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What's up w/my Mother-In-Law?

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What's up w/my Mother-In-Law?

Postby plicketycat » Thu Jun 21, 2007 4:51 pm

My husband and I are both going through therapy (individual and togeher) to help come to terms with our abusive childhoods. I've pretty much stopped talking to my family; but my husband still has his obligatory Sunday morning phone call with his mother. It used to be worse, when we were first married he had to email her everyday or she would start freaking out and calling him repeatedly on his cell, at home and at work until he finally talked to her and assured her that he was ok.

Recently, he's been thinking that maybe he was (at least) emotionally sexually abused by his mother. I've suspected this from the first time he talked about her. She is very narcissitic and BPD and his childhood was fraught with her suicidal acts and bizarre emotional outbursts. She was also very possessive and overprotective of him, was jealous of any of his girlfriends, and would completely come unglued when she "caught" him with porn or masturbating. She even told him once that she should be the only woman in his life, that she should be enough to satisfy all his needs.

When they came to visit us at Christmas, I felt really weird whenever she'd touch him. It wasn't like she was groping him, it's just that the way she touched him or would linger around him felt "off". My family is definitely more physically demonstrative than his, and the way she touches him is not at all like the way my dad touches me. She touches him like a man, rather than her son. Does that make any sense? She's very passive-aggressive with me, and she sort of flirts with him whenever he's paying too much attention to me.

His mom has been confiding in him details about her recent extramarital affairs, and I don't think it's a coincidence that he's pretty much lost interest in our sex life. They're planning to come visit us again this autumn, and I am dreading it. My husband isn't really looking forward to it either, but he isn't ready to confront them on the childhood abuse or even the possible sexual abuse. I told I felt really uncomfortable with his parents visiting and asked him why he didn't just tell them not to come if he didn't really want them to. He just shrugged and said "They're my folks."

I'm not sure if I have a question or just need some support. Has anyone been in this situation besides me? I'm worried that I might be overreacting, but her behavior really gives me the wiggins.

Thanks,
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Postby jasmin » Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:46 pm

Hi, plicketycat, welcome! This situation does sound stressful.
I understand what you mean by the touching. There's a certain sexual tension that you can pick up on, I think.
I hope you and your husband can find support and I hope that he can finally find the strength to free himself from his mother's controll.
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Postby poisonedcribellum » Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:58 pm

heya plicketycat....
that sounds real bad...and i don't know if you're over reacting...but such differences in how people act are obvious...and you have a right to be worried...

but you're husband's in a tough situation aswell...when they're your parents....it's hard to deal with....she's trying to redefine what the relationship between a mother and her offspring should be...probably in time...and when he's more sure of his past he'll be able to do something about it..till then just keep your calm...atleast they won't be staying with you forever...
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Postby SmallTalkRed » Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:48 am

plick,

Yes, there is something odd sounding. Two guestions.

1. Why dont you talk to your family anymore?

2. Do you know if his mother was abused herself. With what you said about her mental issues while raising him, I wondered this ?

How long have you been married? oops thats 3.

Just trying to sort out the info hon, you dont have to answer a thing if your wish.

peace.
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Postby LoveQuiet » Sat Jun 23, 2007 12:57 pm

Hiya, Plickety...
It's a tough situation. I was mid-thirties before I was capable of facing the facts of my childhood sexual abuse. I haven't read it, but there's a book called "Ghosts in the bedroom" -- about what it's like to be married to an abuse survivor, how it's like the abuser is still there in your relationship (if not virtually in your bedroom). There's also "Emotional Incest" (see book by that title) - to which I related a lot. Even if there was not genital contact, there can be crippling effect to inappropriate intimacy (as one might expect from a BPD mother).

Hope you can be there for your hubbie... it does take a lot of patience, especially until he feels able to cut the octopus tentacles away from his life.
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Postby plicketycat » Sat Jun 23, 2007 5:30 pm

Thanks guys. I'm trying to be there for my hubby and not push him until he's ready to deal with whatever happened. I feel bad for him because he gets so upset after talking with her on the phone and he's a snarling grump before, during, and after their visits. I'm less able to deal with his emotional needs when they're here because she stresses me out, too.

