I think I have IL PTSD

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I think I have IL PTSD

Postby willthetruthbetold » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:43 am

I was putting my grandson down for a nap the other day and my DD suggested that I sing a certain lullaby to him that I used to sing to her. She opened it on her phone and when I heard it, I unexpectedly burst into tears. Emotions washed all over me. Why? I remember singing that song to my DD when she was little, just after my MIL and FIL had visited and had been really horrible to both DD and me. I remember holding my little DD close, feeling really protective and singing the lullaby to her and thinking of how I would shield her from my MIL and FIL's meanness and their obvious attempts to undermine and destroy our family.
The visit had been traumatic and I was stressed. I can still feel the anxiety of dreading their visits, having to endure them and then the horrible aftermath... a destroyed and distant DH, upset children and a ravaged household. Things that they said and did still bother me and there are a lot of things that trigger some very unpleasant memories and feelings.
I think I have PTSD from my MIL and FIL.
How does a person ever get over being treated badly by another, especially if it was cruel and unwarranted? I have been told lots of times that my MIL and FIL were wrong to have:
- Told my DH not to marry me
- Tried to sabotage our wedding right up until the last minute
- Meddled with wedding plans, including changing what the officiant said and canceled the wedding ring order
- Gave me terrible advice on child rearing and threw tantrums when I didn't follow their orders
- Tried to name our DD
- Tried to break my DH and me up throughout our entire marriage (MIL up to her last days and FIL still tells DH to clean our our bank account and dump me)
...
There's more, and I've posted about this before. Now with the arrival of our grandchildren, I see how difficult it has been for my DD and DIL to care for young children and newborns and I try to help as much as possible. I compare this to how my MIL treated me and I am freshly shocked with the memory of her bad behavior. For instance, I would never barge into my DS and DIL's house, take over their master bedroom, insist that my DIL sit on the floor 24 hours after giving birth when I have the best chair in the room and demand that she get up from the floor and make me lunch and a coffee, like my MIL and FIL did to me. I don't declare that I'm too young to be a grandmother, like my MIL did. I would never try to name their baby, like my MIL and FIL did. In contrast to my MIL, I love holding the babies (MIL only held DD and DS once when they were born, when someone took a photo... then she handed them back to me like they were bags of dog crap). I always bring a little something when I visit, make food for weeks when a baby is born, ask how I can help and honor their wishes for private family time. My MIL and FIL never, ever, brought food for us and instead expected me to make meals for them, even when I had just gotten out of the hospital hours before. If I wasn't cooking for them, they expected DH and me to take them to restaurants and pay their bill... and the restaurants had to be the nicest ones in town. I don't offer child-rearing advice unless my DD, DS, DIL or son-IL asks. My MIL had advice aplenty, and it always had a cruel component: Put the baby on a strict meal schedule and ignore them if they're howling in hunger; put them in their crib and close the door and let them scream; they can play unsupervised when they're 2 years old and in fact the older one should be made responsible for the younger ones; it's OK to leave your 5-year-old and 2-year-old at home alone while you're off having coffee with the neighbors... if they get in an accident and almost die (like what happened to DH a half dozen times), then you should complain about them being the bane of your existence; you can potty train a 9-month-old; it's OK if your unsupervised kids urinate and defecate in the alley; children are a pain in the ass so don't give them a break because they have essentially ruined your life; it's OK to go on vacation for a week and leave your children with a hired stranger; children don't need car seats or seat belts; children should either be outside by themselves or playing quietly in their room; feed your kids hot dogs and stale bread because they don't know that you're eating steak; it's OK to lock your under-7-years-old kids in a hotel room for hours by themselves while you're eating in a restaurant and dancing.... and much, much more.
When I look at my grandchildren, I realize how evil my MIL and FIL were. They didn't acknowledge that I had my own standards and certainly didn't respect them. They pushed their opinions on me without regard that I was a bride, mother, wife, daughter and it was my turn to live my own life the way that I wanted and planned.
It's the unfairness of this that makes the trauma linger. I wish I could go back and stand up for myself from the very beginning. I should have told my DH that we were getting married the way that we wanted and not how his parents demanded because it was our day, not their. I should have stood up for our children faster and more forcefully. It's the guilt that leads to the post traumatic stress that I have when some situations trigger the unpleasant memories of my MIL and FIL.
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby Hiddenjem » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:06 am

(((((hugs))))))

I understand.

