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Adult Stepdaughter Drama

thisisus's picture

As the holidays approach, I need to know ideas on how to make things pleasant. I would love one big happy family for Christmas. I have a stepdaughter who is in her mid twenties. She has never been kind to me. Not once.

When I met her dad he had been divorced for many years and was single. We hit it off and eventually moved in together. He had a friend in a bad situation who desperately needed a home. He suggested I rent my home to his friend and move in with him because we hated being apart and his friend needed help. So, I moved in. The adult daughter lives out of state. It didn't impact her at all. But, she flipped out and created drama with her dad over it. She lives with a boyfriend... But, me moving in was somehow bad. She cut her dad off and created drama.

Later, when we got engaged, same thing. Married, same thing. Nearly three years later, she has never had a conversation with me. Before my now husband and I were engaged, we took three months apart to make sure we were doing the right thing. We never stopped seeing each other but dated a couple others before we got too serious. When we were apart my stepdaughter was thrilled and sent me a nasty message in FB messenger about how glad she was we were not together and what a terrible person I am, etc. I had never been attacked verbally by a stranger before and I needed support. So, I did a prayer request post for myself on my private FB page and stated I had been attacked by a woman with a mental illness and to please pray for me. Somehow, even though we were never friends on FB, she managed to read it and realized it was about her, even though I mentioned no names. She went nuts. I knew all about her diagnosis and made every excuse in the book for her behavior. But, I am only human and have feelings too. Anyway, my prayer request sent her into orbit.

I got her Christmas presents last year. No thank you. She needed to borrow a car and her dad let her use one of his. She refused to acknowledge me when I said hello many times and gave me her best evil eye. At that point, my husband had had enough and told her he would no longer tolerate her behavior or make excuses for her because of her illness. She submarined again and did the typical cutting off dad move. We have tried to help her in every way.

Failure to launch comes to mind. I get that many young people struggle once they are finally mostly supporting themselevs out in the real world. I feel bad for young people today. They don't have the opportunities we had. If their parents spoiled them growing up, many just can't make it and have major struggles. I'm getting her Christmas presents again this year even if she ups the ante and spits in my face. Her behavior has actually only helped me because she has made herself out to be pretty unreasonable.

I have been accused of silly things. She thinks I looked at her the wrong way once. She thinks I should not have hugged her boyfriend goodbye after a family dinner. I hugged everyone goodbye. It's what we do in the South. It doesn't matter what I do, it's bad or wrong. So... after many beautiful letters asking to build a relationship and get to know eachother, I finally left the ball in her court. Her maturity level is that of a two year old. I think if she ever said to me, "I am sorry I never gave you a chance. I'm sorry I never got to know you and treated you poorly," I would drop dead and she would love that. In my last letter, I did tell her I love her and want us to be a big happy family. I did say when I am attacked I will always defend myself. I think she did not like that. But, I will always defend myself in a polite way. I might be the only person who has not put up with her bullshit in her life.

Since I am not her biological parent, I do not tiptoe around her. I refuse to be like everyone else and tell her only what she wants to hear or can handle. I tell all of my children the truth. She hates that her dad is happy and we have a strong marriage. She did not come to the wedding. She did not come to his birthday party. She has isolated herself. It's very sad.

My husband and I went to therapy for ideas on how to handle the situation. We were told that we have done all the right things and to simply give her space and time. If she comes around, great. If she doesn't, she doesn't. I wish I had a magic wand to make everything better with her. But, I don't. It appears she enjoys drama and division. Granted, I could be wrong because I have not been given a single oppoortunity to have a one on one conversation with her since day one. Any ideas anyoe has for unity would be fantastic. My goal is a united family. I understand her mental illness. I have read all about it. I realize her drama has nothing to do with me personally, it's an internal thing. But, she does not realize that and may never be able to.  


Harry's picture

The Big Happy Family is not going to happen.  You did your best now it's time to disengage from her.  No Christmas presents. No invite to your home.  If she can't act like a person ,  not welcome in my home 

JRI's picture

I think, realistically, I would give up the one happy family fantasy.  I had it, too.  The best you can hope for is a polite and civil relationship with her but it will take awhile for that to happen, if ever.  This young woman actually sounds disturbed.  I'm glad your DH seems aware how off the track she is.

My favorite quote is, "Mental health is an ongoing dedication to reality at all costs".  Or, as my counselor said to me when I was disappointed after a "one happy family" event went bad, "JRI, there's fantasy and then there's reality".

My SD60 is disturbed, too.  I have had to distance myself from her to avoid being sucked into her chaos.  She resents me, too, for no reason except that her dad loves me. It's hard to accept that someone hates us.  I feel for you.  You sound like a kind and caring person.  I wouldn't contact her again and if she does come around, I'd watch my back.  Good luck.

tog redux's picture

Hi - if you go in and edit your post into paragraphs, it would be easier for people to read - you will likely get more responses. There is an edit tab for blogs. 

Kes's picture

You cannot force your SD to behave well to you, so my advice would be, stop striving for unity and just accept things the way they are.  Like you say, she enjoys drama and division.  Many, many of us here on ST have step children and HCBMs in our lives that do, and however you act, they will see it in the worst possible light.  Sometimes you just have to accept it is what it is and get on with your own life. 

