A series of letters from people who are trying to disengage but don’t know how. There’s some really toxic addiction and abusive behavior described in some of the letters, so, know that going in.
Captain and Crew,
I’ve been married to a wonderful man for almost 5 years now. He and I have worked hard to have a marriage based on openness and honesty.
We decided fairly early on we weren’t in a hurry to have kids, if ever. We wanted to have time to be just us. Then I had some medical issues which required a snip of the tubes, so it hasn’t even been an issue for many years.
The second question my MIL ever asked me was if I was going to give her grandchildren. To the point she stopped talking to us for a year after the marriage when we told her it wasn’t happening.
My husband has always, always handled her and stood up to her on our (and my) behalf. He’s never tried to make me do what she wants even superficially for “family harmony”.
Adding to the tension is the fact that for ten years her ex husband brutally abused my husband. When my husband finally talked to her about it and asked why she didn’t allow him to live elsewhere, her reply was “I didn’t want to admit I was wrong. I would rather you be abused and hurt than hear ‘I told you so’ from my mother”. She has also Whitewashed the abuse and makes it like they had a Rockwell childhood.
There has been therapy for all of this, don’t worry. And continues to be.
Husband and I are now talking about having kids in the next couple years, especially now that we have found out My body has reversed that surgery all on it’s own (super mutant Fallopian tubes for the win).
We will need to set boundaries, probably All over again. Going into it this is what We would want:
1. She would never be left alone with any of our kids. Ever. She has a history of poor decision making and drug use.
2. We would need to restrict how much time she is visiting for our own sanity, and to be honest, mainly mine.
3. That she will not argue every aspect of our parenting choices.
So when is the best time to establish these? What’s a good script that doesn’t involve my overprotective tendencies an easy out? Can I just hide being pregnant until the kid is like 13?
We are not telling anyone I am fertile again, but we are discussing all of this potential madness.
Thanks for your advice
Not yet a momma but already dreading grandmomma drama
I’m in grad school for creative writing. It’s hard. Right now, I’m taking three classes, which means that I’m reading 500-plus pages a week, in addition to commenting on my classmates’ writing and producing a poem every week. Plus, I’m teaching a basic composition course for struggling writers, and a literature course (for the first time ever), so I’m writing lesson plans and grading essays for nearly 60 students. AND I work ten hours a week to supplement my stipend enough to buy things like toiletries, books and the occasional beer on a Friday night. Also, I need to clean my apartment and do laundry and run errands sometimes. And in addition to all of THAT, I’m expected to participate in meetings, go to outside lectures, and attend all the readings by my classmates and visiting writers. And I WANT to, because oh my god I love school. School is the best thing ever. I work my ass off and I LOVE IT. This is not really about grad school.
Except it kind of is. I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which causes, among other things, crushing migraines and extreme fatigue. And there’s no cure for it, because ovaries, ew. Mostly, I manage. But there are days when I can barely drag myself around, and did I mention all the stuff I’m supposed to be doing? Sometimes I can’t do it all. Sometimes my whole body feels like a bag of wet sand that I’m not strong enough to lift. Sometimes I have to lie down and rest before I die. So I miss the reading, or the lecture, or the lunch meeting.
Dear Captain Awkward,
Ever since I can remember my worth in my family has only gone up when my weight goes down. My mom was always telling me I was too fat and that I needed to pull my pants up over my stomach or that I needed to buy larger shirts so my “fat doesn’t hang out”. She even has my brother, grandmother and my father doing it. My mother is a functional alcoholic, and has been since before she was pregnant with me (my dad had come home to her being trashed when she was about 3 months along with me, but that’s not the point of what I’m writing about) and when she’s drinking her comments on my body get around ten times worse. She’s even gone so far as to text my father (whom she’s divorced) that I’ve gained [EXAGGERATED AMOUNT OF WEIGHT] and need an intervention. I honestly am not overweight, or at least don’t see myself to be. [WEIGHT INFO REDACTED] I have to wear extra large T-shirts because I have an overly large bust and if I complain about not being able to find tops that fit she says that maybe if I went on a diet I would go down a few cup sizes. The only time she ever says anything positive to me is if she thinks I’ve lost weight. I would be completely comfortable with my body if it wasn’t for her breathing down my neck all the time about my weight. One minute she’s angry that I’m eating, and then another she’s angry if I haven’t eaten. There is absolutely no way that I can win with her. How can I make her leave the subject alone?
I’m an 18 year old girl, not a victoria’s secret model.
More on the theme of parents & communication with adult children today.
Dear Captain Awkward,
I’ve been reading your blog for just a few days now but I already caught on to the important part ‘speak up for yourself’.
Now my problem is that I can’t. Or rather I can’t make myself.
