Happy New Year, Dear Readers! Oddly enough, I'll be beginning this year with a post about the past. DH and I recently found an old email that we previously thought had been lost to the voids of cyberspace and I wanted to share it with you. I referenced this particular email in my post Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. For those of you who haven't been following my blog from the beginning, the email you are about to read was written by L, my Enabling Father-In-Law's second wife. She wrote this to my husband while he was away on a two-week business trip because he did not call to wish his father a happy birthday. This email came after EFIL's major betrayal just several weeks before.
Sent: February 9, 2011
I left you a message on your voice mail earlier but I wanted to be sure you recieved it. I am disappointed that you did not call your dad for his birthday. If your intention was to hurt him it worked. Why would you be so upset with him that you would be so disrespectful? If it is because he spoke to your mom, that does not make any sense. I speak to [her ex-husband's name]. They will always have you and your children in common and they do not hate each other. It is the same for [her ex-husband's name] and I. Their marriage didn't work out but being bitter only destroys the people who harbor bitterness. They have chosen the higher road in life by not hating and hurting each other any more than their divorce did. I am sure if they hated and attacked each other over the past 20 years if would have not be pleasant for you and added unwanted anxiety.
What other reason could you have to not return any of his calls and want him out of your life? He is not perfect, nobody is. The same grace you show others will someday be something you WILL need as you and Jonsi are not perfect either. In closing you will find in others what you are looking for, if you want to find fault you will and if you are looking for the good in others you will find that. What kind of man do you want to be known for, a loving and gentle person or a critical, mean spirited one. That is only something you can decide. Life is short and I hope you will not regret decisions you are rashly making today.
Whatever you do, know you are loved by [EFIL] and I. You and your family are always in our prayers.
Matthew 7:1-2 Don't criticize and then you won't be criticized. For others will treat you as you treat them.
Even though this email brings back some of my old anger, I'm glad I found it. I like having it as evidence of EFIL and L's ignorance and denial. I like having it as evidence of their stagnant mindset. These people have not changed even one iota, and they continue to place all of the blame for their estrangement from my husband on his shoulders, rather than looking inward to examine themselves and learn where their responsibility in all of this lies.
I've been going back and forth with myself about whether or not to dissect this email here on my blog, and I've decided to go for it. Every time I read it, I find myself analyzing L's words as one might conduct an autopsy. I ask questions that are perhaps rhetorical and have no solid answers: How can they think this way? Why won't they take responsibility? Where is the justice? Who said anything about wanting their parents to be perfect? Will they ever see how wrong this is? What the hell happened? But regardless of the answers, one thing is very clear: Where EFIL and L were in February of 2011 is exactly where they remain today. They have not changed.
I left you a message on your voice mail earlier but I wanted to be sure you recieved it. If anything screams overkill, it's this. There's nothing like saying how badly you want to drive your point home to the person you're needlessly attacking. Not only did L take it upon herself to call my husband and express her "disappointment" (and a whole lot of other things) but she felt the need to "make sure he got her message" by writing it down and emailing it to him as well. I want to say, "Message? What message? Oh, the message where you stick your nose where it doesn't belong long enough to speak for your husband and berate mine? You mean that message where you throw your Christianity in our faces as though it's all the evidence required to prove that you are just doing your "Godly duty" towards us? Wait, the message where you call my husband a "mean-spirited man" and where you draw the absurd conclusion that not calling his father for his birthday means he hates his mother?"
Yes, L, we got that message. Loud and clear.
I am disappointed that you did not call your dad for his birthday. If your intention was to hurt him, it worked. I'm not one to say that a person's feelings don't matter. But in this case, L's really don't. Her phone call to my husband and subsequent email were evidence of her apparent desire for control over the situation. It is acceptable to be upset for a loved one when you perceive that they have been hurt in some way. It is even acceptable to defend them in many of those cases, or at the very least, to WANT to defend them. But it is not acceptable to interfere in the relationship between your husband and his adult son, particularly when your communication takes the place of any communication between the father and son themselves. I mean, where was EFIL's voice in all of this and seriously: HOW DARE THOSE FUCKTARDS SAY THAT I'M THE ONE WHO'S CONTROLLING PEOPLE? I have NEVER spoken for my husband. I have NEVER emailed his father or mother or step-mother or siblings, or anyone else, in an attempt to speak for him. I have never called them to explain how my husband feels about them or the things they have done.
So, who is it who is really speaking for whom? Who is it who claims to know how others' feel? Who is it who continually gets involved in relationships not her own in an effort to control their outcome? I have seen many, many cases of these behaviors in the past two years and I continue to find it funny that these same people are the ones who call me controlling.
Why would you be so upset with him that you would be so disrespectful? If it is because he spoke to your mom, that does not make any sense. Oh, haha! I've had a hearty laugh! This is the crux of it all, isn't it Dear Reader? What an extraordinary leap to make, that not calling his father for his birthday not only has SOMETHING to do with his mother, but that it has EVERYTHING to do with his mother. L's commentary tells me two things: 1. That L is much smarter than I previously gave her credit for and 2. That L is much stupider than I previously gave her credit for. Smarter because there is, as we all know, a connection between DH's relationship with his NM and his relationship with EFIL; and it is not completely inaccurate to say that the one has an immediate effect on the other. Stupider because her analysis fails to account for one major thing: that they are playing right into NMIL's game by buying into the idea that EVERYTHING IS ABOUT HER. Though DH's actions towards his father, especially more recently, are partly the result of the connection that his NM and EF have with each other, this estrangement with his father has much more to do with the life-long strained relationship between father and son...a responsibility that I WILL NOT place on the shoulders of the child that my DH was or on the child that still remains inside of him. No, what they failed to understand is that EFIL and my husband have had a strained relationship since my husband was born. What they failed to comprehend is that my husband's lack of acknowledgement of his father's birthday had much more to do with his continued emotional distance from his father than it did any issues he had taken up with his NM.
