Friday, January 27, 2012

Treasure Trove

I remembered recently that during the time that we were still allowing NMIL contact with us, I had forwarded some of her email correspondence to my mother. In most cases, I already knew how I wanted to respond or what our course of action was going to be in regards to NMIL, but it was nice to know that I had my mom's level-headed thinking as a back-up plan whenever I needed advice. DH was aware that I was sharing these emails with my mom and most of the time, even joined in the discussion. There were many times when we'd get an email from his NM, and we'd talk about it and then look at each other and say, "Okay, now let's call Mama Jonsi and Papa Jonsi and talk to them about it." It always made me feel better. And DH often said it made him feel better too.

Having said that, I asked my mom if I could go into her account and see if those old emails were still archived somewhere. I was really excited to find a few of them because I've always felt like my story is not complete without some of the superficial emails I've referred to at times. I was just as excited to find the old email from L a couple weeks ago because it just felt good putting those puzzle pieces in place.

I would like to share these with you, Dear Reader, not because they are particularly blatant in their demonstration of Narcissism, but because I'm truly devoted to showing you every bit of evidence I can. None of these emails from NMIL represents any sort of covert nastiness or manipulation. But there are a few subtleties that I'd like to point out. In particular, I find that the timing of each email is perhaps most indicative of NMIL's superficial and inappropriate communications with us. Most importantly, they are further proof that she has never engaged in self-reflection regarding her relationship with us and it's inevitable downfall. She can continue to have hopes that someday, she'll see us again. But as long as she maintains the facade, as long as she denies our requirement that she take ample time to self-reflect in order to accurately assess her role in this estrangement and in her life-long abuse of my husband, and as long as she refuses to change, she'll just keep hoping without us.

I must also point out, because you might notice that many of these emails were sent to both DH and I (Gasp! Shocking!), that her inclusion of me as a recipient of these select few emails to follow, was the ONLY aspect of DH's written declaration of needs that she ever even remotely attempted to fulfill. And literally, the few emails I will share with you here are evidence of all the effort she was willing to put in towards that end.

Here we go, in chronological order from oldest to newest:

Remember the email I've referred to from 2010 in which NMIL's brief mention of my birthday was the only acknowledgement she gave? Behold, NMIL's email and my response. (DH had had to forward it to me because she had only sent it to him. I took the liberty of responding because it was exactly what she was hoping wouldn't happen).

From: NMIL
To: DH
Subject: Happy Birthday Jonsi...
Sent: January 31, 2010 @ 4:37 PM


Hi DH and Jonsi –

Hope everything is going well with the house – you must be moving today. Did you get my VM DH? Me and NSIL left you a message.

Wanted to wish Jonsi a happy birthday and let you know we are thinking of all of you. How is Miss DD doing?

Love,

Ma/NMIL's First Name/Gram


From: Jonsi
To: NMIL
CC: DH
Subject: Re: Happy Birthday Jonsi...
Sent: February 1, 2010 @ 8:05 AM


Hi NMIL,

Thank you for the birthday wishes.

Yes, we moved this weekend and we've had a ton of help from family and friends so things are moving along.

Everyone is doing well - DD is 3 months old and she is healthy and happy and loving our new home.

Jonsi and DH


I left no room for a response from her because I didn't want one. I made mention of all the help we had gotten from our family and friends on the move to show her that we were well aware of her CHOICE to not be involved in the important events in our lives. It was my not-so-subtle hint to her that I knew she was neither interested in our special moments, nor happy for us because of them. It was a hint that we saw through her constant and obvious superficiality in regards to my well-being. Where she wanted to work as little as possible at proving her "love" for us and for me, I wanted to show her that we were not fooled by the facade, nor impressed by it. I slapped her in the face with the message: We get all the attention and help we need from the people who REALLY love us. She got the hint, Dear Reader. After I found this email, I remembered that, in a phone call she made to DH shortly after she received my response, she told him that she felt "Jonsi was being mean when she said how much help she got from everyone" when we moved. Sometime later, either during the course of that conversation or during a subsequent one, she offered us her old, used, and broken washing machine "just in case we needed it."

