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The Dinner Talk

Shieldmaiden's picture

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.


justmakingthebest's picture

I was hoping you would let us know how it went.

It sounds better than I expected. Just be prepared for them to have a 3rd or 4th version of any given event that they think makes you a wicked SM. 

I am wishing the best for you!

Shieldmaiden's picture

Thank you! I think Valium is my superpower. heheheh.

strugglingSM's picture

Glad you were able to stay calm and still set boundaries with them. 

Re: your SD claiming it was mean for your DH to say she didn't have to come that coming from BM? I ask, because in my case, Skids are teens and DH has told them repeatedly that they don't have to come anymore because they will come to sleep in our home and then call him as they are walking out the door to say they are leaving or they will come to our home and sit in their room for several hours between going out with friends and then complain about how tired they are and how they just want to be at BM's house. DH hasn't told them in anger that they don't need to come over. He's just told them that he knows they are almost 17 and would rather hang out with their friends than sit at our house. One used to get really upset and say, "how can you say that, Dad?!" but I suspect that was coming from BM who has told Skids for years "your father doesn't want to see you. I offer up all kinds of extra time and he never takes it." BM conveniently leaves out all the times DH has asked for extra time and she refused and BM also fought DH for a year to reduce his time with this same Skid saying it was "traumatic" for him to come to our house, only to tell DH afterwards that he had "no right to change the schedule" after she got what she really wanted, which was more CS. Our home is really boring right now, though, because we have 1, soon to be 2, small children, and DH works a really physical job, so he's mostly resting on the weekends. So, lately skids will come over for one night and maybe eat dinner with DH or watch a movie with him. Really, they should be at an age where DH can say, "hey, I planned to go fishing/skiing/hunting this weekend and I'd like you to come with me" and it should be on whatever weekend, not his weekend or BM's weekend, but with a BM who likes to use the children as a weapon, that will never happen. We did invite SKids to come to our home for DD's birthday this weekend (not DH's weekend) and they both "forgot". 


Shieldmaiden's picture

No, DHS never set this an anger to them. He is simply reminding them that they have the power to do what they want and make their own choices because they are getting older I think that you are right that BM planted this idea in the years. DH always fought for time with them , but they seem to not really enjoyed being here. I'm not sure what the point of them being here is other than to make him feel bad and assert dominance over me.

strugglingSM's picture

To do BM's bidding, skids also spend a lot of time telling DH he is "wrong" or "lying" or should be doing more for BM. That is all coming from her, because teen boys are not typically attuned to these things. 

thinkthrice's picture

This happened to us too.  Flashbacks!

CLove's picture

But wasnt terrible.

No matter what you and DH say, they are pretty set in their story. They had to create this narrative and I predict they will double down on it. Could be wrong, I just so much experience with Toxic Troll and Feral Forger SD23. They have repeated their false narratives to others and themselves, it doesnt even matter what the truth of things really is.

But really glad that you stood up to those two bishes.

JRI's picture

I've come to the conclusion that my own SD61 has all these fantasies in her head about my past "misdeeds" that are just waiting to pop out.  I think your SDs are the same.  During her recent angry rant about a misunderstanding with her daughter, she turned on me with fire in her eyes and said, " And, YOU told her xyz and blah blah blah!"  I pulled my phone and showed her the innocuous text that proved her statement untrue.

It's just a matter of time before the next meltdown gives her another opportunity to vomit her hatred toward me.  The holidays?  A funeral?  Whatever.  In her mind, DH marrying me ruined her life, never mind the truth or his wishes, or BM's, for that matter.  She could blame us all but BM is dead and she fears losing DH's love so I'm "It" and so are you.

Ispofacto's picture

Frequently when HC people demand an explanation, it's not about wanting answers, it's about dominance.  They made you explain yourself.  

I would give them the benefit of the doubt, this time, but in the future, they aren't entitled to explanations from you.  You are not their peer, you are one of two authorities in your house.


Shieldmaiden's picture

I think you are right.. This was definitely about dominance with their dad and then with me. However, I wanted to call their bluff in front of their dad. It seemed the more we denied the false statements, the more power they got.They actually started to cry over these false muddied memories.  I probably won't go this route again. I will just give them a warning and a time out. It did seem to defuse the situation when I showed them that I was an actual person and not a demon.

 They are HCBM definitely filled their heads with a lot of nonsense when they were growing up. Parental alienation syndrome is alive and well  in our family.


