In a previous post, I talked about giving some insight into what it was like living with my narcissistic mother-in-law during the time my husband and I had to do so out of necessity. The following is an example taken from one of my personal journal entries from about five years ago. We had been there for several months, so we were noticing patterns in her cycle of abuse, and we were constantly on edge.
This happened on a day when my husband (then-fiance), Tim, was working and I was off. I was in our room, sitting cross-legged on the bed with my laptop. I’m an extremely introverted person; my personal space is important to me, and since the in-laws were also at home, I kept the door to my room closed. They (my NMIL and her flying monkey) were in a bedroom adjacent to mine where they had their computer set up. I knew they were both in there, because I could hear both of their voices, and I heard Maude lower hers in a conspiratorial tone.
Shortly thereafter, Chet opened my bedroom door, without knocking, and asked me what my middle name is. It’s important to note here that he did not appear surprised to see me, he did not say anything along the lines of, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were here”, he looked right at me and launched into his question without hesitation. Stunned at the sudden invasion of privacy, I was temporarily speechless, and he said something about they were taking a census online and needed info on everyone in the house. I was so floored, and I felt so violated, I simply answered him, so that he would go away and leave me alone to process what had just happened.
I am an adult female, and an adult male other than my fiance just popped into my personal space without knocking on the door. I have a right to privacy, and I don’t need anyone to tell me that. Even though I wasn’t in a state of undress, I could very well have been. Even if he wasn’t sure whether or not I was in my room (which they both later claimed, and that was a flat-out lie), knocking on the door first would have been the only appropriate way of handling that.
By the time my heart rate returned to normal and I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to vomit, they were still on their computer, and I came to the doorway of the room they were in to let Chet know that what he had just done was inappropriate and that he should knock before entering my room. Just like a couple of little kids, they both gave excuses, lies and justifications (with Maude doing most of the talking, naturally) along the lines of they didn’t know I was in there. Maude proceeded to tell me about the census and that she needed to know my middle name, so she sent Chet into my room to look for a piece of my mail with my name on it.
Where to start… ?
1. I don’t use my middle name. The in-laws used to check the mail, sort through it, and set mine and my husband’s off to the side which means they knew they wouldn’t find my middle name that way. My mail would arrive with only my first name and surname on each piece.
2. Even if that weren’t the case, coming into our room when we’re not home to look through our personal belongings is absolutely NOT acceptable. Not to mention she could have easily texted or called me (or her son) to ask my middle name rather than snooping through our room. Another obvious thing here is that if you don’t know someone’s middle name or initial, you leave it blank. It’s just a census survey; middle names are hardly important.
3. All of that was bullshit anyway; she just wanted an excuse to send Chet into my room unannounced to freak me out as punishment for not complying with one of her previous demands. She had wanted me to do something to let her know when I was there during the day. I don’t recall what that something was but, you know, knocking on the bedroom door and simply asking if I was there would have been a sane and rational way to find out. (We had only one vehicle, so when my husband was working and I wasn’t, I tried to stay as quiet and out of the way as possible; I didn’t want to bother them, and I didn’t want Maude to try and manipulate or gaslight me).
Tim bought a locking doorknob with a key and replaced it that very same night. Maude later (within the next couple of days) repeated the original excuses as sort of a half-assed apology. We were both in her kitchen at the time; she was standing at the sink cutting up veggies or something and I had come in to get a drink. I didn’t say anything in response. I just sort of slow nodded and then walked away. I didn’t believe her and I didn’t feel like pretending that I did.