That’s a mouthful of a title, isn’t it? Would you like to guess to whom I’m referring? Yup, you guessed it. The ex-MIL. The one I used to refer to as Marie Barone (from Everybody Loves Raymond). The ex’s mother. I couldn’t write about this until now because I was so incredulously struck by her audacity and yet, I know she has no boundaries as a narcissist and I remember her dark side. Oh yes, I know it well – having been on the receiving end of her cruelty.
Last night she ‘butt dialed’ me at 7:30pm. I don’t know who or how you can accidentally call a number you haven’t spoken to since 2018 so often, but she does. I never answer, but the older kid saw that her name was blinking on my ringing phone. Because of the story below, he was smiling from ear to ear upon seeing it. I told him to do what he wanted as it was probably a butt dial and when he answered he would either hear her feet shuffling across a floor or she would suddenly hang up because she realized she called me. You may have intuitively heard the sarcasm in my writing voice there with realized because I think she purposefully calls me. Personally, I don’t believe it’s an accident. But that’s another story for another day. Anyhoooo….back to the story at hand…(and no, she didn’t leave a message and neither of us answered the phone).
So the older kid comes home from Grammie’s house a few days ago with a message from Grammie for me. He’s all puffed up with importance, as if it’s a message from the Queen herself.
Mom, sit down. I have something shocking to tell you. I’ve been asked to deliver this message to you.
Intrigued, I sit. One eyebrow arched in disbelief as the kid begins pacing in the kitchen in front of me, doing his best to present the message well because, clearly, this is very important to him. Ahem…he clears his throat, gearing up for the big reveal.
Mom, I’m going right to the point and then you can ask anything you want because I can’t hold back. (he’s clearly excited) Grammie was crying and saying that she missed you so much when I got to her house. (cue my inner eye roll) and she even said she had dreamed about you! (He anticipates me being elated, but he’s sorely disappointed as there’s no softening on my part, so he continues) For the last few nights! as if it made it more important. Immediately, I feel snarky inside.
Grammie said (I have to interrupt because as soon as he said that, I immediately felt a revulsion inside that was visceral – as what she says, what she demands, no longer applies to my life and it was as if the Queen had made a proclamation and my kid was delivering it to the serfs (me). He stumbles on…
Grammie said I should tell you that you are allowed to come to dinner with us at her house. (There was an explosion inside of my head that I barely was able to contain) You only need to ask to be invited. And you’re allowed to see my cousins now! (Clearly he’s now on a roll as I am desperately trying to keep my butt in the chair and not fall off, nor interrupt him) And wouldn’t it be nice to have dinner with us on the holidays and with Dad and Grammie and I asked if she’d allow your family to come…She even said that she’d be ok with Uncle and family coming too. We could be a family again! He’s practically panting with delight having delivered the message in one breath since he’s so excited.
Clearly the kid has drunk the Kool-Aid. I have to hand it to the narcissist, she’s done a whopper of a good job in snowing him because he’s ecstatic to be the messenger and his emotional enthusiasm for we can be a family again because you’re allowed to come to her house for holidays has hit a mark inside of him that obviously she was aiming for and boom – she hit spot on! He was looking at me with those puppy dog eyes expectantly thinking I would be as happy as he was. He was practically jumping for joy with anticipation! Like a kid on Christmas morning after Santa’s brought everything desired.
I picked my jaw up off of the floor and tried to keep myself calm for his sake, but there was no chance. While I didn’t want to squash the poor kid as he’s only the messenger and you don’t kill the messenger…I uttered one word.
Yes, Mom!! She said you’re allowed because now you and Dad are friends!
Expletives exploded in my head like the Macy’s fireworks on 4th of July. I think my eyes glazed over for a few moments until I got myself under control. I had to think for a moment before responding.
Oh my. Well, isn’t that a surprise. Bless her heart.
He’s grinning from ear to ear, thrilled that I haven’t gone full Exorcist with my head spinning ’round and ’round. Clearly unaware what the Southerners’ hidden meaning behind Bless Her Heart really is. How can she have turned my 24 year old smart son into an excited little kid who’s in full Grammie belief mode? Because she’s an incredibly powerful manipulative narcissist. He’s waiting for more of a response. I take a deep breath and try to speak gingerly.
Well, why didn’t she tell me herself?
Uh, well, she said that she could call you and tell you so that it wasn’t just me delivering the message. But she said she wasn’t sure how you’d receive the message. Why, do you want her to call you?
In my head I responded with a resounding NO, but to my kid, I couldn’t boom my voice so negatively in his direction.
Hmm…she wasn’t sure how I’d receive the message…(I let that hang in the air)…from her…(again silence). Since we haven’t talked in years...not once. Even when my Mom died. Even when I had to have open heart surgery. Even when.…I let the sentence trail off…
He’s anxious to defend her and is growing uncomfortable. This is a fight between her and me and not for him to be in the middle. I know that whatever I say, he’s going to repeat to her because she’s incredibly talented in getting people to open up to her so she can later use that to hurt them.
She can call me. If she wants to talk with me about this, I hesitate and then I can’t help myself. She can have the balls to call me herself and not send my son to deliver her message.
He looks a bit deflated. But Mom wouldn’t it be great for all of us to be together on holidays instead of you being alone? You could be with us and them!
Oh my sweet son, you are so innocent. There is so much that I feel I must leave unsaid for his sake. I have been alone for years. On the first Christmas morning after my parents died, that ex-MIL insisted my kids go there to get their presents otherwise they couldn’t have them. Just to be mean to me. So I cried by myself for hours and put up a courageous front as they left that morning because they really wanted their gifts and she was holding them for ransom.
But seriously, uh NO, I’d rather not eat with the den of snakes, thank you very much. Imagine me sitting there after YEARS of his family not even checking on me, ignoring when I had asked something important and her telling lies to my kids about me. You think I’d break bread with them? And the ex has a new girlfriend so how comfortable would that be? Seriously? Bless their fucking hearts.
I walk over to my son and hug him. Thanks for delivering the message honey. I released him and said, I’m going to take a walk…End of story.
Stay tuned for part deux.