Recognition of our Existence

I’m coming off of a not so great week – well, bad week to be exact.  This past week BiL and SiL were in town visiting us.  BiL (DH’s brother) met SiL in 2010 and since then DH and I have been getting to know her.  The visits have been short and always with a lot of people around (other family and friends).  Last year, we saw them during MiL’s funeral in October of 2012 and over the winter holidays.  I started to see a pattern to develop in how I was feeling around her and this led to an enormous amount of anxiety to their visit.

Even with all the anxiety, I felt I was handling it okay, relatively.  We had gone out to dinner two nights before with old friends who were in town for work and it was so great to hang out with people who didn’t make you feel shame or anything else.  It just felt great to catch up with them and reminisce a bit.

I went into the upcoming visit with a really good feeling.  It all crashed and burned, quickly. I didn’t even know it was happening.  I found myself carrying on the first day like it was my imagination.  Trying to talk myself out of my feelings.  By the second day it was pointless.  It was all too familiar.

My mother and MiL treated me this way.  Their ability to make me feel like I wasn’t in the room, like I didn’t exist, was amazing.  My SiL took over from where they left off.  She didn’t look me in the eye when speaking to me nor did she speak directly to me.  There were a few times when she referred to me in the third person when I was sitting across from her.  When it happened, I had to do a double take.  It was really a shock because only my MiL and mother had ever treated me this way.

Besides the lack of recognition from her, she controlled every aspect of the visit just as she had when we visited them.  She was patronising and condensing because of course, she knows it all because she is a doctor.  The part DH and I both loved – when they entered our apt – the first question – what is your WiFI password?.  It didn’t take very long before they were on their mobile devices.  And one would think it is important – nope.  They were on Facebook – sitting in the living room with us, not talking.  Since we see each other once or twice a year – of course connecting to your friends on your social network would be the natural thing to do.

I could go on but there is no need.  My feelings of utter worthless made everything clear.  I sat in the swampland the whole visit.  I reacted in ways so I could scramble for my worth.  I didn’t think through what was being said.  I checked out, didn’t engage in conversation.  I relied on my old stand-bys.  I was dealing with too many subtle behaviours to see it coming at me all at once.

After 3 days I was tired of it.  They left for Scotland for 3 days and would be back to our place before they went back to the US.  In that time, I thought I would have a chance to recover and deal with this all.  I was so wrong.  I faced my language class with all new students.  Two of which seemed to behave in a manner where they didn’t care for me.  I had thought, well, not everyone likes you for whatever reason.  It wasn’t something that I had thought was a big deal until I had my presentation.  When I started speaking I looked at all the people in the room – eye to eye (5 total).  As I continued to speak the two women who ‘seemed’ to not like me started doing other things during my presentation.  One got on her mobile and the other looked everywhere else but at me and spent time taking fuzz off her sweater.  Noticing this, I could tell I was losing my concentration and I wasn’t able to get my points across.  After I was done, the class is supposed to have a debate.  The woman who had been on her mobile said ‘this topic is not relevant and I can’t say anything about it because intelligence is not affected by technology – for me, the two are separate.’ (My topic was on how new technology influences our intelligence level – a topic I choose from BBC).

I had had it.  I was done.  I went home and just cried.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  It was too much.  My SiL not recognising my existence and then to have 2 students discard my presentation.  It was too much to take in in the span of 3 days.

And all the feelings from my mother came up and were confirmed by SiL’s behaviours and the 2 women from my class.  My existence is worthless.  It brought back all these old memories.  Memories and feelings, that although I am aware of, are still very hard to deal with and feel.  These were the very same feelings that could have led me down a path and they almost did.  These were the same feelings that had led me to question whether or not I should continue to live?

It was a rough few days.  I even questioned whether or not I should return to class.  I was looking for ways to run and hide.  I was looking for my escape.  Maybe I collapsed from this, found myself dealing with old traumas and reacting in old familiar ways.  As much as I saw the pattern in my mother, MiL, SiL and my new ‘friends’ at language class, I saw the pattern just as much within me.  I can’t run and hide.  That isn’t an option for me anymore.  It may take some time to change how I respond to people like this in my life but I won’t numb, run and hide from how I feel.  I won’t numb the feelings and say to myself and to others that it is okay to be treated like this.  Because it isn’t.  I have a right to show up to class because even if my presentation sucked according to a few people I am still worth it.  Even if my disgusting SiL can’t look me in the eye, guess what, I will still show up and be there.

