A night out with the in-laws

Father-in-law chose the place and time. Dinner at an Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles at 7:00pm. We decided to take an Uber to avoid driving in LA rush hour traffic. We arrived about 15 minutes early. The restaurant was, shall I say, a throw back to a different era. We recently watched the excruciatingly long Scorsese Film, The Irishman, and with Good Fellas pics on the walls of this place, Sinatra softly crooning a Christmas Carol, dark red booths, and absolutely no one in sight, we looked at each other with confusion and trepidation on our faces. Where there had been little concern before, we now started questioning the situation. The in-laws normally choose bright, upbeat venues with lots of beautiful young people to look at… although totally ridiculous, as we sat and sat in this empty dining room, we wondered if we were being set up. Watching a 3 1/2 hour Scorsese film about mob hits will do that to you.

The in-laws were fashionably late and although father-in-law had contacted Blue Eyes in advance to say that because of the rainy day, we were to come casual, mother-in-law was dressed to the nines. With her red-quilted, gold chained Chanel purse casually draped over her shoulder, she stood stoically in front of us. No “happy to see you,” no “It’s been so long.” No hug for their estranged child. Blue Eyes’ parents seem to have shrunk over the past six years. Age definitely weakens people, both in stature and in intensity. They truly are not the same people they were 6 1/2 years ago.

When I met mother-in-law approximately 35 years ago, the first thing she did was approach me with a less than warm embrace and tell me that “they are a hugging family.” She is all about impressions, not reality. For years I would get the same chilly hug and a cold, make-up caked cheek for me to kiss. This time, however, I did the hugging. I embraced mother-in-law in an uncomfortably warm hug. She didn’t reciprocate, which was totally expected. I took her by complete surprise. I also gave father-in-law a big bear hug, which he gave me right back. Win!

The in-laws chose this restaurant specifically. They said they are shocked it is still in business. They have friends that live very near by and they love it because it is never busy or noisy and they can have a nice conversation. Food is decent, service is good. I enjoyed a nice grilled chicken breast with veggies while Blue Eyes ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana.

The conversation, after six years of not speaking with these people at all, went exactly as expected. Mother-in-law talked about herself. She told us about how they have pared back on their activities over the years. How they are in the process of selling their “desert house.” How they “gave” their Hollywood Bowl box to the daughter. How they don’t travel as much anymore, but they travel each July to Vail for some music festival and stay in the same suite at the same hotel that has the most magnificent breakfast buffet. She talked about her Granddaughter’s wedding that we weren’t invited to. She showed us pictures of our own son and his girlfriend. Pictures from the wedding, and also from a trip to New York they took. She waxed on and on about the restaurant they took our son to. She actually talked a lot about our son as if we haven’t seen him. She likes to do this though. To make herself feel important. She did not, however, even ask about our younger son, the one that lives with us. She doesn’t like to talk about things or people where she doesn’t have the upper hand (at least in her mind). I did tell them the story of the recent break in at our house. Predictably her questions steered to how to blame us for how someone would enter our home in the first place. Father-in-law did, however, show concern for the welfare of his grandson.

Mother-in-law talked a lot about their youngest grandson. The one Blue Eyes’ brother left behind. He’s now 10 1/2. I see pictures of him all the time on Facebook. He looks healthy and happy. I hope he is. I’m also very happy that I helped instigate the in-laws having a relationship with him at all. I still remember the FaceTime call with them so many years ago, 9 years ago now where I cried and begged them to embrace that child. They had written him off because they hated and blamed the mother for their son’s death. All that is long forgotten by them, which is good. They seem to have a strong relationship with their daughter now, which I hope will make this transition easier, but I know it won’t. I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist. Where the mother-in-law has mellowed, the sister-in-law has grown more toxic. Passing the torch, I guess.

We asked about the fires this past Fall. They were in an emergency evacuation zone and had to leave their home a couple times. It sounded very scary for them. Mother-in-law asked about my mother and how she is doing. My mother is suffering from some depression and anxiety around my step father’s stage 4 cancer. Mother-in-law said she spoke to my Mom a couple months ago and told her to relax and have a hot fudge sundae. My mother-in-law doesn’t “believe in” addiction or mental illness. She believes everyone can just wake up and tell themselves they are happy and are going to have a great day, and it will be so. She’s a delusional narcissist.

When we were leaving, I said that I’m sure The Peacemaker would love to see them and she simply said, “he never returns my calls.” I asked her the last time she called him and she admitted it has been years and years. Of course it has. She has not reached out to our younger son, not once. She is much less comfortable with this son. He looks like me and he doesn’t kiss up to her. He’s also much more vulnerable. Maybe she recognizes this. Maybe it’s a blessing. Mother-in-law lives life like it’s a game she must win. They seem to have forgotten the circumstances by which Blue Eyes disappeared from their life. Mother-in-law in a passive way merely expressed her concern for why her son just stopped talking to her. There is no point talking about it. She will never admit to having done or said anything hurtful, so there is no point even having a discussion about it.

