How do I want to show up?


I’m struggling with figuring out how I want to show up in my relationship with my MIL.

I’ve been angry, and that felt good and empowering for a while. But now I want to move past that. I also know I’m feeling the urges to self-protect, control her thoughts about me, and feel like I have more power in the situation.

My angry rumination thoughts are…
I won’t play her game
If you treat me like this, I will completely remove you from my life
Just wait until we have kids and I control those relationships

But I know the actions that come from those thoughts aren’t in alignment with my deeper values or kindness, compassion, and understanding.

I want to feel strong and powerful, but I also want to be kind and reasonable, even when she does things I consider bad behavior.

I don’t want to never see her again, because that would involve me cutting myself off from other relationships. But I also am thinking “Unless she does or says XYZ, I don’t want to be around her or speak to her.”

She gave me the silent treatment for 9 months, and now it seems like she’s thawing out, and knowing her past relationship habits, she’ll start being nice towards the holidays, and will end up buying a bunch of gifts for me.

Here’s my current model around that:
C- MIL doesn’t speak to me for 9 months, and then acts very friendly and nice.
T- She’s trying to manipulate me
F- Anger
A- varies…. I’ve stood up for myself and spoke what I felt needed to be said at the beginning. And I’m really proud of how I said it. But now I’m either not taking any action or I’m avoiding her at family events.
R- I felt strong and proud of myself at the beginning. Now I’m doubting myself.

Part of the issue is that several months ago I told her I would respect her wishes not to speak to me, but once she was ready, we would have an open and honest conversation about everything. That I wasn’t willing to just pretend like nothing happened and brush it under the rug.

I don’t want to pretend like nothing happened. But I can’t control whether or not she’s willing to have a conversation about what happened. I’m struggling to figure out how I want to act and relate to her if she isn’t willing to talk about it. And I think that if I’m polite and nice in response, she’s “won.” And I didn’t get to stand up for what’s important to me. I do want to live by boundaries I set that I like, but I want to disentangle that from this desire to “win” and have her play by my rules.