I saw through those manipulation attempts too. It's too bad she saw my truth-ringing as an attack. It's too bad she tried to make my husband feel guilty for it. And it's too bad she tried to offer us her busted up washing machine as a way to try and win my husband back after I clearly "brainwashed" him into thinking she didn't care about us at all.

The subtleties? We all know that NMIL's email was not about my birthday. She used my birthday, just like she has used my husband's, as a means to contact DH and get some Narcissistic Supply. Her email was also not about our exciting move into our first house, nor was it about our DD (whom she only ever inquired about in infrequent emails and occasional phone calls to my husband. She knew as little about DD as she did about me, and never made any real effort into getting to know her more than that). In this case, she merely wanted to feign interest in a day that she knew was important to us (purchasing our first house and moving in) because for so long, "feigning interest" was all it took to convince her well-trained son that she cared.

Her birthday wishes to me proved only that she didn't care at all about her son's future wife. And that part is harder to prove, although it's not impossible. Most people would say, "But isn't it good that she wished you a happy birthday at all? Isn't that acknowledgement? Aren't you being greedy to expect more?" My answer to those questions would be: No, Barely, and Not at all. Because THIS is what it should look like: No matter how a mother feels about the love of her son's life, it is still crucial that she put forth effort, which means thought and time, towards acknowledging, accepting, and being kind to that person. I would expect this of myself, I would expect this of my own mother, I would expect this of a stranger on the street. What should her acknowledgment of my birthday have looked like? It could have been as simple as a heartfelt birthday card or as extravagant as a dinner featuring my favorite home-cooked meal. It could have been a small gift, or a large one. It could have been an email sent directly to me or a gift-card to my favorite store. Even if she didn't know me well enough to purchase the right gift or bake the right cake, a mother-in-law who appreciated me and the love I so obviously have for her son would have done just fine in how she chose to acknowledge my special day. A mother-in-law with a genuine interest in my well-being and who cared about the happiness of others (particularly of those who are important to those she claims are important to her) wouldn't have had to do anything more difficult to acknowledge me than spending the time to craft a thoughtful message.

But we all know how NMIL really feels about me. Thus, the most superficial email she could have possibly sent. Choosing not to acknowledge my birthday at all would have amounted to the same message.
_____________________________________________

From: NMIL
To: Mama Jonsi
Subject: Jonsi's Bridal Shower...
Sent: February 28, 2010 @ 8:52 PM


Hi Mama Jonsi,

NSIL and I just got the invitations this evening and we look forward to attending Jonsi’s shower on March 21st.

I would be happy to bring something – perhaps an appetizer?

See you soon,

NMIL


From: Mama Jonsi
To: NMIL
Subject: Re: Jonsi's Bridal Shower...
Sent: March 1, 2010 @ 9:27 AM


Hi NMIL,

An appetizer would be great.

See you in March.

Mama Jonsi


There isn't a whole lot to say here, Dear Reader, except for this: LIES! We all know NMIL wasn't happy to attend anything regarding celebrations for Yours Truly. I'm not saying I would have expected to tell her the truth, even a person lacking all manners probably wouldn't have done that, but I will say that my mom was not fooled by NMIL's "enthusiasm" any more than I was. I also find it funny that NMIL did nothing for my wedding shower, save for bring a small dish of her "famous guacamole dip" for an appetizer...a course my mother didn't bother to tell her wasn't being served at the event.

And can I just say...I haven't added the elipses on any of these subject lines. That was all NMIL. It makes me laugh. It's like, even her subject lines can't escape the drama!
_____________________________________________

From: Jonsi
To: NMIL, Naunt, L, (my mother), (my aunt), (my best friend), DA, OG1, OG1's fiance, NSIL
CC: DH
Subject: Wedding Pictures
Sent: April 25, 2010 @ 4:33 PM


Hello,

DH and I would like to thank everyone who took pictures the day of our wedding! I'm sure everyone will enjoy looking back at them in years to come and remember how much fun our wedding was. Having said that, we would like to respectfully request that there be no pictures of either DH or I posted on any public website (such as Facebook, Myspace, Flicker, or Shutterfly), in order to protect our privacy.

