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New phase of life

stepper47's picture

This is long, when things are on my mind it really helps me to come here and write it out.  My DH and I are entering a new phase of life. Our sons (BS and SS,  both 22) graduated from college last spring, and SD18 graduated from high school.  Both Skids are now in the same town about 90 minutes away, as my SD chose to go to the college that SS22 did, and he is still in that town because he lives with his girlfriend who has one year of school left.   BS22 lived at home through college, and will be moving out at the end of this month to his own place.  Exciting times, but bittersweet too.  It has been a while since we have had all 3 kids in the home, as SD moved out angrily over two years ago. I have posted about it over the years, but bottom line it has been a rocky road with her basically since she became a teenager - her view is that she was not welcome here because she did not like our expectations (well, mostly mine as DH didn't have many.  Ironically the thing that made her move out was that he was trying to ground her for getting passed out drunk at a party at 15, so he was finally trying to set some boundaries).   My view is that she was spoiled and encouraged to feel entitled by her parents, so anything I would have wanted or expected would not have worked unless it was to let her be in charge.   Even so, I do have regret that we do not have a relationship and I acknowledge there are things I could have handled better.

The most recent incidents with her happened last December - she called her dad late on my son's birthday, screaming and cursing because she wasn't invited over for pizza (she has never acknowledged mine or my son's birthday, so there was no reason to think she would have been interested).  She went silent on her dad for a few weeks, but then came back around right before Christmas.  She had arranged for her brother and my niece and nephew to go take some pictures to give my in laws for Christmas, which normally I would have thought was nice,  but since she had just screamed about being excluded from my son's birthday, it hit me wrong that she did not include him in this picture.   She brought the pictures up while talking to me, and I made the comment that I guess my son wouldn't need to be included in that.   She didn't say anything at the time, but 2 days later she made a scene at my in-laws on Christmas Eve, then refused to come over on Christmas, except late at night to scream at DH.   At that point I decided I was not going to engage with her anymore until we all sat down and sorted things out.   I felt bad for my passive aggressive comment, but I felt like this incident illustrated how things have been for years - she has over the top, explosive reactions to minor things, verbally abuses DH over them, and everything is everyone else's fault.  I don't know how to relate to that, and I am tired of the roller coaster of highs and lows without any accountability or resolution. 

Of course our family sit down has never taken place.  She froze DH out for the months following, right up until her graduation when it was like nothing ever happened.  I did go to her graduation party, and we had a family canoeing trip, but other than that I have not seen or spoken to her.  DH and she are back to talking regularly, and he has visited her at school once.  She has called him a lot in the last few weeks, which is great, but even he feels like there is an elephant in the room, waiting for the shoe to drop.  Hopefully she is maturing and they can maintain a good relationship.  

I am not exactly sure how to navigate going forward. DH knows how I feel, and agrees and understands - but of course he wants to keep a relationship with SD (as he should).  I don't feel like I want a relationship.  I don't really know her anymore. I would love for things to be different, but I don't trust her, and I honestly don't feel like she is interested in a relationship with me. But, i don't know if i have a responsibility to keep trying and participating?

It is coming up now because she has invited "us" (per DH) to parents' weekend at school in a couple weeks.   I think DH will understand if I don't go, but I am sure he wants me to.  I am sure it would be fine, she and I would be superficial like we normally are, but I am already feeling anxiety about it.  And after my single comment set off the last chain of events, I am worried about what I say.  But on the other hand, things will never get better if we are not around each other, right?  

DH also mentioned she has a few days next week as a fall break and is thinking about coming back to town.  Her BM's boyfriend's relative just moved in with them, and SD no longer has a room there. DH said she mentioned she might stay at her grandparent's.  He wasn't sure if she was waiting for him to say to come here, but he didn't say it.  I asked if that was because of me.  He said it was a lot of reasons, partly that he doesn't want me to be uncomfortable, but also the way things have gone down the last few years.  I told him that I will never say one of his kids can't stay here.   His son always does when he comes back, but I feel tons of anxiety thinking about SD.  I hate to feel that way.   I am just not sure how to change it right now

JRI's picture

With all this drama, your SD should be on the stage!  Lol.  Not funny, I know.  She's halfway gone now, will probably not change.  I know, I have a dramatic SD60, too.  I'd adopt "polite and civil" as my mantra.  Forget any hope of apology or closeness.  It is what it is.  If your DH wants you to go to parents weekend, or anything else, go and be "p and c".  She's probably always going to be like this forever so thank the stars that she's gone for the most part, lower any expectations and go your way.   At some point, you might need to do what I did, grayrock her, ie, don't introduce any topics and keep relations as distant as possible.  With some people, its just necessary to avoid being drawn into their chaos.  Goid luck.

JRI's picture

Duplicate, sorry.

hereiam's picture

Stop thinking about SD as someone with whom you need to have a relationship with. Maybe when you let yourself out of that responsibility, you can let go of some of the anxiety. Of course, you should be civil if you are around her, but you can be done with the burden of trying and actively participating.

When my SD30 had a tantrum when she was 15, and it came out how she really felt about me (at least, at that time), I was hurt but then I thought, "screw it", and became emotionally distant from her. I was not mean to her but I just really became indifferent. The couple of times she tried to be snarky, I completely ignored her. I didn't care to give her the satisfaction of knowing that I even heard her, and it was not worth replying to. She just sounded stupid, being snarky to the air.

