She asked me to tell her my story and I think I covered a lot of ground. She listened well and I think she was able to get a strong sense of our journey as a couple. One thing that she said really illuminated my understanding of Michael's relationship with and his feelings toward his ex-girlfriend, and that was that she said it was "codependent". I think I knew that to some degree, but I had shied away from that word since knowing someone long ago who had overused it. Teresa, you know just who I'm talking about. ;)
My counselor also said that is true of how some of the members of Michael's family are relating to the ex-girlfriend. In light of that, she said at some point I will have to express how their inclusion of this woman makes me feel, and that it will be reasonable for me to let them know that I will not attend family gatherings if she is invited and/or present. That was incredibly affirming for me, and I felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted off my chest.
I do not look forward to having to have that conversation with my mother-in-law, but I will do so when the time is right. I will be able to do so knowing that it's healthy for me. I should not have to suck it up and endure her presence. She may have been a significant person in Michael's life and she may have developed friendships with his family members, but she was not his wife. I was.