The inlaws were horrible warnings for you and you listened to your gut, tolerance, learned it was not acceptable , survived, and rose above their examples! I believe as Maya Angelo said that we do the best we can with what we knew at the the time. I am proud of you doing the best you could with what knowledge you had at the time.
Last edited by Hiddenjem on Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
"I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby jigglypuff » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:06 am

Omg, this had me in tears. Especially when I read 'In contrast to my MIL, I love holding the babies (MIL only held DD and DS once when they were born, when someone took a photo... then she handed them back to me like they were bags of dog crap)'. I'll never understand how people can lack love for their own children and GC. I think it's one of the saddest realities of this world.

WTTBT, I'm so sorry these terrible memories and guilt still haunt you. I think we can all relate on how you feel about not standing up for yourself while your toxic ILs were abusing you. I randomly experience the same whenever I think back. I beat myself up and think about how stupid I was to allow so much abuse from these devils when I could have easily stopped it. I question myself why? Why did I sacrifice my self worth to keep peace for a husband who, at the time, couldn't care less about how his family treated me. I still carry anger and resentment towards myself, my DH and the ILs.

You did not deserve any of this. Although you've gone through hell, look at how it's come full circle. You are now an amazingly loving and thoughtful Mother, MIL and GM. Unlike your PILs, your children, DIL and GC love you. They are always going to think fondly of you. You have what your PILs didn't, a good heart and the blessing of a loving family. How many of us wish everyday we had a mother/MIL/GM like you? I know I do. I didn't grow up with much of that.

You need to learn to forgive yourself. Had you had the wisdom to handle the situation differently, you would have. I didn't know any better either. I walked into a marriage in a very naive state. I never in a million years would think my ILs would hate me for no reason whatsoever. I didn't know what to do. I only separated myself because I was beginning to suffer a mental breakdown. Thinking back on how many nights I cried and begged DH to defend me, it brings tears to my eyes. Unless people have walked in our shoes, they have no idea how horrible the emotional suffering is like.

I hope one day you can fully heal from your traumas. Whenever you have a flashback of your ILs abuse, try to take a second to replace it with a loving memory of your GC.
Many blessings to you WTTBT *big hug*
'As the days go by, I think of how lucky I am... That you're not here to ruin it for me'
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby bsfighter1 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:10 am

I suffered from PTSD too (even though it wasn't diagnosed, but I knew how it felt and the smallest triggers sent me back to a dark experience and caused great emotions in me). I still felt hesitant to call it PTSD because the narrow definition they have if it in the DSM only really focuses on people who have experienced huge traumatic events in a relatively shorter time period (not the slow chipping away of self-esteem and identity, and the drip-drip of smaller, but harsh, occurrences that emotional abusers are known for, that eventually add up over time into a huge trauma. Of course, the worst thing about these smaller occurrences is that people who have no clue (and/or choose ignorance to continue to enable) tend to just focus on one small occurrence, as do the abusers, as a scapegoat for the trauma that has been inflicted over time, so they can twist the problem back into the target by saying they are making a mountain out of a molehill, when there truly is a mountain of trauma behind the most recent incident.

Psychology is slowly catching onto our form of PTSD and has called it complex-PTSD. For me, the PTSD is always there, although the acute symptoms have faded over years since I've separated myself from toxic ILs and had a good amount of time to process the awful experiences I went through. I notice that the lingering PTSD I have has imbedded itself in other ways such as being hyper vigilant when it comes to observing people and my surroundings and not trusting as easily anymore -- always being on alert for any sudden attacks. I also notice a numbness at times... I'm able to experience deep love for those closest to me like my children, but it's like my heart is always on guard with everyone else and I find myself disassociating unwillingly at times-- hard to explain.

