Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stalemate

Unsurprisingly, we have been invited to EFIL and L's Christmas party this year. Before I get into my analysis of this particularly heinous invitation, I'd like to bring some things to your attention:

As I have mentioned before, EFIL and L operate under the delusional mindset that THEY are in fact the "bigger people" because they choose to continue "reaching out" to others who don't "reach back." In essence, they view us as just one of their many obligations. During a quasi-conversation with them once several years ago, DH and I learned that EFIL is essentially estranged from several of his own siblings. We believe that his sister, who was described by him as a sort of "crazy person," is nowhere to be found, while he explained to us that he is, for all instant purposes, LC or NC with several of his brothers. He does willingly keep in limited contact with at least two brothers that we know of, but he does not seem to have a relationship with the rest.

Now, that's all an interesting tell-tale sign about the level of dysfunction in his FOO and how he has learned to cope with communication issues. Now, I'm not saying that going NC or LC means that a person is crazy, or bad, or refusing to work on the problems immediately in front of them. What I am saying is that for whatever reason, EFIL felt that the problems he encountered with his siblings was either insurmountable, or perhaps not worth the effort of attempting to fix. That is how dysfunctional families operate. If all parties are not willing and able to make the appropriate changes that would enable the creation of a healthier dynamic, then the family unit ceases to function (or perhaps, continues along it's path of dysfunction). Having said all that, there are a few more key pieces to this particular puzzle: the same EFIL who told my husband on several occasions that "it's not a good idea to separate oneself from his blood family" has in fact, mostly separated himself from his. He admitted to us on that occasion several years ago, that some of his brothers treated him and L unkindly, that they just "didn't get along," and as a result he felt it "better not to see or talk to them."

We all know that's a HUGE misrepresentation of the facts, but we can also tell that EFIL is a man who has been hurt, has never properly dealt with that hurt, and can not appropriately separate himself from his dysfunctions. (In my experience, I have found that the less people are willing to talk about the truth, particularly to those closest to them, the higher their level of dysfunction and denial) NOW. Here's the clincher: EFIL and L continue to invite EFIL's long-lost brothers to all of their major family functions because, according to L, in all of her eminent wisdom, THEY "choose to be the bigger people" and if EFIL's brothers choose not to show up, then "it's on them." Then L went into a diatribe about how it's wrong to cut people out of one's life, unless they have been so terribly and obviously awful that it's completely necessary. That's right folks, it's the old, "If so-and-so is not a genocidal dictator, then you have no business cutting them out of your life."

From that interaction with L, I also hypothesized that it could very well be that Mr. Hypocritical himself would be very happy to permanently close the door on several of his siblings, if only he could find the inner strength to do so, and if his manipulative wife would only stop sending out those damn invitations.

I am loath to assume that the responsibility of said invitations falls only on L's shoulders. It doesn't. The decision to send out those invitations to EFIL's brothers is one that they have both made. Willingly or unwillingly, whether by coercion, brainwashing, or force, EFIL continues to "reach out" to people who generally don't "reach back." I don't know how EFIL's siblings feel about his continued limited and perhaps disingenuous contact with them, but I do know how DH and I feel. And I continue to see the same patterns of thought and behavior in my in-laws interactions with us as I do in their explanation of how they behave with others. When it comes to OUR situation with EFIL and L, the following statements can be made: They are reaching out to people who are not interested in their phoney, half-hearted, or otherwise manipulative and condescending communications. They are reaching out to people who are not willing or accepting, for many very valid reasons, of their advances. They are reaching out to people who are changing and therefore rejecting the old patterns of behavior.

And, in comes one invitation to a Christmas party.

I have a feeling we'll get one every year, no doubt out of obligation, along with wedding and shower invitations and other major holiday events. Let's face it, if these people haven't stopped sending invitations to EFIL's brothers after all these years, they probably aren't going to stop sending them to us. EFIL and L continue to behave towards us in such a way that screams, "We are right and you are wrong. Damn what you think. To hell with what you want. We refuse to recognize your needs."

I see this invitation as just another sign that these people will never change.

The date of their little holiday shindig is the night before DS's first birthday. I read their invitation, laughed heartily and said, "What assholes." It doesn't hurt my feelings that they care so little about our family that they would book a major party without having ever asked us when we'd be having DS's birthday party. It doesn't surprise me either, given their behaviors last year for DD's birthday party. The only thing this invitation has done is solidified my theory that EFIL and L simply don't care. If they were NMIL, I'd say they'd picked that date on purpose. But they are EFIL and L and I think they picked that date because we don't matter to them, and our children don't matter to them.