Thank you kindly,

Jonsi and DH


The message of this email is obvious. I sent an immediate follow-up email to my mom, aunt, and best friend, informing them that the email was not directed at them and that they could disregard it. I would never have to ask my friends and family to protect my privacy - that's not a boundary they would ever cross, intentionally or not.

No one from DH's side responded or acknowledged the request. And when DH called his mother (who was my main target out of all of the recipients) to make sure she got the message, she was openly hostile and aggressive towards him. In my post, Ketchup, I wrote what she had to say to him: When DH called his NM to ask for the confirmation that she had received the email and would follow our request, NMIL responded with a nasty message: "Have you called everybody from that email? Or just me?" She added, "Why would I do that, after the big deal you made out of the pictures I posted on Facebook of DD?" That's right, Dear Reader, DH had dared to make an attempt to protect his privacy. We had dared to set a clear boundary. We had dared to single her out for being guilty of high-treason in the past. And she didn't like it. Her initial lack of response to my email was very telling: if she ignored the request, then it didn't exist. Her nasty response to my husband's follow-up was equally telling: She hated that we weren't going to let her get away with pretending our needs didn't matter.
_____________________________________________

From: NMIL
To: Jonsi
CC: DH
Subject: Mother's Day...
Sent: May 9, 2010 @ 11:33 AM


Jonsi and DH –

Thank you for the Mother’s Day card!

And Jonsi, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day and are enjoying it with your family.

Thinking of you both...

[NMIL's First name]


From: Jonsi
To: NMIL
CC: DH
Subject: Re: Mother's Day...
Sent: May 10, 2010 @ 11:10 AM


Thank you.


A couple things about this little exchange: 1. I picked out the Mother's Day card for NMIL. It was the first and only one we would ever send her. And it was so perfect a card that I was HAPPY to send it to her. It was obvious that the makers of the card had intended for it to be a joke. But I didn't send it as one and I'm fairly certain NMIL isn't so dense as to have not understood precisely what I was saying. The original card was meant for a child to send to his/her mother. The outside said simply, "Happy Mother's Day." The inside originally read something along the lines of "I just wanted to take the time to say...You're so lucky to have me!" I made the following changes: "I We just wanted to take the time to say...You're so lucky to have me us!" Yeah, I went there. And why the hell not?

2. Prior to this email, the last time we'd had contact with NMIL was during the wedding picture email nonsense, in which she initially ignored our request about the photos from our wedding and then responded with anger and nastiness when DH dared to address the issue further. So it was pathetically obvious to me that her little "Happy Mother's Day Jonsi!" was nothing more than another weak and superficial attempt at glossing over the major problems that were boiling under the surface. There's nothing wrong with niceties, and there's nothing wrong with wishing your daughter-in-law a Happy Mother's Day - except when you don't mean it and it's just part of an elaborate facade. This was all just a ticking time-bomb to me, and it was about to explode.
_____________________________________________

From: NMIL
To: Jonsi, DH
Subject: HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY TO DD!!!!!
Sent: November XX, 2010


Hi Everyone!

Hope DD had a fun Halloween – what did she dress up as? Would love some pictures when you have a chance.

And I hope she has a wonderful day today on her very first birthday – love to everyone.

Gram/Mom/NMIL


I tell ya, Dear Reader, the whole "I'm-going-to-feign-excitement-when-I-really-don't-give-a-shit" thing in regards to our birthdays got old real quick. What the hell kind of moron writes an email addressing a one-year-old baby? Why the hell would we think her sappy crappy email was anything more than a ridiculous show of her "affections" for the little girl she had only seen or even asked about less than half a dozen times during her first year of life? I find email to be a rather superficial means of inquiring about a loved one, especially an email that only took two minutes or so to write.