I'm not sure if this will ever change and the complex-PTSD has molded me into who I am today. I have just come across far too many mean-spirited people, the ILs being the final straw, to feel fully trusting and comfortable in many situations now. I think a lot of it had to do with my naivety and for years putting my whole heart into people and situations I didn't know because I erroneously believed that so long as I was kind and inclusive others would automatically return that kindness, or at least just be decent human beings. As we probably all know toxic people are usually drawn to naive and open hearted people.

On the more positive side, I am able to experience moments of joy again just from the simplest things, like looking at nature, laughing at the cuteness of my pets, and cuddling with my children when we watch movies in bed. So I know that healing does take place. I'm even trying to challenge myself to trust cautiously again, but I'm not sure if I'll ever get to a point where I trust fully, but perhaps that's not an entirely bad thing and is something I had to learn.

The regret you're experiencing sounds like some of your PTSD? I guess it's just about getting to the point where you believe you did the best you could with what you knew at the time. We all did. Although I'm glad I got my kids and me out of the il situation before they could completely destroy the happiness in our family, if I knew what I know now, I would never have befriended those people or had been so quick to embrace them to begin with. Heck, I might have not married my DH had I known! But then I wouldn't have my precious children either. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess, but these days instead of regret, I just accept that it is what it is, I learned, I changed, I see healing, and I protect myself so no one else has the chance of wrecking what I've gone through so much to heal, including some of the skeezy ILs who would love to get a foot in the door of my life again. Not happening!

Hug
"I've learned that with narcs, absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder, it makes the heart grow free."
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby jigglypuff » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:36 am

Bsfighter, everything you said hit home.

so they can twist the problem back into the target by saying they are making a mountain out of a molehill, when there truly is a mountain of trauma behind the most recent incident.


That is exactly how they play the game. They'll say you're "too sensitive" or a "Drama queen", anything to gaslight you and make it seem as if you're the troublemaker for trying to find a resolution to the problem. You are to be seen and not heard.

I think a lot of it had to do with my naivety and for years putting my whole heart into people and situations I didn't know because I erroneously believed that so long as I was kind and inclusive others would automatically return that kindness, or at least just be decent human beings. As we probably all know toxic people are usually drawn to naive and open hearted people.


I agree and I'm having this issue. I cannot seem to open my heart up to new people. I also tend to withdraw from those I care about. I have pretty much alienated myself from everyone and oddly enough, I'm happier for it. I have fully distanced myself from the toxicity of others. I can honestly say I only know about 3-4 people who are genuinely decent. All the others are toxic and manipulative. In this day and age it seems almost impossible to find others who a truly kind hearted.

Heck, I might have not married my DH had I known!


I have felt this way as well. Although DH is a good man who was mind controlled and abused by his narc family, had I known what was coming, I would have never married him. At the time we were dating, he was already married to his mama, I just didn't know it.
Since the CO, I have been very happy with DH. He is truly a kind, genuine soul and I'm especially thankful to his dad and his GM for raising him that way. Had MIL raised him, he would be just like his ESIBs. I'm also grateful that he's broken out of his family's mental hold. He still struggles with his stockholm syndrome but he now has obtained wisdom he lacked before. He's come a long way and I've very proud of him for that.
'As the days go by, I think of how lucky I am... That you're not here to ruin it for me'
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby rubycrownedkinglet » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:47 am

willthetruthbetold wrote:It's the unfairness of this that makes the trauma linger.
willthetruthbetold wrote:It's the guilt that leads to the post traumatic stress that I have when some situations trigger the unpleasant memories of my MIL and FIL.

I believe you have PTSD, and rightfully so! When we allow others to make us be someone or do something that goes against our very nature and all good sense there is a certain type of guilt and regret that is hard to get past.

It is their fault. It is our fault. The two points of view battle with each other and change back and forth forever unless we break the cycle. I've gone back and forth about what I could have done differently that would have made things work out better with my ILs. I've laid all blame at my door and then at their door, depending on the day.

The real truth is that I love my DH very much and most of the decisions I made or let him or his adopted family make that involved me were because I accepted that the ILs came with him and I would do anything for him. As the years go by, we become wiser and we realize that it isn't so black and white and that people-even parents, should continue to mature and change over a lifetime and that if we are being abused, it is wrong regardless of who is doing it. If the ILs won't learn to treat us better and if our DHs don't stand up for us and demand it at the risk of losing their relationship, then the weight falls to us. We are forced to choose to go along and take the abuse or to make everyone else unhappy. Making everyone else unhappy is also against my nature.