Predictably Father-in-law was pretty quiet, but when he did join the conversation, he was pleasant and upbeat. He wasn’t negative or judgmental at all. He has definitely mellowed and appears to want to live a life that is as stress free as possible. I don’t blame him. He’s turning 85 in a couple weeks. Blue Eyes left the dinner very happy that he has reconnected with his father.

On the Uber ride back to the hotel, we talked about boundaries and expectations. We both realize at this point that the sister will now be the biggest hurdle to having a peaceful relationship with the parents. Because of her own issues, and self centered motives, she will not want Blue Eyes to have that connection. He is proceeding with caution.

34 thoughts on “A night out with the in-laws

  1. I’m happy, if anything, that he can connect with his dad. Of course we know the MIL will be the gateway to his dad… and then there’s the SIL. Wow. What a game of psychology to play.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My instinct is always to jump in and try and referee, but I’m not going to do that. The door is open to his Dad now, and that’s what he wanted. He appears to be handling it all well, but that is also a fear. He “appeared” to be handling things for years. Actually even thinking about him appearing to be fine to me and then going off to another woman and baring his soul cuts like a knife. I know she means nothing, but that will always hurt the deepest.

      As long as he can separate himself from anything his parents may say or do to cut him down, he should be okay. I don’t think (or hope I guess) he cares what his sister may say or do to ruin this for him.

      When BE used the restroom, his Mom immediately asked how he’s really feeling (physically) and I told her he’s doing okay but working very hard. They both seemed extra pleased that I’m working full time for the company. Pretty sure they instinctively know that my being there to help him is good for him. The whole thing went as expected.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I accidentally hit reply. Maybe it even went better than expected. We played the game of pretending nothing really happened and it had just been too long since we’d seen them. I definitely need to examine a little deeper my feelings about all this with the therapist next week. I hope things are well with you, A, and that you are enjoying the season! 🤗❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  2. OMG. I can so relate to the in-law situation. Oh, wait. I don’t have to put up with their bullshit anymore.
    I watched the Irishman. I don’t remember it being what I considered…too long. I just questioned their interpretation of how Hoffa died. Was is speculation or was it true? (I’ve heard that mobsters don’t talk…dead or alive.) It was okay, I guess…but I wouldn’t watch it again.
    Hope all is well with you…as well as can be, considering the shit-storm you have been through. I’m going through my own. Bless us both. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Irishman is something like 3 1/2 hours long… 😮. We split it over two nights. My Mom fell asleep during it both nights, ha. Yeah, I think their interpretation is complete speculation. I’m hanging in there. I hope you are doing okay. I can only imagine. Big hugs. 🤗🤗🤗

      Liked by 1 person

    • I loved the movie. I saw it in a theater this week and could not find a time for a bathroom break.

      The story of Hoffa’s killing is not speculation, it was what Frank Sheeran claimed in his memoir “I Heard You Paint Houses”. That doesn’t make it true. We in NJ all know Jimmy was poured into the concrete of Giants Stadium !

      Liked by 2 people

      • Only a hitman would want to claim that in his memoir, lol. I hadn’t heard anything about the movie when we sat down to watch it. I guess speculation was the wrong word… maybe bullshit? My Dad also believes he’s in that concrete. I thought it was good, but I do think it could have been cut.

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        • It’s a parking lot now; MetLife Stadium was built next to the original Giants Stadium which was paved over after it was demolished.
          I said to someone with whom I was talking about the movie that after The Sopranos nothing is shocking!
          Going to see Marriage Story now. Guessing it’s not on your shortlist!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I am glad the meal is over, but concerned about the door it has opened. It’s funny because listening to your description of your mother in law made me think of someone close to me, about who I often say ‘I can’t believe they can be like this….but cannot see themselves. I think I ‘m going to write my journal! Hugs, remember it hasn’t happened until it happens and worrying about it won’t change it. Moisy ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s interesting to sit back and watch family fall back into such old predictable patterns. It’s also interesting to see how people who are engrossed in themselves often become even more egotistical and narcissistic over time. I wonder how having a mom like that affected your husband in childhood, and then in his marriage with you …

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, DLH, this blog is pretty much a testament to what can happen… a neglected and mistreated child learns to lie and self medicate. He takes it right into adulthood and doubles down. He lives every day with shame and not feeling good enough. He creates a secret sex life to deal with all those issues that have built up, the constant need to be “nurtured” and touched. Along with sex as an addictive reward. There was nothing I was ever going to be able to do as his partner that would be enough to compete with that, unfortunately. xo

