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Help my sanity please

Frazzled2020's picture

This will be long and extensive but hopefully I stay on track. I am married to My husband for 1 year now. I am 29, he is 28. I now have a SD 13 and a SS 9. There is also a BM that is extremely unhappy.

My hubby and I were pregnant quite early on and the BM had told him that the SD and SS would not meet our bio child or myself until our bio child was 1. The BM was remarried with two kids at the time. She made statements to my husband about our bio kid not being the SD or SS sibling, etc. This is how I was informed of the BM. We unfortunately lost our bio baby early on and the SD and SS have never been informed.

My hubby has my SD and SS every other weekend. B/c of this, we normally don’t have a “bedtime” for them. It is difficult to have chores, allowances, and structured bedtimes since we have 48 hours with them where we want to do activities, visit friends and families, and have sleep overs. They go to bed when we tell them. This has always been on of the many things that BM b****es about in her emails to my husband. BM is a narcissist that is either in love with my husband or hates him more than anyone I have ever seen hate someone. As I stated, she is remarried, yet she refuses to speak to me, I was known as “gf” for two years, and now only by my name. Never wife. The BM is not present for drop offs or pick-ups, she monitors their phone calls with their father, she took away facetime, just any and all things she can control, she does.

We have had to deal with things such as:

“SD face is physically in pain from makeup your gf made her wear” (no ER trip, no photos)

“SD can not wear chokers b/c that’s saying she’s bad” (allows SD to wear a crop top)

“SD can not walk dogs alone” (allows SD to ride bike and go on walks alone)

Basically, anything and everything that the hubby does is wrong.

BM says that the kids “aren’t allowed to take showers here” “a swimming pool isn’t good enough to skip showers” “the kids never brush their teeth so their teeth are bad b/c of him” She drills them about what they have for breakfast, lunch and dinner

My husband is not informed of school activities until too late or even afterwards. She tells him he can use Google to figure things out.

She refuses to let him pay his half of the medical bills to the dr. She charges it on her credit card then tells him he has 30 days to pay her by personal check.

The SD use to have social media and she convinced me to download the apps and she would send me things constantly; we would facetime and txt. The BM would go through our texts and say things were said that weren’t (I still have every text exchange) BM then took away apps. Then took away phone texts. Then out a lock on the phone. No more facetime with dad or I. We are now at SD has a flip phone and she never wants to use it.

So SD use to be close to her dad and I for the past two and half years, the past six months things have gotten bad. The weekly phone calls my husband gives the kids went from over an hour of Facetime down to fifteen minutes of a phone call to now only 40 seconds with SS and no phone calls or texts from the SD.

SD use to have hour long talks about school and home life with BM. She would talk about how BM has scars on her arms from cutting but that BM told the 13 yo SD that it was from a cat, SD told me she knew it was cutting. SD and I discussed what cutting is and that there are different approaches and SD said she knew not to do it. About 4-5 months later we realized SD has shown worrisome signs about emotions for around a year and a half. My husband and I noticed when she is sad or uncomfortable, she would pick at her hands and arms with her fingernails. We started telling her to use a worry stone, to use a rubber band, maybe write on paper with a pen. This would disappear then reappear. We then told her one time that this was worrisome and that she should talk to someone. She screamed that she didn’t want to talk to anyone, we informed her that if she continued with attempting to physically hurt when she emotionally did, that it could mean therapy (which is a good thing to hubby and I but BM and SD have discussed it being bad).

(We hired an FOC for the SC and the FOC said BM harbors so much resentment towards Hubby that co-parenting isn’t an option. SD told FOC that “SF told me to tell you I want things to stay the same or else things will change, I want things to stay the same.” FOC states that SD shows signs of coercion by SF but that things should remain the same.)

We had told lawyers, followed protocol of CPS, etc. The FOC, BM, and therapist all said that my hubby would not be a great fulltime parent being that he thought therapy was necessary when they all thought that SD was fine. BM would write emails like “If I would have known that SD was having issues at your house…” as if it was only us. 3 months later, before our 2nd court date change, the SD was caught at school with self-inflicted marks on arms and legs.

