Beware The Gracious Narcissist: Life With My NMIL

When my husband and I arrived back in our home state, several years ago, the plan was to stay with his parents while he settled into his new position with the company we were working for, had a minor surgery and a sufficient recovery period, and searched for an apartment. It was my mother-in-law who extended the invitation for us to stay with them during this time. Upon our arrival, she told us that the one end of the house with two spare bedrooms was ours to spread out in, as we pleased. (She later rewrote history by stating that she never said any such thing, but I specifically remember her telling us this, because it made me feel that she was giving us room to breathe, and maybe this wouldn’t be so unpleasant after all.) For a brief period of time, she expressed concern over Tim’s injury, even sharing her prescription pain meds and sleeping pills with him, and she seemed genuinely magnanimous to both of us in general. 

I want to point out that on several occasions, prior to our arrival, Tim mentioned to me that he thought his mom had Narcissistic Personality Disorder and that he suspected growing up under her dysfunctional parenting was a key reason he wound up marrying his ex-Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m ashamed to say that I neglected to take him seriously enough; his mother didn’t seem that bad, and I thought it unlikely that the two of us could have so many disordered people in our lives. However, by the time we moved out of her house, neither us had any doubts as to how insidiously cruel and spiteful she is. 

Less than a month after we arrived back home, ex-BPD pulled an attention-seeking stunt that earned her a hospitalization, meaning someone needed to babysit her kids for several days. If she had done this at any time prior to our arrival, my husband wouldn’t have been an option; we simply did not live close enough, and he wouldn’t have been able to take a leave of absence from work. But there we were, and Granny Narc was eager to sink her mental claws into those impressionable young minds. Inevitably, she took full advantage of the situation to emotionally manipulate Tim, but external factors, including the family court system, neutralized her attempts at controlling him. 

Ideally, Tim was supposed to hit the ground running, as far as work was concerned. The job required frequent travel, and he moved us back home, because he was being promoted to manage the region. The timing of this particular mess couldn’t have been worse, and it cost him. The company we worked for was the absolute worst, and that’s a story for another day, but they punished him for taking time off to deal with the unexpected family situation by giving him way too much time off. Surrounded by psychopaths, oh, what a time we had!

The whole predicament was resolved in less than a week, and BPD soon packed up her kids and moved several states away with them. If all of it had happened even a week prior to our arrival back home, things could have gone differently for us, but I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. Also, the true natures of my narcissistic mother-in-law and the owners/operators of the company we worked for would come to light eventually, no matter how things unfolded.

In retrospect, I believe the prescription pills were an initial attempt to keep Tim compliant and make him more receptive to her suggestions. The mock concern for his well-being was very brief (after a few weeks, she forgot all about his injury; she failed to even inquire as to whether he was still going forward with his surgery or physical therapy), and it quickly became apparent that she wanted to control every aspect of our lives. What we ate, how we spent our free time, where we bought gas, everything.

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