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m glad this dinner went well (no one was capped in the empty mob joint), but I can’t help but think that BE’s vulnerability with/ to them puts you at risk. Maybe father-in-law is manageable now, but your mother-in-law still sounds like a piece of work. I’d hate to see that manipulative personality open old wounds. I know BE has a ton of tools and skills he didn’t have before, but at the end of the day it’s you who has to pick up the pieces if it doesn’t work out. I hope that they behave, for your sake.
    xo

    Liked by 2 people

      • Well wait, Joshua, depends on what you like. My sons thought the movie was good. We split it over two nights. I wanted to see how they played out the Hoffa story. The acting was of course top notch. Pesci and Pacino were especially good. The movie was too long. There’s numerous places he could have cut it. Makeup work was interesting… aging already old men, but then the reverse aging was impressive. My sons would say it was worth the time. I probably would too. My husband didn’t care for it.

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        • I like theaters because a picture that big and no distractions in almost needed for me at this point. I’m like a four-year-old in a stroller at the zoo watching things at home. Too many other things taking my attention.

          Liked by 1 person

              • One of the symptoms of my trauma was agoraphobia. I had a panic attack at the basketball arena about four months post discovery of my husband’s secret life. I literally collapsed to the floor. I was simply overwhelmed by the volume of people and also had this total unreasonable fear that my husband’s other woman (who was stalking me) was somehow there and going to harm me or my son. Crazy as I’m sure this woman hasn’t been to a basketball game in her life.

                Honestly, I didn’t recognize myself for months and months. Grocery stores are still incredibly difficult for me. I fell apart in our local grocery store one afternoon five years ago and was just sitting on the dirty floor. I don’t even really remember much about it. My husband found me through the Find Friends app. I remember him saying he couldn’t believe I chose the dog food aisle… I told him I hadn’t “chosen” anything.

                There’s a movie theater across the street from our office that I could easily go see an afternoon movie in relative quiet and anonymity, but my husband took the other woman there, so… I still don’t really care to go there. Honestly, if someone had told me 6 years ago this is where I would be in December 2019, I would have laughed in their face.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Now imagine if his affair had been front page news in the newspaper for days and the top story of TV news…that’s still what keeps me from feeling totally safe being out in public around here, even six years later. The reality was far more people new who I was than I knew who they were and there are some severe f’n nutjobs out there, especially around things like I did.

                  So…if somebody could tell you where you’ll be in 6 years, for good or bad, with no ability to change it, would you want to know?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Nope. Wouldn’t want to know. Wouldn’t want the feeling that I couldn’t change the outcome, either way. And I can only imagine your situation as I have definitely not had to deal with anything like that. You are pretty strong to stay and take the consequences head on. It’s great that your family is in tact. The thing is, my love for my husband was greater than my desire to flee the terrible situation I found myself in. It’s all still shocking to me. His SA group has really been a lifesaver for him. Men that actually understand how he feels, because as much as I try, sometimes the hurt just overshadows my understanding of his betrayal.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • And that’s proof you can never fully put yourself in someone else’s shoes. There were plenty of times I thought about leaving, but those who I love around me didn’t want to and I kind of felt like I’d already put them through enough. There’s always going to be repercussions for what I did, but I’ve made my peace with it. I just try to avoid possible confrontations in public.

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                    • I also think people hear what they want. “Hands-off offense with an older teenage girl on the other side of the country” sounds a lot like “snatches young children from playgrounds” to a lot of people apparently.

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                    • Sometimes I think it’s a gang mentality. We had that even with the break in at our house recently with our neighbors. Convinced the guy was part of the homeless camp and they were ready with their pitchforks to go hassle a bunch of people just trying to live. This guy wasn’t even homeless. Let’s actually work for better conditions for the homeless and while we’re at it, figure out how to get this guy in rehab. Things are quite complicated these days with a lot of people suffering. Glad you are thriving!!!

                      Liked by 1 person

  6. That place looks like where every restaurant scene in Mad Men was ever filmed. She sounds like a leopard who doesn’t change her spots, but also understand her movie is coming to an end. These two actually sound a lot like my grandparents were 15 years ago. It’s probably not nice to say, but as my grandfather mellowed, he became the one we wanted to be around, contrary to our youth, and my grandmother just reached this other level of miserable where you could tell she was so internally resentful at everything that it wasn’t worth investing too much energy. Is there any possibility of BE and father-in-law spending quality one-on-one time together? That’s probably what both would actually enjoy and get the most out of while there is still time for it to have meaning and quality.

    Liked by 2 people

    • BE will definitely try to see his father separately. Not sure it will work, but he’ll try. The mother wants to be involved in everything, and father doesn’t want to deal with any negative fallout from her, that’s how it’s always been. Even when they were children she allotted him time and approved what they could do. She’s a control freak narcissist. He’ll keep trying though. It’s what he wants.

      Liked by 1 person

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