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Ann.without.an.e

UPDATE #3 Do I need to just let go of a relationship with my inlaws?

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Ok.  This is a huge tangled mess.  Here's how I would really move forward in real life so that there would be the least amount of confrontation in December.  My plan involves getting through the end of the year and then what to do moving forward.  I would not try to resolve anything or confront anything until next year, when I've had to time read some books and get some face-to-face counseling.

 

1.  Quickly make some other real plans for Christmas Eve with someone else, asap.  Have DH call them back and say, "I didn't realize that dw had already made plans with X."  Don't lie.  Find a way to make plans with someone, anyone.  Or maybe sign up to volunteer for something.  Don't be a liar, but I also believe this is not the time to make a stand or confront them.  You and your DH aren't ready yet.  You don't have the tools to handle it.

 

2.  Read the books recommended here.  This will start filling your toolchest.

 

3.  Get counselling.  The fact that you have to tip-toe around husband isn't good so be sure to discuss that, along with the glaring problems with FIL, MIL, BIL to formulate a plan.  Especially the part about the murderous BIL.  This will also fill your toolchest.

 

4.  Get an alarm for your house.

 

5.  Do not initiate contact with them  Suddenly become very busy if they invite you to anything.  The next major family event might be Easter.  By then, you'll hopefully have a few tools in the chest to help with turning down any invites to Easter.  Because if you turn down an established family event, there will be trouble and you'll need to be prepared.  Until then, you can probably get away with vague, "Oh, we won't be able to do whatever because of whatever," and it might not be noticed at first.

 

6.  The ultimate goal is to cut them out of your lives with the least drama possible.  The goal is not to restore a relationship.  The plan is to let them go without vicious attacks, either verbal (FIL, MIL) or with actual weapons (BIL.)

 

 

 

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UPDATE #2

 

So now I am mad at DH. He admitted yesterday that while he was there he invited them to Christmas Eve at our house (our normal tradition). I'm so hurt. They did ask "are you sure that would be okay?" in which case he said "sure". Other than them asking "are you sure that would be okay?" they never acknowledged that they had said or done anything wrong. What was he thinking? I showed my frustration but I didn't get angry at him. He said he would call and tell them nevermind but now that gives them a real reason to hate me and call me the b*tch. Up until now I have never said or done a single mean thing to them. I would like to keep their hate for me unfounded. I guess they will come to my house for Christmas Eve. Whether I stay I am not sure. I seriously may just leave.

 

 

ETA

It is a vicious cycle of them blowing up at me and then we all move on like nothing happened. They never need to apologize. I am just supposed to suck it up and move on. Maybe I'm just getting more self confidence in my old age but I'm tired of being treated like this and everyone thinking it is okay.

As someone who recently escaped this situation, stop being so nice. It's not about being nice with this type of people. They will take advantage every time. Stand your ground. Save your Christmas, and be done with it. The only way things change is if you change them and stand your ground. Your DH has been under their thumb too long to be truly helpful in this.

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How is picking up and moving a viable option? Our lives are here, DH's work is here, etc. It is NOT an option. How is that not just as giving in to fear as going along with everything to keep him happy. In the end, isn't that also giving them control? To break us from our lives, our friendships, etc? I don't see that as a solution.

If you move, leave no forwarding address, and build a life without your abusers, you are taking every ounce of control from them. I just moved 8 hours away from our ILs following a situation similar to yours that led to physical assault of me and my daughter. Frankly, even though we ended up starting over and my credit card balances are higher than I would like due to the move, my ONLY regret is not doing it a decade ago. It took getting my DH completely away from the craziness for him to fully understand what they are, and he's still processing it. But he's thanking me now for getting our family out of that situation because he couldn't see it while he was in it.

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ETA

It is a vicious cycle of them blowing up at me and then we all move on like nothing happened.  They never need to apologize.  I am just supposed to suck it up and move on.  Maybe I'm just getting more self confidence in my old age but I'm tired of being treated like this and everyone thinking it is okay.

