Ok, gotta get this off my chest. Hopefully you guys will throw me a bone and share a holiday from hell story from your past or present so I don't feel so crappy. LOL
My ex-father-in-law is a narcissistic control freak. I've talked about him before and about my issues with him. Both of his children have fled the state and want nothing to do with him. My ex-hubby's inability to deal with him played a part in my decision to divorce.
As the mother of his two oldest grandchildren, I've basically inherited the irascible bastard. After my divorce from his son and over the years, we've hammered out a civil relationship based on---"you follow my rules or you don't get to spend time with my kids".
It's not malice on my part. I recognize the need for my kids to having loving familial relationships. But I also know why Ex-FIL's kids want nothing to do with him. He was an autocratic, abusive bully.
Having f*cked up with his own children, I have to admit that "R", as I'll call him, has worked hard to stay on my good side and has worked hard to be a good grandfather over the years. We've come to have a mutual and tentative respect for each other and our roles in the boys' lives.
Now he is in his 70's, lives alone in an assisted living place, where he scares the crap out of the other residents by bullying them into joining him in his self-styled regimen of diet and exercise. LOL He gets around ok, it's just that he's had some financial and medical setbacks over the past few years.
And he's starting to lose what mind he has left. You know what I mean---some older people get to a point where they just don't care about good manners or they revert back to being the same asshole they were before they started "mellowing".
This year for the first time, he's started trying to march Hubby and I around like we were his actual children, not people who put up with him for the sake of the grandchildren.
Against everybody else's better judgement, I invited R for Christmas dinner. I mean the guy has NOBODY. He's chased his own kids away, and has few friends. I just knew that I couldn't stand the guilt I'd feel thinking that he would be alone for the holidays. And hey---it's good for the kids to spend a little time with him, as tough as it can be (R is the kind of person who has to be the center of attention and monopolizes every conversation to make it revolve around himself, his life, his opinions).
I said, "We'll have dinner and festivities from 2 to 4, so that will give you time to drive home while it's still light" (it's about an hour and a half drive).
Christmas Day dawned early and bright. Got up early, put the stockings under the tree, made breakfast. All the kids (including Kitty) were here, as well as a friend who has been staying as a houseguest. Had a lovely time opening gifts.
Then it hit me. I hurt. I hurt everywhere. From my scalp (which felt like it was on fire) down to my toes. My back ached, my hips ached, my legs ached. I was exhausted and could barely move.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago. It's been very mild so far and treatable with aspirin or advil. I guess this was my first big "attack". I was down for the count.
Went to bed and woke up a couple of hours later. If possible, I felt worse. My friend said, "You know things are bad when even your eyelashes hurt". Luckily I had prepared the entire Christmas dinner in advance and all it needed was to be heated in the oven. Hubby to the rescue!
As usual, Ex-FIL called to say he would be late, never taking into account that he would upset plans other people made for the rest of the day. Hubby tried to head him off at the pass, saying that I was ill and that we should get together another time. But no, that would be too easy. R was "on his way" and nothing would stop him.
I woke up long enough to chat with him (and apologize for my state) for about 15 or 20 minutes before collapsing back into bed. The kids were kind of freaking out---mom sick? Oh no! The world is ending!
Slept through most of the rest of it, so it was relayed to me by the survivors.
After the meal and visiting, he Just Wouldn't Leave. Even though the Aspiring Adult had plans with his friends and Kitty and Big Kid had to go see her parents, R's car was blocking them in the driveway and he Just Wouldn't Leave. Finally, after ignoring hints and their obvious desperation, Hubby asked him to move his car (it was around 5pm at this time). He moved his car, parked it back in the driveway and parked his ass back on the couch.
Some time later he mentioned that since he was already down here, he thought he'd spend the night and go see some of his friends in the morning. Sorry Dude, no room at the inn. I mean really, where did he think we would put him? Our houseguest is sleeping in Little Guy's room, and Little Guy, Big Kid and Kitty were bunked out in sleeping bags up in the loft.
So he "instructed" my hubby to find him a motel in the area. He was willing to pay $35 a night.
Was he freaking serious? Really? On Christmas? Up here in a mountain town? Even in the off-season, you can't get a room up here for $35 a night.
Hubby, with infinite patience I might add, called up the locals. No go. So R called down to the city (about a half an hour away) and found himself a room. Told them to expect him around 8 or 9pm. Oy.
Around 7, I stumbled out of our room. I heard R's voice and thought I was hallucinating. I turned around and went back to bed.
A little later, just after Hubby had packed up the remains of Christmas dinner and cleaned the kitchen, R says to him. "Since all of the restaurants are probably closed, how about making me a meal to take with me?"
As it turned out, Hubby and Houseguest spent hours entertaining my ex-FIL long after the kids had bailed and left the reservation. Of course that meant listening to the incessant monologue about his life, his interests, his political opinions. He even went out to his car and brought in a bag of jewelry (that was his hobby before he retired) to show our houseguest every piece "because she was so interested" (she wasn't). And then tried to sell her some because he's hard up for cash.
I've apologized over and over for abandoning them to what is essentially, a problem person that I have inherited. They've been very kind about it, but it was a very stressful day. I slept for a day and a night, and felt 100% better afterwards.
The worst part is that next year I'll feel all guilty because he's alone and invite him again, because I always forget THERE'S A REASON HE'S ALL ALONE!!