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I Need To Speak Of My Abusive MIL Even If It’s ‘Washing Dirty Laundry In Public’!

If only I had taken her seriously, but I was too much in love with my husband. That was the first red flag I should have paid attention to.

Trigger Warning: This deals with emotional abuse and gaslighting, and may be triggering for survivors.

They say “Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public”. But sometimes it becomes too unhygienic to stay in the dirty laundry in the absence of a private washroom. Then, it becomes necessary to wash the dirty laundry in public so that if it is a sore sight for anyone, they do something to create a safe private space.

My mother-in-law has been a manipulative shrew and a seasoned lying narcissist. My sister-in-law is an entitled spoilt brat who thinks that everyone should pay for her narcissism because her parents taught her in a Hindi medium and taught her brother in English medium.

Yes, I’d like to wash my ‘dirty laundry’ in public

I am done taking her emotional and mental abuse, not to speak of the time she used her manipulative ways to leave me to die a seemingly “natural death”. But I have to write about it because many others like me would be hiding their dirty laundry even after catching a fatal infection.

It is important to make society acknowledge its responsibility in the sustenance of a culture of the oppression of a daughter-in-law and her family, to the extent that they are forced to live in unhygienic, stinky conditions with all the filth dumped on them. So much so that it becomes impossible to thrive while saving an abusive in-law in the name of “not washing the dirty laundry in public”!

I have come to understand through my personal bitter experience that the stains should be removed publicly, only because mental and emotional domestic abuse is considered such a private matter that there aren’t any physical traces of it. But it destroys the entire public persona of the abused.

The first red flag

Ours is a love marriage. That itself implies that it is built on the foundation of annoyed in-laws.

As ‘luck’ would have it, I turned out to be a ‘Manglik’ while my husband was not. My mother-in-law informed my husband about this, explicitly telling him that he will die if he marries me. While at the same time telling him that she wants to see my reaction to this news so she will tell me herself!

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However, later she called and told me that my Manglik dosh has a remedy that should be paid in gold to her pandit. I must not worry even though I am doshi. What can be done about my fate? At the same time adding that she has been told that her daughter’s fate has been written in golden ink by God’s own hands using his silver quill. She is born without a single dosh in Kundli.

I have always been at fault since then, and so was my family.

When I could take no longer, I told her that I am an educated girl whose parents have not raised her to live up to the greedy standards of dowry mongers. She told me to rethink my decision of marrying my husband because I will have to suffer that fate only after I marry him.

If only I had taken her seriously, but I was too much in love with my husband. And when my husband confronted her she outrightly refused to admit her fault, saying she had blurted out some nonsense in retaliation to me, but that she didn’t mean that.

That was the first red flag. If only I had given it more heed.

Then came the wedding

Starting from then till my wedding, she kept tormenting me. She would tell her son how she has been told by her relatives that she is the best mother-in-law for all the preparations–which she was doing with my husband’s money and not from her family heirlooms.

She forced me to wear a lehenga of her choice at my engagement while I had already bought a gown for that, spoiling the day for me.

While my husband found me adorable in my spectacles, she asked me to remove them even when I told her I needed them to see better.

She kept on telling me and my husband that it was the marriage of her only son, and we should let her fulfil her dreams. All of which just involved putting down my family and shattering all my dreams and plans for my wedding.

And when I requested her to at least let me fulfil some wishes of mine she explicitly said fulfil them in your child’s wedding. It was getting too much for me and I decided not to listen to her and go ahead with my plans even though I knew it meant more manipulation and emotional blackmail to my husband by her. But I needed to after all I have planned to get married just once in my life.

After the wedding it started to become worse — wishing me ill on my honeymoon!

Soon after marriage she forced veiling on me against my late father’s life long struggles and wishes and when our common acquaintances pointed that she told them in my face that I am doing it willingly and she hasn’t forced me. I was aghast but I tolerated thinking that it’s only for 3 days after which I will be on my honeymoon.

My birthday was to fall on the first day of our trip and just before we were about to leave she said that she is having intuition about our trip getting spoiled. So much for safe journey. As it turned out the train that was supposed to reach on the morning of my birthday to our destination, ran so late that I spent my first birthday after marriage hungry and thirsty stuck on a train.

Next our honeymoon plans also got interrupted by the cyclone. We were deeply disappointed and my mother in law insisted that we must return. But we were too much in love and didn’t wanted our much awaited honeymoon to be spoilt so we used all our remaining savings and boarded a flight elsewhere without telling her. Upon reaching, we clicked few pics and uploaded on social media where few of her relatives saw me and appreciated me for my looks to her on a phone call.

“You were an ugly bride”

She immediately called my husband asking for our private honeymoon pictures! When he sent his solos she clearly asked to see mine. After seeing those she called my husband up with all smiles and laughter, and asked him to put his phone on speaker. Then she told me with a chuckle how does it matter that you look good on your honeymoon; first impression is the last impression and yours first was of an ugly bride!

She hadn’t spoken to me on our honeymoon before this, and after that ominous foreboding farewell of hers; these were her first words five days later.