Cover1W's picture

OSD did the same thing to DH when she was about 15. His actual proof against some accusations she threw at him were either ignored or she was MORE upset that he was right. From what he told me it was a clusterF and he'd not do it again. Thanking my good sense to never be involved in her fiasco.  PAS is insidious and it wreaks havoc with the kids memories and feelings of/for the other parent. Reality and truth becomes so distored they have almost an impossible (and sometimes always impossible) task to see it.

Ispofacto's picture

It diffused the situation because they got you to bow down.  They will want that again, and again, and again...


Yesterdays's picture

I agree its all about dominance. The kids see themselves on the same level as the adults, or higher. Specifically how they wanted him to reprimand you for your actions.??! In order to combat this you and your husband should band together as a tight union to show a united front when dealing with them. Time to call BS on all of their problematic behaviors. Shut it down hard. 

Rags's picture

Except for part where he caved and appologized.  

There is no give and take with the harpie twins.  There should only be tell and then they get to STFU.

If the valum calmed you enough to be assertive, direct, and effective in shutting them down, they by all means, get a new Rx.

I would suggest that you and DH do a post mortem on the talk.  That way you can align on what you both need to  be on the look out for the next time.  Pre-scripting, reviewing their likely behaviors prior to these talks, and making it about you and DH partnering... is the paramount priority in all of this IMHO.

Great job.


thinkthrice's picture

They will secretly seeth that their narratives have been fractured, especially in front of daaaaaaddddeeeeeykins.

They will continue to repeat their same delusions to all who will listen but will be resentful that they need to brew up another batch of lies against you at your house.   A leopard does not change its spots.  They will continue to club H over the head with his misplaced guilt.  Weapon of choice.

Stock up on Valium unless they decide to ghost you and stop the entitlement sessions (visitation) which would be heaven at this point.

Rags's picture

recognition for the truths that their noses were rubbed in.

Not just a Skid issue. I am in the process of countering the recycling of whining complaints at work.  I lead a large maintenance team that maintains a huge capital equipment set.  The site General Manager is all wrapped around the axle on complaints by the equipment operators that the equipment does not work, maintenance techs don;t know what they are doing or how to fix broken equipment, and do not respond to calls.

So, the GM and I spent an hour last Friday operating the best machine, then the worst machine according to the equipment operators.  The automated equipment performance data shoes that they are fundimentally identical in througput performance.  After than hour, I asked the GM what we had learned. "They work exactly the same and there is nothing wrong with the equipment."

Meanwhile back atthe ranch and the following Tuesday, the GM has conveniently ignored last weeks facts and is directing a complete assessment of the equipment functionality because :"the operators are experts and they know what they are doing".  

He and I are playing whose is bigger right now.  I am standing on the data and the runctional equipment testing. He is standing on the complaints of people who are not meeting production goals.   Equipment does what it is desogned to do. Nothing more, nothing less.  Of course it can break, and it does.  But what it does not do is lie. misinterpret, have a perspective, whine, deflect, obfuscate, take extended lunch and restroom breaks,  pull cell phones it is not supposed to have on the production floor out of its pocket to do whatever it is not supposed to be doing, etc.....

So, Thursday we have another session on the equipment though next time we will observe the best operators use the equipment.  What the GM doesn't know is that I have the equipment monitoring camera footage that clearly shows who is doing what and when.  He will not like when I roll out the footage when the complaints about my maintenance techs start flowing.  The footage shows reality, not manipulations.  The challenge is how to word the interface as a collaborative performance improvment initiative rather than an ass baring session. In either direction.

This should be fun!!!


Keep the SD's noses rubbed in the facts.  They will either learn to love that humiliating stench, or they will adjust.  Their call.  In toxic blended family drama, ass baring should not be avoided IMHO.  Use it liberally to drive clarity in the direction of those who are being delusional.

Take care of you.


Yesterdays's picture

I agree with Rags. There will be no give and take with these kids. They still think they've done no wrong and that they are the victim. I would have a talk with your partner as Rags suggested and come up with a plan for moving forward. Forget about the past events which the kids have a skewed vision in their head.

Think about the current behaviors that happen moving forward. Clamp down on those. If they act out of line, call them out on that behavior. Back each other up. Send them home to bio moms or whatever else is appropriate. They are going to lash out if they feel they are getting into trouble. They will pour on the tears for sympathy. Thing is....

They are not used to their bad behavior getting shut down. They are used to having all the power. Time to change the power. Time to change the dynamic. It's your house and they are the visitors there. They should be acting with a baseline level of being respectful. If they can't do that then they don't need to be around