and EF treat his FOC the way they have. He's taking a stand against their abuse because he is not willing to be a part of it any longer.

The following is a poem I thought up last night and got out of bed to jot down:

You're Fired

Dearest Auntie
Sweetie Pie

Please kindly remove yourself from the premises.
Clear out your desk and hand in your resignation.
I don't know why you've come around
'Cause we fired you
years ago.

How conveniently you've forgotten
Your poor work ethic
Your performance on the job was severely lacking.

Your saccharine, sappy shit don't impress us.
So pack your bags, you're through.

We don't need to see your face
in this institution again.

Dearest Auntie, Sweetie Pie
You can take your sugar and shove it.

Next on the list. NMIL's best friend: We'll call her Toast. She left DH the following sappy, over-the-top voicemail:

DH's childhood nickname? It’s Toast...How are you?

DH, happy birthday. I’m just calling to wish you a happy, happy birthday. I’m thinking about you, as I often do. Um I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday and uh and tell you (pause) DH, I think of you all the time and I have a gift for baby DS and um I just never sent it cause I was hoping I would see you. But anyway. It’s been over six months now. Yeah, about six months now. I’ll actually get the address from your mom and just send it to you. Um, but I do hope to see you soon. I miss you terribly. I hope you are well. I hope (garbled) Jonsi and the kids are well. I just wanted to call you and wish you a happy birthday and that’s it. I will talk to you very soon hopefully. And just look for that present in the mail within a week or so. Okay, happy birthday DH. Ok, bye.

My Interpretation: I named her Toast because that's what she is. DH has never talked about her, except to say that she is his NM's best friend. He invited her to our baby shower, our wedding shower, and our wedding because he thought he was obligated to. By the time he realized she really didn't belong as a guest at our wedding, he had already invited her to the shower and didn't feel it polite to revoke her invitation from the wedding. Toast is basically a non-entity in this whole thing. If Naunt barely deserves a second thought, then Toast pretty much has no existence in our thoughts or concerns. She's really nothing but a Kool-Aid drinking, superficial, Flying Monkey.

She didn't call DH on his birthday last year because he wasn't estranged from his NM at that point, so it was unnecessary. To me, this is NMIL's most obvious attempt to find a loophole in the "laws" of No Contact. Toast has no business what-so-ever sticking her nose in DH's life, even to call and wish him a Happy Birthday. At this point, she has no relationship with DH, or DH's FOC. We never even momentarily considered seeing her again, given the circumstances with NMIL and the rest of her soft-headed groupies. Even under near-perfect circumstances, the chances that we'd be hanging around NMIL's friends would be slight. Sending Toast to wish DH a Happy Birthday was NMIL's way of breaking NC, but telling herself at the end of the day that she did what he asked because she didn't contact him herself. In fact, I would go so far as to say that she didn't even have to ask Toast to do this, she probably just pulled her strings and worked her evil magic and Toast fell for it, thinking she could save the day for her dear, dear friend. Ah, what a trickster, NMIL. What a way to play with our words. What a deceitful and sneaky move.

Toast was obviously stretching for something to say. She said Happy Birthday at least five times during the course of the message. She implied that DH is a jerk for not letting her see our DS, in six whole months! DH and I are both well aware that his FOO has not seen DS since he was born. It's ridiculous to point it out to us as though we had no idea. We did it, on purpose, Toast. NMIL hasn't seen DS but for the fifteen minutes in the hospital after he was born because she doesn't deserve to. And neither do you. So, go ahead. Send us your shit. Our DS has no idea who you are, so your present will be meaningless to him. I'll wrap up the gift myself and present it to him as though it's a gift from US, rather than some stranger he doesn't know. So, go ahead. Send it. We've cut the strings you attached to that gift anyway.

And, oh the melodrama! Really Toast? You miss DH terribly? You can't sleep at night because you're thinking of him so much? Is that it? You can't possibly get through your days without thinking about your friend's estranged son and the well-being of his wife and children? It would just make your day if you heard from him! It would be the light of your life for DH to call and let you know he's alright and he loves you too. Oh, what a world!

Please, honey, save your sappy, over-the-top shit for someone who believes it.

When DH heard the voice mail he said, "She sounds like my mother."

And there is a reason for that: This woman is merely operating under the control of NMIL. She mentioned not once, but twice, in her message about how badly she hoped to see or hear from DH. That's not Toast talking. That's NMIL. Toast doesn't have an interest in our lives. She doesn't have an interest in DH's well-being. She's not going to implode when a week passes and he hasn't responded to her shitty message or thanked her for her gift to our son. Because she's not really the one missing DH, or thinking about him all the time, or wishing he was back in her life. Toast didn't leave that voice mail. It may have been her voice. But it was NMIL's message.

