I could write 5 different articles focusing on my first exposure to my in-laws. For the sake of sanity and words I’ll focus on one thing at a time….hopefully.
A few months after moving to Germany the parents of the crazy maker flew in for a visit. It was to be a short, two week visit but turned into a month of emotional upheavals and passive aggressive venom. The kind of venom that covertly determines the way problems are dealt with and conflict is resolved. If you are familiar with covert, passive aggressive behavior then you know that the only one comfortable will is the passive aggressive himself (that old crazy maker!)
And how silly was I to think that problems, if they arose would actually be dealt with?
Shortly after the move to Europe plans were in place for both sets of parents to visit, his and mine. Since we had one good car built for two and one bad car built for two it was decided that we would purchase something more reasonable. Something all involved could fit into.
My parents were schedule to visit first and after a year of sporting the bad car that fit two, I was ready for the new car that fit four or more. The crazy maker had a different idea though. “We can borrow Brad’s Volvo to tour Europe.” And that is what we did; we borrowed a 10 year old station wagon with no air conditioning, torn seat covers and tooled around Europe the week my parents visited.
You take 4 adults, one small child and all the necessary baggage (stuff) and throw it into and on top of an old station wagon and soon you look like something straight out of The Grapes of Wrath. My parents said nothing; they put smiles on their faces and went along for the ride.
Did I mention my parents paid for every Guesthouse we stayed in, every meal we ate and even gave the crazy maker money for gas? He should have been billed and charged interest!
Within a few weeks it was time for the in-laws to visit. AND time to get that new Volvo. Yep, after months of coming up with one reason or another to “wait” he was suddenly in obsessive need of a new car. Needless to say, while touring Europe with the in-laws we were comfortable and looked a bit “high brow!”
During our separation and after the divorce I become conscious of the fact that I did a lot of “waiting” while married to the crazy maker. I learned the fine art of patience! It could be anything from the need for a new bra to having a plumber come in and fix a leak, if he thought I wanted or needed something he would string me along. I was expected to “hurry up and wait.”
It’s awfully hard, when you are married, to step back and see your husband for whom he is. What’s more, it’s scary. What is even scarier is to step back and take a look at who you become in a marriage, especially one that is emotionally abusive. I can do that now, take a step back and see him and myself clearly. He was a tight wad, I was a fool!
Back to the in-laws…forgive the navel gazing! There we were, seeing all that Europe had to offer from the comfort of our new auto, tooling about France when my father-in-law complained to the crazy maker about pain in his chest.
Off we sped toward home and the nearest military hospital to eventually find that there was a fairly serious medical issue that would only be solved by surgery and an extensive recovery period.
Can you see what is coming next? If you’ve ever been involved with a passive aggressive you can.
The surgery took place, the father-in-law came home to recuperate and the mother-in-law decided she would tour Germany on her own during the day and the crazy maker decided he would start working 12 hours a day. Who did that leave to care for an ill, elderly man I barely new?
Me! Good times!
I kid you not. The crazy maker and his mother left the house every morning together. He dropped her at the local train station while he scooted on off to work. They both returned 12 to 13 hours later.
What did they find upon their return home each evening? Me, my eyes glazed over, my emotional intelligence declining daily and a smile plastered on my face. Dinner was on the table and my elderly patient was well cared for. I was living in the midst of a freak show and I felt like the bearded lady!
This went on for a little over 4 weeks. Then I decided to put my foot down, enough was enough, I’d show him. I did it covertly too; I had learned how to do that from the master. I went to bed early one night, packed an overnight back and went out through the back door to the home of the only other Americans in the village and spent the night. Yes sir, I was going to show him a thing or two. I’d disappear on his ass and he’d realize how valuable I was.
Folks, I had gone over to the dark side!
I delusionally thought that when he went to bed and found me missing there would be panic. Search parties sent out, bushes beat, some fucking effort put into finding his missing wife.
I mean, I was needed, who would take care of the elderly patient if I weren’t there? Plus the crazy maker loved me, he told me every day so it only made sense that someone who loved me would be concerned for me. I still had rather high and irrational expectations of him. That is the thing that does the most harm to us married to such men…those darned high expectations.
I was making a stand, was going to get his attention and he would realize how important I was.
Bwah ha ha ha ha! When I bedded down at our friends house I didn’t expect to be there long. He was going to come looking, knocking on doors, searching allies until he found me, the woman he loved! Imagine my surprise when I woke to see day light streaming in the bedroom window. He had not come looking for me, had not called to inquire if I were there. I got no response from him at all! Something I learned would be his typical reaction to most things. He was hard to get a rise out of, both literally and figuratively.
When I walked into the bedroom where he was enjoying his sweet slumber the next morning I woke him up and he said, “what are you doing up so early?”
He had not even realized I was gone.
How do you crawl into bed with your wife and not notice that said wife is not in the bed you just crawled into? More importantly how does a woman fail to see the insanity, continue to turn a blind eye to reality and continue to believe it will all work out?
Those are all questions I discovered answers to but not before my sanity and health took a beating. Somehow I kept on tick, tick, ticking along. Running down emotionally and physically and winding myself back up again!
I’m happy to report that the elderly patient recovered fully and I survived my role as his sole caretaker. My in-laws went on their merry way back to the states and I was admitted to the hospital for migraines and exhaustion. I got a break from the crazy making!
Disclaimer: I can’t leave this article without first saying that I grew to love my in-laws. My mother-in-law is a gracious, intelligent woman who, although different from me was a pleasure to be around and I miss not having her in my life. My father-in-law was always very respectful, easy going and he called me “Catherine.” For that alone I found it easy to share my love with him.