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how would you react?

(16 Posts)
quandary Tue 13-Dec-11 21:07:59

I'm after advice from a grandmother ...
my ex was abusive to me verbally mostly, sometimes physically. My ex MiL oversees contact for her GS because of this and we have a sort of ok relationship.
But she doesn't want to hear about the past and thinks it can all be brushed under the carpet.
So am I being unreasonable to want to talk to her and explain what happened? She will be involved in GS's life and I want her to be, but I can't get over the fact of what happened. GS only grandparerents are on that side of the family - my parents are both dead. So how would a gran feel about hearing/knowing extent of her son's abuse. Gran wants to stay neutral but I feel that is ducking a very real issue and one that perhaps she could talk to her son about for GS's sake.
Any thoughts?

Anne58 Tue 13-Dec-11 21:24:31

Very tough, no mother wants to hear bad things about their child, even if that "child" is an adult.

Perhaps you need to get it all off your chest, which seems reasonable, but perhaps your mil is not the right person to get it off your chest to, if you know what I mean?

You say that you have a reasonable relationship with her, it may be that if you go down the route of telling her all the aspects of your marriage that led to the break up, the relationship that you currently have may become somewhat flawed?

I'm sure others will be along with much better advice, but just wanted you to know that your post had been read and thought about.

tanith Tue 13-Dec-11 21:31:35

Its not unreasonable but you can't make her talk about it and if you do you risk turning the relationship you have managed to salvage bad which I'm sure you don't want. Why do you feel she needs to know the knitty gritty of what went on between you? She must know the bare bones of it and chooses to stay friendly with you for the sake of her GS , maybe she can't deal with the realities of what he's done and I don't see how forcing to confront the issue will help anyone.
My ex MIL has to deal with the fallout of my alcoholic ex's life everyday and its a terrible strain on her because she does know the truth , if this lady is trying to spare herself from the worst her son has done can you really blame her?

quandary Tue 13-Dec-11 22:01:22

I take both your points. I think because of GS who doesn't have any other grandparents and because ex MiL is the only one who sees both of us (separately). She hopes ex and I can sort out workable relationship as parents and I think feels it's six of one and half a dozen of the other.
I find whole very superficial relationship with her false. It's very hard to move on from abuse and having had the courage to speak out about it, I feel that without some acknowledgment and discussion it is hard for me to move on.

tanith Tue 13-Dec-11 22:10:48

As phoenix says MIL is not the person you need to have that conversation with, maybe counselling would help you to move on. Sounds as though a superficial relationship is all she's prepared to offer and you might have to accept that for the sake of GS's relationship with his only grandparent. If you push her she may feel that having a relationship with you is too difficult and as you say she doesn't want to take sides and if she wants to 'duck' the issue you have to accept that or risk the consequences .

Mishap Tue 13-Dec-11 22:46:31

What a difficult situation for you quandary.
I really can see why you feel deep down that you would like to put your position to MIL so that she realises what really went on, and it must feel a bit uncomfortable to have a relationship with her that is based on what you regard as a falsehood.

I do admire you for making it possible for your child to have a relationship with his grandma - it takes a big heart to swallow your resentment and do this for the sake of the child and hats off to you for that.

I do however agree that it might be best (however hard) to let MIL retain some of her illusions about her son - it is so hard to look at our children objectively and there is only so much that we can cope with. But....I do think that you could say very clearly that there is no future in your relationship with her son, so she has no illusions about that - this will benefit both you and your child, as he will not get any mixed messages.

Perhaps, as others have suggested, there might be some other place or person to whom you can let of steam about the realities - that way you might feel a bit better, but you will retain your child's relationship with his grandma for his benefit.

Granny23 Tue 13-Dec-11 23:01:22

I understand your need to have the abuse acknowledged and how annoying it must be to be treated as if you are also to blame for what happened between you and your ex. YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME in any way. The perpetrator of the abuse is 100% responsible for his actions. I am sure everyone on Gransnet would agree with that sentiment - in theory.

However, if the boot is on your own son's foot it is impossible to accept that he is 100% BAD - surely there must have been provocation? surely DIL is exaggerating? The mother of the abuser will try to find some excuse for her son because the only alternative as she sees it is to admit to failure as his mother. I believe the best you can hope for from Gran is her 'neutral' stance. It will have cost her a lot of heartsearching - no doubt influenced strongly by love for her DGS - to get to this position.