Next, DH got a message from J, his mother's second ex-husband. J said: Hey DH, it’s about ten o'clock on Wednesday. Just calling to say happy birthday. Alright, take care.

My interpretation: Let me tell you a little something about this schmuck. He's pretty much a dead-beat dad. He has no relationship to speak of with DH. DH has very few memories of the man, and most of them are not fond. J is a guy who would rather help Pig on his house, than help his own step-son on his. That's right, Dear Reader, last summer we got wind from J that he had helped Pig build a patio outside his house one weekend. For your clarification, Pig is DH's ex-friend. Pig should now be considered, by DH's FOO, a lost cause; a piece of history; a fart in the wind. I have an inclination that, in her quest to adopt Pig as her "new-and-improved" son, NMIL somehow navigated J in Pig's direction and busied herself with sowing the seeds of obligation. She and J are probably developing quite the rapport with Pig. Which is bizarre considering that J is her ex-husband, and Pig is her son's ex-friend.

What has DH ever gotten from J? One thousand dollars for our wedding, and a bunch of tiles for our bathroom. He gave us the materials, but not the time. He gave us the money, but not the love. The one time DH asked J for help on our house, J's response was, "You know, you've got to figure out how to do this stuff on your own." Apparently, Pig will get all the help he wants from J, the house-builder. But DH has to "figure it out on his own" because J is too busy being busy to lend him a hand.

DH received a card from EFIL in the mail. Inside the greeting card that he obviously didn't put any thought into picking out, EFIL wrote: Happy Birthday, Son. (signed) Dad & L. Stuffed inside the card were a $25 gift card to Home Depot, the printed letter he wrote to DH, and a photocopied page from a book entitled "Maximized Manhood." In it, he underlined the following passage: "When you do not forgive someone's sin against you, you bear that sin; you carry it. You also make the same mistake again and again, with person after person."

My interpretation: The short and abrupt "Happy Birthday, Son" signed with no love, is an obvious response to the thank you card I wrote to them for the "Easter/Christmas/Guilt" gifts they sent us about a month ago. I had written, "Thank you for the gifts. (signed) DH and Jonsi." EFIL was mimicking me.

The use of the word "son" to replace DH's name is putting emphasis on the "fulfill your familial role to me" mentality that EFIL is choosing to subscribe to. He wants to drive the point home to DH that HE is the father, and DH is the son; that HE is the adult, and DH is the child; that HE deserves respect and loyalty and consideration and DH does not. EFIL's ultimate message is that DH should be doing as he is told and not asking questions. When his father says "jump," DH is to ask, "how high?" The use of the word "son" is just one big, fat unhealthy expectation. It's a demand. It's callous. It is not loving and it is not kind. It's not even sincere.

And the article he included? It's nothing but a bunch of self-serving malarchy, served up on a religious plate. What sins is DH supposed to be forgiving exactly, EFIL? And HOW DARE YOU IMPLY THAT MY HUSBAND WILL BE ABUSING HIS OWN CHILDREN just because he has chosen not to forgive YOUR ABUSES. I read the rest of the page he copied and to me, it represents the most heinous message EFIL could have sent. The passage reads, "Unforgiven sins pass from father to son, mother to daughter, generation to generation." Here's the thing, oh Holier-than-thou Father-in-Law: Just because a person has forgiven his parents does not mean he will be able or willing to stop the abuse that was done to him or to end the cycle of abuse for future generation. YOU, Daddy-Dearest, are the perfect example of this. If you are so holy, so forgiving, so kind; and if "forgiveness" is the answer to ending abuse, then why the fuck are you still abusing your son?

I can answer that question, too. You treat your son this way because you would rather side with your ex-wife than with your own son. You treat your son this way because you want him to forget about his pain long enough to accept you back into his life. You treat your son this way because you didn't know how to stop the abuse and didn't care to learn how. You treat your son this way because your ex-wife tells you too. (Who's a pussy again? Certainly not MY husband, who has the balls to stand up to anyone who treats him with such a lack of respect as you have.) You can take your quotes from "Maximized Manhood" and use them to your advantage with your millions of superficial friends. But keep them away from me and my family. We don't want your hypocrisy. We don't want your faith. We don't want your god. And we don't have to forgive your sins.

Particularly when you claim that those "sins" were just a figment of our imaginations.

When you speak for everyone else and say, "WE love you so much." And "I am sure that your mother loves you," all you are doing is defending people who don't deserve it. You don't know a damn thing about how anyone else feels, so don't pretend you do, you pretentious bible-thumping bigot.

