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stepper47's picture

Kind of long, but feeling the need to release some things and this is my safe place to do that.  So brief backstory, SD18 stopped living at our home 2 years ago, previously 50/50, after a few years of turmoil.   It all came to a head when she came home from a party drunk at almost 16, and DH tried to enforce consequences.  BM "rescued" her, and the relationship between DH and SD has been up and down since.  Down being where she is talking down to or screaming obscenities at DH and then refusing to talk to him.  Mine and SD's relationship hasn't been great for years, mostly distant due to I struggle with her sense of entitlement and lack of respect and consideration (that DH allowed for a long time, I also went into a deep depression when she still lived here for a time and I know I was not at my best), and she views it as not being welcome here.     

For the latest drama, in December, we had a pizza and game night at home for my son's 22nd birthday, which my SS21 happened to be home from school for, and she called my DH at 10pm that night screaming and cursing to where I could hear across the room because she was not invited.  That made me mad because of how she spoke to DH, and also they she used my son's birthday, which she never acknowledged before, as yet another excuse to berate DH.   I stay out of things though, didn't say anything about it.  She went radio silent and ignored DH for a couple weeks, and once she did come back around, I had DH invite her to a dinner I was making for our boys and SS's girlfriend.  She agreed to come.  The day of the dinner, which was a couple days before Christmas she had my SS meet her and our niece and nephew to take pictures to give my in laws as a gift.  Normaly I wouldn't think anything of that, but being that a couple weeks earlier she lost it on DH for being left out of my son's birthday, it made me angry that she turned around and left my son out of this - in my mind just another example of how she is hypocritical and uses situations to her advantage.   I had told myself to let it go like I normaly do, and I had every intention of doing that.  Unfortunately she arrived to dinner early when no one else was around and the small talk she made was about how she had been trying to find a frame for this picture.    I couldn't help myself, before I even thought, I said "yeah, I guess BS22 wouldn't need to be in that picture".  Even though she did stay through dinner and on the surface everything was fine, I knew I had done it.  And sure enough, a couple days later on Christmss Eve she came storming out of my in laws house when we arrived, got in her car, and when DH went over to ask where she was going she said she couldn't do this anymore and that he was awful and he didn't care when she moved out 2 years earlier or tried to contact her (all lies, he tried every day and she mostly ignored him, til she needed or wanted something). She did not come over Christmas morning, but did pop in Christmas night to scream some more at DH after DH and SS had got into a stupid disagreement.  It was all a hot mess, and she has pretty much ghosted him since, just popping up every now and then.  She wouldn't let him see her on her 18th birthday a couple months ago, but he did finally see her a couple weeks ago when he needed to take some money to her mother for a yearbook or something. 

This weekend was SD's HS graduation.  Attendance was limited to 6 guest per student, and of course I did not make the cut.  She chose to have her mom, dad (my DH, which I was thankful he was not cut out) her brother SS 21, my MIL, her grandma on her mom's side, and her mom's boyfriend who lives with them. I admit that stung to find out BM's boyfriend  went, but I am also learning to accept that I have the role of villain in all this.  It's just hard to feel left out of your "family".  My son and I are invited to her graduation party though, being given by BM,  which is causing me a lot of anxiety.  I am literally picturing myself as the stepmom in Cinderella in everyone there's eyes, or maybe the evil queen in Snow White.

Which MIL basically confirmed last night.  DH had picked her up for the ceremony, and MIL mentioned that she had told a bunch of their family members about the graduation party.  DH was taken back by this, to his knowledge, BM had only invited his parents and she did give him invitations to share with a couple of his aunts - but MIL was naming extended family like cousins of cousins.  MIL is the kind of person that assumes a lot and basically thinks everyone should be included in things.  I am not sure how much DH has talked to MIL about the situation with SD, but I don't think they have talked about it a lot - their relationship has been more on the superficial side due to some serious things that have happened with DH's sister, so he has not confided in her much.  He did take this opportunity to say, you know, mom, SD and I have a strained relationship right now and I am not throwing this party - this is BM's party and we are just attending.  So I hope you have talked to BM about all of these extra people.  