The timing of this email is particularly crucial to understanding the depth of NMIL's denial and her steadfast resolve NOT to change the status quo. History doesn't lie: From June of 2010 to October of 2010, NMIL gave DH the longest and coldest cold-shoulder he had ever experienced, as punishment for his Declaration of Independence. When October rolled around, she finally broke the silence by calling DH and asking him if she would be invited to DD's first birthday party. I wrote about this phone call in my post Ketchup: NMIL finally broke the silence and called DH. She left a message on our house phone, feigning sadness, and expressed her "interest" in seeing "us." The eventual meeting with her was a failure: She offered no sincerity, attempted to buy our love with gifts for DD, and never once inquired about my pregnancy. The above email was sent on DD's first birthday, a few weeks after that ridiculous ice-breaker of a meeting at NMIL's house. So what does it mean?

Well, do you see any indication that she felt remorse? Do you see any indication that she wanted to change? Do you see any indication that she had taken any time to reflect? Or do you see the same-old narcissist, willing to use yet another birthday to exploit my husband's loyalties, as I see?

I could not find my response to the above email, but I know that I completely ignored NMIL's inquiry about what DD was for Halloween and I never sent her any photos. I can't remember whether we even bothered to respond at all. My inclination is that we just ignored her completely.
_____________________________________________

Last one, Dear Reader:

From: NMIL
To: Jonsi, DH
Subject: Hi There!
Sent: November 9, 2010 @ 8:48 PM


How is everyone??? Thank you for the lovely party – DD is absolutely adorable and your house looks great!

First off – big new of the day – NSIL got her license today! Whoo-hoo!!!

Second - what are you guys doing for Thanksgiving? We are invited to OG2’s in [Town X] (Uncle X's girlfriend) and would love to see you if you are able to visit.

Thanks and hope to talk and see you guys soon.

Love,

Mom/Gram/NMIL


As far as this email goes, my mom's analysis is spot-on. Mama Jonsi wrote, "As far as his mom is concerned, I expected the e-mail. Nothing there is going to change. She is as phoney as a 3 dollar bill. Of course DD is adorable! She has been ALL these months!! Where was "Gram" then? Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean she has any deeper feelings for anyone, it's just what she is supposed to be doing."

And finally, I find it funny that NMIL said, "Thank you for the lovely party." In a weird way, she made it sound like the party was for her.

And in her mind, maybe it was...

9 comments:

  1. Reading over the email messages and events that surrounded them, I'm struck by how *tired* I feel. It's the same weariness that communicating with my mother used to cause in me. Narcissists really wear me out. They take so freaking much emotional energy to be around, even over email or the phone.

    How wild to find all of this old correspondence. I'm pretty sure what little I ever had (my mother doesn't like email) is gone. Just as well, since it would probably send me into a funk to read it. :P I'm glad you found this discovery of evidence to be so validating!

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  2. Claire - Tiring for sure. That's how I felt any time we were dealing with NMIL. It's exhausting when everything they say is loaded with nonsense and manipulations and you can't take anything at face value. Gosh, who wants to deal with that, even on a minimal level? I certainly don't!

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  3. Huh. I've been following the "unfolding" of this mess for quite awhile.....I can't imagine what it's like for someone who's not grown up with this crap to marry into it. You be one smart lady, jonsi!

    MIL attempts (among other dastardly deeds) to dump her old washer on you guys because she's too cheap to bring it to the dump herself....must have been after the 'rug-pulling' (out from under you and DH) episode involving the "rental."

    And thanks you for a party that wasn't about her-despite her sincere wishes and obvious attempts to MAKE it all about her. Yep, a real winner/whiner in her narc-ism.

    It's been a few years but I also came upon a treasure trove of old snail mail stuff from narcmomma going back years. Initially it IS tiring/upsetting to read. FWIW I was really unsettled to find this crap. Initially it IS disconcerting and yeah, raw. But I'm promising you it's positively howlingly gut-bustingly funny years from now, really. Especially if you can read it with your partner/good friends/family and pantomime the parts-like your own "Theater of The Absurd." You can dress for the 'parts' and ensure the correct 'inflections' and body-language accompany the "script reading." You could have the character of NMIL carrying a cheap knock-off of some over-sized "Designer" handbag and flinging it all over the other characters/hitting them with it to ensure they ALL "See what I HAVE??!" at DD's party.

