Emotionally Abusive Martyr

When I first started dating my boyfriend about a year and a half ago, he was afraid to introduce me to his mother.  I didn't understand it then, but I certainly do now.

At first, she was nice.  In a manner of speaking.  The first time I was brought to her house for a family dinner, I was all but ignored while she chatted with my bf's brother's then-girlfriend (now-fiancee), but I am pretty introverted, so I wrote it off that I wasn't being assertive enough, even though I got interrupted every time I tried to speak.

Shortly after we began dating, my parents, who I was staying with at the time, announced that they were moving cross-country.  I had the choice to stay or leave, and my boyfriend asked me to stay with him.  I moved in with him and his roommate, and that is when things started to go downhill.  She would make snarky comments about my parents moving, and how much they relied on me to help them.  I offered to help my parents and completely supported their moving; they took care of me for their entire adult lives, they are more than entitled to worry about themselves now.  She took digs at them, made pointed silences when they were brought up, and generally made me feel as though I was doing them a disservice even mentioning them in her presence, since she seemed to look down on them so.  I decided I was probably just being defensive.

Flash forward a few months, my bf and I had made the decision to go back to school, and his parents offered to allow us to stay with them, for a small rent.  This seemed like the best choice, since it was less than half what we paid for the apartment, and was much closer to our work and school.

Since moving in here, things have gone from tense to unbearable.  My bf was yelled at because I had the audacity to assume I could use the kitchen to bake Christmas cookies without asking.  That was the beginning.  He got reprimanded for my apparent flaws, while nothing was ever said directly to me.  I would go downstairs and be pointedly ignored.  I would try and start a conversation and get one-word responses until I gave up.  I felt I was walking on eggshells to not offend her.  Finally there was a sit-down discussion, which amounted to her telling me she was walking on eggshells, and for some reason was "afraid" to approach me (even though I was never anything but nice).  I didn't want to be disrespectful, since I lived in her house, so kept my mouth shut and tried to accept that it must be my problem.

I became severely depressed, while I continued to tiptoe around her.  She has screamed at me about my depression, told me I need to be medicated (my doctor disagrees, he says it's anxiety-induced depression, not the other way around), outright called me tactless, and insinuated more than once that I am rude, inconsiderate, rough around the edges, and more.  She asks me to do things, and even though I agree immediately and without prejudice (because I still seek this woman's approval, as messed up as that is), she acts like I made it out to be a huge inconvenience and calls someone else to do it without informing me.   She still has a disparaging attitude toward my parents, even going so far once as to ask me what good it would do to call my father, since he was so far away, what could he possibly do for me here (Funny that, since her daughter who lives even farther away calls mommy if she even cuts her finger...).  Once I walked in the house in the middle of a panic attack, while on the phone with my mother, who was trying to calm me down, and she made a nasty comment because I didn't say hello the second I saw her.

My boyfriend is very much the middle child, and while he agrees with me, he won't argue with her, because he knows it's pointless.  He's more than once gotten upset enough to try and confront her about things, but I have stopped him, since we live in her house, and it would only make things worse.  The exception to this was when we got back from a trip to visit my parents that was a week long and she didn't say hello when we came in, or even look at us.   He has lived with this veiled emotional abuse his entire life and still tries to make excuses for it.  He says she doesn't know what she's saying - I say she knows what she's saying, but she counts on him to think she doesn't so she can get away with it.

This month things have gotten out of control.  I quit my job - with another lined up, which happened to fall through.  It's only been 2 weeks, and I have been looking for work, but it's the summer and I have a very full course load that includes day, night, and a weekend classes.  This makes it difficult to find a job, but yesterday she told my bf that I am apparently not looking for jobs, and I just sit on my butt and play games and sew all day.  (Funny, the only sewing I have done was to make gifts for her granddaughters.)  She says I stomp up the stairs and slam my door, which is completely untrue since I consciously try to make as little noise as possible, but she stomps and slams doors whenever she's having a mood.   She told him that noone lives in her house for free, and that if I don't have a job by the end of the month "she'd hate to see him have to move." 

He is devastated that she is forcing him to make such a choice, that she has made it clear this is her home and not his (she told him once he moves out he will not be allowed back), and that she is so unwilling to even try to get along with me. 

Before any of this blowout we had already decided to move at the end of the month - I am having panic attacks because I am so afraid of what her next nasty comment or attitude will be.  My bf put his foot down on the issue because he says he can't see me be this unhappy anymore, and it's clear the situation will not get any better.

I don't know if there is anything I can do at this point - if it were anyone else making me feel this way, they'd have been out of my life by now, but I have tried because it's my bf's mother.  My bf and I have talked about it and I made sure he knew I would never try to tell him not to be close with his family, but since all she does is hurt me, I won't be visiting or engaging her other than on required holidays.  It hurts me to have things come to this point, he has a great relationship with my family and they all love him, and I was really hoping that could be the case on the other end, as well.

Sorry this is so ridiculously long, but it feels good to get things off my chest.