Here's the rub. Those nasty people were never really happy anyway, just satisfied they got their way and victorious that their child they put in the middle chose their side again, or let them get away with an escalating list of behaviors that border on the absurd.
Winning! [Hiddenjem eloquently quotes Maya Angelou and and I quote Charlie Sheen :lol: ]

But they weren't ever happy. Boy, is there a difference. Those of us who don't think or feel like that can't accept they can be that way until we see it so many times it's undeniable. We hope the ILs are going to change. We hope our SO is going to change. We hope that we can manage LC with our emotions hidden away or deadened so they can't hurt us, or if they do, at least they won't know it. Time passes and we reach some moment that we just can't let pass and we finally stand up for ourselves. Nobody else changed. We did.

I believe that even if you had been a stone cold bitch from day one, they wouldn't have changed and you would have had different problems with them and your DH. But still problems. I was never a real bitch to my PILs but I did stand up for myself and I'm still here, with regrets. I couldn't change them or how they raised their children, so I couldn't change their children either. Even though he claims differently now in hindsight, I couldn't change DH to make him cut them off completely without seriously undermining our marriage. The only thing I did that minimized the damage was that I supported, encouraged, and made possible 33 years ago that we move away to start our life together without them as a constant, engulfing force.

Willthetruthbetold, your legacy is how you raised your children and currently support them in a positive and loving way. Your sacrifice has broken the cycle of abuse and has set things right so that it would not continue through your DHs children. Would your PILs choice of a wife for DH have done the same? Uh, no. The dysfunction may continue through your felonyN, more's the pity, but hopefully, she won't procreate.

It's no surprise you have PTSD. Your ILs earned it for you you've earned your recovery from it. The only real start is to own your actions or in-actions that contributed to your pain. Forgive and release yourself from that. Like Hiddenjem quoted, you did the best you could at the time. Share what you've learned with others so they will think about their alternatives differently (been there done that, right here and for a long time). You've already taken the step after that, and cut off the ILs that are left, regardless of your DHs choice. Be proud of who you are now and the strength you've found.

Explain to your DD that you will find a new lullaby.
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby WatchingMyBack » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:43 pm

WTTBT, I believe you're right about the PTSD.

From day 1 they waged war against me, and it continued until the day they died (FIL 8 years gone and MIL 5 years gone, and :evil: BIL "dead to us" 10 years and counting).

People tell me I could write a book. Mostly I think they think the stories I tell and that DH tells are embellished or made up. They honestly can't believe anybody would be so cruel as the PIL.
“Make no judgments where you have no compassion.”
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby Photomama16 » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:23 am

I think you do as well. What they put you through is absolutely horrendous. You have risen above it and are doing right by your children and their spouses. They certainly do teach us how NOT to treat our children's significant others. I have moments of flashbacks of what my DH's evil mother did to me too. Still have nightmares from time to time. It takes a while for me to wake up and realize that evil woman is gone!
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby Melody » Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:55 am

My post keeps being deleted. But no doubt you are WTTBT!! My heart has broken reading your posts about your abuse.

Have you considered seeing a counselor that specializes in Trauma - and, believe it or not as you MAY be surprised at the term, you need a TRAUMA specialist to speak to.

BTW, I played the same music and kept up the same hobbies from 17 years ago when I divorced to 14-15 years ago when my parents died. Sorry you are going through this!
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby miwako » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:21 am

Melody wrote:Have you considered seeing a counselor that specializes in Trauma - and, believe it or not as you MAY be surprised at the term, you need a TRAUMA specialist to speak to.

I also wanted to suggest this. I think it would be good for you.
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Re: I think I have IL PTSD

Postby willthetruthbetold » Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:12 am

Hiddenjem- Thank you for the kinds words of support and the reminder that we have done the best that we could. It helps tremendously. Looking back, I was in my early 20s when I got married and didn't have the ability to challenge my elders and let them walk all over me at the wedding. When it came to my children, I was jarred into overcoming my "niceness" and protected them from the ILs, although at the time I felt alone and powerless. Your post helps put things in perspective!
Jigglypuff- Your post brought tears to MY eyes! That's exactly what I was hoping to do, to stop the cycle of abuse that spanned generations on both sides of DH's family. You wrote:

"Why did I sacrifice my self worth to keep peace for a husband who, at the time, couldn't care less about how his family treated me."