The guiding principal for you in all this is obviously the welfare of your son and you are right in thinking that continuing contact with his only DGM can only be to his benefit. When it is time to explain to him why his Daddy lives elswhere you will not want to tell him that his father is a loathsome apology for a man, but rather that he did some bad things which meant he had to go away. It will be enough if his DGM can accept that her son made mistakes, without having to hear all the inns and outs. For yourself seek validation from others - friends, your family, WA or a counsellor. You cannot expect more than Gran has already given (i.e. being a loving DGM) from her - she will be torn between love of her son and love of her Grandson.

rosienanna Tue 13-Dec-11 23:13:05

I feel really sorry for both you and your MIL! i certainly would be like your MIL and not want to know all the details about my son...and its lovely that she is seeing her grandchild ...and you are being kind to her..
Sadly for you would probably be your own mother that you would turn to now vent your feelings..
i hope you have a some good friends and other family that you can talk to.
Please keep your relationship with MIL and i'm sure you will all reap the rewards of a secure and warm future together....even if its not perfect...

riclorian Wed 14-Dec-11 13:41:43

My advice Quandary is to not involve your mil . Please find someone else to talk to- a counsellor , an aunt or a very good friend perhaps ? Please don,t risk spoiling the relationship between grandson and grandmother ,it really isn't worth it . For very different reasons , which I won't go into now , I have not seen one of my grandsons for 9yrs . We have missed out but so has he as I know he loved us very much .Please think very carefully before you finally decide . Good luck

absentgrana Wed 14-Dec-11 14:31:23

Quandary I think it is extremely difficult for those who have never encountered abuse and/or violence first hand to begin to comprehend what it is like and how it affects the abused partner. Heaven knows that an abused partner finds it incomprehensible that a loved one should mete out such treatment. Abusers are very often in denial about their words and actions and frequently "justify" them in many ways – "I didn't mean it", "You made me angry", "You shouldn't have done/said that", etc. As others have pointed out, mothers find it hard to believe the worst of their children, even adult children, and their every instinct is to protect and defend.

I don't think you'll achieve anything trying to explain to you mother-in-law because she both can't and won't understand. This will only cause difficulties in the grandparent/grandson relationship. Let it ride, but do find another outlet to help you over your own distress, whether a counsellor (perhaps via your GP), a relative or a friend.

greenmossgiel Wed 14-Dec-11 17:08:51

quandary, I think your MiL will be just so glad that she has some sort of contact with you and your little boy. She's probably really worried that you are likely to bring up the terrible time that you had with her son, because she will definitely have some idea of what went on. None of us want to hear 'bad' things about our children, even though we perhaps think the person making the judgement may be justified. It's not her fault that your ex behaved as he did, but no doubt she'll blame herself in some ways. Most of us have come across the old phrase, 'A mother's place is in the wrong' If you can, try to see and talk to someone who's unbiased. You've suffered terribly and deserve the right support. Good luck.

Annobel Wed 14-Dec-11 17:22:03

You ask how we would react, quandary. My answer is that I wouldn't believe it without getting an admission out of him. I think this is probably the reaction most of us would have, if the truth be told.

JessM Wed 14-Dec-11 18:06:12

I will tell you what I did in similar circumstances. My first H was abusive. When I left him he was hysterical for months and made everyone's life a misery (me, kids, my mother, his parents etc).
I would never of dreamed of discussing reasons for break up with his mother because i recognised that he was her son and that was that. He needed her support and she was still my son's gran and there was no point trying to gain her understanding or sympathy or trying to divide her loyalty. I left them to it. I did go to visit her once when she was dying of lung cancer about 10 years later.
I was also very careful about who else knew the reasons for me leaving him as he was a head teacher and I did not want gossip to spread around town. He was still my kids dad. And if I had done so, I would have been basically saying "He's the baddy and I am the blameless victim". Which is of course quite tempting when you have been treated very badly.
As a consequence I am sure lots of people thought I was a terrible person who had abandoned a lovely man. (I always remember someone calling him that, the week before I left him) Others got huffy and vindictive because I would not spill the beans.
Generally I felt better about myself though for not trying to enlist my MIL's and the town's sympathy.
So my advice is let this go. If she asks ever, give her an edited version e.g. "he bullied me badly when no-one else was around". If your child asks in years to come, do the same.
On an amusing note, years later I was at a social event and a woman I had never met sidled up to me and introduced herself. Obviously agog to meet me. Wanted to be my new best friend. Apparently he had been carrying on with her at the same time as all the hysterical bullying and trying to get me back performance was going on. Lucky her that's what I say. Must have been delightful to hear him banging on about me grin gringrin

supernana Wed 14-Dec-11 18:40:16

JessM you have my respect xxx

Ariadne Wed 14-Dec-11 18:48:35

Oh yes!

glammanana Wed 14-Dec-11 21:58:06

JessM Well done game set and