It took me a good 3 days after SiL and BiL left to realise this.  I did nothing but lie on the couch for the last 3 days.  Man, how exhausting it is.

Thank you for listening.  Hugs, xxoo TR


26 thoughts on “Recognition of our Existence

  1. Hey TR,
    I’m so sorry to hear that your BIL and SIL’s visit was so disappointing. The WI-FI obsession is something that a lot of Narcs seem to have in common. (We should do one of those e-cards about it, along the lines of “what’s the first question a Narcissist will ask upon entering your house?” 😉 My father makes me feel just like you described: like I don’t matter to him at all, funnily enough when he comes over he spends a lot of time on the computer too and failing that he just switches himself off by falling asleep wherever he might be. No wonder attitudes like that make us question the point of our existence.
    That woman’s answer to your presentation was appalling, she was probably jealous of you, because it is undeniable that technology DOES affect intelligence. I reckon she was trying to “take you down”.
    I’ve been down for 2 days too. These people do have a very real physical and emotional effect on us. I’ve been thinking along the same lines as you: that I need to “stand my ground” and not run away and hide. With some Ns I have managed to counteract their “arrows”, but sometimes there’s just too many “arrows” coming our way to cope with them at the same time. It really is exhausting. I hope you get a chance to rest this week.
    Thanks for sharing. Hugs. xxoo


    • LOL, that would be a great e-card!
      It is so cool how you pick up on these characters I meet from hearing just one story. At the beginning of my presentation I mention a group that is meeting to exchange languages at a bar nearby the school. I told them the website and the basic info. As I’m finishing up giving out the info she starts to talk about this other French practice group thing (with cooking) she went to to learn how to cook. She goes on and on about it and then fails to give info about signing up for it. How is this helpful?

      So, then today, the other girl (who was picking lint off of her sweater) shares another website she found for language exchange. It was just ironic that these 2 were behaving like this. I could be off on this sense of competition. For now, I’m going to have to let it go.

      I understand the feeling of run and hide. Even today I found myself saying that I don’t want to go to anymore of DH’s family events. I’m done. And in some ways, this would solve a lot of things for me. Sometimes, run and hide is a viable solution. If it keeps us from going mentally insane from all the ‘arrows’ coming at us. I think I will allow myself an out. Like if the 1st day is going badly I’ll get out on the 2nd day. I think I stated this a bit harshly. I guess, I don’t want to immediately check out of DH’s family. I need to have some practice with this and I need to be able to handle these situations (narc management :).

      The rest of the week is a bit busy; I still find I need some more rest.

      I hope all is going okay with you. Hugs, TR


  2. TR, it isn’t run and hide, it’s a strategic survival choice. “They” act like we’re the ones who are uncompromising, difficult, rude. “They” are also wrong. The woman who said that technology doesn’t affect intelligence is lying through her teeth. If it didn’t effect intelligence then none of the schools would bother with having computers. Now, it may be the topic hit a sore spot, but her discomfort is not your responsibility. The one picking at her sweater also had a problem with the topic, not because of your presentation. Having their difficult, rude, and uncompromising behavior on top of the know-it-all in the house was like being ganged up on. I hate when that happens. What you got out of it? You recognized the behavior of all 3 as bad behavior. You didn’t excuse it and more importantly, though it made you feel bad, you knew there was something wrong with them. Remember when you only thought there was something wrong with you? Just to make sure it’s clear: You are right. They were rude. Know-it-alls are a pain to be around, especially since they really don’t know it all. They are so insecure in themselves they have to find a way to stand on top of someone else so they feel better. They are not worth being upset over; however, you are worth acknowledging your feelings were hurt. Keep fighting for you!


    • Hi Judy,
      Thank you for reminding me that there was something different. I was able to recognise these behaviours up front from when they were happening. And I did think I was the problem – at first. I think that will naturally happen and even if the 2 events were coming at me at once I was able to get out before going into a depression for weeks (which is technically how I responded to most of these type of events in my life).

      After spending some down time, I did come to the realisation that their behaviours were hurtful and that not listening to someone’s presentation is also a sign that they can’t share perspectives. They also had to present and knowing that feeling of someone doing something else or blatantly not listening didn’t even register with them.