 

The Emotionally Destructive Relationship (book) addresses this and I do HIGHLY recommend it. This is so common in abuse situations. You don't need to put up with this. It is disrespectful and unloving. 

 

ETA: Not sure what your belief systems are, but as a Christian I believe my husband is supposed to be my covering, my protector. IMO he was not acting as your covering when he invited them.  It is likely based on all that you have said here that it was never modeled for him. His dad was the abuser of his mom, not her protector and covering.   He may need your help to know what that looks like.  Counseling may help both of you. You could try being direct and saying, "I need you to be my covering. I am feeling _______ about this situation. I need you to advocate what is best for me and for our family. Will you do that for me?"  Prayerfully you will get a positive response.  Being your covering means taking responsibility and taking the brunt of any coarse talk and abuse they may want to fling at you. It also means that perhaps for a time (or permanently)  you will not talk to them without him present. 

 

As far as counseling, I think it is important to go to a counselor that does acknowledge there can be emotional and verbal abuse by a spouse or family members. Abuse is not merely physical and sexual.

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Your kids cannot learn to put up with this.

You cannot live in fear of your BIL if he's a homocidal maniac. No way.

 

I am so very sorry you are facing this.

 

THIS!

my grandparents were children of alcoholics.  there was alot of physical and mental abuse going on. my grandmother then perpetrated the mental and pscyhological abuse onto us. (as did many of their siblings with their own children.)

 

BREAK THE CYCLE.  you owe it to your children. your children deserve better than this - and if you don't take active measure to break the cycle, at the very least, they will be attracted to crazy people like this - because this is normal to them.  they need to know it's not healthy, and something to avoid.

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As far as counseling, I think it is important to go to a counselor that does acknowledge there can be emotional and verbal abuse by a spouse or family members. Abuse is not merely physical and sexual.

 

this this this this this!  the family is already engaging in those - and you have threats of physical.

please do not discount the cumulative damage of "merely" emotional, or verbal abuse.   they can cause lasting damage, that can continue long after the perpetrator is dead!

 

 

eta: I just want to reemphasize what others have said.  NOTHING YOU DO WILL EVER BE GOOD ENOUGH.  they want someone to be the scapegoat - and that's you.   put the well-being of your children and marriage - first.  the relationships with these people are endagering your marriage (healthy marriage partnerships do not involve tiptoeing) - AND your children's well-being.  as the child who came out of this situation (my mother always tried, and *taught us to!*, do whatever it took to make grandma happy.  one problem. NOTHING could make her happy. ever.  not even the type of butt kissing she demanded would make her happy.) - I assure you, you're children are learning unhealthy patterns.  as a teen, I held my mother in contempt for not protecting us.  as an adult, I saw her as a broken person. we never had the type of relationship I have with my own daughters.  you can change things.  I assure you - it is worth everything to do so.

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<snip>

 

1.  Quickly make some other real plans for Christmas Eve with someone else, asap.  Have DH call them back and say, "I didn't realize that dw had already made plans with X."  Don't lie.  Find a way to make plans with someone, anyone.  Or maybe sign up to volunteer for something.  Don't be a liar, but I also believe this is not the time to make a stand or confront them.  You and your DH aren't ready yet.  You don't have the tools to handle it.

 

<snip>

 

Great advice.  But, I say, lie if you have to.   I don't like to lie, but sometimes... it's just  necessary.

 

But do it soon because it becomes less plausible as time goes on.  If your husband waits a week to say "oh, we already had plans..." it's going to be obvious that the plans were put in place after the fact.

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Great advice. But, I say, lie if you have to. I don't like to lie, but sometimes... it's just necessary.

 

But do it soon because it becomes less plausible as time goes on. If your husband waits a week to say "oh, we already had plans..." it's going to be obvious that the plans were put in place after the fact.

