“Shilpa, don’t start dancing at this wedding. This isn’t your friend’s wedding. There are cultured people who respect us. Please make sure that you don’t bring disgrace to family honour!”
“Are you wearing this and going out? Why don’t you understand that your skirt and short tops don’t suit our culture? You are not a college-going girl. You are a daughter-in-law who is married into our reputed family! Please act like one. Go and change!”
“Shilpa, let Rahul relax. He just came from the office and you started bothering him. He has worked so hard in the office. Rather than asking him to help you in household chores, you should make tea for him!”
“How could you change the setting of the room? It was looking so better earlier! You don’t need to change the things that are already perfect. If you so much in need to change things, change yourself and become the person my son deserves!”
From time to time, my mother-in-law shamed me for the tiniest of matters. She would emotionally abuse me without any guilt. And I, for the sake of shallow respect, won’t utter a single word. Because that’s what ideal daughters-in-law from India do! They don’t answer back. But I was so wrong.
My mother-in-law refused to acknowledge that being his son’s wife I also deserved the same level of respect that she deserved being my husband’s mother.
While I treated her with respect, she treated me so badly. When I cried for help, she made me cry even more. When I was broken, she broke me even more. While I was trying really hard to treat her like my own, she would play politics to make me feel like an outsider.
She would emotionally abuse me to make me feel unworthy of her love and respect; She would make me feel undeserving for her son! While I was constantly being bullied and insulted, I remained silent. But, things got worse with each passing day! I became more fragile and broken. I lost my confidence and self-esteem and that brought in more attacks on me.
It took me 3 years of continuous emotional abuse that my silence was fueling my mother’s-in-law desire to abuse me. She was getting worse day by day. While I was holding to a patriarchal thought of respecting elders even if they are abusive, my mother-in-law kept shattering my self-respect and confidence!
And, as they say, sometimes at your breaking point you realize how to mend your broken pieces together and rebuild yourself.
In one such moment, I realized that standing against the emotional abuse of mother-in-law is self-respect and not insult. I learned that as long as I don’t disrespect my mother in law, I must assert and stop her toxic attacks on me. I learned to give and seek respect. I learned that my respect as an individual is my responsibility. And, I have to stand for myself when no one else does. I won’t let my mother in law’s insecurity and double standards break me. While I will do everything for her as a daughter, but not at the expense of my self-confidence!
To those who judge a woman standing against abusive in-laws: For the last time, standing against emotional abuse of mom-in-law is self-respect, not insult!