      Although I felt like I had in some ways gone into similar patterns I had still, in the end, behaved differently than I would have a year ago. Thank you.

      Hugs, TR


  3. Oh boy, you really had a sucky week. Major. Question for you: does your BIL treat you like you’re ‘not there’? Or do you and he get along well? If the latter is true, consider that your new SIL may be either supremely self-absorbed, insecure, or both, around you for reasons you may not even understand. The women in class, meh, fuck em. I agree with Judy, ‘know-it-alls’ can be a giant pain. AND rudeness is rudeness, no matter how you try to reframe it. To get into someone’s home, ask for their internet connection, then check out Facebook while in the room with them is RUDE. Jesus. You SIL sounds like that kind of person. Is she an MD? They can be pretty self-important people. Then again, so can anyone. It’s great that you’re toughing out your language class. People you don’t know aren’t worth feeling bad about. But when we go through life feeling a pattern of disregard–as you have, as I have, I know Kitty feels similarly when people are dismissive, then it’s hard not to be sensitive to this. Just remember that we’ve got to keep telling ourselves that when people treat us like we’re not ‘there’, we can always walk away. If your SIL speaks of you in the third person again, you might sweetly say “ahem, I’m right here!
    I’m sorry you had such a triggering week. People can be such rude and thoughtless jerks. hugs, CS


    • Hi CS,
      Great question about BiL – he does acknowledge my existence. He has some narcissistic traits, I would say he is self-centered – bringing the conversation back to him, talks a lot about the things he has bought, has told DH how much he makes, etc. He doesn’t go out of the way to shame us. He is quite funny and when we have gone on holiday with him (before SiL) we have had a good time. I can deal with him for about 2 days and then I hit my limit because our conversations don’t have depth. They are very superficial and that gets tiring after 2 days. Also, he doesn’t listen very well and he does change facts around to suit him at times (to be funny or be right).

      Since SiL he has changed some what. He always asks her what she thinks even on the smallest things – restaurants, food, what time to get up in the morning. He does a lot of things for SiL that at first, seem sweet and romantic but at times, I am like wait a minute – doesn’t she do that herself. She definitely wears the pants and her decision is the only one that matters. I thought I was being jealous because DH doesn’t do these things for me but I talked about with DH and DH brought up some good points. We help each other out but we don’t play fetch for each other on every little thing. And he noticed that his brother was doing things for her that she should be doing for herself.

      SiL is an MD – oncologist/haematologist. There have been a few times that she and BiL use this to get people to believe them. It is really subtle and it has more to do with the fact that people generally tend to believe people with credentials.

      The lack of acknowledgement of my existence is a big shame trigger for me. It goes way back to my first memories with my mother. I think I would have been okay with the language class incident if BiL and SiL were not there. The 2 happening all at once without time to myself to deal with it led to some behaviours on my part that I’m not happy with.

      I’ve been thinking about how to handle SiL in the future (since this is a relatively new N for me to handle). I’ve been keeping track and I will have to be prepared for it when we next see them (probably this summer). Your response is awesome!

      Hugs, TR


  4. ps. TR, never forget that the world is full of thoughtless and rude people. Most of the time it isn’t about you and me. There’s been a general loss of civility, greatly aggravated by the cocoonlike existence people now lead, and their complete enmeshment with their electronic devices. People now set more store by tweeting, Facebooking (something I won’t do), and texting than they do talking to a live human directly in front of them. It’s sad, and it’s impacting civility everywhere these days. IMO! xx CS


    • Hi CS,
      That is such a coincidence – I mention the loss of civility that I believe you are referring to. In my presentation in the language class I talked about how technology can free up parts of our brain to focus on more abstract thinking and complex problems. For example, we no longer have to memorise info like telephone numbers or historical facts (thanks to Wikipedia). That was the positive side of its influence on how we think. Then, I talked about how basic knowledge doesn’t get taught. The examples I used were the GPS app on the smart phone. Many people don’t know which way is east or west and if they get lost they may not understand how to find their way without a GPS – but part of life is getting lost to discover yourself. We discover ourselves in those moments of being lost. Then I said that basic connection between two people can get lost because intelligence is also the ability to interact with people (not only solve math equations). We may slowly be losing the ability to connect with people face to face – and that, IMO, is a loss of some intelligence due to technology.