I speak to [her ex-husband's name]. Well good for you L. I'd ask what this fact has to do with the situation at hand, but I already know the answer to that: Nothing. Your bringing up the fact that you speak to your ex-husband serves only to show that you are ignorant about what kind of person NMIL is, what kind of person your husband is, and how tightly she has wrapped her strings around you both. And, how ignorant of you to assume that all situations are exactly the same, that what works for one person should work for the rest? What a fool you are, L. What a fool.
They will always have you and your children in common and they do not hate each other. It is the same for [her ex-husband's name] and I. Their marriage didn't work out but being bitter only destroys the people who harbor bitterness. They have chosen the higher road in life by not hating and hurting each other any more than their divorce did. I am sure if they hated and attacked each other over the past 20 years if would have not be pleasant for you and added unwanted anxiety. Oh Dear Reader, for the love! All this talk of hatred! To the Narcs and their monkeys, that subject always seems to be the talk of the town! And really? It's completely unwarranted, unnecessary, and ridiculous to be bringing up the status of EFIL and NMIL's feelings for each other. DH and I neither want to know nor care about how EFIL isn't bitter towards his ex-wife. And DH did not ask his father to hate his mother, nor did he ask him to be bitter or attack her. What he asked was that his father stop communicating with his mother about himself and his FOC. Where the former is unreasonable, the latter is not. We never asked or expected of EFIL the expectations that L attributed us.
What other reason could you have to not return any of his calls and want him out of your life? At the time that this email was written, this assertion was more absurd than it would be if it were made today. Making the claim that DH "wanted his father out of his life," specifically because of his and NMIL's continued correspondence, was rather over-dramatic. Furthermore, again it just goes to show how unreasonable EFIL and L have been about taking a look at their part in the outcome of our relationships with them. I mean, really? What this statement really means is that L believes that there are literally no other reasons why DH didn't call his father. In their world, it's all or none. In their world, it's all about NMIL. In their world, it's NEVER their fault. How sick! What a crazy way of seeing the world around them.
He is not perfect, nobody is. The same grace you show others will someday be something you WILL need as you and Jonsi are not perfect either. I suppose this comment was inevitable, given L's pension for using the slogans of abusive parents everywhere. "Why do you hate us so much?" "It wasn't so bad." "We're not perfect you know!" Yeah yeah. We know you aren't perfect, and we never asked you to be. We know we aren't perfect either, no need to point it out. We don't want to be perfect and achieving perfection has never been a goal of ours. Being loving, compassionate parents, however, is. Being kind, considerate, and loyal to those we care about, is. Trying hard every day to overcome our dysfunctional legacies, most certainly. But being perfect is not something we long for.
And for the record? Please. Please show us the same grace we have shown you. We're still waiting for it. For the time being, we'll take your stone-hearted silence and refusal to change as evidence that the best we can hope for in terms of your "grace" is your ignorance of our existence.
In closing you will find in others what you are looking for, if you want to find fault you will and if you are looking for the good in others you will find that. In closing, WRONG. Sometimes, there isn't much good to be seen in others, or what little good you may find is far undermined by the bad. Sometimes, it takes more than rose-colored-glasses and a born-again-Christian mentality to be successful in life. Sometimes you look and look and look and don't find what you are looking for because it's just not there. Sometimes you have to close the door because people refuse to change or accept responsibility. Sometimes, these things happen.
What kind of man do you want to be known for, a loving and gentle person or a critical, mean spirited one. That is only something you can decide. Of the entire message, this was the part that bothered me the most. Anyone who honestly believes that my husband is critical and mean-spirited does not know him at all. My husband is the most gentle and loving man I have ever met. I hold him in the same regards that I hold my own father: whom I see as a jolly and loving being, who has found great internal strength to overcome his own dysfunctions in life. My husband has been so UNcritical in his past that he has let far too many people hurt and take advantage of him. Only now has he found the resolve needed to be analytical enough about the world around him to assess it more accurately: that is, based on what IS instead of what he hopes for. To call my husband mean-spirited is so ridiculous it's beyond the point of funny, it's hysterical (once I've gotten over the injustice of such a claim). It just floors me that this is how they think of him. When he's not being "controlled and manipulated" by me, you know, because of his "controllable spirit," then he's being critical and mean-spirited. My poor husband can't win in their vicious eyes.
Life is short and I hope you will not regret decisions you are rashly making today. Oh hey, "Life is short!" there's another one of those Abusive Parent Slogans. Anyway, I know you know well, Dear Reader, that our decisions regarding EFIL and NMIL could never be described as "rash." I can come up with a whole slew of adjectives to describe those particular decisions, and rash is definitely not one of them.
Whatever you do, know you are loved by [EFIL] and I. You and your family are always in our prayers. We get it, we get it already L. We get that you think this is all about being the bigger people and that you think you are it. We get it, we are infantismile to your giganticism. We'll just sit here hating all over you, while you love on us from afar and continue to keep us in your prayers that we don't end up in hell for disrespecting you.
Don't criticize and then you won't be criticized. For others will treat you as you treat them. Your hypocrisy continues to astound me.