I debated about whether or not to tell her to lie. I decided not to. If she lies, she'll have to get her dh and kids in on the lie. And they'll never be able to slip up. Because if the in-laws get the tiniest whiff or idea in their head that it's a lie, then there will be a big blow up.

 

Like, if they lie and say they'll be out on Christmas Eve, that'll be the time they call and a kid accidentally answers the phone and blows the story.

 

For this case, this time, I wouldn't lie. I'd be too afraid she'd be caught in the lie and I don't believe she or her husband are able to handle a big blow up with the in-laws just yet.

 

But, if she's sure the lie won't be found out...then I'd probably lie, too. I wouldn't feel comfortable teaching the kids to lie, though, and they'd have to be in on it in case they're ever asked what they did on Christmas Eve.

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The amount of manipulation is so deep and so awful. It literally changed the course of DH's life and he is bitter about it. He is brilliant, he exceled in school, his teachers wanted to help him apply for colleges but his dad manipulated him into the military instead. It was a million manipulative and degrading comments about educated people, over and over again it was made clear to DH that going to college wasn't an acceptable path for someone who was capable of real work, etc, etc. Real men don't go to college. All his dad talked about was how he should go into the Airforce (that is what FIL did). As soon as DH came home from enlisting, his dad went on and on about how It may have been a mistake. You cannot win with these people, even if you do what they want you to.

Does he realize he's now manipulating you and the kids? He's being his mother in the Christmas Eve scenario.

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If you are involved at all with a church, could you come up with a last minute decision to go help with some function at the church on Christmas Eve? That might get you out of the house for part or most of the evening, lessening the pressure on you with the in-laws. 

 

That said, if you can just suck it up and ENJOY your Christmas Eve with your family, and just look past the presence of your in-laws . . . that would be best, IMHO. Don't let them mess up your own family's enjoyment. Be generous, look at it as an act of love for your dh . . . and just be happy and let go. Maybe have an extra glass or two (not too many!) glass of wine . . .

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I debated about whether or not to tell her to lie. I decided not to. If she lies, she'll have to get her dh and kids in on the lie. And they'll never be able to slip up. Because if the in-laws get the tiniest whiff or idea in their head that it's a lie, then there will be a big blow up.

 

<snip>

 

Good points.  I was thinking that the kids were shielded from this drama, so the lies would be on the parents' part and not on the kids.  No teaching kids to lie.  

Events get planned and then cancelled at the last minute, kwim? 

 

Given Charleigh's posts, I'd lie to my kids to keep them away from these people.   I'd put some fake event on the calendar now.  I'd not have my kids answering the phone and if grandparents call and ask to talk, kids are in the bathtub.  (I've no idea how old the kids are.) 

 

Yeah, lying is bad, and elaborate lies are worse.  Sometimes there are no alternatives.

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Why would he tell them he's canceling because of you? He just needs to tell them that he made a mistake and forgot to check the calendar and the family is already committed. If the commitment is church, invite them to meet you there instead of your house.

 

 

He doesn't plan to tell them outright but Christmas Eve is always with them.  We don't make other plans and they will know that it is me because he was so up for it when it was just them and him.

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He doesn't plan to tell them outright but Christmas Eve is always with them.  We don't make other plans and they will know that it is me because he was so up for it when it was just them and him.

 

They would assume it was you even if it wasn't, because they can't imagine he'd be fed up of dealing with them.

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He doesn't plan to tell them outright but Christmas Eve is always with them.  We don't make other plans and they will know that it is me because he was so up for it when it was just them and him.

 

There's still no reason you can't change plans. 

 

Take a hammer to your oven if you need to, then call and say the oven is broken so we've made reservations at Cafe Anywherebutmyhouse.

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He doesn't plan to tell them outright but Christmas Eve is always with them. We don't make other plans and they will know that it is me because he was so up for it when it was just them and him.

