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I went off on SD (beware: LONG post)

Caitlin's picture

For those of you who know my story, I bet you never thought you'd see this title on my blog, as SD and I have always had a very close and loving relationship. But Friday night I lost it and misdirected my anger and frustration onto her. It wasn't pretty. I hope I've been able to undo any damage. Let me back up a little and explain what happened.

BM is of course at the root of all our problems, and she had been working on SD all week - telling her that Daddy won't communicate with her, Daddy's shutting her out, Daddy doesn't care about SD, all he cares about is his NEW family, Daddy's a bad bad man - all because he won't discuss contentious issues with her while he's at work or at pick-ups and drop-offs. He just goes by the communication rules laid out in family therapy to say "now is not a good time, let's pick another time to discuss this."

Well, when BM doesn't get her way, LOOK OUT. When we were dropping SD off at 8:30 on Wednesday evening, she wanted to discuss something with him while SD was in earshot (which is against the rules) and while our two little ones were both screaming and crying in the backseat because they were tired and hungry (which is just against all humanity). He said that we had to go and he'd call her once we had the girls settled. She kept screaming in his face that she needed to discuss something with him and if he cared at all about his OTHER daughter he would talk to her right then and there, blah blah blah. It was really ugly.

We left and he called and emailed her that night as promised, but she didn't answer so he left messages saying that he would be home all day Thursday so she could call anytime. He didn't hear anything from her until Friday, when she called him 14 times while he was trying to work (no, that's not a typo - FOURTEEN times!) to discuss "something important about SD's education." He just kept asking her to put it in an email or a voicemail and he'd get back to her and she would. not. let. it. rest. So, essentially she was super pissed that he wouldn't drop everything for her at her convenience and decided to just catastrophize the whole thing because she is so in love with drama.

So "Mr. Mean Bad Daddy who refuses to communicate with BM" shows up to get SD on Friday night and BM charges at him with all her rage in the parking lot and guess who's right next to her backing her up? That's right, SD. This monster set up a huge horrible confrontation, bringing in her 81-year-old father, her 12-year-old daughter and the frickin' security guard of their building to go to bat for her!! For what?! I don't know, because she still hasn't told him what she wanted to say, although she took the time to write a single-spaced 3-page letter about all of Bad Daddy's supposed transgressions and all her reasons that she's in the right.

Anyway, shortly after BF got there, I arrived at the scene with the car to drive us all back to our house and guess who says she's not coming with us? That's right, SD. Well, what can I say? I flipped. Whereas I normally stay out of all this insanity, the stresses and pressures I've been under lately just made something in me snap. SD ran off in tears while BM was screaming at BF and I chased after her with my 2-year-old in my arms. I grabbed SD by the arm and said "NO! Don't do this. Not again! If you're mad at your dad, you TALK to him, you don't shut us all out like this. This is unacceptable! We can't live like this! You need to TALK to him and don't you DARE send your mom to tell him what you're thinking. Didn't you learn ANYTHING in family-based therapy?" She was sobbing and said all dramatic: "do you know WHY I don't tell him stuff? Do you know WHY? Because I don't want to hurt his feelings!" And I said "well that's the biggest load of crap I've ever heard because the most hurtful thing you can do is refuse to talk to him or see him!!!!! This has got to STOP. Come home with us and let's talk this through." Then my 2-year-old chimes in with: "You comin' wif us, SD? Come on!" And then: "I gotta go potty."

So, while SD and I took BD to the potty in her apartment building's basement, I continued on my tirade. I told her what a slap in the face it was when she pulled this same stunt at her birthday and how devastated we all were when we went to pick her up and she wasn't even there. I told her that her little sister was crushed because she was looking forward to blowing out the candles with her for weeks and that she could hurt her dad and me all she wanted because we're adults and we can take it but this Mama Bear WILL NOT LET HER GET AWAY WITH HURTING HER INNOCENT CHILDREN ANYMORE!

At this point, she tried to get away from me and went and found her mom, who was FURIOUS with me. SD was still refusing to come with us and in my desperation, I put her little sister right up in her face and said "alright. YOU tell her you're not coming with us because I REFUSE. Look her in the eye and say I'm not coming with you, little sister. I'm not going to do your dirty work for you." At that, SD stood up and silently made her way to the car.