Sareni Sareni
5 Responses Aug 7, 2010

Reading these first hand accounts of similar situations AT LEAST reminds me perhaps I am not so alone after all. My husband and I have been married for almost 3 years, together for 4, and his mother absolutely hates me. She is an abusive alcoholic, who has severe emotional issues, and attachment issues with her son, my husband. She has said and done so much damage to me, to him, and to our marriage. At this point I am suicidal, and just ready to end everything. She blames me for "ruining their relationship", and the abuse increases the more intoxicated she becomes. She yells expletives at me, throws things at me, breaks my belongings, slams doors, abuses her dogs in front of me, threatens me, and has pitted everyone in the family against me with her lies, and her verbal assaults on my character. I have tried to be what she wants, to take a back seat to her needs, wants, and wishes. I have been loving, caring, subservient, and selfless, to no avail. I could scrub her house from top to bottom every day, and she would still find a reason to hate me. She makes fun of me to my face for being beautiful, and for being smart. She says things to her friends ( I overhear her, and I wish I didn't) like " well, beauty is only skin deep, and I just keep hoping my son will get sick of her, and just walk away from her". She calls me names, and makes fun of my chronic illnesses. ( I have systemic lupus, and chronic fatigue) She makes fun of my belly dancing, and my religious choice. All the while, I smile, buy her cards, gifts, flowers, take care of her when she is sick, and do my best to love her son with all of my heart. I feel like such a loser, such a disappointment, and I regret ever marrying her son. She told me right after he proposed to me, " Well I never had to share him with ANYONE until YOU came along.", the most hateful, spite filled voice she could muster. She then tried to steal my engagement ring multiple times thereafter, and when I would wash her dishes, she would threaten to take it, right in front of me. " Well that ring would look MUCH better on MY hand" is just an example of what she would say to me back then. I could write a NOVEL to tell my story, from 4 years ago, until now. I am just at my wits end as to what to do. I cringe when she gets drunk, and tries to kiss my husband on the mouth, and I feel like " the other woman." Sometimes I feel like she is more of an ex-wife, who didn't want to let go of her spouse, and I am the ***** who broke them apart. I feel so ashamed, and so alone.....

Dont beat yourself up for the low self esteem of another. Her power is who she can boss.<br />
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I have a MIL just about like this. She demands Respect from EVERYONE and yet teaches her Nephews and Nieces its alright to disrepect their fathers/her brothers. Her husband (FIL) has screwed everything from the south to the north. One of his trists even gave him money to divorce her and run away with her. He has no spine and after hiring an attorney and he crumpled to his knees and cried for her forgiveness. Pffft! My husband told him he should have left when he had the chance.... He told my husband the daughter told him the same thing! LOL He is there still, no balls or spine. Whats sad I always felt sorry for him, Nope, HE CHOSE this life! I had Always stuck up for him, not anymore, he is right there on the wagon with her now. <br />
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My husband and I have 4 children and she never acknowledges them. Never in trouble, dont smoke, dont do drugs, very well like in our community, we live about 30 minutes from their home yet she makes a point of being the 'Great Grandma' to the kids, grandkids and nieces and nephews who live 3 states away when she goes back for a visit. She tells everyone we are jealous, we are not, us and our kids are thankful they are not treated like our kids have been.<br />
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My kids are now all grown and want nothing to do with her or him. Her other grandkids are druggies, wild, undisciplined and she can have them. I finally had enough of her 2 yrs ago and it has been the best thing. I have to admit I have a husband who dont take his mom's crap and has called her out on all of it. Of course to the whole family and extended family its all my fault. Thats ok I have broad shoulders, and the last time I talked to her she was talking crap about my husband, HER SON, and I told her what I thought of that also. She goes to her church and tells them crap --if they only knew how she really was.<br />
She even was mad at her uncle and when his daughter was accidently killed in a car wreck she told one of my Aunts "I can talk to him now, he has paid his dues." WTH?!! Sick person! She's good though, has a lot of people convinced.... LOL they can have her. Been nice the last two years without her mouth, nasty, critical views around. :)

I didn't mention her husband, my bf's father, because he's mostly irrelevant. It sounds really harsh, but he doesn't even really bother to be involved or have an opinion, because if he doesn't agree with her, she just nags until he does. She pretty much bulldozes him - and everyone else. He doesn't want the conflict so she always gets her way, and then brags how they never fight and her marriage is so great. That's part of the reason I try so hard to make sure my bf and I find compromises that work for both of us, I don't want him to feel like he just needs to do whatever I want because I want it and that's that.<br />
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As far as wanting her son to break up with me, she won't outright say that, but that's the way she pretty much acts. She has another son, whose fiancee gets the same treatment, but has been dealing with it for 4 years longer than me. She feels like this woman just wants her sons all to herself, and no woman is good enough for them. I agree with her when she says it's not personal in that she would act this way to anyone who was in a relationship with either of her sons. She treats us as if we are temporary and therefore not worth nurturing a good relationship with.

Again, **** her!

Hi Sareni,<br />
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So unfortuante! That ***** is miserable and want the same for you. I don't recall you mentioning that his father or her boyfriend lives with her, there fore I believe that is Miss Thing problem. She probably is too problematic for a "Man" to deal with. She probably wants her son to break up with you so she can have him all to her sorry self! I hate mothers like that. My baby father's mother is like that. She feels she can speak her mind to any and everybody, but no one can return the favor WTF!!! She meet her match. I gave her what she gave me "Fever" We don't do those!!! So **** her and good for you, your moving out!!! It's nothing like your own! Holla.... : )