Hmmm. I think a terrible flu starting in the middle of the day Dec 23rd. Terrible, terrible flu. Highly contagious.

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Hmmm. I think a terrible flu starting in the middle of the day Dec 23rd. Terrible, terrible flu. Highly contagious.

 

Yes.  But I suspect they will assume it's a lie.

 

There's still no reason you can't change plans. 

 

Take a hammer to your oven if you need to, then call and say the oven is broken so we've made reservations at Cafe Anywherebutmyhouse.

 

Why can't your husband just say "Mom, Dad, I want to change things up a bit this year, let's go to Cafe A. instead of hanging out  here. 

 

Hmm... Maybe combine the two ideas.  "Mom, Dad, Charleigh's sick, so let's just meet at Cafe A."  Charleigh doesn't have to leave her own home, husband can see his parents.  If it were me, I'd BE sick in anticipation of this debacle, so it wouldn't even be a lie.  I don't know what to do about those poor kids though.  Are they young enough that they wouldn't know you lied if you said they felt feverish and should stay home too?

 

Then, start planning now to end the Christmas Eve tradition before it's time to dread it again next year. 

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Yes.  But I suspect they will assume it's a lie.

 

 

Why can't your husband just say "Mom, Dad, I want to change things up a bit this year, let's go to Cafe A. instead of hanging out  here. 

 

Hmm... Maybe combine the two ideas.  "Mom, Dad, Charleigh's sick, so let's just meet at Cafe A."  Charleigh doesn't have to leave her own home, husband can see his parents.  If it were me, I'd BE sick in anticipation of this debacle, so it wouldn't even be a lie.  I don't know what to do about those poor kids though.  Are they young enough that they wouldn't know you lied if you said they felt feverish and should stay home too?

 

Then, start planning now to end the Christmas Eve tradition before it's time to dread it again next year. 

 

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Yes.  But I suspect they will assume it's a lie.

 

 

Why can't your husband just say "Mom, Dad, I want to change things up a bit this year, let's go to Cafe A. instead of hanging out  here. 

 

Hmm... Maybe combine the two ideas.  "Mom, Dad, Charleigh's sick, so let's just meet at Cafe A."  Charleigh doesn't have to leave her own home, husband can see his parents.  If it were me, I'd BE sick in anticipation of this debacle, so it wouldn't even be a lie.  I don't know what to do about those poor kids though.  Are they young enough that they wouldn't know you lied if you said they felt feverish and should stay home too?

 

Then, start planning now to end the Christmas Eve tradition before it's time to dread it again next year. 

 

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Yes.  But I suspect they will assume it's a lie.

 

 

 

They would assume it was a lie even if it was truth, and the cancellation was accompanied by videos of the kids throwing up. It doesn't matter! You don't need to overthink how to get away with cancelling because you won't get away with it. Cancel anyway. Give any reason or no reason.

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Dh had his own "aha" moment the other day.  It is like it suddenly hit him that this situation simply isn't right.  He is seeing the unhealthiness of the relationship all for himself.  I had told him not to cancel because it will give them ammo to believe that I'm the enemy.  He was ok with that originally.  Now he has decided that he needs to cancel for his own reasoning.  I'm happy to have him come to this conclusion on his own.  He is writing a letter (because you can't get a word in edgewise with my MIL).  She will just go on and on and never hear what he has to say. 

 

 

ETA

 

DH and I are planning to read the book Boundaries together.  He seems excited about it so this is good. 

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That's good you're working together! My advice would be to not send the letter. Don't give them any more information than necessary. They'll just use it against him later.

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That's good you're working together! My advice would be to not send the letter. Don't give them any more information than necessary. They'll just use it against him later.

 

 

How else does he cancel Christmas Eve?  How else does he explain the distance we need right now?

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How else does he cancel Christmas Eve? How else does he explain the distance we need right now?

Text? Call and cancel and get off. Don't engage. He doesn't have to explain why.

