7) Learn not to take her most insulting affronts and put-downs personally. Why? Because this is how she treats everyone close to her. She is capable of behaving herself when she feels she must. But she doesn’t feel she must with you or your sisters-in-law. So she won’t. Not this year. Not ever.
8) From now on, think of her, instead, as a skunk, emitting its foul-smelling liquid from its anal scent glands as a defensive weapon. So, too, your MIL’s verbal abuse: it’s the only defense she knows how to deploy to protect herself from feeling small and unimportant. Every spiteful word she utters is an expression of her own insecurity and inner shame.
Whenever you see her, especially when she sprays you with taunts, think of the following photograph. It will serve as a vivid image of the problem at hand — her. Perceiving this long-term problem from a new angle may help you see her from a different perspective. Feel free to print it out and keep it in your pocket all weekend as a friendly reminder from me to you of who and what you’re dealing with:
9) Knowing this, you’ll now be fortified and better able to smile quietly to yourself whenever one of her nasty comments comes flying your way. Instead of reacting in pain, you’re now in a position to say to yourself, “I’m being sprayed with malice not because I didn’t clean the toilet carefully enough, iron her bed sheets adequately, or show her all the worshipful respect she craves, but because she sprays virtually everyone in her vicinity. She feels shame 24/7 and will do whatever she can to make others feel even more insignificant and uncomfortable than she feels.”
She’s not into providing others with solace, only with disdain. Expect no more.
10) Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your cooperation.
11) Don’t complain about her to your husband, placing him in the impossible position of defending her. Think of her as the price you pay to live with the man you love and the children you have together. For four days every four years, the price is sky-high. But like everyone who’s been through some form of hell, you will survive and flourish. She is, as James Joyce’s character Stephen Daedalus said of history, “a nightmare from which [you are] trying to awaken.” And you will — on Monday morning.
12) Until her limousine carries her away, anticipate the worst, don’t be blindsided, and know that you’re not the target.
You’re only getting sprayed because (A) she’s a skunk, (B) she feels defensive, and (C) you’re nearby.
Try to play the duck to her skunk by letting her poisonous comments roll off your back. Those stinging insults say everything about her and nothing about you.
– Belladonna Rogers
Do you have questions? Belladonna Rogers has answers. Send your questions or comments about politics, personal or cultural matters, or anything else that’s on your mind, and Belladonna will answer as many as possible. The names, geographic locations and email addresses of all advice-seekers will be kept confidential. Names and places and will be changed to protect the identity of the questioner. Send your questions or comments to: email@example.com