Apparently, what she said to BF was "your GIRLFRIEND is making me feel guilty so I'm coming with you." BF also overheard her saying the same thing to BM. So I called her out on it. I said "this proves my point! If you have an issue with me, come to ME. Not your mom, not your dad - ME! And there's no need to get ugly, calling me his GIRLFRIEND with disdain dripping from your words." I also explained to her the difference between a guilt trip and facing the reality of the consequences of her actions. If she has no control over a situation and I make her feel bad about it, it's a guilt trip. If it is entirely in her hands, she deserves to know the consequences in order to make a fully-informed decision. She actually opened up a bit at that, saying that she knew it must hurt us (especially her little sister), but that she blocked it out because she didn't want to deal with the guilt.

I am so damn tired of dealing with the bloody mess that BM creates again and again and again. Family-based therapy was a useless waste of time because we're still at square one with this lunatic. She breaks all the rules of communicating and co-parenting that the therapists laid out and we've just been left high and dry because the program came to an end and now there's no one to help us deal with her. All weekend, we tried to coach SD on her coping mechanisms so that the next time BM tries to ensnare her in her ugliness, SD will remember to say "don't put me in the middle" or "this is between you and Dad, don't involve me please" or "please don't badmouth Dad" or whatever. None of this would have happened if SD hadn't let herself get all riled up by BM's lies and machinations. We can't control BM's behavior, but we can still try to influence SD's and I feel like our only hope (if we have ANY at all) is to get SD to use her coping mechanisms to just stay out of her mother's madness.

Anyway it's 1am and I've been spouting off long enough. I'm surprised you've even read this far. It's been such a long time since I've posted anything and I'm feeling so fed up and hopeless that it all just came spilling out. Much as it all came spilling out on Friday night! Was I totally wrong to go off on SD like that? I feel so bad - she was sobbing and saying "you're scaring me!" I think I was scaring myself too.


stepup's picture

Sometimes the truth hurts.. and at 12 your SD is more than old enough to hear it and deal with the consequences. You can only shelter these kids for so long and as long as you back off and say nothing you're accomplishing two things 1. enabling the behavior and 2. backing up every nasty thing BM spouts.

You did a good job of reinforcing coping mechanisms with SD.. she'll eventually learn (one hopes). You did the right thing by demanding respect, by forcing her to deal with the situation she was helping to create and forcing her to deal with the consequences of her actions. Maybe could have done it in a more calm fashion, but ultimately, I think it would have had much less of an impact on her if you had.


Caitlin's picture

I did apologize to SD for losing my cool and told her that I stand by everything I said, but that I should have presented it more calmly. I let her know that I'm human and made a mistake and I was sorry for it. I think we're ok now - but of course after a day or two with BM it'll be a whole different story. We'll see...

happy's picture

you were wrong.. for lordy sakes, um you have put up with enough crap. And its high time you get your feelings out. And maybe just maybe you finally let your true feelings out..
Caitlyn, this mom is a lunatic. At the age of 50 or 60 or whatever wouldn't you think she would be grown up enough, nope not her. Shes a sick individual, no wonder she doesn't have anyone in her life. And the saddest thing is, this 12 year old is just like her. She will never be right because no matter how much influence you and hubby try to put into her, her mom will win.
Sad but true. she is going to be just like her...
I am so sorry..

"live life to its fullest everyday"

Caitlin's picture

I feel like my worst nightmare is coming true. SD is becoming her monster/mother! I have always been so amazed at how well SD has turned out despite all her mother's efforts to turn her against us, but lately she's really becoming a mini-BM the more that woman works on her.

Parental alienation at its finest, ladies and gentlemen. It's taken 12 years, but it's finally working!

So sad.

Stepmom_C's picture

I have followed your story from long ago! Don't beat yourself up over it. You are a GREAT stepmom and have gone through so much. I really think your speaking your mind can only help. One of my SD's is almost 11 - I've been there! It actually may help push her in the right direction. BM is never going to change. Everything you say to SD - coping mechanisms, explaining how her decisions affect you, her dad, sisters etc can only help her see things clearly. But at 12, SD needs some accountability as well. Your conversation may help open her eyes to see that she "chooses" to do/say certain things that make BM happy and your family not so happy. Hopefully with time that can change. You have been such a strong role model for her I know she listens to you (even if she doesn't show it).