Red. I don't talk to my parents anymore because I divorced my mom - she's a Narcissistic BPD and was way too toxic to keep in my life (she didn't act like a mother so why treat her like one out of obligation). My dad and I have issues that I'd like to work through, but he won't talk to me because I won't talk to my mom (classic enabler - I'm not getting enmeshed again just to keep peace with him). So that only leaves my sister, and we get along great and are very supportive of each other's very different lives.

I'm pretty sure his mom was emotionally abused from what I can piece together from her and my husband's comments. She definitely has a lot of hostility against her dad... but she has hostility about everything and everyone. Don't know about sexual abuse or incest - but she's definitely got some inappropriate sexual behaviors (excessive flirting, affairs, etc).
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Postby plicketycat » Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:47 am

More news on this front... some may have seen on the Sexuality forum... my husband was finally able to articulate that he does not enjoy sex, that he doesn't really get personal pleasure from it... he does it to please the other person.

I probed a little bit more into this issue with his mother and he's getting strong impressions but no real memories yet. We did an exercise where I would touch him in different ways on different parts of his body (with the explicit agreement that this wasn't about sex) and he would tell me the sensation, any mental connections and if he had any emotional response or reaction in another part fo his body.

Boy, was this a spooky exercise!! He reacted really violently to soft stroking of his face and immediately got hostile saying it reminded him of his mother and would I never touch him like that ever. When I put his hand against my face, he said he had an overwhelming desire to poke out my eyes. Touching his genitals and buttocks made him feel creepy and he got the nervous giggles and moved (unconsciously) into a defensive posture... when I brought the giggling and posture to his attention he couldn't explain it and was surprised he was doing it.

This situation is really scaring me because his mom is coming to visit in September and she's going to hang all over him again and push his buttons. I so don't want to be here, but I can't leave him on his own with her in good conscience. I know she's his mom and all, but he doesn't seem able to set a physical boundary with her yet (he's 38 and has been out of the house for 20 years... plenty of time for her to get used to him being an adult)...

Would it be totally inappropriate if I stepped in this time and got him extricated from her physical contact when I notice he's uncomfortable? Not really confront her, since that's his job, but stop the petting and flirting in some distracting way? I'm still reading the recommended books... but you guys are the survivors. What do you think?
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Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. --- Oscar Wilde
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Postby jasmin » Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:41 am

Plickety, what your husband is going through is horrible. The giggling and everything else are obvious signs that she abused him sexually. I'm so sorry.
I think you need to get tough with him. He is still being abused. What if this were a man who had sexually abused his daughter and he would visit and touch her sexually? If you were her husband, what would you do?
You'd keep him away from her, wouldn't you?
Your husband needs to see what is going on. The longer he's with her, the worse it will get. Don't let them visit. So what if they are his parents? She is also his abuser. And people should never be around their abusers when they are trying to face their abuse. NEVER! Please tell him that.
But if there is no alternative, yes, step in. If I were married and my mother was touching me, I'd want my husband to kick her to death.
Or at least keep her the hell away from me.
It's very difficult to set boundaries from your mother who is also your abuser. Very difficult. He might not know how. The best thing is for you to put your foot down and tell him that she needs to stay away for him to get better. Plain and simple. And if you must, rescue him when you have to.
The more contact he has with her, the more damage is done to him and the harder it will be for him to face what she did to him and get better.
He is so lucky to have you in his life. Do not let her visit.
Please help him!
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Postby plicketycat » Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:33 pm

Thanks for the advice Jasmin, I really appreciate it. I wouldn't have agreed to let them visit in the first place because I agree with you... but he told them they could come way back in the spring. He didn't even tell me (although he thought he had... mental converstation?) until a month later. I think this in itself might be evidence of her string-pulling because we normally don't invite houseguests withouth informing each other. When I did find out, I told him I didn't think it was a good idea - he's just starting to get into this deeper stuff in therapy and I was pretty sure that I'd be having my surgery right around that time.

But they had already bought the tickets and I suspect she had bought them before she even told him she was coming... that's the way it goes with her, she just expects that everyone will agree with whatever she wants (my mother does this too so it really drives me crazy). Since they're overseas it costs a lot to come here, so he doesn't feel right telling them no because they can't get a refund. Plus, I know he's dreading any confrontation with her... he's really resisting/avoiding focused introspection in this area.

