Hubby never told me exactly what his mother had said about me, but I know that she accused me of being a cult leader among other things. Yes, a cult leader! After all I had brain washed her son into marrying me, through my karate teaching (I was that good an instructor!).
As time went by, things didn’t really get better between us. We would see his parents on family occasions only. One year, at Christmas, I had my hair coloured red, fire truck red (it was Christmas after all!), and while driving to a cousin’s house, I realised that my hair colour would be ammunition for my MIL; yet another thing for her to judge. I told Hubby that I was done trying, and if his mother gave me any attitude I would just ignore her. As soon as I came in, his cousin screamed with excitement at my new hair colour. My MIL was standing by the door and the look she gave me was just what I needed. I wished Merry Christmas to my FIL, skipped my MIL and proceed with the rest of the family. She did not like that. At that exact moment I knew I was “done” playing that game. My FIL asked me to go talk to his wife, to say hi to her. I politely answered that I was done playing nice. I had reached my threshold. He knew what I meant. Meanwhile, Hubby was being “talked to”, in Hungarian, by his mother. From the tone of it all, I could understand that she wasn’t happy.
One Easter, I had bought little chocolate bunnies for everyone and a centrepiece for the table, also made of chocolate. When we arrived, cousin’s wife told me to set up everything, which I did. When my MIL came in and saw the table and the little bunnies, she commented on how nice it was. Cousin’s wife told her it was from me. (She always tried to help mend things between us, but it never worked). MIL answered: “oh well”. During the meal the topic went to bad wedding gifts received. We had a received a really bad platter (with naked people on…) and cousin’s wife couldn’t get over having seen it. When she mentioned it, my MIL said: “It must have been her friends who gave them that!”. The worst part is, she was right! I didn’t answer and went into the kitchen, and started cleaning up. At some point she came in and told me I was being helpful. I bite my tongue, once again. Let’s just say that cousin’s crystal glasses are pretty sturdy because I squeezed them hard!
The following Christmas I was surprised when she gave me a brooch that said: “Cat Lover”. The fact that it was the only thing I got when I realised what other gifts they had offered everyone else became funny to me. I had to laugh (or I would have cried too often). And at least I like the brooch. Some relatives were not at ease with the situation, and would tell me about it. I would tell them not to worry about it. That was just the way it was, nothing more. With time, people started to “notice” things a little more, or, my MIL wasn’t being as careful as she used to be. People also realised that I had made many attempts at peace.
I did reach a point where I didn’t even want to see my in laws at family gatherings. It was sucking the life out of me, and was also creating tension with Hubby. I felt like he wasn’t backing me up when I needed him to. He felt stuck in the middle, helpless. He so often reminded me that despite my best efforts, it wasn’t me and it was useless to try to fix things.
While friends from out of town were visiting one year, Hubby’s ex and I started comparing notes (yes, we are one of those weirdo couples who still have contact with their exes) about how MIL was acting with me. She was doing to me what she had done to her. Hubby says that it was at that specific moment that he knew his mother was beyond help. It is also at that moment that he “closed” himself when it came to issues with his mother.