MIL then tells him she was talking to SD the other day, and SD mentioned she wasn't really talking to us because she has never felt welcome at our house.  DH asked if SD happened to mentioned what it was that made her not feel welcome here.  And the only thing MIL said she said was that she wasn't allowed to take showers here, she had to wait until she was at BM's house.   What the..?!

So when she did live here, SD got in this habit of apparently stepping out of the shower before she dried off, leaving the floor soaking wet to where if you went in after her your socks would be wet and once I slipped and almost went down, at which point I grumpily told DH he needed to tell her she needs to stop soaking the floor.  She also started waiting until after we were in bed to take a shower, the bathroom is right by our bedroom and she was noisy about it.  He actually got aggravated about that on his own and said something, especially because she would literally come home and nap for a few hours, so it wasn't like she was working or away and that was the only time she had to shower.   Somehow that turned into "she couldn't take a shower here".

Just one example of many where there is a grain of truth to something, but it is completely skewed into what it was not.  That was a normal parent correcting their child situation. She makes it sound like child abuse.  To hear it come from someone else is startling, because while I suspected stories were being told, now I know.  I asked DH what MIL seemed to think about it, and all he said was that he just told her there are two sides to every story, and left it at that.   SO FRUSTRATING.  So how many people at this party are going to be looking at us thinking we are the ones who wouldn't let this poor child bathe in her own home.  

It's like Thanksgiving-gate....4 years ago, the only plans DH and I had on Thanksgiving day was to attend a small family dinner at the nursing home my grandpa had just been moved to.  He has dementia, and this was his first holiday in this place - before we had Thanksgiving at his house.   My uncle had arranged for the home to cater a meal for us in their dining hall, such a great thing to make a hard situation a little easier.   SS and SD were both invited and aware that we were going to spend an hour or so doing this in the evening, then we were coming home to hang out and play games to celebrate with our kids, as they all had traditional dinner plans with other family earlier in the day.   SS was going to his girlfriend's for her family dinner, which was totally fine, but SD ended up coming to our house right before we left, and decided not to go because she was tired and wanted to take a nap. Also fine, and we left her curled up on the couch.  When we got home 90 minutes later, she was gone.  She called BM to pick her up because DH "left her on Thanksgiving" (which DH had to call BM to find out, no one bothered to tell him SD was leaving).  And that was the drum she has beaten ever since - nevermind the reality that SHE chose not to go with us.  SHE also chose to come to our house when she did, rather than stay at her mom's until we were done.   And she certainly doesn't care that what we were doing was important, or that my family, my grandpa especially before he got sick, has always been good to her.   At the time she was 14 and I had hoped as she got older she would see it differently, but no not at all.  We are still the bad guys who left poor SD all alone on a holiday.

So I don't know how we find our way out of where we are in our relationship with her.  How do you resolve something where there are two completely opposing views of the same things that happened.     I hate that things are like this, and that we have all this wasted time that didn't have to be this way.  I hate that BM has been in her ear undermining DH and me, but on the other side saying that DH needs to have a relationship with his daughter.    I hate that I can't be a part of celebrating SD's accomplishment, or have any kind of authentic relationship because of this massive dark cloud that has taken over and knowing literally anything insay can and will be used against me.   And I hate feeling like the villain.  I will fully admit that I did not do everything right, there are things I was wrong on, but as I look back I can't say that there is anything I have ever done or said that was hateful or mean or abusive. I can see how some of my actions could have been percieved by a young girl as unwelcoming, because I did withdraw.  And I have apologized to her for that.  But I can't apologize for having expectations in my home, or speaking up in frustration from time to time. I am a person too and I am allowed to have feelings and reactions just like she is.     I just wish we could have figured out how to catch all this before it went so completely off the rails.  If you're still with me, thanks for reading my midnight ramblings.  There may be more in the next couple weeks, gotta do what I gotta do to work out some of this anxiety...