I feel so much sympathy for him because I know it's really hard to face your childhood demons; but I'm also frustrated that he seems to be putting this off and he'll never heal if he doesn't... and it's affecting him and our marriage more each day. Child abuse is terrible but incest is just EVIL. I've talked to him about this visit and that I won't put up her breaking the rules of the house or giving back-handed compliments this time - if she acts like a b***h, I'll firmly call a taxi and send her butt to a hotel.

I suspect that my husband would really love it if I kicked her ass and kept her out of his life. I'll do my best to protect him (and myself) in appropriate ways, but I don't want to rob him of the sense of power that comes with telling your abuser to get the hell off your planet!

The way things are looking now at work, my husband probably won't be able to take any time off while they are here. A blessing and a curse. Blessing because she'll have less time to mess with him, curse because when you deny an NPD/BPD what they think they deserve they tend to go beserk. Not to mention that means I'll be left at home his parents to "entertain" them and I'm likely to put a bullet in her (and might be recovering from surgery at the time too). It's just bad timing all around... but he can't tell her not to come. I think he's afraid that he'll never hear the end of it or that something bad will happen -- like she'll try to kill herself again -- and it will be "his fault".

I swear this is the last time they are coming to visit until he deals with all this stuff... I'm putting my foot down, it's a new house rule! I wish I could stop the scheduled weekly phone calls as well... but I think that one will be even harder to break since she calls every phone and starts flooding him with email and text messages if he doesn't pick up the phone when it rings at 9:30. His relationship with his mother is so destructive I just want it to end so he can stop being hurt. I know you have to let people deal with things at their own pace, but is it okay to push them or step in if they are too afraid to get started?
It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. --- Andre Gide

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. --- Oscar Wilde
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Postby jasmin » Thu Aug 09, 2007 4:10 pm

Plickety, I think it's good to step in. See, if she were still abusing him sexually, everyone would expect you to step in. She is abusing him emotionally. And he has a right to be protected by his spouse, any one would. The delicate question is how much should you protect him.
I understand that she would try to kill herself or blame him and hurt him if he pushed her away and told her not to visit.
See, these people can't function normally. She could never admit what she did to him and what she is doing. I doubt that she doesn't realise it, somewhere very deep inside. She will try everything to controll him and even use the fact that she knows what she did was wrong against him. They are this twisted.
I can pretty much predict how she would react if he confronted her or even told her to stay away. You are right, she'd make him feel like $#%^ and blame him. Then, if he holds his ground and doesn't let her visit this time, she will accept it and she will try to controll him with what she has left. She'll make it seem like she's the good person and like she stayed away as a favor for him and still play the victim.
I know your husband is hurting and he will find it very difficult to confront her. His heart is breaking and this could even lead to severe depression. His world is falling appart becouse of this woman and becouse of the abuse. My heart goes out to you both.
But if he doesn't find the strength to confront her, he will live in this sickness for ever. I read somewhere that sexual abuse by one's mother is the most difficult kind of sexual abuse to face and come to terms with.
You could tell him that his mother isn't a saint and she is not a mother first of all. She is a human being. Someone who can cause pain and abuse like any other human being. This is not something that has never happened to anyone else. It happens a lot.
Tell him he needs to treat her like he would any other agressor, first and foremost. Becouse that i what she is.
She hurt him very badly, but that is not where his life ends. He is his own person and he has a right to live. He needs to confront her.
But the thing is, in these cases, you can only truely confront once you've pretty much given up on having a relationship with that person. Becouse even if you do confront, they will not change. It would take years of therapy for them to change and that is not his responsability. It is hers. And it is not a good idea for him to be around her. Not any time soon or not at all.
Plickety, you need to tell him to be a man and stop being afraid. Let him know that he is not alone in this and that he has you and his therapist. Maybe reading about this abuse, mother son abuse, would help him. It helped me. He will feel less alone. It was good for me to read quotes by women who were actually abused by their mothers. If you want, you can tell him to visit this forum.
He needs a lot of emotional strength to be able to accept what happened and to confront his mother. That strength is gained with the support of a good therapist, friends and you, his wife. I hope he will find that strenght with time. But untill them, I think that his mother needs to be out of the picture. I have no idea if you can get through to him and make him tell them not to come. I hope you can. Make him see that if she does anything or blames him, it is not his fault. She is sick and only trying to controll him.
Good luck, Plickety.
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