Things have progressed since. The SD is not allowed sharps. Yet she was cutting her bangs at BM. We informed the DR we wanted to be sure she was safe (didn’t want to tell BM and get SD in trouble) Dr told SD we said something, SD began to get angry with us. SD then wanted her hair cut short, BM and SF would say she would look like boy (this would hurt her feelings she told us) SD told me she was going to do it on her own, I informed her I didn’t think that was the best approach. SD cuts her own hair in her room and sends me a photo, proud of what she did, and getting to go to the salon for a haircut she wants. We informed SD we were disappointed and that it was a bit manipulative to do that knowing BM and SD told her no the few times she had asked prior. SD was not happy. She began texting rude messages “Its my pleasure to disappoint you”. We inform her that we can discuss in person but not via text. SD says she doesn’t want to talk. SD stops answering phones and texts.

SD tells DR she is more than depressed, and DR advises ER. BM calls and tells my husband that SD doesn’t want him up at ER. We talk on phone and I tell SD on the phone “it is okay to feel sad sometimes, we all get sad, I understand what you are going through and if you need anything you can reach out” BM grabs pone and says “she doesn’t need to hear that” and hangs up.

We now are supposed to keep away more than just sharps (BM doesn’t tell us for 2 months that books and movies of certain subjects are off limits) So DR thinks that my husband is going against the DR orders, but we just were never informed. SD sneaks out books from our house and gets items taken away from BM. BM refuses to return property. “How can I trust that SD is safe with you” (SD has never cut herself or hair at our house; its two days and we are normally crazy busy and spend a lot of time together)

SD leaves flip phone here. BM emails and texts my husband a lot about how my husband is the only one to “resolve this matter” and how “you don’t care about SD safety” We find phone and he tells BM she or SF can come get phone. BM is angry and argues about that. BM has threatened to call the cops when we were there to drop off fundraiser $$ to SD for school, when we were asking to get our property back when we dropped the SC off. My husband tells BM for his safety, they can get the phone. BM writes emails afterwards about how he is not concerned for SD safety etc.

If it isn’t obvious, I am tired. We have a narcissistic ex (that luckily I never deal with and I rarely read the emails b/c she isn’t my ex), court that is wasting money and time (began in 2018 and still haven’t seen a judge), and a SD that has changed from BM and SF being the bad people to myself and my husband. I have tried ignoring her comments, ignoring her when she is here, crying when she is mean, and last visit I calmly told her that my feelings were hurt by her actions and that I would like us to go back to our relationship and if and when she was ready, I missed her reaching out. She then went to school and told her BF that i don’t like her (my SD) and that my husband and I are disappointed in her (7 months ago I told her I was disappointed from a haircut after BM told her not to).

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated


Steptotheright's picture

Well it seems like you had a good relationship with stepdaughter at first. I think each situation is different. my stepdaughter doesn't really want too close of a relationship with me. at best we're platonic with each other and say hi and bye. Whenever I try to get too close I get burned so maybe it's a similar experience with you. I guess my advice is just approach her on whatever level that she's ready for. It's pretty obvious if they don't want to talk to you so...

As to the BM yeah I think the BM is behind the self-harm in some way or another. My stepdaughter used to self-harm but she grew out of it. in some cases I think making this huge deal out of it with therapist and doctors just cuz she's picking at her skin... Exacerbates the problem. We just basically told her she shouldn't do that and she grew out of it. But as to no sharps no certain kind of movies... Well I guess your stepdaughter is a worse case. She seems very troubled. I guess you could just try to be there for her in whatever capacity she wants to allow you to be. 

You will be running into a brick wall because BM is actively trying to sabotage your relationship with your stepdaughter... But maybe just maybe if you persevere and you keep offering your hand then eventually she'll decide for herself that you're not such a bad person after all.

from what I can tell you really seem too deeply care for your stepdaughter and I commend you for that. People you don't care about can't hurt your feelings. I send you my best and my heart goes out to you, dear.

DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

This is extremely complicated and will take time for your situation to change. 

There are systems put in place to help your SD, and hopefully she has a good therapist. 

If this were me I would get a second opinion on legal advice, starting with what can be done to stop the negative communication from BM to yourselves, as you shouldn’t have to put up with it. 

You cant control her not being there for drop offs (and it could be for th best...), and unfortunately you can’t control her monitoring texts to SD, or that she even acknowledges you as a wife. 

But you can refuse to be recipients of nasty, abusive e mails and texts if there are any. 

thinkthrice's picture

on youtube (Dr. Craig Childress)

Also research "Golden Uterus Syndrome"

What you've written about the BM is textbook PAS.  Most of the posters on this site have BMs who've done the exact same things.  It will only get worse if DH keeps giving into her games. 

tog redux's picture

Your DH needs to block the hell out of BM and go to Our Family Wizard or some other communication device. This is a ridiculous amount of communication he's tolerating.

