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...