The only person here who should be asking for forgiveness is YOU, EFIL. Only you. You should be on your knees BEGGING DH to forgive you for the way you have treated him and the lies you have told. You should be pleading with him to give you one more chance...just one more that you can prove to him that you love him and you weren't just using him for your own personal gain, and that you are capable of valuing him as your son and a human being.

Instead, Dear Reader, EFIL called DH at 10:06 PM last night to leave the following message: Hey DH. It's dad. Um I'm just calling to wish you a happy birthday. Hope everything went great for you today. Uh I did call you before and asked you to call me back. You didn't call me back. Um I don't know why. Well actually I do know why but...And I did send you a card with a (drawn out "a") letter in it and I also emailed some stuff too. Um I truly would like you to read it and try to understand DH what it's all about. Um I'm not forcing you to do anything I'm just giving you ideas. Um please uh don't separate yourself from your blood family, it's not a good idea. (nervous laugh) we love you DH, all of us, we love you tremendously, alright? Call me back. Alright. I love you. Bye.

Translation: I'm not going to tell you what to do. [Insert what to do].

How dare EFIL put this on my husband's shoulders. How dare he call him at ten o'clock at night, on his birthday, to blame him for this estrangement with the claim that it must be happening because DH "just doesn't understand" what he is doing.

I assure you, EFIL, that DH has never been so clear in his thinking or had his wits wrapped so tightly around him.

EFIL, you say you aren't trying to "force" DH to do anything, when that is precisely what it looks like you are doing. You say he shouldn't separate himself from his "blood family" because it's not a good idea, even though you never even entertained the thought that maybe it is. You've never been interested in hearing DH's side of things because you've been too content listening to NMIL and holding her hand to reach out and hold your son's. You've never believed in him, you've never Seen him, and you've never tried to. All your talk of wanting things to be better between he and you were lies. This is not about DH not "understanding" and you're nothing but a great big COWARD for claiming that it is. Giving my DH "ideas" about how controlling you think his wife is and how kind and loving his NM is, is not my idea of letting my DH think for himself. You have failed in your constant attempts to convince him that YOU are the loving one, that YOU are the good guys, that YOU have his best interests at heart. You do what you have to do to Maximize your Manhood. My husband will be just fine without your hypocritical, judgmental, disrespectful, and cruel demands.

That was it, Dear Reader. The only sincere and loving birthday wishes DH received were from me and my family, who love him for who he is and not what he does for them.

There were no direct messages from NMIL. She's choosing not to show her face because it's easier for her to direct her Monkeys from behind the scenes.

No messages from the hundreds of supposed "friends" from his past life.

Just an onslaught of phoney, insincere, and manipulative messages from people who care more about their own needs than DH's.

What they haven't yet figured out is that their attempts to "win DH back" are only strengthening his resolve to shake them off completely.


  1. I almost wish they could read this, but I also know they wouldn't get it. How sad.

    My husband's NM once called him at 5 in the morning on the day of his birthday and then acted surprised that he was still in bed because she "forgot" that we were in a different time zone. No, she just wanted to call at a time that was convenient for her. After "happy birthday" the rest of the conversation was about her and her needs. Why are birthdays the right time for these things? (Not that there is ever a good time.)

  2. Also, happy belated to your husband! Hope it was a good one despite all that.

  3. This overwhelming pile on bill shit hurled at DH on his birthday, no less, makes me want to barf!

    No one "wants" to go through life without the love and support of an FOO. No one chooses to FRIVOLOUSLY cut their FOO out of their lives. What we do is put up with WAY more bull shit than we should while we AGONIZE over the decision to finally stake out some boundaries in order to protect ourselves and those we love from our FOO's dysfunctional craziness.

    All these assholes have managed to do is prove that DH made EXACTLY the right decision!

  4. Mulderfan - I just read your comment aloud and it made DH chuckle. Thanks!

    Laney - I think you were asking a rhetorical question about birthdays, but I'll give you my personal thought anyway. I've talked a lot on my blog about the importance of birthdays. And personally, I think Narcs use them to their fullest advantage. What better way to show either your LOVE, or your HATRED (or your resentment and anger) of a person than with a birthday. Because birthdays represent the very existence of a person, it's a great way to say one of two things: "I'm happy you were born!" or "I'm so angry/hateful/resentful of you that I wish you had never been born!"

    Thank you for the birthday wishes. DH had a wonderful birthday in spite of this garbage. We even managed to laugh at his parent's antics because mostly, they were just absurd!

  5. I think narcs pick birthdays because it makes us appear rude/mean spirited when we reject a friendly "Happy Birthday". They're hoping for a kind of well-mannered auto-response from their vicitm.

    Then, when we don't fall for their crap, it gives them a chance to tell everyone how low we have sunk by rejecting even a simple birthday wish.

    "All I wanted was to wish my dear child a Happy Birthday!"

