Another post-therapy post.
And the understanding of the fear both DH and I live in. The fear of his family.
On the one hand his mother is friendly towards me, making me clothes and voicing her support for me doing what works for me as a mother. On the other hand, she went and bought plastic toys for DS after numerous conversations about why I do not want DS playing with plastic toys. While this is not the only example of what I find difficult in her behavior – it does illustrate just where the difficulty lies. My values are foreign to her and therefore not worthy of her respect. I think in her experience I am just being difficult and I should compromise for the sake of family unity and good feeling. It seems that she has a fundamental issue with respecting my choices. Sneaking plastic toys into DS’s toy box is not exactly open communication.
And on the other family front, while on holiday in South Africa I had the strong sense that I need an apology from FIL. It is almost a year now since him and his wife laid into me for not vaccinating my son. When it became clear that I was not giving into their pressure – they kept attacking my intelligence, reasoning and choice from any angle they could – despite me having broken down in tears as I tried to breastfeed my son. They kept attacking me through my tears. And for that I am not sure I can forgive them, unless they were to ask for an apology. The last year has shown this general lack of respect for my choices to be pervasive and all inclusive. Our choices are constantly questioned and ridiculed.
Now, neither with my MIL nor my FIL would I expect a fundamental change in their personal beliefs or values. I could not. I do however expect my choices to be respected. And I expect to be given the space to be the best mother I know how to be.
An observation made by our therapist today was that our therapy has not been so much about dynamics in our relationship, as much as finding a way to manage our relationship with DH’s family. I think that is true.
So, our way forward – regardless of whether we choose to move away from the family or not, is to talk to both MIL and FIL. This is a big big deal. Both need to at least know that I have been hurt by them and that I am asking them to respect me and my choices, even if it goes against their beliefs/expectations. At best I might actually get some of the support I need, at worst I will have faced off a ‘demon’ and DH and I will be freer to move on.