      I agree with you, people feel connected through Facebook or Twitter. It’s a cheap form of the real thing. So, we feel better when we have 300 connections on Facebook because we have learned that 300 cheap connections can make us feel better than 1 authentic connection with someone. IMO 🙂 I agree with what you said about how big of an impact it has on our civility.

      xxoo TR


  5. This is going to sound really terrible, and I have no evidence to base it on. But my guess about your SIL, is that as an oncologist, she often is involved directly in life and death treatments. Some of these people can get god complexes. However, they also have to tune out an enormous amount of suffering, simply to do their jobs and keep from being derailed by the dangers of empathizing with every patient she diagnoses, or their terrified families. I’d imagine she’s also had to watch children die of leukemia, and such. These are just speculations, but depending on how long she’s been doing this, she may now have blunted her social or empathy skills. Also, women going through med school (still largely a man’s world) have to really turn off their sensitivities to slights. She may have learned literally to be insensitive to others, as part of her job training. Just some thoughts…. love CS


    • I can imagine she has handled a lot of difficult situations being a doctor. Seeing death on a daily basis can change your perspective on life. Her parents pasted away from cancer as well (both heavy chain smokers) and her reason for pursing this profession, my guess.

      She doesn’t talk a lot about her work except for some politics – I think she isn’t directly in patient care anymore. I have thought a lot about how she has had a lot of pain in her life and it helps me understand why she behaves the way she does. IMO, she hasn’t had a healthy relationship with her parents and I can imagine that her parents were more consumed with smoking than with ensuring her emotional well-being. I think it is not a coincidence she is in our family nor is it a coincidence that I am there as well.

      I will continue to observe to see how she treats everyone in our family. I’m better at taking notes now. I’m sure she will appear in future posts.

      I haven’t written about this yet and for me, it is still messy in mind right now. She reminds me very much like my MiL – she treats me exactly the same. And with my MiL’s recent passing the family system has been shaken up – losing the maternal narcissist that ruled everything. They are at a loss at how to function without the Queen Bee. In order for our family system to survive MiL needs to be replaced – that is my SiL. She has slid into the role – which became apparent in our holiday festivities. MiL and SiL both have come from painful backgrounds and I think after reading Kitty’s post on demonising I can see how MiL and SiL have evolved into their present situation.

      The trick is to find the balance of compassion towards her (which I’m not there today after these events) and draw boundaries with them. Today, I’m still angry and hurt and in grief of not having a SiL that I had hoped for.

      Thank you for sharing this perspective. I will keep this in mind when I observe our interactions in the future.

      Hugs, TR


  6. I would have loved to be in on your discussion on technology and intelligence. Anyone that has ever watched a teenager play computer games for hours on end until they can no longer do anything else has serious questions about technology. On the flip side, I assist in bringing technology to the class room to enhance the learning experience. I would have a very lively conversation with you. I am sorry I wasn’t there. I encounter people all the time that have no appreciation for the impact technology is having on our lives. As for people rudeness level, it is going up. I am sorry you got slammed with several examples in one week. I think it is great that you acknowledge that you were already upset for SIL before class. Super cheers for recognizing it isn’t you. It really isn’t you when people are rude. It is all about them. Hope this week is better.


    • Hi Ruth, I would have loved to have you there. You bring up some excellent points about youth and technology that would have added to the discussion.

      Thank you for the kind words – this week is better and the module is finally done! So, I’m going to take some down time this week to relax.

      I’ll catch up with you on your side. xxoo TR


  7. Hi TR,

    Question: What do your SiL and the two women in your language class have in common? Answer: They’re all twats! LOL! Such rudeness is appalling. I hate, hate, hate the mobile device thing. And the women in your class, well, who knows what their motivations are, but there is just no excuse for that behavior. If a person has a true alternative point to make to a presentation, there is a thoughtful way to do that. The dismissiveness you experienced had nothing to do with interest in learning anything. It was just closed-mindedness and twattishness, period. (And I would be devastated if someone did this to me!! It would take me weeks to get over it, and lots of venting, as you’re doing. So good for you!)

    Seriously, I am so sorry for your terrible week. It often does seem like when it rains it pours, and we just get dumped on with too much to deal with. In my experience, this sort of thing is often followed by a huge “aha” moment. I hope this happens for you so you can have a bit of a happy ending.

