The Dinner Talk
Ok everyone, it finally happened. The dreaded dinner talk. It didn't go entirely as expected. I rode home from work with DH, and he said the skids were late, but they arrived that afternoon. He said he "lit into them and told them how much they hurt him when they told him he was a failure." Dh was in a foul mood. I was feeling okay until late afternoon, when my heart started doing the "fight or fight flip". I tried deep breathing, but it wasn't working.
When I got home, I made sure to say a perky hello to the skids. Then I went upstairs and took my last half a valium that has been sitting in my bedside drawer for 1 year. I ate some cereal and made myself a lemonade. No greasy pizza for me, thank you. Then I sat down to listen to the whiny tirade from the ugly stepsisters. Color me surprised, folks! They snapped and snarled and layed blame on DH - and demanded a blanket apology for his not protecting them from bad things when they were little. They were little, so they said they didnt' entirely remember why, but that they just (sniff, sob) couldn't go forward and have closure until he apologized for all the trauma. OMFG. Really? Maybe it was the valium, but I was feeling pretty groovy and I wanted to hear where this was going. I watched in fascination as he yelled, then they sobbed, then they yelled, and he looked beaten like whipped dog. It was bizarre, and I didn't say a word for 45 minutes.
Finally he gave in and halfway apologized - he said I don't know what I am apologizing for, but if you were hurt, I am sorry. Now, we need to move forward and talk about the present. They didn't like that, as the apology was their power play. So they told him he was being immature and they started in on me.
Apparently, in this new version of their childhood, I was a screaming ogre who terrorized them daily. The funny thing is, I couldn't scream at them because when I asked DH if he wanted me to enforce the chores, he said no. He wanted to do the disciplining himself, so I disengaged. Was I frustrated? Yes! Did I ever raise my voice to them? No. If I had, DH would have been right there telling me to be quiet. Yet their main complaint to him was that he didn't "protect them from my screaming at them." ??? The reason I was so quiet and unhappy (they say I had "attitude" ) was that DH essentially put a gag order on me. I spent a lot of those years eating in silence, going to my room after dinner, etc. They never did their chores, and neither of us said anything. If I said "please do your chores," then apparently I was yelling and terrorizing them. They told their dad that he should have reprimanded me in front of them, so they knew that I was in trouble. What? Who is the parent here? Does that happen in normal families- where the husband screams at the wife and humiliates her in front of the children so that they know they are loved? Hmmmm.....
So, when SD18 wouldn't shut up about the incident with their aunt, and wanting to know what happened, I told them the truth. I told them their grandma stopped taking her psychiatric meds while living with us.(Even though I counted out her pills every day for her, and she promised she was taking them.) She got mean and belligerent. She called her daughter, who DH didn't get along with back then, and invited her into my living room at 3 am so that her daughter could bring her MCDonalds milkshakes - because we wouldn't buy them for her. Why? She was a diabetic who regularly passed out on our floor from unstable blood sugar. Who revived her? Me. Who called 911? Me. Who washed out her pee soaked pants? Me.
One morning I came downstairs in my nightshirt to find my living room full of boxes. Their aunt had dumped all of grandmas belongings in our living room and left. We had not discussed grandma living with us forever. I was actively trying to get her into assisted living, because her own children couldn't handle doing it, and her sleeping on my couch and peeing herself was not helping our family bonding. She had a bedroom of her own, but chose to sleep on the couch, eat on the couch, and pass out on the couch. All the skids heard was "That one time, Shieldmaiden pulled a shotgun on grandma." LOL> No, Sheildmaiden told grandma that she would not be held responsible for accidentally shooting the skids aunt, because the skids aunt was sneaking into the house in the night, and we had guns, and we lived in a terrible neighborhood. Did she think I was going to be fully awake at 3 am when I heard the door opening? Did she think that I would have my contacts in ? Nope. I would be a freakin mess and I would be armed, so how is what she is doing going to end well for anyone ?This situation was very dangerous and it needed to stop. The skids looked at me like "oh....that's what happened!" No, kids, I don't buy it. They were hoping that that I did pull a shotgun on grandma, because then they could believe I was a terrible person and have me arrested.
So, I told the skids that they were not going to speak or act disrepectfully in our home, or they would have a time-out, and if they were still misbehaving, they could leave. I told them they are not going to sit there and blame me for everything bad that has ever happened to them. That is not productive. I told SD16 that when I asked her to keep it down, I did probably snap at her a bit. I was going to apologize but then she accused me of all this other stuff, and I spent the rest of the night crying because she hurt me, too. I said I am willing to start being more up front with how I feel so that I don't get quiet and sullen. This means I will be calmly telling her to stop yelling at her dad, stop demanding a dog, and stop telling me how to care for my pets. This way I don't "develop an attitude" towards her.
I told her I would also like her to not be so negative all the time, and to stop demanding things of her dad after he says no. She agreed she would work on that. At one point SD18 got sassy and started shouting me down, and I spoke louder. I looked her in the eyes. I didn't back down. Her dad asked her to stop being sullen and mean, like she has been for the last 6 months - that if she didn't want to come over, she wasn't forced to, because she is 18. She told him that it was mean to tell her she didn't have to come over and that's just plain hurtful. ??? I dont' get this chick! Is her therapist telling her this or are the daily conversations with her sister warping her mind?
So, we hugged it out (eyeroll) and dinner the next night was actually not terrible. They spoke a little, and didn't complain about the food. Are they going to change? Not likely, but I've found out how important it is for my DH to see me being reasonable and civil, and to see his daughters being cruel and crazy. This is the only way he realizes that they are cruel and crazy. So I will play the game for 1 more year - but I am not keeping my mouth shut anymore. I will stay and be so damned reasonable and calm that the crazy twins have to leave the room. Oh, and I think I will ask for a refill on my Valium. For once I didn't feel like my heart was going to explode while talking to them.