Steppedonnomore's picture

Drop the rope.  The big, happy family isn't going to happen.  And that's Okay.  SD is an adult and, mental illness or not, she gets to choose her own friends.  You are not one of them.  You don't have to be.  You married her dad - not her.  Be polite and kind but don't expect any kind of relationship with her. I

thisisus's picture

This website will save me thousands in therapy. It is a breath of fresh air reading all of the blogs with the exact same issues. Thank you everyone. I adore my husband and am committed to forever no matter what drama is unfairly thrown at me. But, to any of my divorced girlfriends who consider remarrying, I will have tell them the truth. If the kids or adult kids hate you from day one, more than likely, they always will. I think is has a lot to do with money in my situation. My husband has done well. He's not filthy rich but has done well for himself. Many kids can never do anything themselves or be successful without their parents money. It's possible she thinks a wife just takes money away from her. Who knows. I realize I can't reason with the unreasonable. I drive a car with nearly a hundred thousand miles. When I want something, I buy it myself. I don't cost anything. I work at least 60 hours a week and pay my own bills. I'm an asset not a liability. She doesn't know that. If she ever opens her heart to me, I will only add love and value to her life. I'm just not used to drama and people hating me for no reason. It's new to me and I have to suck it up. 

CLove's picture

Wear it like a crown. Youve gone many extra miles for your husbands daughter. I too tried with SD22 Feral Forger. I STILL got a nasty text a few weeks ago telling me I "took her dad and he is now just a sperm donor".

It wont work, no matter how hard you try. She has created her own narrative and she needs to own it. She owns her own story, just like you do yours. You can feel good that you tried, now back off and disengage. No presents for Christmas and no Birthday cards, etc. Your husband wants a relationship with her, then he can have one that doesnt include you. She needs to recognize that she needs help and get that help. You and your husband are not responsible for her emotions. Honestly if someone treated me the way you describe, I would tell husband "shes your daughter, your circus and your monkees. Time to face reality for what is is and just leave the door open".

tog redux's picture

May I ask - what is her mental illness? I read it a couple times and didn't see what she was diagnosed with. 

I'd suggest what the others said - give up the idea that you are going to be a big, happy family, and settle for decreasing drama.  Be pleasant and polite if she's civil, stand your ground if she's not. And above all, make sure your DH knows what you will and won't find acceptable in terms of how he allows her to treat you, and money matters in regards to her.

Honestly, if I hated someone and they said, "I don't care, I love you," I'd hate them more (especially if I was 25, mentally ill and trying to get under their skin). And do you love her?  Not sure how you could, really, given how she behaves.  If you want to give her a gift because you think it's the right thing to do, then do it, but don't expect thanks in return. Personally I think that's teaching her the wrong lesson. 

caninelover's picture

It is giving her the opportunity to make drama.  Stop.

My SD 24 Bratty McBratFace did the same with gifts.  She used that kindness to make stupid comments.  So, now she gets zilch.  I don't even lift a finger to text her Happy Birthday.  

If she changes, you'll know and then cautiously re-open the door.  But until that happens, just disengage.


thisisus's picture

I want to be respectful of all struggling with a serious mental illness. It's bad. She has been a danger to herself and others in the past… I do love her even though she has only been horrible to me. I'm an empath. I just feel bad for her and want her to be happy. She lives in her own world. She can't see past her own nose or distinguish fact from opinion. She is right about everything and everyone else is wrong… She was angry with her dad for telling me about her illness years ago. But, he told her he is nothing but honest with me and had to tell me the truth to try to help explain a good bit of her behavior. 

Merry's picture

I look back on my interaction with DH's adult kids, and I tried too hard and too long. And they're not even hateful. I also tried to make them "family." But I have settled for polite and civil.

Let DH manage the relationship with his daughter, and you can step back. Don't worry about buying gifts or further communication. Remove that hope/expectation of "happy family" from your life, and that's a big stressor gone.  

Stepdrama2020's picture

STOP with the gifts. This only emboldens her to treat you worse. Lady in all sincerity your nightmare of a SD gets off on you trying. Wipe that smirk off this witches face by disengagement.

A good quote I read "never let someone become comfortable disrespecting you"  You may think that you are the only one that doesnt take crap from her.  Frankly I dont see it that way. Giving gifts, telling someone that you love them when you have zero relationship IS putting up with her crap. 

You are a good person granted, and may love her , why?, well you can only answer that.

thisisus's picture

I feel sorry for her. But, you are absolutely right. I am disengaging. I tried and tried and tried. I did my part. She really is pitiful though. If she ever amounts to anything at all, on her own, I will be shocked. She has submarined again. The minute she needs money again, she will resurface. I won't give her anymore money and no more presents. But, I am sure my husband will. The good old dvorce guilt is a powerful guilt to let go of. God bless him, he has tried everything and she treats him like crap. Until I got in this group, I had no idea how common this was. I just thank God I never had to live with her. She was grown and moved out to another state when I came in the picture. Thank Christ for that. After reading several blogs in here, I am counting my blessings. 

CLove's picture

It definitely helps to know that its not really us personally.

They need to own their issues instead of vomiting them all over us. Someone told me that in a comment.

I too have toxic skid, now 22. Shes been living with her mother, Toxic Troll, and stolen and forged checks, been 5150'ed and has no drivers license or job. Just parties, and because DH has no influence, he can do nothing. Her mother puts up with it and just plays victim, but shes the one who never allowed him to parent her or give any repercussions for her actions. So now she gets to deal with the monster she created. KARMA.

TheAccidentalSM's picture

Disengage and ignore the h*ll out of her.  You can't change or modify other people so its not going to work with SD.

You may find that she's like a cat.  The more you ignore her, the more interested in you she gets.  But that might be worse.