He also needs to establish his own relationship with any doctors, teachers, etc - and stop relying on BM to inform him. She's going to paint him as the meanie and bad guy so he needs to get in front of that. In my experience, some therapists and doctors buy the lying from BM and the skid hook line and sinker, and cut the other parent out, but he needs to try

Pick his battles and go to court over only what's necessary - ie, a fair way of paying medical bills, different means of communication, etc.

There is a very good chance this girl will eventually stop speaking to DH and refusing all visits (parental alienation) and it's coming soon. I'm sure she loves her dad very much but the pressure from BM to hate him and take her side will become intolerable. Prepare for that and keep the lines of communication open as best you can.  You should just be a supportive kind stepmom and stay out.  You can't be her therapist and save her - trust me, I tried with my SS. Just take care of yourself.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Your DH needs to sign over full rights to BM and stop visitation.

BM is traumatizing her daughter to get back at your DH. No one is seemingly willing to side with him, and he seemingly isn't willing to establish his own relationships with her school, doctors, etc and expects BM to relay the information to him. SD is cutting and acting out because she has zero control of her life, and her parents are fighting a battle of either completely dismissing her issues (BM) or treating her with kid gloves and explaining her captivity and depression as "sadness" (DH).

This is all a game to BM, and your DH needs to stop playing it for SD's sake. She isn't ALLOWED to love her father, and his presence in her life enrages her mother. That then turns BM's rage onto SD, and she'll kill herself or get knocked up to get out of it. 

So give BM what she wants. She'll temporarily win the game, but then she'll have to deal with a very pissed and sick SD. It might save SD's life and get her to 18 where she can figure it out.

I'm not usually one to say "don't fight". However, I think you're very close to a kid who will do something stupid to get her parents to stop the fighting and putting her in the middle. IF you don't want to stop fighting, then your DH needs to put his sh*t-stomping boots on and stop being nice. 

He needs to go to the school and demand a plan for him to be informed of all things related to SD. He needs to demand access to her medical records from the doctor and go all the way up to the State Attorney General and licensing board if he has to. He needs to nail BM with a contempt charge every time she even breathes out of line. He needs to show up to every appointment and chew someone out if he isn't informed. He doesn't need BM to tell him what's going on with SD. He can fight to get that info from the sources. And it won't be an easy process, and he'll be seen as a bad guy.

He also needs to hire a pitbull attorney. I don't care if they break the bank, but find someone who specializes in father's rights who will actively work to nail BM in court.

Your DH either has to go all-in and fight tooth-and-nail, or he needs to back completely off and give SD up. This middle ground where he gives BM power and control, while trying to have a normal relationship with SD, is only hurting SD. Your DH wants to make things seem "normal", but they aren't. And SD is SCREAMING that but no one is fully listening.

justmakingthebest's picture

2 years and never in front of a judge? Why can't your lawyer file for an emergency hearing? The judge we get is a total shit head and sometimes we have flown all the way out there for him to say he isn't in the mood to hear a case but we have been in front of him at least 5 times in the last 3 years. 

Also, your husband and you need to go sit down with the therapist. Pay to co-pay or full fee for that matter and find out exactly what is going on and what his recommendations are for her. No more 3rd party information. Also request that if there are any changes that you be notified immediately directly from him since BM is not giving you proper information and this situation is so serious. 

I am so sorry you are being so alienated. I totally understand, if you read any of my blogs... trust me. I get it all. I don't think there is a right or wrong way to deal with what you are going through especially since you haven't even had a chance in court yet. It is more than likely time for a new lawyer if this one won't get you in front of the judge. 

Frazzled2020's picture

Thanks so much for the advice.

@steptotheright at the beginning I did have a much better relationship with my SD but lately she is very all or nothing. I have tried to inform her that this hurts my feelings, but I don’t think that has helped. For 12 of the 14 days she does not text, call, or answer any texts or calls but for the two days she is here she is up my butt.  Like trying to hug on me and follows me around 24/7, wakes me up in the morning. Very opposite which I do not like.

It seems that the cuts on the SD were superficial, but the therapist has been seeing her since Sept and I think she is just making judgment calls since SD hasn’t opened up. So, the newest rules are the books and movies (I think it is obsessive, I am Depressed, and I have never been triggered by a book but it could be because the SD has not opened up about anything) Of course the SD comes to our house and whines. “why can’t I read Harry Potter?” “I couldn’t even have shoelaces in the ER!” “Everyone takes sharps away from me now!” This is why I think she is doing it for attention, and I think it is her mother who she wants attention from. (I could be wrong)

@DHsfamilyfromhell Yes, we were hopeful that the therapist would be a good step, but it seems to have made the SD more closed off and angry.