    Now I'll admit I do have a perverse sense of humor and some perhaps perverse friends, winters are long here and entertainment short and my DH is dead-BUT he would have LOVED to see his DW and my select loved ones entertaining ourselves in such a rollicking good way considering he WAS present for the pain, frustration and BS my narcmomma pulled. It's as transparent as a fresh roll of Saran wrap. Just gotta find the corner to pull first and then let it roll! And the "Supporting Cast of Characters"-What a feakin' hoot! Exhibit A? Pig? Feckless Freckles? SNL (the old one) couldn't have created a better show than the material generated by these freaks!

    Will your sense of righteous indignation ever cease? NO, nor should it. Nor should this stuff be in your face right now.....but I promise you, these idiots are fodder for all kinds of fun when you're ready.....and I have a feeling your mom would make a great 'partner-in-mime" with this poster, heh-heh...

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  4. Anon - Thanks for your commentary, you've got me in stitches ova' he-ya. Your thoughts are particularly poignant today, as I received communication from the enabling FIL and step Monster-In-Law that is oh-so-obvious in it's message. You know..."Jonsi, we hate you so much. Everything bad that has ever happened is all your fault. Here, this is what we think of you, you terrible hateful sinner, you."

    And you're right - I have to laugh about it all. That's what it comes down to in the end...these people don't even realize how completely and utterly ridiculous they are. Their antics are perfect fodder for the Tragicomedies of today. My mom told me when all of this started that I'd have to learn how to laugh about it all, and that time is now. The sense of injustice and righteous indignity won't ever go away, but it won't spoil my good time either. I've already had tons of laughs at their expense, and unlike them, at the end of the day, I'm still happy.

    And, call it a power trip...but I've won. My husband and I have won. Our children have won. They haven't. And I personally think that all of their childish games and antics are perfect proof that they know that too.

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  5. Whew, thanks for taking that comment in the spirit in which it was intended. I thought later it might come across as minimizing or invalidating your experience with these fools. It takes a whole lot to see the insanity when you grow up with it-we're "bit players" in the soap opera these narcparents call their lives but it's still painful as all get out to grow up in this environment or walk into it with no previous experience. Quite the steep learning curve, eh?!

    Walking into this from a perspective of sanity must be mind-blowing, confusing and terribly hurtful-these narcparents are so incredibly nasty to anyone who in any way threatens their "family dynamics." The back-lash is fast and furious as you've experienced. Initially it starts out with the passive-aggressive attempts to "keep you in your place" or at least scare the "interloper" off, attempts to make you look all kinds of "overly-sensitive," gas-lighting, triangular communications, plausible deniability, recruitment tactics etc. as they up the ante and then finally, all-out war. As their efforts to keep you and DH engaged in their world of crap become more frantic (and they have) there is NO "low" in terms of "how low will they go?"

    As an ACoN, the FIRST "suspect" is ALWAYS the spouse-who is trying to figure out, "WTF? What did I ever DO to these people to engender such malice?" You told the truth, refused to play the game and that can NOT be tolerated. Ever. It will blow the whole mess sky-high. The narcparent sees their off-spring as possessions to be owned, not autonomous adult human beings and you "took" their "toy," one of their "props" that evidence to the "Outside World" some facsimile of "The Perfects."

    All I can think of with these narcparents is, "Welcome to the sandbox. No grown-ups allowed. These are MY toys and you can't play with them. And if you dare to do so, we'll throw a typical toddler melt-down/tantrum and run and TELL EVERYONE (who'll listen to their sobbing, snotting drivel) "See what they (the spouse) DID to MEEEE!"

    One last thought: There is absolutely a "Consciousness of guilt" on the part of narcparents/family systems IMO. One look at the tactics and techniques they employ to cover their tracks tells me, "They KNOW what they're doing is WRONG." It's equally as amazing how much power they give to the spouse of their 'beloved' Adult Child as their attempts to divide and conquer fail-and they denigrate both the spouse AND their allegedly "loved" Adult Child.

