Judy Who?

My mother-in-law called me on my cell phone the other day and said “Hi Amanda, this is Judy”, and I said ‘Judy who?’

My husband, who was sitting across from me when she called, finds this hilarious. It didn’t register that it was my mother-in-law on the phone for a couple reasons. First, I had neglected to put her cell phone number in her contact info so her face did not magically appear on my phone when she called (God bless Steve Jobs). Secondly, without caller ID, I rarely know who it is when someone calls me, so don’t be offended if I ask “Which — Lisa/Laura/Cynthia?”. And finally, because I have what Miss Manners would call a “cordial, but strained relationship” with the MIL.

Things used to be better. There was a rift. Things were said. Many things that should have been said weren’t, and so on.

My MIL has made a life’s career out of holding grudges and making everyone play by her rules by being the “victim”. I ran out of patience for that kind of thing a while back. Eventually, with me, she got to the place where she has zero memory of any responsibility she had for the rift – did I mention I watched her do this same number to other people? – and is just hurt that I am cold to her.

The thing she can’t possibly get is that this is not a grudge I am holding. I am not cozy with her because she is no longer trustworthy. I have forgiven the profoundly awful behavior, put behind me the emotional, financial and social upheaval it caused in our lives, and reconciled the part I had in how it all played out. But I can’t be friends with her anymore, because I dont’ trust her not to be cruel if she feels threatened.

Passive-aggressive people are viciously dangerous when they think they are under attack. At least in my limited corner of the world. I prefer wounds you can lick.

There is now a face attached to the phone number so Judy will not sneak up on me again. And I gave her the Bark ringtone. No way I won’t know its my mother-in-law now.

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