Chapter 23: Bratty’s Big Meltdown
About 4 weeks after Bratty’s visit, a card came floating in the mail addressed to both SO and I. SO opened it and it a ‘thank you’ note from Bratty. He gave it to me to read and seemed proud that Bratty remembered to say thank you. I asked him point blank if he had told Bratty I was upset about her not saying thank you, and he swore he hadn’t said a word to her. I don’t know if that is good or bad because if it were my child I would have been on the phone telling her to call me and say thank you but SO never challenges Bratty.
The card actually managed to piss me off even more. I had finally settled down from the visit and the card picked the scab off. There was one line that said ‘thank you for letting us stay with you’ and two paragraphs going on and on thanking SO for helping her put the top back on her convertible because she had forgotten how.
I waited to a few days but I decided I was going to tell Bratty I didn’t appreciate her behavior. I sent her an email thanking her for the card, but said we are not formal people and I would have preferred a simple verbal thank you before she left. I also told her in general please stop sending me Halloween, Diwali, Arbor Day, etc. cards as I don’t really celebrate those holidays but she was free to send her Dad anything she liked. I also mentioned to her that we were planning to drive north in May for her cousin’s graduation (which ended up not happening due to COVID but we didn’t know that at the time) and would be happy to bring up more of her stuff from her ex-room (I specifically used “ex-room” to start to drive home the point that she needed to move out). Bratty went silent and did not respond to this email. Now, keep in mind I kept my writing tone even and all this was written matter-of-factly and not in any sort of ranting tone. It was also short – just a couple of paragraphs.
Over the next few weeks, SO would try to connect with Bratty to catch up and ask how her new job was going but she was avoiding him. She would claim she was tired, was working lots of overtime, was not feeling well, etc. One time they did schedule time to talk on the phone and Bratty was very cold to SO and cut off the call early, saying she had to take care of an errand.
In March of 2020, as we all know, the pandemic began to shut things down. We were working from home but Bratty’s job was at a clinic so she continued to go to work. One day in May, out of the blue, SO’s phone starts dinging with text after text after text. Whenever this happens I know its Bratty and I know she’s unhappy about something. SO later shared some of it with me.
Bratty said she was really struggling and depressed. She blamed my email and said she felt she couldn’t do anything right by me. She was trying to be nice and sending a card and I rejected her. Didn’t I know she had social anxiety and couldn’t say thank you in person? She was also upset that I mentioned removing her stuff from her room. She blamed SO as he should be protecting her from me. Other fathers would provide their child a room to stay with them and he was abandoning her again, just like he did when she was 14. There were a lot more rambling complaints, but suffice it to say poor Bratty was a victim, I was a big meanie for asking her to move out, and SO was failing to protect poor Bratty from me.
SO wanted us to try and work through this. He asked me if I would consider family therapy with Bratty included. At this point I think I was ready to disengage and not thrilled about another round of therapy but I said I would if Bratty agreed. I also told SO I only wanted the therapy to focus on a goal of conflict-free visits because I did not desire a direct relationship with Bratty. I finally told SO I just didn’t like her and didn’t see that changing.
Bratty agreed to family therapy and SO went about finding a therapist for virtual sessions. He sent out a few options and Bratty vetoed a couple as she didn’t think they had experience with non-binary people and she did not want to spend her precious time educating them about the importance of proper pronouns. Eventually we settled on a therapist that was Bratty-approved and SO set up the first appointment. Guess who was a no-show? We’ll go over the dumpster fire of family therapy in the next post…