    Thank gawd your kids will never be exposed to this perversity. If they're too crazy for mom and dad, they're too crazy for your kids. Kudos to you and DH!

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  6. Anon - WOW! So spot on. And perfect for something that happened recently. I chose to be sort of cryptic (I just posted a poem about it, rather than be direct in my explanation)...but you've totally hit the nail on the head with what I wanted to say.

    "these narcparents are so incredibly nasty to anyone who in any way threatens their "family dynamics." The back-lash is fast and furious as you've experienced. Initially it starts out with the passive-aggressive attempts to "keep you in your place" or at least scare the "interloper" off, attempts to make you look all kinds of "overly-sensitive," gas-lighting, triangular communications, plausible deniability, recruitment tactics etc. as they up the ante and then finally, all-out war. As their efforts to keep you and DH engaged in their world of crap become more frantic (and they have) there is NO "low" in terms of "how low will they go?""

    Are you reading my mind??? You must be, because this describes PRECISELY what I was thinking about the most recent incident involving DH's FOO. Thanks for this!!

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  7. I'd like to add: how low will they go, indeed? It seems, in recent events, VERY low. You summed up exactly what I was feeling in lieu of recent events. My poem was cryptic in it's explanation of what happened, but I will say that I feel as though you're just inside my head and you already know what's going on.

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  8. LOL! No, actually you've so clearly articulated the dynamics as I've followed along (and waited a good long time to post) I could almost predict what was gonna happen next. It's interesting for me to read how someone who came from a normal family dealt with this "narcFOOlishness" and you haven't missed a beat!

    And as the cast of characters evolved it was so incredibly classic I'd sit here and shake my head, "Oh, yeah....about time for a fool like that to just 'blow into' jonsi and DH's life...uh huh, time for a letter/email....yep, time to stir the pot a bit more here" and so forth.

    They've never gotten by you, Little One. Not *once* have they been successful at undermining you, your love for your DH and kids and your incredible, unfailing "eye" for the latent (as opposed to manifest) meaning of their maneuvers. I'm sure the narcfoo is positively frantic by now and because they're bottomless pits there's a new "low" reached with each successive tactic. These kinds of tactics are really eye-opening to an ACoN-if ya had any doubts before believe me, they'll confirm your worst fears-and then some.

    "The Perfects" gave themselves away with this......cesspool of divorces, remarriages (to partners kind of like the ones they just discarded) and all the well, slimy feeling of goo I get when I read about the interactions between DH's biological parents. No, two "same flavor but it's all ice cream" Narcs can't live together comfortably: It ends in a "TKO." So they get divorced legally (but not really-emotionally they were primary sources for one another's N when they weren't engaged in open warfare) and remarry someone a bit more "manageable" while they continue their "Covert Marriage." If their respective spouses can't see that, they're classic enablers. (But then again, what else would we expect?)

    The cast of characters truly is priceless! You can't make this stuff up, but there's a kind of gallows humor that allows you to deal with narcFOOls. I spent far too many years and tears over these Narcs to not be "entitled" a good laugh at the antics. I just mentally "paste" Pampers/Depends on their asses and set 'em loose in their "Sandbox."

    Then I go visit with the other Adults!

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  9. You know, most of the time I felt like I was predicting everything too. They were always pretty obvious in their attempts to manipulate/control/destroy, at least to me. (It's taken DH longer to catch on, he was under their spell for far too long).

    I'd get that feeling like..."Things are quiet...TOO quiet. Something's gonna happen." And then, we'd get the phone call, the letter, the email. They are so predictable.

    And each person in the FOO has a history - I paid attention to that, for that provided me with VERY telling insight. I knew more about them then they could have ever given away on purpose, simply because I paid attention. I looked for those details that gave them away...Like, for example, your example of all that marriage/remarriage/divorce nonsense. Oh-so-telling.

    It's so much nicer here, with the adults, then it would have been in their sandbox. Ahhh, the sweet, sweet smell of victory.

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