Imagine that this post is backed by the Jaws soundtrack

My mother-in-law is coming to stay for a few days in order to admire the new house.  She’s a regular, although not particularly heavy drinker.  Exactly like LH, in fact; he can stop at one, but not at none, so for both of them the 5 pm G&T and/or the glass of wine with dinner is a social necessity.  Wine decorates every social occasion despite her late husband having, to my eyes, quite an obvious drinking problem.  There is no fucking way that my abstention will fly under the radar.  

That’s fine.  What is not fine is that she’s the sort of woman who, under the guise of kindly concern, attempts to ferret out every single possible thing that might be wrong with one’s life, or highlight any downside to a triumph.  It’s hard to even describe how this manifests, but for example;  you’ll announce that you have bought a new, bigger house!  Hurrah!  Oh, that’s lovely, she says. Are you not concerned about the cost of heating?  I suppose you’ll have to postpone that planned overseas holiday for a few more years now.  When her son announced that he’d been awarded his PhD last year, she said Oh, well done for finally finishing, especially since it took so long with the children and everything.   An acquaintance hasn’t just had her first baby, she’s had an IVF baby, who will be referred to that way for years to come.  Conversations devolve very, very quickly into us defending ourselves against imaginary problems, or explaining why a good thing is a good thing.  Unconditional approval is not a thing that happens in LH’s family.

And she is obsessed with weight and diet, although she will claim not to be.  She doesn’t diet herself, having maintained her weight throughout her life through a combination of genetic luck, a job that requires physical movement, and just having some self-discipline, really.  So weight loss or gain is noticed, diets are noticed.  Less than 24 hours after I’d given birth to my second daughter, who weighed in at almost 10 pounds, she commented on the fact that I still had a bit of a tum. 

All of this means that she will almost certainly have issues with me not drinking, and any explanation I give will be an excuse for a barb.  My usual ‘thought I’d stop drinking and see if I could lose some of this fat’ line will be a weapon in her hands.

It doesn’t matter, of course.  I realise it doesn’t matter what I say or what she thinks of me.  And to be very honest, it’s a lot easier now that her husband is not around, because he was the obnoxious alcoholic type; drank, got loud, went into long monologues, often got insulting, spent the next day being defensive and cranky.  Mostly I used to cope with that by drinking, because alcohol is very useful in creating a bubble of numbness around one.  His whole family reacted by just tuning him out most of the time, and it was so horribly, awfully uncomfortable.  But nobody ever talked about it.  Ever.

So compared to that, being ‘the sober one’ looks pretty good.  But there’s still that thing.  She’ll go back home and tell everyone that poor AA must have had more of a problem than we realised… or, I guess, poor AA’s weight is so out of control now that

Oh, and we’re throwing a house-warming this weekend.  No problem at all being sober and hosting a party, and I think it’ll be a lot easier to go unnoticed in that context anyway.  

I’ll report back.

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5 thoughts on “Imagine that this post is backed by the Jaws soundtrack

  1. good luck. come at it from a place of strength – not someone who is being deprived – i.e so desperate to lose weight you’ve given up the drink – instead say it was making you sick, body does not process booze and you’re happier for it. so fly at it honey-pie. drink up, cause it ain’t for me. she sounds a challenge, have a similar type in my family and it drives me crazy – truth be told.

  2. Oh my goodness, she sounds like a joy 😉 Just run away and hide and rant online if it gets too much. This is not any support to you, I know, but your post has made me appreciate my mother-in-law a little bit more. Can you let her know in advance about the drinking thing? Would that make it easier? Can your LH talk to her? Good luck for the visit, and the party you brave lady! Hang in there! xxx

  3. Ugh, what is with people like that? Sorry you’ll have to deal, but I think MTM has some good suggestions. And you’ve got the right idea with not caring what she thinks (even if that isn’t always easy). I’ll be praying for you! Hugs!

  4. sounds like an opportunity to play dysfunctional family bingo to me… http://marthabeck.com/2010/11/dysfunctional-family-bingo/

    come on here and let us know when you’ve got three in a row?!

    but seriously, that is tough. and preparing for it by imagining everything she could say won’t necessarily help, as it will just get you more stressed. how about preparing some responses in advance? I have an aunt like that and my general purpose fall back line (which I have never had to use) is “I find that remark offensive.” note that is not preceded by “sorry, but…” and even if you never use it, knowing it is there might help.

    good luck. spit in her drink if that works for you…. 😉

  5. Please, please, PLEASE report back, I can’t breathe I’m laughing so hard! I have at least two people in my life who are exactly like this. OMG, I cannot wait to hear the outcome of this visit. I wish I had something snarky lined up for you. In fact, I am going to think about it and report back if I can come up with anything!

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