If you can take your emotions out of it, and that includes any feelings of responsibility or guilt, you will have no reason to be anxious. Once you take your emotions out of it, you won't be worried about what you will say because she will not be worth it saying it.

Your husband can have a relationship with her, you don't have to, other than a civil one if she happens to come around. If she matures over the years, you can reassess.

Be glad that your husband did not just invite her to stay and that he takes your comfort into account; a lot of husbands do not.


stepper47's picture

Thank you for the responses, I really appreciate it and it makes me feel better about what I have been feeling.  I do still carry guilt, I hate conflict with anyone, let alone someone who I went into this hoping and intending to bring more good into her life.  I can't help feeling like I did the opposite, but objectively I believe that it wouldn't matter who her dad married, unless they had the ability to let a lot go.  I know that I was never mean to her, and I tried my best.   DH has come a long way, there was a time that he would have completely disregarded me in something like this.  It caused a lot of conflict between us, and we almost didn't stay married.  I think a lot of the issues we had as a family were very common for blended families, unfortunately by the time we were able to start working as a team, SD had become what she was and BM worked against us.  Just a shame.  But thank you all for talking me off a ledge, I had been thinking about telling him to call her back and invite her to stay, but I think I will just let it lie.   The parents weekend is after her break, but I think I will let that one lie too.   

hereiam's picture

I had been thinking about telling him to call her back and invite her to stay, but I think I will just let it lie. 

Yep, leave it alone. He chose not to, let it be.

caninelover's picture

I still also feel guilty about disengaging from SD24 Bratty McBratFace.  But I also realize a good relationship was doomed due to Bratty's damage from the divorce.  She is unable to come to terms with it and has dysfunctional relationships with her mother and siblings.  So, I accept it for what it is and am thankful she is no longer living here (that gave me a lot of anxiety).  I'm glad your SO is considering your comfort and not inviting SD to stay at your home.

Merry's picture

I'm pretty good at disengaging for most things -- remembering birthdays, buying gifts, initiating phone calls. That's all on DH. I'm less good at emotional disengagement. There is still that inner voice that tells me I "should" do xyz, or feel 123, or try abc.

I don't have a terrible relationship with DH's kids. We do polite and civil pretty well. But they've made it clear that they would prefer having Daddy all to themselves (and under their control). So I give them what they want, until it interfers in my marriage. And then any issue I have is with DH. Those are rare these days.

It's really ok that you don't have a relationship with your SD. You can support your DH's relationship with her without having much of one yourself.

CLove's picture

She sounds REALLY unstable. And super Drama.

SD22 Feral Forger is like that. So what you do is YOU decide what your relationship with her will be. Distant is ok. Civil is ok. Dont let her stay there, because everything you say is being held against you, and she has had no repercussions to her actions. No one is telling her "thats not ok with me".

So, do not worry about her - shes not your family.

stepper47's picture

I came on to read the responses again for a little reminder, and found some new ones.  It helps to see that I am not off base in how I feel.  DH was just telling me more details about parents weekend, SD doesn't have the list of events yet, but BM and her boyfriend are also going, and Sd wants us all to go out for lunch together.   There is nothing I would rather not do more, although I do think BM's boyfriend is very nice and it would be interesting to see how they interact.   I am still leaning toward not going, with more of an incentive not to in that my son and I are making plans to so some shopping that weekend as he prepares to move out.  But I am feeling a lot of guilt creeping in, for one, to leave DH on his own to be with all of them and for two, that if I am being included, I am the one in the wrong if I do no accept.   I just still don't compute between how ugly things were for the first half of the year (and periodically for years prior) to now let's all get together like a big happy group.  I hate feeling like I am the only one with the problem now. :(  And, although I shouldn't worry about what others think, I am afraid me not going will make me look hateful.   It's not about that at all, the situation with her has just been a huge source of pain and anxiety for me for a long time, and I am not wanting to be in that cycle anymore.

Merry's picture

Why in the world would your DH agree to having lunch with BM anyway? It's not like this is a wedding or a graduation where there is one celebration. It's lunch. He can easily say, "I'll pass on lunch, but I'm looking forward to the events." It took my husband a maddeningly long time to realize that he could say no to his kids without the world ending.

Of course you don't want to appear hateful. Do you think your SD really cares if you are there or not? She'd probably prefer not. But then will she use your absence against you as "evidence" of something? Maybe. But she would also use your presence as evidence that you don't let her spend time with her father. You can't win, because you will be blamed for something no matter what.

The decision is strictly between you and your DH. Even if you do go, you don't have to attend every event that he does. Take a book, do some shopping. There are always interesting things in college towns. But I sure as heck wouldn't subject myself to spending time with the BM.

shellpell's picture

Your Dh doesn't have to go to lunch just because SD wants to, for goodness sake! He can attend the parent stuff and that's it. 

hereiam's picture

I get your anxiety, just make it more about your husband than SD. If you decide to go, just be cordial, you don't have to bend over backwards to interact with your SD.

Lunch with BM and her BF would be a "no" for me and a "HELL NO" for my DH. He's rather rip his eyeballs out and have them for lunch.