Last summer I wrote about a few phone calls I received from my thisclose to former mother in law. By the end of 2013, I had received a dozen calls from her, all asking for Voldemort, several in which she greeted me by his mistress’ name.
She had also left numerous lengthy messages for him on my answering machine, so I knew she had had surgery and been hospitalized. (Didn’t make me feel any more forgiving about her calling me by the mistress’ name.)
About a month ago, she left another message on my answering machine. She greeted me by my actual name and explained how she’d been in the hospital, apologized for not staying in touch, and proclaimed her love for me and my kids.
This would be a touching moment in a television drama. But in real life, this is the woman who never welcomed me into her family. She has belittled me, disrespected me, placed intrusive and unreasonable demands on me, and made it very clear she can’t stand me. In the early days of my relationship with Voldemort, I tried to forge a friendship, or at least a warm acquaintance, with her.
She wasn’t interested.
In the five or so years before Voldemort moved out, we had reached a detente. Neither of us cared for the other, but she no longer yelled at me or hung up on me and I was the very picture of shallow civility in her company.
She’s also the person who taught Voldemort a lot about passive-aggression. His father filled in the rest.
She called again last week and left another message. Essentially the same message she left last month with an added “I still want us to be a family” comment at the end.
Beyond the fact that she never treated me as family, I can’t think of a single subject we could comfortably or appropriately discuss, except the weather. I’m in the middle of a fairly contentious legal proceeding with her son. Every word I utter to her will be relayed to him, after being filtered through her crazy. I’m not even comfortable talking about the kids with her — there are confidential matters that she isn’t entitled to weigh in on.
So I’m choosing radio silence at this point.
I don’t know if I’m making the right choice. I don’t want to bring the full force of her neuroses down on my head, but I really can’t talk to her about my kids at this point. I can’t talk about myself or the divorce. And I can’t shake the sense that she’s snooping for tidbits to feed Voldemort, tidbits that will be used against me.
Paranoia or good sense? I’m not sure. And that’s the crazy-making prize at the bottom of every relationship with a passive-aggressive person box.