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Anxiety

stepper47's picture

I have not posted in a while because all of our kids are no longer living in our home. Our boys are 23 (my son) and 22 (SS), both graduated from college and in their own places with full time jobs.  SD19 just finished her first year of college and is currently back in our area at her mother's for the summer, although her mother recently moved about a half hour away.  

Long story short, I have been married to DH for 10 years, and he had 50/50 custody of his kids. SS and I have always got along, but as SD became a pre-teen, she had some challenging, entitled (in my opinion) behavior that went unchecked by her parents, and caused a lot of conflict between DH and I because I felt like I had no voice when it came to her in my home, and he felt defensive of allowing her to act however she wanted.  It grew into a large divide, and as she got older she would skip times to come over and sometimes withhold communication when she was upset. It ended up that she moved in full time with her mom at almost 16 after DH tried to enforce consequences after she came home falling down drunk from a party.  She has been at our house a only a handful of times since. 

I know that she has the opinion that I didn't want her here when she was younger, because I did withdraw quite a bit, I didn't know how to handle what what was going on around me and I was in a severe depression for a while.  I had made a request that she and her brother give us a heads up before coming over when they were on their mom's time, and she took that even more as she was not welcome here.  A lot has happened, we both have reasons for feeling the way we do, but bottom line is that I don't think either one of us trust or feel comfortable with each other.  We don't see each other often at all these days, when we do we are polite but it's like walking on eggshells.  I hate that things are this way, but I don't know how to change it.  It doesn't seem like she has any interest in changing it, I do not have any indication she is interested in anything to do with me whatsoever. 

For the most part, it's just in the back of my mind, she has been away and not a daily part of life in aong time.  I hate for anyone to be upset with me, let alone someone I had hoped to be a positive person in their life.  I feel a lot of regret over the situation and wish I had known how to handle things better, but I don't dwell on it like I used to.    However, anxiety is coming up right now because we have an outing planned with all of our kids this weekend at a place that is a couple hours away from our home.  SS and SD both went to the same college, and SS still resides near that town.  That town is  between here and where we are going.  When we made the plan, I had in mind that SD would still be at school, I did not realize she would be home and therefore driving the full way with myself, my son, and DH.  We can't all fit in the same vehicle, so SS and his girlfriend would meet us.  I feel extremely anxious about it,  so much so that I have suggested that my son and I drive separate and pick up SS and his girlfriend (and see their new apartment, we are the only ones who haven't seen it), then DH and SD could drop them off on the way back.  DH is planning to drive 20 minutes the opposite direction to pick up SD, so they could just hop on the highest from there, plus my son works an odd shift and is hoping to sleep in the car some of the way, and we could jet out if the others wanted to hang out longer.     I guess my question is, am I being ridiculous?   The catalyst for me wanting to do that is that I don't want to be in a car with SD for 5 hours. 

In the past, when spending a lot of time around her, I generally end up hearing something I would rather not, plus I am nervous about saying the wrong thing.  There has been more than once where she has been so offended by something I said or did, she takes it out on her dad later by cursing him out and then ghosting him for months.  I used to want to keep trying, but these days being in any sort of close quarters is not what I am looking for.  Planning this outing was what I can do for trying right now, somewhere neutral where there are activities that we can focus on while being together.   But then there is the side of me that thinks I am being stupid, what is the big deal about spending 5 hours in the car, if she is willing to do it, I should be too, right?  Ugh.  I just needed to get this out, thanks for reading and if you have any suggestions on how to move past dread and anxiety over seeing semi estranged stepkids, I would love to hear them.  

Kaylee's picture

I would take my own car with my son if it was me.

In the past, when I was with ex, that's what I did. We were going to a family (his) wedding about 3 hours drive away. I said to him, I am not traveling for 3 hours in the same car as your daughter, and that's that.

I took my own car, and it was blissful to drive up there on my own, listening to music on my car radio and generally just chilling.

His daughter got trashed at the wedding so he had the pleasure of driving back the next day with her hungover smelly self.

I never do anything that would make me stressed or anxious and not should you!

Just tell your H you're going in your car with your son. End of story.

JRI's picture

Girl, are you crazy?  Don't subject yourself to thst.  Your alternate plan sounds perfectly reasonable plus SD and Daddy need lots of alone time.  

I have one of those strained relationships with my SD60, too, so I know just what you are talking about.   We had an episode 6 months ago where I had to be in the car with her for several hours over a 3-day period and I swore never again.  And, frankly, our SDs probably feel the same.

Go with your Plan B for everyone's sake.  Good luck.

stepmomnorth's picture

In think that your alternate plan sounds resonable as well. And if it makes you feel less stressed then that's what I would be inclined to do. You are not wrong for how you feel. It will give you more space and you'll be more relaxed.

stepper47's picture

I really appreciate the responses! I woke up after a bot very restful night if wrestling with it in my head, and it's was a relief to see that I am not totally out of my mind. I really think that unless you have been in a similar situation, this is hard to understand.   I don't even understand it all, I just know my feelings are real.  It's so strange how I can think I am in a pretty zen state about her, but when the reality of seeing her comes up I start feeling this way.   You guys get it. 