    So many thoughts. First, it’s good and healthy that you were able to just surrender to your feelings of shame and hopelessness (been there, hon), and cry it out. As awful as it feels, it is soooooooo much better than being in denial or lashing out. This is progress for us. This is a very good thing. So congrats on that.

    And CS is right. My biggest trigger is “feeling like I don’t matter.” Just yesterday when I was having lunch with a friend, this got triggered for me. My friend and I were filling our cups at the soda dispenser. She went first and as I was waiting, two guys came in, from a different angle, and when she was done, one of them cut in front of me. I was furrrrrrious! The other guy saw me, said, “Oh, go ahead,” sort of apologetically, and I did, but I glowered at him as if it were his fault his friend was rude–or more likely, just didn’t see me. I instantly felt terrible (that shame thing) for having such a big reaction. I don’t think he was being rude, just self-absorbed, but when that “I don’t matter” thing takes over, I can’t think clearly. This was a small thing as it goes, and I recovered quickly, but I get what you’re talking about. And I know it is all about how my parents treated me when I was little.

    I think you are right about your SiL taking over the Queen Bee role. It is amazing how people so often marry a version of their opposite sex (or same, if gay) parent and carry on the family legacy. My SO’s brother’s wife is EXACTLY like his conniving, manipulative, deceitful, N mother. They are two peas in a pod–a pod I’m glad not to be a part of! It fascinates me how people do this so expertly, almost as if they put out an advert and interviewed candidates for the position. I don’t care if she’s a doctor, there is no excuse for such behavior. I hope you get a chance to use CS’s comeback with this selfish, rude woman. She should be smart enough to know the difference between work and non-work situations, and more importantly, between emotionally distancing herself and basic common frickin’ courtesy. Although I agree with CS about what might be behind her behavior, I don’t give her a pass. Shame on her.

    I will say, though, that many people who focus on book learnin’ do sometimes have an uncomfortable relationship with their emotions. It’s quite likely she went into the medical profession to compensate for her unresolved, repressed feelings about her parents (which of course, does not work). But none of that matters as far as you’re concerned–all you want from her is civility. If that’s too much to ask, she has a major problem (not you–her! You did nothing wrong!!). If this doesn’t change, or if you find yourself stuck in a very familiar FOO role with your DH’s family, I would encourage you to think about no contact or very minimal contact. It is soul-sapping to be around people like that. It is not good for us.

    Also agree that being around people who can only have superficial conversations is exhausting, and only tolerable in small doses. Life is too short. And, that people are getting ruder. I think it’s the narcissism epidemic, but the upshot is that sensitive folks like us have to learn not to take a lot of that personally. I’m not so great at that yet, but I will say I get there faster than I used to, and that’s progress. And even having said that, I think the stories you shared here do not fit into this “general” category. Each of these people have gone above and beyond normal self-centeredness. They all need to be thumped, as my SO would say. Who thinks this behavior is okay? It is not okay, not by any standard of basic, minimal human decency.

    Again, I am so sorry for your troubles, TR. I am sending you a big cyber hug and I encourage you to keep writing about it, keep talking about it, get it all out where it can all just dry up in the sun and blow away. Know that I am on your side, as are all of us here.

    Much love and positive energy,


      • Hi Kitty,
        Thank you so much for your kind words. I have been reading the comments on this post this week over and over again as I try and process what happened.

        I went through shame and yet there was more to it, there always is? I remember your post on Grief and in the end that is where I found myself. Shame and anger are getting easier for me to identify in ‘real time’ but grief is still delayed. This week I had time to just let myself feel the grief. The grief of not having a sister. A sister I had hoped for in having a SiL. Growing up as an only child and with an NFOO has left me feeling alone. That piece in the world where I belong and somehow I had thought I had a chance with my in-laws. When it didn’t happen with my MiL I was so incredibly heart broken. I really felt that there was something completely wrong with me. I was the problem, you see – how could I not be? – my own mother dismissed me and now my MiL. Having come to reality with the both them I still carried hope when BiL married her. A sister – how cool would this be!