    They're so damn predictable and transparent they're pitiful...and, yeah, laughable too!

  6. I'm stuck on 10pm. PAST THE CUT-OFF! Where the hell are his manners? And this part really pisses me off:

    "Um please uh don't separate yourself from your blood family, it's not a good idea. (nervous laugh) we love you DH, all of us, we love you tremendously, alright?"

    NOT A GOOD IDEA? That's the best you've got? Don't separate yourself from your blood family because it's not. a. good. idea. That is the flimsiest excuse for an argument I've ever heard!! Why isn't it a good idea, pray tell? Fucking give me one goddamn reason, in this situation, why it isn't a good idea. I'll slay them one by one.

    I've been researching the origins of the expression "blood is thicker than water" and it turns out it means exactly the opposite of what people use it for. People use it to mean family ties are the most important, but really the saying comes from the idea of a blood covenant - "blood of the covenant is thicker than water of the womb" - in other words, the bonds we make in faith are stronger than those of family.

    The bonds we forge in choice, with all our hearts and all our faith, with those we make a promise to stand by and honor, are thicker than the water we're born in - stronger than the bonds with the family we're born into. Because we choose to make those covenants. What we choose for ourselves is stronger than what is chosen for us.

    Fuckin brilliant.

    Stay strong you two, keep on keepin on.

    We see through the charade and refuse to play our parts.


  7. Upsi - YES! Thank you so much for sharing this information with me. I always had a feeling that people were using the phrase "blood is thicker than water" the wrong way. Like, over time, it got warped to mean something different from it's original meaning. How unsurprising that it was warped to suit the needs of people trying to manipulate their blood ties.

    Thank you!

  8. Oh wow. I'm just stuck on that. It is really powerful. I keep re-reading it.

    Definitely blog-worthy!

  9. I've always wondered this: if "blood ties" are truly stronger than all other ties, why would we need to be reminded of it? Wouldn't the strength of blood ties ALONE cancel out the necessity for such an expression?


  10. "We don't want your hypocrisy." I think this one phrase you wrote summed up the whole mess. I am glad your DH had a great birthday and reached the point of laughing at their antics. The page about forgiveness is a twist I have been on the receiving end before. I also feel frustrated that they imply that DH needs to forgive when they have no intention of repenting or deny any wrong doing. If DH needs to forgive that implies that they have done something wrong. Makes my blood boil when I read such twisted hypocrisy.

  11. Wow-this was a triggering read for me.
    I went through something similar--a former Nfriend decided to throw a birthday party for me, even though I'd been NC with her for three months.

    She was kind enough to give me, oh....about 8 hours notice.
    In a voice mail--(I'd already learned to not answer any calls, unless I wanted my entire day ruined.)

    She didn't mention the party---just please, please come to XXX place, even if it's only for an hour....

    I wouldn't have gone, even if I didn't have to work--but I did actually have to work.

    So she did a bang-up job of making me look "Mean" & "Unreasonable' to the rest of the social circle, after "all she did for me".

    I'm pretty certain she "forgot" to mention to everyone that we hadn't spoken in months---and that she didn't even give a day's notice. It was all about getting pats on the back for herself, while simultaneously discrediting me.

    Who does that?!?!??!

    I'm glad your H had you & your FOO for support to get through that.........It's a crappy feeling to have someone use your own birthday as an excuse to stir up drama, and play the martyr.

    I'd say his family definitely underlined the need for NC, with the messages they sent...

    "Happy Birthday! Just for you, I have an all-expenses paid Guilt Trip to send you on, you know, because I just care about you SO much..."

    "Because YOUR birthday should be all about MY emotional needs......."

    What planet are these people from? It really blows my mind.

  12. Hi Jonsi! I'm here re-reading old posts as your story so parallels mine in many ways. I unknowingly married into a family of Narcs myself and at this point have been NC for 7 years.

    Daddy Dearest's letter and communications with your DH make me literally feel sick and want to barf. I am a Christian and cannot stomach his hypocritical BS. He is just as much a counterfeit Christian as he is a counterfeit Dad. I'm so sorry your DH has had to endure all this hurt. It's wrong and it's downright evil!

    My NSIL loves to preach at us as well and demand we forgive who she deems worthy. Ain't happenin'. She doesn't even understand the bible and constantly takes scripture out of context. Narcs LOVE to feel holier than thou. I'm bored with their desperate attempts. The longer you're NC, the easier it is to look at them as pesky knats or fruit flies. They mean nothing. Their opinions mean nothing.

    1. Deanne - I'm sorry that you find my story so relatable - I don't wish this stuff on anyone. I agree with you completely about being NC - the longer we are away from the toxicity, the easier it gets.