We had informed our lawyer that we felt as though the BM emails were harassing, and mentally and verbally abusive (thinking that would matter). He, of course, says that coparenting is the only way to step away from the emails but she REFUSES. We have filed motions and my DH has asked for a year in emails for coparenting counseling. They have a mediation paper that says they are to only communicate via email and text or call only in an emergency, which she uses anytime she wants, but if he has ever texted she writes a novel of how that doesn’t follow the agreement.

I would love for us to be able to no longer receive nasty, hateful or even abusive emails but I haven’t figured out an option for that. Maybe our lawyer is just awful, I wouldn’t be surprised.

@thinkthrice I have worked very diligently with shows DH that BM just wants control and arguing. DH is very calm and lets most things slide, I am very intense. So, over our relationship he has learned to stand up for himself. He used to answer calls and texts from BM but no more. Only emails. He ignores her texts and calls but that unfortunately hasn’t helped her st*u when it comes to her novels of complaining about everything. We have tried the, email short (FOC says DH was not informative to BM), he has tried long emails, he has tried proving points, he has ignored her until one day he writes her his response. No matter which we have chosen, she still complains and argues. Any advice on that would be wonderful

@tog redux Unfortunately, their method of communication is email so he cant block her that way, he calls the SC during the week from his phone (and the BM calls on 1 night of the 48 hours he has them..urgh) so they cant really block them in that manner.

Recently, DH did reach out the therapist and informed her he wanted to know what to put up besides sharps, (all we knew) she seemed surprised and quite apprehensive, asking “weren’t you there when SD was discharged?” Of course, he was not. He then put his info on file to be charged 50% I also suggested he get in touch with the eye dr and dentist and do the same. Unfortunately, that is all he has receipts of. The schools do not talk to DH because the BM has it written that no one can talk to anyone except for her, hence the DRs also never reaching out. We joined the PTA which helped some but not much. We have also friended other parents to find out about PTC.

I have a bad feeling that the full alienation is coming. We have informed our lawyer about the alienation signs we have had but with court being moved so much, the SD is only becoming more closed off.


@lieutenant_dad I have cried this to DH. That I am tired of everything being WW3 with BM. That all we do is call multiple times a week, get told by the school, lawyers, and the drs that what dh does is wrong. But ultimately, it is DH decision of how much he can handle. The SC use to ask if BM and DH were married (they were for 10 years) and they would say that DH abandoned them when they were born. Now, I take everything with a grain of salt but I have been told, and there are photos, to show that DH raised the kids for 9-10 years before the BM and him finally divorced (she cheated a lot) then she moved 500 miles with the kids and boyfriend; which my non argumentative husband allowed and followed, thinking that was a good dad. She has used her narcissism to convince the kids they are better off where they are, and to convince my husband the same thing.

The biggest issue is that the SD believes it (or says she does). A year ago, it was the opposite, but the longer court takes, the more likely they will stay with BM and end up moving states again (that is their plan). DH has told me that he isn’t going to move states again, he will argue to at least get full summers but no more following.

@justmakingthebest I my new theory is that we have a bad lawyer. Someone that just wanted the money. There were many lawyers that told DH “I wont take a losing battle, I can not help you.”

DH has been sending weekly emails to SD DR so hopefully the DR believes that DH just didn’t know that there was new news to follow. Crazy, when SD first was assigned this DR DH had a one on one and gave paperwork and explained his side, asked to be informed of anything changing; and the DR must have just assumed that the BM was correct and that DH was being told this info.

What would happen is this: Dr tells BM “no books or movies that have to do with depression, sadness, cutting, bullying, or death” (all books)

BM tells us 0.

We purchase SD books for Christmas. !2 years and up. Young adult fiction. All about some intense stuff but it is in her age group.

BM writes an email “This book is inappropriate and I am keeping it here in a safe at my house. You can not have your items back. (doesn’t tell us why it is inappropriate)

SD has other books, also young adult, rating is 12 and up. Sneaks it out of our house

BM writes. “this book is also inappropriate and even the DR agrees with me!”

So to us, everything we do is wrong. We are only told after the fact that the book is wrong. Not “this is a criteria to follow” etc.  