        And I really tried. I know that there is distance that is physical and can make it difficult to connect with someone but I thought – you have to start somewhere. After having met DH and I at the same time, she requested DH to be friends on FB and not me. And I noticed this when she finally asked me a year later. I brushed this aside – because we all make mistakes and overlook stuff like that. I didn’t request it either, after all? Well, then I found out that she was sending e-mails to DH and not to me. Again, I didn’t think this was a big deal. I decided I should make the effort – I sent her e-mails to start a connection and to get to know her better. She didn’t respond to any of my e-mails. (Ironically, MiL did this to me too). She seemed to only respond to DH. And yet, I still continued to see the way I approached it as the problem. I thought, well, maybe you can’t start a connection only through e-mails (which is not true, because look at us!).

        And well, you can imagine the rest of our face to face interactions from there.

        I really have to think about how I’m going to approach this in the future. And the future may be coming up a lot sooner as we go back for a visit this summer. I did prep work before the visit and one of the things I missed was the part where I was ignored. I hadn’t anticipated this. And this really hit a huge shame trigger for me. And I could physically see how similar she was to MiL – not only emotionally but physically – and she even has the same interests.

        My first instinct is to reduce contact. Because as you say, life is too short. Her behaviours scare me so much. I already know that I will not be staying in their house – we didn’t this last Xmas because there wasn’t room with FiL staying there. And even if FiL isn’t there – it just isn’t an option for me. DH – from our initial conversations – is already cringing at my boundaries.

        This time around, there are some positives. With MiL, I spent 6 years trying to win her love and acceptance. And then I spent the next 6 angry and disliking her because of it. With SiL, I haven’t invested time with her and I can see what the relationship is really before I get in deep. That is already good news! Now, I have to figure how to deal with the covert attacks that come my way during our visits with each other.

        Thank you so much for your thoughts. They have helped me a lot. Hugs, TR


  8. Hi TR,
    I had another thought. This is entirely optional, but you could approach that dismissive woman from your class and say something like, “I’ve been thinking about your comment on my presentation the other day, and I’m really curious about what you meant.” Be sincere, like you really believe she has something valid to say (she doesn’t). When she comes up with another dismissive comment, press her, like, “Yes, but why do you believe that? I really want to understand where you’re coming from, because this is a really interesting topic to me.” It won’t make you any friends, but I guarantee she will think twice about making snarky comments to you again if she knows you’re going to make her answer for them.

    I know this would be really hard to do, but it would do you a world of good to confront this horrible woman. It would only take a couple of minutes (and then it would be over!–which is one thought that helps me get through scary or stressful things), it would be very empowering for you, and she would be unlikely to ever treat you like a target again. If you wanted, you could practice it (role play) with your DH or an understanding friend. (Even just the practice, without actually doing it, might help you feel better.)

    What do you think?



      • Hi Kitty,

        I do think that this is a healthy way to approach it. I am going to keep this in mind because I will have my chance again. The module I took finished up the last week of April and I found out that she will be taking the next module with me when it starts in one week! Go figure she is returning! She was so adamant about not continuing and on exam day she told me she was continuing. I think it is some sort of karma, telling me I need to have my practice in challenging attacks like this. I’m preparing these questions in French this next week! Kill 2 birds with one stone – practice French and behaving in way I value!

        Thank you for the advice, I’ll keep everyone posted on the challenges in my class! Man, and I thought I was only going to class to learn French – was I wrong! xxoo TR


  9. Hi TR,

    Gosh, I wish I was there in person to give you a big hug. Reading this just broke my heart. You wanting a sister so much and getting this cold, narcissistic fish instead. I feel so bad for you going through that all over again after your NMiL. It’s great that you were able to step back and stop trying and not get in the same pattern as you had with NMiL, but I still feel so bad for you being treated like this. Nobody deserves this sort of treatment, especially not you, with your big heart and your desire only to connect and have a close relationship.

    I don’t know how this woman decided that you weren’t worthy of connecting with. This is the sort of thing that would hook me like a marlin! This is just absolutely horrible behavior, beyond words. I mean, to ignore your emails? That’s like saying you’re as important to her as Spam! And you’re family! WTF???!!! And WhoTF does she think she is??

    However you decide to deal with it is not nearly as important as how you defend your psyche against her subtle attacks. You must come to believe in your head and heart that SHE IS THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM. Because I guarantee you this is the case. Her arrogance and indifference to your feelings, or her falling into unconscious FOO patterns, or whatever the fuck her issues are, are HERS, not yours. You have done nothing but try to establish a relationship and it sounds like she has blocked you at every turn. Why? There is no rational reason a woman should be indifferent to her SiL. None. You are a good person with a good heart! She is not!