I know that if given the opportunity, they would say, "Well, you didn't invite us to DD's birthday party this year, we just assumed we wouldn't be invited to DS's." (That's a terrible excuse and may even be a lie. EFIL and L, do you even know when DS's birthday is?) And they might say, "Well, you SHOULD be having DS's birthday party the following day, on his actual birthday. It's during a weekend you know." (We will not allow you to impose your "shoulds" on us. We refuse to accept responsibility for your poor behaviors.) And then they'd say, "Well, why don't you just change the date of his party? WE'D do that for YOU, you know." (Maybe so, but we wouldn't ask you to. We have more consideration than that. We have more respect than that. We would show our caring for our grandson by asking his parents about possible dates for his party well in advance so that their wouldn't be a conflict in schedules, particularly this close to the holidays.) And then they'd hem and haw some more and say, "What's the big deal? He's only one. And we have this party EVERY year." (And how many first birthdays does DS have? In fact, how many times a year do we get to celebrate HIS birthday? And how would you feel if the people who were supposed to care the most about you acted in a way that made you feel that they didn't?) And then they would say, "What's that? His party isn't until tomorrow anyway? Well, why are you complaining? The parties won't even be on the same day!" (The point isn't about the date of your stupid party, it's about the fact that you couldn't even be bothered to ask in advance. The point is that you are too selfish to see beyond what you want, to the needs of others.)

If these arguments sound ridiculous and far-fetched, it's because they are. BUT. I'm not pulling them out of nowhere: These are some of the statements they made about DD's birthday party last year.

Does anyone else see a pattern in EFIL and L's behaviors? Does anyone else see a similar thought-process in this year's motivations?

That's right. WE'RE the ones that are changing. EFIL and L see that as a bad thing. DH and I don't. We are no longer allowing this kind of behavior to affect us or our children, and we are maintaining our healthy boundaries.

I know you can't reason with crazy. I know you can't have a reasonable conversation with denial. I know there is no point in explaining the truth to selfish, stuck-in-their-dysfunction people. So, instead of trying to communicate with THEM, Dear Reader, I'll tell you:

EFIL and L are choosing to remain with their heads buried in the sand and their treacherous hearts loyal to dysfunction. They think they are acting under "God's command." They think they are behaving in a way that proves they are better, they are bigger, they are smarter. They think that inviting us to their Christmas party is an act of good will. But what they have done, all on their own, with their own words and actions, choices and deliberations, is show us that we are not important to them. They have shown us that they will not change, not for better or even for worse. They have shown us that the only place they have in our lives is in our past. They have shown us that they see us as an obligation, and not as human beings deserving of love and respect. They have shown us that their hypocrisy doesn't lie.

But we have some things to show them, Dear Reader. We will show them that our value is not a reflection of their actions towards us. We will show them that this stalemate we have reached was not caused by a faulty move of ours. We will continue to show them that we will not engage with them as long as they are refusing to change.

DH and I have each other. We have our beautiful children. We have the love of my FOO and the kindness and respect of friends.

We don't need them.

We have all that we need.

4 comments:

  1. Don't let them "should" on you. I loved when my counselor told me that one. :-) And you're right, it doesn't seem like a big deal, and wouldn't be if it happened once or twice. People forget, are distracted, but it's a long-term, ongoing pattern. For me, writing it out helped me see how crazy it was.

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  2. Judy - Narcissists (and just-plain-selfish people) are so good at turning important concepts into something they deem "not a big deal." And because they think it's not a big deal, they expect everyone else to feel the same way. You're right, when we look at the situation for what it is, having their holiday party when they've chosen to have it doesn't have to be an issue. But they've made it one by, as you've pointed out, continuing the long-term, ongoing pattern. This is just more evidence of the same behaviors.

    Thanks for your input, Judy, as always!

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  3. Oh for gods sake-or who ever's-sake, look.....every year they send out the same pre-printed plastic/transparent invitations to the same damn guest list. It's not about being the "bigger person," it's about pure laziness/lack of memory/importance so they've had and sent the same guest list for the last 50 yrs. And they've had the same caterer or their caterer's kids-who-took-over-the business, but who knows what their names are now. The same menu, the same clothes, the same-frozen-in-time plastered on faces, same wine, appetizers and probably the same menu since the "Mad Men" days or some facsimile thereof..

    Don't worry: They don't expect you or a whole bunch of people to come and the order for x number of people has already been placed at the caterer. "Bigger" has nothing to do with anything but the bill for this "BWHAAAAA" hasn't changed either. (And the only reason why it isn't changed/ shrinking is because of the increase of costs across the board.

    They write the check, call it a success and it's over for another year.

    Please enjoy your Holiday and the Little One's Birthday. That's all that counts. At least you won't choke on the atmosphere, food or people.

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  4. Anon - Your commentary made me smile. Thank you. :o) "They don't expect you or a whole bunch of people to come and the order for x number of people has already been placed at the caterer." Your exactly right. I hadn't even thought of that. Of course they don't expect us to come! (Duh, Jonsi!)

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