  I did tell my husband last night what I want the plan to be. He does a much better job these days about trying to understand what I am feeling, part of our issues in the past is that he would shut down and sometimes even defend that he would spoil his daughter and allow her to act rude.   He didn't try to tell me I can't drive separate, but he did say he doesn't know what the big deal is.  Again, unless you are in the situation, hard to understand.  My son treats him with kindness and respect, so our experience with step life is different. 

He also told me yesterday that SD and her mom went through the process of getting her ordained so that she can perform her mom's wedding next weekend.  That reminded me that she seems to be fine with her future stepdad, she lives there when she's not at school, he was invited to her graduation, she went to his mom's funeral last year, and now she is about to perform their wedding.  She barely comes to this house, I couldn't go to her graduation (supposedly due to the covid limits, although I was included in the party), and when my grandpa passed a few months ago there was no acknowledgment, and if her dad and I were getting married now I am not even sure she would come.   Whether it's being mean or blocking me out is her way of coping with her perception of the past, I don't know, but either way it hurts when I see the contrast.   I am finding myself dwelling again, I don't want this to take over my enjoyment of what is supposed to be a fun family day

Tried out's picture

between a SD and a stepfather vs a SD and a SM is entirely different. SMs are competition. Stepfathers are usually not seen that way, especially if they raise the household standard of living. 

As for being jittery about saying the wrong thing and setting SD off, it doesn't matter what you say, it's wrong. They're just looking for something to be mad about in order to mess with dad.

They know when they're fighting with daddy they have his attention. Making him chase them by ghosting him is especially effective.

I remember one time I complimented my husband's adult daughter on her outfit and she later had a fit because I was trying to tell her how to dress. Totally whacko, but par for the course.

stepmomnorth's picture

Well I can certainly understand the dwelling. Your SD sounds hard to deal with and that causes stress. Maybe you can go, try to focus on the others and stay disengaged a bit with SD, or at least be cautious. . If any issues arise discuss them privately with your partner. Good luck with everything. And your feelings are so valid. Yep we've been here. It's that dreaded feeling that sometimes arises. And its not unfounded. It's due to past events and feelings and it's causing a trigger. Us step parents can relate. It's harder for the bio parent to truly get this. If it helps try to come up with some boundaries for yourself if it helps take the stress away. If you drive separate at least you have the option, although hopefully not required, to leave early. Do what you need for yourself to be happy and enjoy the trip. 

Stepdrama2020's picture

Your plan is perfect. Why do something that affects your mental health? Obviously all your trying with entitled SD never worked out. An entitled SD who loves to cause a wedge will NEVER be happy with anything you do. You could be evil or a saint, either one SD will find fault.

Breathe hun, get this over with. 

Blessings 

PetSpoiler's picture

Yep totally reasonable.  If there is tension between you two, then it is certainly not going to get better being forced to spend five hours in a car together. That's true for anybody.  

Adult or not, your husband shouldn't allow his child to curse him out like that.  If I'd done that to my dad I'd find my teeth grinning at me from the other side of the room.  Ok, maybe not but he wouldn't tolerate it, that's for sure.  Seems like a lot of kids now have no respect for their parents.  Being a child of divorce is no excuse.  My parents divorced when I was twelve and I knew better than to even try acting like some kids do now.  Neither one would've tolerated it.  I didn't know what either would do and didn't want to find out.  

AgedOut's picture

"I'm going to drive w/ my son and you can bring your daughter. That gives us each some special time w/ them alone.You're welcome"

 

that's all you need to say

Tried out's picture

all she needs to say is "I'm going to drive w/ my son and you can bring your daughter."

Period. If he wants to know why, she should just tell him the truth.

Why do we women always feel we have to sugarcoat everything to get what we want?

Winterglow's picture

No, you're not being ridiculous in the least. In fact, I would say that your plan sounds like the most practical solution possible. The fact that your dh doesn't see why it's a big deal for you is disappointing. He doesn't have to understand, he just has to listen and accept what you're saying. 

stepper47's picture

I think, well, I know, it is easier for DH to gloss over the hard stuff and just focus on positive, like the fact that SD agreed to go to the outing.  Which in some ways I do admire that, life would be a lot easier without carrying the baggage. He does carry it though, just seems to think if we all pretend like it's not there it will just go away.  

Today went well though, we went with my plan of driving separate.  I had asked DH to ask SS if he and his girlfriend preferred to meet us there or if they wanted a ride, and he said they would love a ride, so that made me feel less guilty. DH and SD drove up on their own, and BS and I picked up SS and his girlfriend. We got to see their new place and had a pleasant drive catching up.  Everything was fine on our outing, I did make sure to ask SD about how she likee her first year at school and i gave her a hug before we left and said was good to see her.  I had DH take SS and GF back to their place as it was about 40 min out of the way, and my son was eager to get home because he works and off shift and is usually sleeping by that time.  So a nice day, I feel a little silly for worrying about it, but it is what it is.  I would rather have done it this way and leave with a good feeling, and hopefully we can build on that and eventually get to a place where there is no worry.  Or maybe not.  That's one thing I am trying to learn from DH, to make sure I do appreciate the good times and not worry too much about what's next.  I really appreciate the responses and support, it helped a lot!