    I suppose it’s possible that when you first met, you inadvertently said or did something that put her off. We all do this sometimes. But even if this is the case, she is handling it abominably, like a 5 year old. And I doubt this is the case because there is just overwhelming evidence that this is about her (and/or about unconscious FOO patterns).

    So, in dealing with this, I would encourage you to own your goodness and know beyond doubt that she is the problem, not you. Tape this up on your mirror so, repeat it to yourself every day, whatever you have to do to let it sink in!! And let in all the goodness and love from your ACoN friends who know this to be true. We will be your sisters! And we will help you through this. Know that you are not alone. I’ll be with you every step of the way as much as I can be.

    As for the French class, yes, karma… It has always seemed to me that in my recovery, when something comes up for me, the Universe gives me a lot of opportunities to address it. 🙂 I don’t know why it works this way but it often seems to. I will look forward to updates on this. lol, it’s NEVER just about the French, is it??

    Sending big love and hugs your way, hon. Hang in there and please keep me (and all of us) posted on how things are going.




    • Thank you so much, all of your comments help. Hugs and love back at you :).

      I am glad that I noticed a pattern and my natural response to people who behave like this (like my mother). I think I can see her shame and her struggle for self-worth in her behaviours from time to time. And as I think about her potential pain, I hold with me that powerful question, ‘what evidence do I have of that?’. I can imagine and in the end it comes down to her behaviours. And mine as well. My childhood and narcissistic learnings don’t give me a right or excuse to go around treating others like that and neither does hers.

      I have often tried to figure out if I behaved badly towards her at some point. I may have. I did catch her on this visit judging her friend. She started judging her friends choices in how she did her wedding to her own choices. I’m guessing that DH and me as well as others are not sacred in her other conversations if she goes so far as to judge her friends decisions about her own wedding.

      I am mending myself this past week and this one. I am feeling a lot better and trying to see what I can do that is healthy the next time around. I did a lot of prep in advance for this visit and some helped and there were some instances I wasn’t prepared for. I’ll keep you all posted – assembling my thoughts on this.

      Big hugs, TR


      • That’s it to a T, T: whether or not she has emotional pain is not your problem unless she talks to you about it directly. All you can go by is how she behaves. She has no excuses, and neither do you, and neither does anyone. Good for you for recognizing this.

        Will look forward to more posts on this. When is the visit? Do keep us posted.



      • LOL! I just found out yesterday that she will be there on our visit back home in July. BiL will fly up sooner as she has to work and then she will come in later – so only a little over a day with her. I’m already beginning to do some prep work because this visit I’m also visiting my mother and father. So, I think I will have to minimise my interaction with SiL. I’m thinking of only limiting it to dinner and usually it will be with others around. Man, karma is really getting me.
        Hugs, TR


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  12. I feel for you. I am nearly 40 and have had this stuff from other women my whole life (including ex-MIL, ex-stepMIL (!) and own mother). I find the best way of dealing with it is (as implied from your article) simply just not to see them. Why would you want to??
    I could go on for hours about my NM and am only sorry my dad didn’t do what he threatened years ago when they were still together and have her locked up. The only barrier to that was a) the cost, and that b) he was too compassionate towards her.
    Now that I am an adult I keep communication with her to an absolute minimum and avoid not only her, but others who obviously don’t really want to be with me, or socialise halfheartedly. Sometimes people are deliberately negative with the intention of pushing you away. There is no point wasting time with those people. Luckily I have plenty of creative projects to bury myself in. I haven’t that much time nowadays for who did what to whom, or having my life directed by other people.
    Blessings to you,


    • Hi Sasha,

      I agree that limiting contact or no contact is a solution to dealing with toxic people. And with my SiL I would choose the same path if I knew her outside of my husband’s family. At this particular time I wasn’t positive how toxic she was and I realised it from this visit. Since then I have accepted the fact that there will be no real relationship with her outside of the family obligations (being our husbands are brothers). My communication with SiL is virtually none, the only time I deal with her is at family events and I don’t put any energy with her – it is, indeed, a waste of time. Thank you for sharing your experiences, it isn’t easy to see or deal with at times. Realising it and moving through it helps to free up time for others and projects!
      xx TR



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