Monday, August 26, 2013

The Break Up (Part 3) - Mothers-In-Law

K and I have been divorced for almost 2 years and I still consider her mother, my mother-in-law.  As far a mother-in-laws go, she is a pretty good one.  From the very first day I met K, her mother (Let's call her "Mary") was nice to me. I get hugs when I see her.  She remembers things going on in my life.  When my dad was alive, but in poor health, she always asked him and prayed for him at church.  She asked about my mom too.  

Mary is a excellent cook.   She makes up recipes on the fly and they are (almost) always wonderful.  She remember the ones I like and will make them when I come to visit.  She does not know how to cook low fat.  She makes real, old fashioned comfort food.

She is pretty good with the kids.  She is not perfect, but she makes a point to take them to movies when she sees them.  She talks to the older ones and listens to what they have to say.

When K told her parents I am gay and we were divorcing, Mary didn't treat me any differently.  As K and I went through our slow motion divorce, she was just a nice to me as she always was.  The only difference is that now she would ask me about T.    When K and AJ got married, T and I were invited.  We sat at the table with K's parents and sister.  Mary made a point to talking to T quite a bit.  She went out of her way to be nice to him, when she didn't have to.  It was really sweet.

I really fucking hate my mother-in-law.  


I cannot stand the woman.  Every time I see her I want to punch her in the face.  I want to scream, "WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM WOMAN????"

Why am I so hostile?  It's simple really.

She treats K like shit.  

And I hate her for it.  

It really is that simple.    I have been watching it for nearly 25 years.  and it is always the same.  I am not going into any details here, but it did not take me long to start seeing the things I didn't like.  I still see them today.  In some respects they have gotten worse.  AJ does not quite see them yet, but he will.  Since they live far away, it will take him longer.  He eventually he will see it.

T's mother is nice to me too.  She is also a good cook.  She likes getting me to try new Vietnamese foods.  Honestly, I think T's whole family really likes watching me try new things, well, new for me anyway.  She remembers the things I like and when there are leftover will often pack them up and send home with me so I can have them the next day.  (Oddly enough, it never taste quite as good when I eat it at my house.) 

Generally when I come into the house she smiles warmly, unless she is busy with something.  Her English is not very good, but she sometimes will make an effort to talk to me directly.  She is not used to speaking English at home and I can tell it not easy to pull the words from her memory.  I appreciate the effort.  She is trying to make me feel welcome in her home.  Trying to draw in the outsider.  It's a nice gesture she did not have to do, but she does.

I don't like T's mom either.  Not one little bit.  I don't like the way she treats T.   I think she is ruining T's life and his chance at happiness.  I think she is demanding that T live his life on her terms and not his.  I think she says she want's him to be happy, but really only if he can be happy doing what she wants him to do.  Otherwise, he puts on a happy face and that's good enough for her.

T is a gay man.  She cannot accept what that means.  My heart breaks for T that he has to live in that prison.  He hides in his work, his garden and his television.  His house is beautiful.  It's still a prison.

My heart breaks for his sister.  So scared to come out even as an otherwise successful adult in her 40's.  She is very attractive, cute, smart, funny, and I'm sure there are many women who would love to meet her.  If only she were not stuck in her own prison.  With her work and Korean soap operas as her only escape.

I love T and I care about his sister and the whole thing just pisses me off. 


TwoLives said...

Certainly Mary and T's mother have issues. The way you describe them, they both sound very controlling. I think that's a common problem. My mother-in-law can be extremely controlling as well.

What's rather telling is that my MIL treats her three children very differently. She's extremely controlling with one kid, totally afraid of another, and a patsy for the third. The reason she's afraid of one is because that daughter has no problem saying no to her controlling ways. In fact, that daughter can be quite harsh. My wife OTOH constantly complains about her mother but she's never able to effectively stand up for herself. As a result, she gets micromanaged on a (literally) hourly basis.

Mary and T's mom aren't perfect, but they're not the reason the problems persist. T, his sister and K all behave in ways that keep the dynamic going. If any one of them put their foot down in a decisive way and on a consistent basis, their mothers would start behaving very differently. It's the same dynamic as dealing with a bratty kid. If you're weak with them, they'll walk all over you, but the minute they know you mean business, they'll suddenly act much better.

fan of casey said...

People do have choices. They may not feel like they do, but they have choices on what to accept, what to reject.
The asian family dynamic is typically driven by the senior family member -- in many Japanese households, it's the male, in many Chinese households (which is where I am coming from), the women controls things, but behind the scenes, I'm not sure what the Vietnamese preference is. In any case, kids are taught to respect authority and to defer to elders.

T has been conditioned way before you met him to acquiesce to authority. This is partially driven by a desire to maintain family harmony (even if just on the surface).

Since I was raised in the States, while I still have some lingering piety to authority, I don't blindly follow my elders because frankly many of them are idiots, close-minded, and seek to maintain image and status over being good people.

They are polite to your face but willing to screw you over just to gain some financial advantage.

Sunne said...

Oh my - I'm so sorry to read about your breakup - again.

I actually wanted to comment on T's blog on his "swing"-post but I have none of the requested accounts. And my questions fit in here just as well.

This post is about the family, about their impact. I just wonder....has T even told his family why you two have broken up? He wrote that a few asked where you were. I wonder what he had told them and what reason he had given them. And what are their reactions to the knowledge that they are somehow also responsible to the break-up, his and yours heartsickness. I mean, they are his family, they know you have been together, they should wonder and care why this is no longer so? And I assume he is honest to them about the reasons. So I wonder, how does his family cope with taking the resonsiblity for being a reason for his choices.

T - if you read this, don't raise your hackles, it's in no way meant to be disrespectful to you. It just makes me wonder if you and your family are in sync. For example shouldn't your sister be overjoyed for you to have a partner? And shouldn't your parents wish you to be happy?

Because one thing it is that you are not - happy. I'm very sorry.

Jim - please, please, I know you want to remain friends with T and that is okay but you two really need some time apart. As long as you talk with each other you won't be able to get over him. You know that, be honest to yourself, it hadn't worked before. It won't work now. Put a few months of no contact between you and him (sorry, sorry to both of you), you'll need it to find yourself and get over him.

I wish you both all luck on the earth - and Jim, yes, kids are the most important people on the world, nothin is and should be more important to a parent than their kids happiness. You are a good dad.

T said...

You have always been kind. I very much appreciate your concern. Jim is a very caring dad and a good person. We will always be good friends. We won't get back together again. I have to give Jim the chance to meet someone who can give him what he looks for.
Thanks again for being nice.