Your sentence is a core concept in my case and in a large number of other peoples' situations that come to this site. By acquiescing to a DH who put his emotional needs above ours and being maltreated by both DH and the hateful ILs, it causes trauma that can last for years. You didn't deserve it, I didn't deserve it and none of the other people on this site deserve it, either. However, you came up with the answer: Breaking the cycle in succeeding generations by creating a loving family. Tears welled up in my eyes when I read what you said- How many of us wish everyday that we had a mother/MIL/GM like me? I hope to live up to this! <3 I held two of my grandchildren today who love and trust me. My DD and DS had my parents who loved them... but my MIL and FIL were so hatefully different. Like you, I would never have thought to have ILs that hated me for no reason, other than maybe they were angry that I'd taken away some of their power to manipulate their son, my DH. The more affection that I showed DH, our DD and DS, the more MIL and FIL scowled and said awful things. I see now through the filter of experience (and the great people here) that it was about jealousy, power and manipulation. I will take your advice and try to replace my bad memories with thoughts of my GC. It's something that my MIL and FIL never had... GC who knew and loved them.
BSFighter1- Your response was great! You're correct, I was using the term "PTSD" loosely, especially since it wasn't diagnosed. I'm glad that you clarified the definition. I feel like cringing during some situations when I'm reminded of what my ILs said and did and it's certainly not like what veterans and others have gone/are going through. Maybe there's some other term that I can use for it, like IL-induced trauma, cringeworthy-IL-memories or post-craptacular-IL-irritation. :D Seriously though, I am grateful that you wrote a very nice post that was well thought out. Maybe you can help me with a new definition!
RubyCrownedKinglet- Your thoughtful posts are like a soothing balm for my soul. Here's some of my favorites from your post:

"...if our DHs don't stand up for us and demand it at the risk of losing their relationship, then the weight falls to us."

Exactly so. The problem that I, like others here, didn't know how to bear that weight or know how to fling it off. Like you, I didn't want to make my DH unhappy. It just seemed easier to carry the weight at the time.

"We hope that we can manage LC with our emotions hidden away or deadened so they can't hurt us, or if they do, at least they won't know it."

I really didn't want my MIL, FIL and Golden SIL to know how much that they were hurting me, especially my FIL who is a psychopath and enjoys watching people writhe in emotional pain.

"The only real start is to own your actions or in-actions that contributed to your pain. Forgive and release yourself from that."

Great advice, and I will be working on this, definitely with more posts here. And yes, will find a new lullaby!!

WatchingMyBack- People who haven't experienced hateful ILs are naive about horrible some people can be to others. The friends who I confided in were shocked when I revealed a few of the things that my MIL, FIL and Golden SIL said and did. They universally said that I should cut off all contact with the ILs and also asked why my DH would allow his family to treat me that way. Encouraged by their support, I found that I'd start telling them more and more about the ILs: How my FIL said that I deserved to die when I was in the ICU, how my MIL tried to sabotage our wedding, how my GSIL tried to poison me with a food that I'm severely allergic to.... and my friends' eyes would glaze over with the overload. Even my "nice" SIL had trouble dealing with things that I told her about her parents and sister, and she dislikes all of them. My Golden SIL came right out and said that I was a liar. She definitely couldn't handle the ugly truth. So I understand what you mean when you say that your friends honestly can't believe anybody could be as cruel as your PIL. I definitely believe you!
Photomama16: I have nightmares of my FIL too, sometimes. :cry: I do the opposite of whatever my MIL or FIL would do and know that it's always the right choice!
Melody: I wonder why your posts were being deleted? Did you find out why? I haven't considered counseling. I'm not sure that the therapist would believe the stories! :lol:
Miwako: This site is therapy enough for me! Everyone has been so thoughtful and helpful. Thanks!
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