I’ve grown up with my bipolar mother. She’s in therapy, on meds and the whole family is very supportive.
She was stuck in depressive stage for what feels like my whole youth, so living at home was equal to walking on egg shells. No arguments, no unplanned behavior, no upsetting mom lest she burst into tears. No friends over (not that I had many). No going for a walk after school instead of heading straight home. No speaking my mind. Keeping my head down so dad wouldn’t have more to worry about.
While my younger brother dealth with the problem by taking drugs and acting up, I was the model daughter. Dream grades. Quiet behavior. Self sufficient.
I, well, broke around age 17 where she had another depressive plunge and went into the hospital. I was unable to visit her, speak to her, look at her without everything freezing. I had two years of therapy, at least one mental breakdown and unvited her from my graduation ceremony because I didn’t want to risk her ruining the day as she was almost but not quite out of the hospital.
Fast forward to today:
I’ve moved out and live with my boyfriend of 6 years. She’s not had a depressive episode in a while but is bordering on mania. She’s still self centered but more aware of her surroundings. Unfortunately she has this big idea of us being/becoming bffs. She tries to bribe me with presents (small things…flowers, yarn, chocolate). She says she loves me and I can see in her eyes that she wants me to just say it back.
But I can’t. It would be a lie. I don’t love her. She has serverely disabled me with this need for top grades, the inability to speak up for myself and the fear that one wrong step will have her telling me again what a horrible child I am and/or send her back into depression.
I generally keep my distance as she’s getting clingy again. I only visit my father (he works at me university, so I can just visit his office). But I don’t want to cut her out of my life. Or rather, I feel I shouldn’t. It would mean not seeing my father as much. I enjoy spending time with her in small doses (or at least I think so…might be self-delusion). I’m afraid it’ll push her back into depression and though I should be taking care and thinking of myself I just can’t.
The solution to my problems is just one talk/phone call/email/letter away
I could talk to my boyfriend.
I could call or email my father.
I could call or write a letter to my former therapist.
But I just sat here for three hours trying to make myself do any of it and couldn’t.
Lips Glued Shut
Dear Captain Awkward,
I have a best friend. We’ve known each other for a long time, gone through some really rough times together as we both coped with mental illness, toxic families, financial hardship and general shenanigans. Being single ladies who are at the asexual end of the scale, we share a house, and have lived together for most of our adult lives. We have a fairly active social life, with a lot of mutual friends.
My BFF is magnetic and charismatic, and people are generally drawn to her. She’s not conventionally attractive, but she’s one of those people you have to look at twice, just to confirm that yes, she’s real. People tend to pursue her friendship (or romantic attention, which she does not give). For a while, invitations from our mutual friends were sent only to her, “Can you and [LW] come along to X?” (I put a stop to that when I found out BFF was refusing invitations on behalf of both of us, without even telling me about them. “I wish I’d been invited to X.” “We thought you didn’t want to come!”)
I’m quieter, yet more spiky. I can be a bit snarky, and sometimes it takes a while for people to warm up to me. And that’s fine, because it takes a while for me to warm up to people! I’m currently in therapy to deal with my abusive childhood, and am only now learning to assert boundaries and refrain from taking responsibility for other people’s emotions.
All this is great! Here’s the problem: BFF suffers from a major depressive disorder, and also a personality disorder. It’s managed through medication, but she can’t afford therapy any more. And she doesn’t take criticism well, even if the criticism is entirely deserved on her part. When she’s in a low state, as she is now, she becomes a bit of an emotional black hole.
I am in serious need of some guidance. I’ll do my best to keep the background info to being pertinent to the situation. Here it goes.
I have a wonderful four year old son with my terrible, emotionally-abusive ex. I left him when my son was a little over a year old and there has been many legal battles and serious ISSUES between he and I ever since. About 8 months ago he was caught physically abusing his stepson (which my son witnessed) and I was finally able to get a restraining order and complete physical custody. The incident left my son with emotional scars and a ton of guilt. He won’t tell when people are mean to him (i.e. kids throwing rocks at him at daycare and not telling the teacher) because of the guilt about his dad. He has a good therapist and has improved considerably since the incident but he is in a fragile place and needs security and to feel safe for the healing to continue.
My question is about how to handle my ex’s stepmother. She is an incredibly overbearing and demanding person who lives a few hours away from my family and calls my son every so often to chat. That’s ok with me, but she also wants to have him come and stay with her and my son’s paternal grandfather for a few days every so often. I let him go there once and for weeks afterward he was off, super crabby and the beyond normal clingy and had several nightmares. He told my fiancé that he had seen his dad but when we asked about it later he said he hadn’t. I would not put it past The Step-mom to let my ex come over to spend time with my son, even though it’s illegal.