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I read DH's letter before he mailed it.  It is not detailed, it doesn't drag out all of their wrongs.  It basically says that because of the harsh words spoken (without ever apologizing) we need some distance for now.  He says that he would like to sometimes visit them alone as long as they are willing to refrain from speaking negatively about me and the kids.  He says if they are willing to play by those rules then to please call or write him and let him know that it is okay to visit.  It isn't high drama, it is to the point.  It basically just says we need some space. 

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Text? Call and cancel and get off. Don't engage. He doesn't have to explain why.

 

 

They don't text.  That would be so easy if they did.  How do you not explain canceling a family tradition?  They are going to be hurt or offended regardless of our reason.  Honestly, his letter is so mild and to the point, it doesn't give much ammo.  Also, if he doesn't send a letter then their imaginations are going to create something far worse.  He wanted to call but his mom dominates conversation and you honestly can't get a word in. 

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Imo, sending the letter would be a huge mistake. You can't reason with someone like your fil because he is never wrong. The letter, imo, will do nothing but increase the level of drama.

 

I would have your husband get "sick" at the last minute and have him call and cancel.

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And, yes...I'm struggling with guilt.  I always do.  I feel horrible.  Maybe I could have done something different to make this not happen?  I never said a harsh word to them.  I never told them I didn't want a relationship.  So why do I feel so darn guilty.  ugh

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Imo, sending the letter would be a huge mistake. You can't reason with someone like your fil because he is never wrong. The letter, imo, will do nothing but increase the level of drama.

 

I would have your husband get "sick" at the last minute and have him call and cancel.

 

 

Get sick every holiday?  You can't just go MIA and not explain.  I don't think that is fair either. 

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Do you have a plan for dealing with their response? Folks like these so not typically slip off quietly into the night. You and dh should probably practice some sound bites to state when they call, or come knocking at your door. It would not surprise me at all if they came around on Christmas Eve anyway. That's what my... challenging... family member would most likely do.

 

I am not trying to discourage you, but do not be surprised if your dh's letter has other than the effect you hope for. The Boundaries book will elaborate on this. Folks you are setting boundaries with usually have the most trying behavior immediately after realizing you've drawn your line in the sand.

 

I am happy for you that your husband is seeing the light.

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And, yes...I'm struggling with guilt.  I always do.  I feel horrible.  Maybe I could have done something different to make this not happen?  I never said a harsh word to them.  I never told them I didn't want a relationship.  So why do I feel so darn guilty.  ugh

:grouphug:   You have done nothing wrong.

 

You could not have done anything to prevent this.

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And, yes...I'm struggling with guilt. I always do. I feel horrible. Maybe I could have done something different to make this not happen? I never said a harsh word to them. I never told them I didn't want a relationship. So why do I feel so darn guilty. ugh

Now now, don't take up guilt that doesn't belong to you! It does feel awful to be the "mean" one - to be unfairly labeled because you're the one who rocked their boat. But it's not your fault. I love the line stated here recently: "If I've cut you off, chances are you handed me the scissors." You're just using the scissors. They're the ones who made your actions necessary.

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Get sick every holiday?  You can't just go MIA and not explain.  I don't think that is fair either.

I am not suggesting to get sick every holiday. Get sick this holiday and then figure out how to deal with this situation before the next holiday rolls around. Sending a letter has the potential to ruin your holiday this year as it will not be well received by your fil.

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Charleigh- I haven't read all the posts, but I think a terrible, nasty case of the flu should hit your family. The kind that is deadly to older people. Coincidentally, it hit two days before Christmas, and it will last for about a week. Last minute scheduling change, but not your fault. I would think it hit all of you hard and Christmas Eve must be cancelled. Good luck, sweetie!

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Get sick every holiday?  You can't just go MIA and not explain.  I don't think that is fair either. 

 

I think she meant just get sick this holiday, to give you the space for this Christmas and entire year to work things out (whichever way it goes) before next Christmas.

