Yesterday, on Gregorian Easter (Happy Easter to everyone celebrating according to the Gregorian calendar!) I decided to throw a little secret birthday party for myself (my real birthday will be on Good Friday according to the Julian calendar and thus not a good day to celebrate).
I invited only my aunt and cousins, and my husband and kids were there. I even had a tiny cake and blew candles. I decided to be surrounded only by the people who love me unconditionally for my birthday. It was the best birthday ever, and it wasn't even my birthday!
My aunt was able to clarify a little mystery to me: I'd been wondering about my NF's "sea change" - why he's been so much "nicer" and "more supportive" to us since his latest return from the seaside this last October - quite simply put, my now enlightened aunt has stopped listening to his tirades about me compassionately. She used to think of him as a somewhat eccentric and sentimental old cook who can be lent a shoulder to cry on. She now shuts him up and defends me fiercely. He no longer has the support he needs to be openly abrasive and critical. He has no one to play martyr to. Talking to some people actually makes a difference!
I can't express how grateful I am to her for this. And for knowing that there's a "grown-up" who loves me unconditionally and I'm even related to her!
She also told me, when I admitted I have an irrational fear of him that I rationalize through various disaster scenarios of things he might do to us, that he'd never do anything like that - he lives on being seen as the perfect father and grandfather by others and those scenarios would expose him as someone much different.
Also, she says, should anything happen - I wouldn't be alone. She'd defend me.