My ex had what he called a great relationship with his Mother. I was appreciative of this as people always tell you, you can judge a man by how he treats his Mother but at the young age of 19, what I did not recognize were the warning signs that this was not a normal dysfunctional relationship between Mother and son, this was a dysfunctional malignant love. Things that were warning signs flew right past me at that young age. For example, the fact that all four of the other siblings knew that my ex was her favorite and she told everyone and hid it from no one. I remember conversations a few months into our relationship about how his Mom was mad at him and he had no idea why but that he knew it could be a few days or weeks before she would talk to him. He knew this. I did think that odd but I also didn’t know what she was mad about so I kept out of it figuring he deserved it. I didn’t know this malignant love so I didn’t know it existed. In fact, most of our relationship was me questioning how she could treat him that way and how he could treat me the way he did. My family, far from perfect and dysfunctional as hell, didn’t treat each other that way. We just didn’t. We pulled together. We talked and saw each other. I don’t remember ever being so mad at my brother or even my sons now that I didn’t talk to them for weeks on end. Even my Mother who I fought with a lot, didn’t go without speaking to me for weeks on end. It was not the norm for me.
I’m still putting all the pieces together from way back when to now. His Mom was talented. She could sew wedding dresses, she knit beautiful, intricate pieces. She was a great cook, into horticulture and was one of the first women in our city to graduate with a chemistry degree. But, she also was a victim of trauma. She watched her mother have a grand mall seizure when she was 5, saved her life and became her caregiver when her Dad worked. Later, after her 6 children were born (one passed away) she started drinking a glass of wine at night and that soon became a very needed vice and became more.
I was extremely close to this woman. I know things her kids do not and I was her DNR representative. But there came a time when I really resented her for how her son acted and treated me. As I put the pieces together, I could see her malignant love was the issue and it was unhealthy. She used to look at him almost to the point of being unhealthy and refer to his looks as looking like Chuck Norris and indeed, I could understand the reference but it was with a flirty tone and the way she looked at him was borderline creepy. It went beyond teasing or motherly love. She idolized him. He was the golden child. He wasn’t the only son. He has a wonderful, talented older brother. Who is cute with dark, curly hair and a smile that always reminds me of David Letterman. But my ex was the end all be all and she chose to name him a name that means God is gracious and has shown favor. This name was purposely chosen by her for the meaning.
So is it any wonder that the baby of the family can do no wrong? That his bragging point to me a while after we were dating was that his doctor told him he was perfectly symmetrical on his whole body and the doctor had never seen that before? Puhlease.
One thing I learned about my exes Mother was that Everything she does is deniable. Cruelties were couched in loving terms. Aggressive and hostile acts were paraded as thoughtfulness. Criticism and slander were slyly disguised as concern. She always told me she only wanted what was best for me. In fact, she told me and her son that I was broken because my parents were divorced and I could let go of that hurt and be loved by her and her family. She had him convinced I was fragile. She was a part of a lifelong campaign of control and could rationalize abuse. She was very secretive, a characteristic of almost all abusers (“Don’t wash our dirty laundry in public!”).
I finally resolved my anger with my ex Mother in law by understanding that as unhealthy as it was and as narcissistic as she made her son, she did the best she could and so did my father in law, who was orphaned at a young age. These two sought each other out for very obvious reasons and did the best they could. The whole family was a lie with a lot of secrets and dysfunction. They fooled a lot of people including me but they raised 5 kids with good work ethics. Very successful adults in business. Extremely intelligent but all lacking in the social-emotional skills they need to carry on in relationships.
I could be angry the rest of my life or I could move forward. I chose to move forward and forgive his family. I also forgave myself. What I want to concentrate on is my two sons and ending the abusive reputation that goes with my married name. I want my sons to break that cycle and with their significant others and children, change the outcomes of what has been years of trauma and abuse in that family. I am working very hard to achieve that and me? Soon I will go back to my Daddy’s name. My maiden name because I will always be my father’s daughter and proudly so.