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I have family like this. I would have a backup plan of what to do in case the inlaws just show up (even though a letter was sent). Not out of fear, but I certainly wouldn't open the door and reward the inlaws ignoring boundaries if they show.

Have you gotten in to see the counselor? I really urge you to. One letter may not be the end of all of this.

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How else does he cancel Christmas Eve?  How else does he explain the distance we need right now?

 

mom- we have to cancel christmas eve. it won't work for us.  stop, rinse, repeat. if she asks why - because it won't.  rinse repeat. bye, hang up the phone.

 

remember - you only give the absolute minimum of information.  anything you say WILL be used against you.  anything you say WILL be used as a wedge to manipulate you.  don't give them ammunition, and don't give them a wedge.

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And, yes...I'm struggling with guilt.  I always do.  I feel horrible.  Maybe I could have done something different to make this not happen?  I never said a harsh word to them.  I never told them I didn't want a relationship.  So why do I feel so darn guilty.  ugh

 

Why do you suppose you are a victim of narcissistic shmucks? Because you'll feel guilty. The "best" kind of abuse is the kind where the situation can be set up so you abuse yourself. They way they didn't do anything. See?

 

Anger will help with the guilt. You may not want to feel anger either, but it's an important step towards apathy. Every time you feel guilty, say "What presumptuous jerks! Who do they think they are?"  :laugh:

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Charleigh.  I think the letter was fine.  You and your husband are doing the right thing on all levels.  It is hard to determine how they will react.  Will they react with shunning?  With abuse?   With calls?  With a visit?   They haven't come up with boundary lines before from what you've said, so you really don't know.  :grouphug: Be strong.  You and your husband are doing good things for yourselves and for your children. 

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Do you have a plan for dealing with their response? Folks like these so not typically slip off quietly into the night. You and dh should probably practice some sound bites to state when they call, or come knocking at your door. It would not surprise me at all if they came around on Christmas Eve anyway. That's what my... challenging... family member would most likely do.

 

I am not trying to discourage you, but do not be surprised if your dh's letter has other than the effect you hope for. The Boundaries book will elaborate on this. Folks you are setting boundaries with usually have the most trying behavior immediately after realizing you've drawn your line in the sand.

 

I am happy for you that your husband is seeing the light.

 

I can't agree with this enough!

 

I wish I had known that when putting normal boundaries in place, people can react in insane ways.   Beyond anything you would ever imagine.   Which just proves that they are completely messed up, but it is gut-wrenching to live through.   And now I completely don't blame people for pretending to be "sick" when they are dealing with psychos.

 

Just be prepared for the insanity.  

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^^^ I agree I'm afraid. I'd be prepared for phonecalls, showing up at the door, total denial that they ever said anything nasty, then more nasty plus threats, then a nasty reply letter followed by shunning and guilt trips... That's my mum's script. Also be prepared for it to be very painful for your husband. I think sending the letter is fine, just be warned that crazy people tend to up their crazy when confronted. I'm sorry. I do hope it goes well for you guys.

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Charleigh.  I think the letter was fine.  You and your husband are doing the right thing on all levels.  It is hard to determine how they will react.  Will they react with shunning?  With abuse?   With calls?  With a visit?   They haven't come up with boundary lines before from what you've said, so you really don't know.  :grouphug: Be strong.  You and your husband are doing good things for yourselves and for your children. 

 

 

We have never had boundaries with them so we have no idea how they will react.  We are in new territory and we know that crazy may come but we don't know yet what may happen in the future.  DH has a peace about the letter though.  He feels like it was the best decision and him making any real decision that doesn't just go along with the crazy is new so I'm game.

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:grouphug:   You have done nothing wrong.

 

You could not have done anything to prevent this.

 

needs to be said again and again.  and louder.

 

print it off and tape it to your bathroom mirror so you can read it every day if you have to.

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