Sunday, June 19, 2011


A week after DH invited his NM to therapy, he received the following fluff email from his Naunt:

From: Naunt
To: DH
Sent: Mon, Mar 21, 2011 @ 1:27 PM
Subject: Hi [DH's childhood nickname]!

Hi [DH's childhood nickname]

How are you doing? I have callled [sic] you a couple of times and left messages. I hope you got them. I hope all is well with you, Jonsi, DD and DS. Please let me know how everyone is doing.

I wanted to invite you guys for Easter and to celebrate [her son's] 18th birthday on Easter Sunday at around 2. I can't believe it's been almost one year since we've seen you at your wedding! Please think about it, ok?

Miss you and love you,
Your ole Auntie [Naunt]

Before responding, he and I discussed her correspondence at length. We both saw the rather obvious undertones of guilt-peddling: "I have called you a couple times but you always ignore me." and "Please think about us, okay? Because you never do that. You never think about us." and "It's been one whole year since we last saw you, and it's all your fault!" and "We miss you so so so so much because you're such a jerk and a limp noodle that you let some bitch take you away from us [insert feigned interest in the well-being of said "bitch" and her children]." DH read her email and, with a snort, said, "My aunt is toast, I wonder why my mother is still trying to involve her?"

DH responded politely and matter-of-factly, with me carbon copied:

From: DH
To: Naunt
Cc: Jonsi
Sent: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 @ 2:23 pm
Subject: Re: Hi [DH's childhood nickname]!

Hey Auntie,
Thanks for the invite but we won't be attending.

Twenty minutes later she responded to only DH:

From: Naunt
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 2:43 PM
Subject: Re: Hi [DH's childhood nickname]!
To: DH

Well, okay then.

There went her fluff, right out the window. As soon as she saw that DH wasn't going to play along, she dropped the superficial bullshit like a hot coal. Why this woman hadn't figured out that she was no longer a valid player in the game, I'm not sure, but DH's last correspondence with her (as seen above) may just have done it. It was clear to both of us that her supposed interest in our well-being, as well as the invitation to her son's party were not coincidental in timing. This email exchange took place just one week after we asked NMIL to therapy. Guess who she ran and told all about it the very next day?

And guess who then used that information as her underlying motive to email DH, while feigning interest in our lives after not contacting us for months.

As insignificant as this email exchange might seem to some, to us, it represented just one more moment of guilt-peddling and manipulation. It was just more of the same. DH's FOO was incapable of understanding our needs and unwilling to change their behaviors.


  1. Love the response! No explanation, no justification just "we won't be attending"! I've finally started doing this and it's a really powerful feeling.

    On Friday I was at an AA meeting and without so much as a hello, a woman who is always up to no good asked, "Where's DD?" I replied, "Not here."

    Feeling that you have to constantly explain, justify, or defend every decision is a sure sign of abuse. So much fun to watch them squirm when they get told NO!

  2. I agree Mulderfan. I always encourage DH to just say no, rather than explain/pacify/justify.

    I told him recently, "You have a right to say no. You do not have to say 'yes' to everything and everyone. When people treat you as though you don't have a right to say no, it is often because you have already given them the opportunity to see that you have weak boundaries, if you have any at all, and that you don't know how to say no."

    You have the right to say no. You always have that right. So use it.

    He and I decided, together, that responding in that way to his Naunt was the best way to go. And really, look what happened when he did. She surely wasn't happy.

    It's a sure sign of abuse when people get angry with you for saying no.

    I'm glad you've learned that too, Mulderfan. Learning how to say no is a very empowering thing. It means you get to stop the abuse, in some cases, before it even starts!

  3. Correction: It is a sure sign of abuse (among other things) when people get angry with you for saying no.

  4. Just a thought: Sarcasm. That's what I see in her last response. Like, "Yeah, sure, it's okay that you said 'no.' Even though I don't think it is."

  5. My counselor worked at teaching me to say no without an explanation. Bless him, he let me practice on him. I am getting better, old habits die hard. Thanks for sharing this incident. It shows how sometimes the most innocent little comment, isn't.

  6. Ruth - It seems that the ability to say 'no' is not something many people are taught.

    It is my belief that it should be. Every single human being has to the right to say no.

    And you're right - sometimes the most innocent comment, isn't. People are motivated by so many things at any given time. Some motives can be considered "good." Others, "bad." But everyone is operating out of their needs, wants, and fears. Knowing that, it's easier to see past the superficial, into the depth beyond.

    Keep fighting the good fight!