I was awarded my doctorate degree just a few days before my wedding and I had been an all-round topper with 5 gold medals to my name from a prestigious central university. I am far from being an apostle of beauty but after spending so much on bridal make-up I wasn’t looking ugly in the traditional sense of the word. And I was in the newspapers the next day as I had released my book of poems written along with my husband on my wedding day.

None of the above mattered because I wasn’t looking like a celestial nymph but an earthly bride who didn’t hide her face behind the veil; so was plain ugly to view as a bride, and my first pictures from the honeymoon which made her relatives compliment couldn’t change that.

However, her own daughter who has failed many of her classes and those that she passed were in the third division, is a national player after playing inter the college level and after securing the third rank in the three teams that played.

What happened after we had settled in another town, away from my in laws

Soon after when I joined my husband at his workplace away from our hometown, she started tormenting us that she wanted to pay a visit to us.

My husband had been working for 2 years then, and not once had she thought of visiting him before our marriage. But within a month while we were still in the process of making our home and buying the stuff for its décor, she forced herself in along with her husband and daughter.

No sooner she entered the house my sister-in-law commented that the décor done by me is gaudy. I could see my husband’s disappointment as he really wanted his family to approve of his first real home and their comments affected his opinion, making him doubt my ‘potential as a homemaker’.

This was ironic and shocking because it wasn’t as if my husband’s family had done up their house very well. My father-in-law was a college dropout and thought himself to be too good for any job, so in his own words, he retired soon after joining college. My husband had a hard childhood and he reached great heights in his academic and professional career by the sheer power of his will. But this made him a money bank or the hen that laid golden eggs to his parents.

It was only after his friends appreciated my décor that my husband’s belief in my skills gained a boost.

However, mother and daughter left no stone unturned to fill my husband’s mind against me

On the last day of their visit, we had a tightly packed schedule with many parties and get togethers one after the other and we didn’t have much time between these. We had quickly changed two to three times according to the occasion, but I didn’t fold the removed clothes, thinking that I will do it at night. But my mother-in-law intruded our bedroom (knowing well it’s not right to intrude on a new couple’s personal space) and pointed out to my husband that he used to scold them for being messy, and now he has married a messy person.

It was one day; the last day of their visit; in which we had visited the nearest tourist attractions. I let her run my home that day, considering that she was an elder, never for once misbehaved, and patched up a huge fight between my husband and my sister-in-law. But all my MIL was looking for was one opportunity to degrade me.

Unreasonable demands for respect from my mother and sister

Each day she has subtly continued to poison my husband’s mind as to how she is “not getting the well-deserved respect for birthing a son.”

She had suffered a lot at the hands of her selfish in-laws and had been disrespected by them during her youth because of my FIL’s finances, but how does it justify her claim and demand of respect from my widowed mother and much younger sister? We were not the ones who had disrespected her, so why should we bear the brunt of her insecurity and ego?

And my mother is 15 years older than my MIL, a very respectful professional in her field. If the societal laws of respecting the elders and the worthy should be employed, she should have been respected by her. But not only my SIL while being a student in the same institution ignored my mother altogether, leave alone give some respect, she (SIL) demanded respect for herself.

All the expensive gifts from our side were not good enough for them. My entitled SIL felt free to insult my elderly maasi at my marriage and find faults with the gifts given to her. All our highly educated relatives were shocked to see such a snob and snubbed her for behaviour to which she raised such a hue and cry that my husband was manipulated to feel insulted at our wedding. She spoiled my D-Day for me too.

And all because I didn’t let them mortgage their son for dowry and had him for free so much against his “high market value”.

Why should my family and I be at the receiving end of her ego trips?

All this made me sink into post-marital depression and I began questioning my life’s choices. It was my study of psychology that helped me recognize my symptoms and work my way through my head to come out of it. My family was suffering because of this. To add to the wounds, a few of thei black sheep relatives were causing constant threats and trouble. And she was swearing her love for them.

Having had too much of the manipulation and quite dubious family history of their relatives I decided to keep my distance from them for the safety of my family and my mental health. Seeing which, she manipulated my husband into believing that he is getting henpecked and is the one making all compromises. Making him doubt my love for him and prompting him to ask me to choose.

I could take it no longer and broke down before my husband, listing all the mental atrocities his family had been subjecting me and my family to. I had hidden the truth from him so that he didn’t feel crushed between his mother and wife but things had engulfed me by then and I was drowning. I needed to survive and I even proposed separation. But my husband was too much in love with me and couldn’t even bear the thought. God bless him he never ever gave upon me.

And finally, our misunderstandings were cleared and we started our happily married life afresh, but without giving my in-laws a hint of our bliss this time.

During this time too their manipulation continued but my husband was able to see through things better now that he knew my side of the story too. He was finally able to see through their manipulations and realized to his own surprise how he had been subjected to all this earlier too. He was often taken on a guilt trip for spending his hard-earned money on his requirements while they continued to spend lavishly the income earned by him.

He still loves his family, but now with open eyes recognizes the toxic traits in their conversation and deals with the situation accordingly.

Image source: a still from 2 States

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