Every parent is entitled to speak their mind once in a while. Props to you for making her go with you!! I think that is GREAT.

Caitlin's picture

You know, you're right - when all is said and done at least she came with us that night! We ended up having a great weekend. It's amazing how quickly things go back to normal as soon as BM is removed from the equation.

Caitlin's picture

You're absolutely right though. All I was trying to do was get her to stop and look at me so I could get through to her, but you're right - I should never ever ever grab her. I didn't squeeze her or hurt her in any way, but you know BM would twist it into something it wasn't.

Caitlin's picture

Funny that I mentioned that "BM would twist it into something it wasn't" in a previous post, because true to form, that's what she's done. Not about me grabbing SD, but about the colorful way I illustrated to SD that night how she made us feel when she blew us off. When I told her what a slap in the face it was when she disappeared when we were to pick her up on her birthday, I actually used my middle finger to demonstrate how it felt to us. I said "it was like a big [insert middle finger here] in our faces when you blew us off on your birthday". I was so angry, hurt and desperate to get through to her. I didn't behave in the utmost decorum, I'll be the first to admit, but I assure you - I was not giving SD the finger, ie. basically saying F you. In fact, I was saying that SD was saying F you to us. Anyway, as I said in an earlier post, I did apologize to SD for losing my cool and for not presenting my argument in a more civilized manner and I thought we left all that behind us. Ha! WRONG.

Now, a few days after the flare up, BM approached me at a pick-up to thank me for "apologizing to SD for giving her the FINGER". I was like, huh? (I hadn't even remembered the incident at all, but SD jogged my memory.) So now it goes down in history that I gave SD the finger even though that wasn't it at all. Here we are, some 5 months after the fact and it's STILL coming up. BM got SD all up at arms because we said no to her going to a Bar Mitzvah on our weekend because we had plans. They were up till quite late on a school night writing BF a long letter (see next post) about the injustice of it all when all she had to do was ask her dad when she got the damn invitation 6 weeks ago so we could make alternative arrangements, instead of 46 hours before we're supposed to pick her up. (sigh) Anyway, it's letters like these that make me fear we're losing our little girl to Parental Alienation Syndrome. It's *so* BM's voice, SD doesn't talk like that. Even her argument style, bringing in other non-related issues to cloud the issue at hand, is learned straight from BM.

Caitlin's picture

From: SD
To: Daddy

Dear Dad, About the surprise that apparently crosses with the Bar
Mitzvah, I want to know what it is. You see, I think that at my age, I
don't need small random surprises. I deserve to know. I don't want to be left out of the "adult conversation". I've always felt more comfortable talking about mature things, not Barney or the usual school stuff, like "How was school today?". I mean, how second grade. Go on parent portal. It's there for good use - so that you don't have to have the awkward conversation searching for the kid to spill the beans of a bad grade or something. My point is that some of these surprises can interfere with my school and other social life with friends. I know that this Bar Mitzvah last minute warning isn't a very good surprise, so you can be upset, too. Also, I'm in 7th grade. I'm going to have homework, during the week and sometimes on weekends, too. It's impossible to finish all of my weekend homework before I see you. Oh and the "Do your math/LA/social studies/Latin/science with your mom before you see me Wednesday and we'll study together." That would take up all of our dinner time. Studying is never over - ever! I know this might be a shock to you that I can be this straight forward. The truth is I've been afraid to make you mad because then I'm scared of the mad you. You'll probably have some fact that's better and you'll sound so smart and then I'll get more mad , oh and then your girlfriend will give me the finger in my face (can't forget that) and then I'll feel bad and then I'll let you off easy. But I don't want to. This is me! I've got feelings and opinions and this is how I express myself. Wow. I didn't think I could do this, but look at all I've said. Really. Look now at this whole email. Pretty amazing for me, huh? Now I'm really tired since I used a lot of energy on this. I still love you, and always will. Love, SD

Caitlin's picture

Oh, and the surprise? It was going on a mini family holiday to New York City for the weekend. We had a fantastic time, but not without 2 tons of drama beforehand and not knowing until about 15 minutes before it was time to leave whether or not SD would be joining us. But she did end up coming and we had a blast. All's well that ends well, I guess?

I'm just waiting for the next bomb to go off. It's like a frickin' minefield.