To the DR, who is under the impression that we are told not to give these items to SD, it probably looks like DH is a “bad dad”

So he finally emailed the DR telling her that she informed him she would tell him if anything changed, she said she assumed he would reach out and ask. So I suggested a phone call. He tried holding back tears on the phone while telling the DR “I just want to help my daughter and I feel like no one is telling me anything until after I mess up.” I took it as the DR was shocked that he was so out of the loop, he took it as the DR didn’t believe a word that he said.

I tried to tell him, maybe if from here on we put up the books an lock the tv ratings, then the dr will see ‘wow, there is a difference since I spoke to him’.

Maybe us being new to court, seeing how everyone seems against DH, and just being confused. We aren’t making bold enough choices. But no matter what DH types to BM “kids had a great time, kids were tired, kids seems angry” it is always a novel of a response of how DH is a liar, it is all his fault, the kids are fine at her house etc. It is exhausting.

We are now 4 months away from seeing a judge, when is too late to cancel your lawyer? We have learned that we cannot change judges, but we must officially fire the lawyer before moving forward or we keep him.

The lawyer that was going to argue “what is your class schedule, who watches the kids when you are in class, what is your future schooling (to know if/when she moves), weren’t you on free healthcare when DH was asking to put the SC on his insurance that is fraud” all the BS he said in the beginning that we wanted! We hired that. And he has sat back now. DH just told the lawyer the other day “BM is getting meaner and SD is getting worse, is there anything we can do? I am tired of waiting for judge” and the lawyer legit said “welp…I will talk to you closer to court. Have a good day”

I am so tired of fighting you guys.

Thanks so much. It means a lot to vent to people about this.

DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

I fully agree with leiutenant dad. Their advice is excellent advice. 

Also, you are probably right in that BM shows narcisstic behaviour.

However, like I said this situation is complicated. You have a very bitter BM that is putting her child in the middle. 

Now, as someone that had my first child at the age of 22 (I had 2 children and a separation by the age of 25)....

At that time neither my (ex) partner or I had the maturity to deal with our break up in such a fashion that was 100% in the kids best interest. What there was not in those days were counsellors that specialize in making agreements on behalf of the kids, and negotiating for all sides. They have these services now, But they might be hard to find. 

I was very upset for a few years after this break up, and though I didn’t put the kids in the middle, I feel that maybe if we had one ‘breakup’ counselling session together to put to bed any unresolved feelings (eg, who initiated the break up, was anyone left holding the baby with no child support etc), that it would have helped us view things in a more positive way. It might be useful ( though would need a huge deal of understanding from you) for them to acknowledge these feelings IN FRONT OF A PROFESSIONAL, (without child present) to possibly allow everyone to get on just enough to parent together. 

This situation though seems unlikely from what you have said. Only you know and them know the full story at the end of the day. 


Frazzled2020's picture

To my knowledge, the BM is the one who cheated a lot and one day DH said he was done. (BM also slapped DH) BM then moved with boyfriend and now has 2 more kids with her husband. 
I've told DH since I met him that though they have been divorced for 4 years,at end she always thought he would wait for her. 
I have suggested to DH for them to attempt to counseling and even a coffee date just to try to move past this. 
That a therapist could point out when BM says things that are irrelevant or intentionally hurtful. DH is willing to do this and has offered multiple times. 
BM refuses to do coparenting counseling. Even has said "coparenting counseling is for couples to get back together" 

with the amount of animosity that she has towards DH and how much she dislikes me (I've physically seen her 5 times in 3 years and she's spoken two sentences to me), I honestly think she still has feelings for him

Unfortunately, we can't make her go to counseling. 

tog redux's picture

Counseling would do nothing with her - it would just give her a forum to abuse your DH.

What he needs is boundaries and a good attorney to set some limits on BM. 

DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

Well, you have made the offer and she has refused. she clearly lacks the mental maturity to make choices in her child’s best interests, and yes it’s probably a matter of proper boundaries etc like others have suggested. 

I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. 

Frazzled2020's picture

After hearing from you all, we reached out to another attorney. 
this will be our 3rd one in two years but we figure, if this attorney says there's nothing to do, we know what to expect in court (if we ever go) 

I still find it baffling that we can't stop or control the emails dialogue. I feel because he's a man the system doesn't see it as "abuse" 

but she writes things about him being a liar, about his father that passed away, about how the stepdad cares more for the kids than he does etc. and he's just suppose to continue to receive them? 
Our system is stupid. 
Other than BM actually not allowing the kids to come to visit, she does all other parental alienation. 
When we see them in public, if BM is there, the kids don't even make eye contact with us. How crazy?!