Wicked stepmo.'s picture

I have the same relationship with OSD. Everytime we would set a limit with her BM would come to her rescue and tell her how we were wrong 

Well it worked and OSD PASd out of SOs life. She spent the first year only coming over to squeeze money and gifts out of him. When he set a limit on that she ghosted him completely.

Honestly I could care less. SO has just come to accept it. But OSD is a selfish, self centered person who I do not expect to grow up and change. She will be just like BM and spend the rest of her life using people and blaming everyone else for her problems. 

I am thankful to not have to deal with her or her drama. Her actions do not hurt me one bit. Plus it was the best thing for SO because living in the constant drama became normal to him. Being away from it he has realized how much stress he was actually under and how unhealthy the situation was 


hereiam's picture

So I don't know how we find our way out of where we are in our relationship with her

Sometimes, there's nothing that you can do except wait for them to grow up and mature. Your DH needs to keep the door open and stay in touch with her, see her when he can, but there is not much you can do on your end.

Sometimes, even as they grow up, their memory of things won't change. It makes it easier for them, not to take any of the responsibility. My SD30, just yesterday, told my DH that the reason she stopped coming over at 15 was that she liked boys. Not even close to the truth about why she stopped her visitation but, whatever.  If you knew my SD, you would laugh at that explanation.

But, she is now going through some things in her own life, regarding her kids and her ex, that gives her a better understanding of what DH went through with her BM back then. She has been calling him often to talk about her situation and get his advice.

As far as my relationship with her, I really don't have one. When she had her little fit when she was 15 and I realized that she believed all of the lies BM had told her about me (and DH), I shut her out, emotionally. I think she would like a relationship with me but I am not interested in one, and everything that goes along with it. I have been there for support at certain times, like her divorce, or bad moments with her current husband, but it didn't change my overall relationship with her.

Like you, I feel I wasn't the perfect step mom, but I wasn't the worst, either. There is nothing that you can do to change the past, and how she felt "unwelcome", so give yourself permission to stop feeling like the villain. You have apologized, forgive yourself and move on.

Harry's picture

SD just wants to make drama,  she doesn't want a relationship, only a platform to start drama, with you and SO.  
Relationships are a two way street.  She only likes the power to cause drama and put you down.   You must disengage from all of this.  SD is not allowed in your home.  DH can see her outside of the home. But not with BM.  Who is causing drama

Cover1W's picture

Your SD is very much like my OSD, who left our home at 14. Hasn't spoken with DH for almost two years now. BM supports her decision of course.

DH is moving on to acceptance, slowly, but he's getting there.

As for me I was done with her when she started her lies to BM (at the least) just like yours did....that we left her alone, didn't allow her to do things, didn't make sure she had food, didn't redo her room for her and threw away her things.... ignoring the actual facts.

Her true personality really came out. DH and I were discussing it just a little last night and I just said that I don't do nice things for people who don't appreciate it (this includes YSD now).

You tried, she didn't care, and be aware you are a nice person but don't allow yourself to be walked all over. She wants that and is angry that she doesn't get her way with you and DH. It's her, not you.

I would not go to that party either. Why? She didn't want your support during those years and she's now 18. Still young but old enough to understand how her actions affect others. I think if you go there will be a scene. Let DH go and tell people you had a conflicting engagement. Then go do something nice for yourself.

And disengage completely moving forward.

Gimlet's picture

Stepper47, you could have been the perfect SM and this still would have happened.  Your SD, her mother, and their family system is dysfunctional, period.  You have two choice - engage with them in an unhealthy manner, which will violate all of your boundaries and emotional needs, or disengage from it.  You have done nothing wrong here.

OSS here has thrown many fits over the years and BM was also in his ear.  Not as extreme as your SD, but it's never been an authentic relationship.  I am disengaged from him.  He started coming back around a little (and I have my own ideas about the timing) but I remain polite and nothing more when I see him.  I did not attend his graduation and BM would have lit herself on fire before she invited DH and I anywhere and she didn't do anything for his graduation anyway.

YSS is starting to get sucked back into Dramaland as well.  I care about him, and I want to support my DH, but not at the cost of my boundaries and mental health.  I do not play reindeer games, so while I am still kind to him, I will not engage with their family inter-personal issues.  That doesn't float over here and if he decides he can't live with it, off to BM's he will go.  I get it, I am not mad at him for it, but I will not be a part of it.

But I can't apologize for having expectations in my home, or speaking up in frustration from time to time. I am a person too and I am allowed to have feelings and reactions just like she is. 

This was absolutely a hill to die on for me.  I get to be human, I walk on eggshells for no one. I will always do my best but I won't bend myself into a pretzel to placate someone else's issues/drama.   I apply the reasonable person test to my interactions and I know I have been reasonable.  You have too.  Your SD has not.

I would not go to this party.  It's not fair to you, your DH can attend and hopefully continue to push back on their BS narrative but you don't deserve to have to deal with this mess. 

stepper47's picture

I so appreciate the feedback, and while it makes me sad that others have gone through similar, it does make me feel less alone, and that what I am feeling about it all is not off the mark.   I really admire those of you who have been through it and are able to draw lines for yourself, that is the goal I am working toward and seeing this feedback is very helpful in that, so thank you!

There was a small illustration this weekend that was a good reminder of how things have been with SD, and why I have struggled so much.  Saturday morning I had run some errands, and when I got home, DH and SS21 were sitting in the living room (SS lives out of town now and stayed here one night to attend SD's graduation).  DH was in the middle of telling me something or other, and SS interrupted and said "you have to send your email now, don't keep SD waiting".  DH said, "I thought she already had my email" and SS said, yeah, she doesn't feel like looking it up.  So DH stopped our converstion to send SD a text with his email address.   Apparently she was going to send him some pictures from graduation the night before, and everyone had to stop what they were doing RIGHT NOW so DH could send her his email address that she was too lazy to check her email for.  That was life with SD, her various demands and for some reason everyone but me hopping to them.  Which left me feeling like I was the mean one, and I would assume made me look more so that way in her eyes.   It is literally crazy, but for some reason I still second guess myself. 

Gimlet's picture

Great example of how the rest of the family enables her.  Even if DH wanted to make it easier on her, the fact that SS felt the need to interject and DH went along with it shows that they are unable to push back with reasonable expectations (If you want the email now, you have the capacity to look it up - if you want it to be texted to you, you will have to wait).

Also, that was rude of both of them.

hereiam's picture

No, you are not the mean one just because you have manners and are not rude, and expect the same of others.

She will get a rude awakening out in the adult world.

So DH stopped our converstion to send SD a text with his email address. 

What do you do when he doesn things like this?  ^^^^

stepper47's picture

This time I did nothing and went off to do what I was going to do, I didn't want to say anything in front of SS.   If SS had not have been there I would have said something.  A similar thing happened around Thanksgiving, DH had agreed to give SD money toward a new phone as her Christmas gift.  She bought one on Black Friday because of the deals, and called him the next day wanting to come by and pick up the money he was going to give her.  Unfortunately she called when we were on our way to get some new Christmas lights.  Instead of telling her he would let her know when we were home, he got impatient and grumpy as I was trying to look and decide, and I told him I didn't appreciate what we were doing being interrupted just because she snaps her fingers.  He denied that is why he was impatient but there really wasn't any denying it.   I was no longer in the mood to shop at that point so we ended up just grabbing some and coming home.  Those dang lights never looked right and ended up cutting out before the season was over.  He did end up apologizing but never did admit rushing for her was the reason he got impatient and I don't know that he ever will