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"Look at me!" from one generation to the next

MorningMia's picture

Many years ago, when BM was a major problem for us, I always described her behavior as, "Look at me!" It was as if she could not stand that DH had a focus on anything or anyone else but her and the kids (especially her). Like a bratty child, negative attention was better in her eyes than no attention at all--and, believe me, she worked hard at getting it!  It also felt like she was trying to lift her leg on us (rather, him) and mark what she thought was her territory. 

Fast forward several years: While SD and SS do not use drama, fear, or threats to get attention like their mother did, I happened to notice that both were contacting DH unusually frequently while he and I were recently on vacation. That hasn't happened before (that I'm aware of). Meanwhile, when they go on vacation with their mother (which they still do on a regular basis in full-on adulthood--she pays all), there is zero contact with DH, and he doesn't even know about the vacations until long after they are over. So, while we were out of town, I was surprised that DH picked up another call from SD, went outside, and chatted with her for quite some time. No one in my family called or texted me. I had a couple calls from friends that I didn't take. There are no stated "rules" about this; it's just that most people don't "interrupt" us when we're vacationing.  

It wasn't annoying; it was unusual and weird, and somewhat reminiscent of days gone by, when BM would call DH with some fabricated crisis, needing attention just as we were pulling onto the highway for vacation or, better yet, while we were enjoying our time at a vacation spot (one day, I'll tell you all a horror story that took place many years ago when DH was at the beach with a girlfriend and BM tracked them down like a spy in heat).

I always had a feeling that SD in particular would pick up the baton and exhibit some of her mother's old behaviors, and I think she has. While she speaks with DH regularly, it isn't at all more than once a week, like it was while we were away. That there were a number of calls specifically at that time, and while she felt ok about having a somewhat lengthy call with him then, was just. . . off. It definitely felt like "Look at me" was back along with a little leg lifting. Strange. 

Maybe there are some unusual circumstances. He didn't say and I didn't ask. But if it happens again, I think I'll lift my leg and interrupt the calls. I don't want to travel down that road again. 

2Tired4Drama's picture

Standing for: "Look At Me, Everyone!"   Kind of describes a good percentage of certain generations who must have attention focused on themselves.  Does not only apply to those in skid positions - many of them have this syndrome.

I think your SD has indeed taken a page right out of BM's playbook. She is a mimic.  And she's not alone in this behavior.

My SD is also a carbon copy of BM in her behaviors.  I am disengaged so I don't have to deal with it first-hand. Unfortunately, some of it still sloshes onto my shoes because when things affect my SO, they ultimately affect me too.  

I don't know how disengaged you are but the only thing I would bring up with your DH is your "unspoken" rule about your vacations being private time. You might say something along the lines of, "Did SD have some sort of emergency?"  If he says no, then you can say that you consider your vacations private time for the two of you to relax and reconnect - does he feel the same?  If he says yes, then point out that YOU don't take calls from others and would appreciate it if he would do the same. (Barring true emergencies from anyone, of course.)


MorningMia's picture

Thanks. I'm very disengaged. If this occurs again, I will mention the behavior, first asking him if he told her we were going away. There has been this air of neediness lately and I'm not sure where it's coming from, so I may ask. I am so jaded and PTSD'ed from what came before that I'm assuming it's simple repeat behavior. 

Rags's picture

The problem with telling these types of people that you are taking a trip is that is opens the flood gates of interruption, interferance, and manipulation.

My GM was one of them.  My parents, my brother and his family, me and mine scheduled any number of family trips over the years. My mom would share with her mother that we were going on a trip. Immediatley the "Visit me because I am old and this might be the last time you see me."  My mother would buckle to the guilt trip and she and dad would back out of the trip and go see her mother. This went on ..... for dozen or more years. 

I finally had a sit down with my mom and told her that she had to stop backing out of family trips due to her mother's manipulative crap and for that to happen she had to never mention a trip until we were back from that trip.

She adopted my recommendation and there was no more disruptive guilt out of my GM. When mom wold share the trip after the fact, GM would pout a little bit and drop the "I wish you would have come to visit me." but it was not invasive since it was after the trip had occurred.

People train us how we have to treat them as they show us who they are. Believe them and categorize them accordingly.

MorningMia's picture

This, so many times, this. I am 99.5% sure DH told the skids our plans. He probably didn't expect any of the old intrusive mommy behavior. Years ago, letting them/her know we were heading out of town resulted in dental payment "emergencies," threats of suicide (BM falsely stating that one of the skids was suddenly suicidal), a fake drug overdose, BM screeching that SD was having sex at a young age (she was not), and temper tantrums with phones being thrown across the room just as we were hitting the road. What a nightmare. 

Winterglow's picture

Don't just 'mention" it. Be very clear about it and how things are going to be from here on that if there  is no emergency (I.e. that involves an ambulance,  the fire brigade, or a SWAT team) that your vacation is not to be interrupted by idle chit-chat. This is YOUR vacation and his offspring have NO place in it. Be direct, be blunt.

Newimprvmodel's picture

Because the drama Rama is all the same. I'll never forget the frantic call from husband's ex that one SD was in the ER with headaches- the night before our wedding!  The wedding that SD refused to even acknowledge their invitations. How obvious!  
Husband no longer picks up calls every morning before 9 am so we can have coffee together. He also no longer picks them up at dinner time. I think it's appropriate given she texts or calls him numerous times a day. 
I'm hoping it will be a quiet summer at our vacation home. The past years she only goes during the summer there, which she loves. DH got a huge snub from her a few months back when she traveled through our area to go to a social event and never even visited him!  She has not seen him in almost a year. I have to assume it's related to me?  
I think our spouses should be onto this manipulative nonsense by now. Or at least be aware of how it goes with us. 

Rags's picture

This is why a long distance visitation schedule is a key success factor in blended family marriages.  On both sides.  DW was the CP, the Spermidiot was the NCP.  Not living nearer than 1200 miles from SpermLand after SS turned 1yo kept any view they had of our lives to a minimum.  We never gave a shit about theirs.

We rarely called them except when they failed to get SS on his return flight.  Then it was game on.  In the 16+ years of the CO, the only calls we ever got from them were travel related or SpermGrandHag rant related except for one call from the Spermidiot when SS was about 2-3yo. Dipshitiot called in tears, crying to DW that he missed his family asking if she still loved him.  DW laughed at him and called SS to the phone to speak to his biodad.  Never again did Spermidiot ever call.  Though he played the "Does your mom still love me?" card any number of times while SS was on SpermLand visitation.

Newimprvmodel's picture

Years ago, when the drama Rama had reached its peak, one afternoon DH and I were working outside and SD called in a huge snit screaming and carrying on about some perceived slight. DH took his cell and stuck it in his back pocket proceeding to work on the pool deck. I could not stop laughing.  If only he had continued and not caved over the years. But I am disengaged. 

MorningMia's picture

I had to tell DH to tell the skids to turn off their cell phones for our wedding because of BM's incessant and frantic calls: she got a flat tire, etc. It was pure "look at me" and horrible neediness. 
In our wedding photos, SD is pouting and looking like she's about to break into tears. It's ridiculous. A friend told us that when the reception was over, SD had a major meltdown and cried the rest of the night. And then it all began. . . 
I hope you enjoy your (peaceful) summer! 

Harry's picture

Vacation.  BM would not go leaving her mini meee-es  home alone.  She was expressing her unhappiness,   You should ve able to control DH.  like don't tell the kids you are going away. Or go to a spot you know they want to go to.  Nice trip to DISNEY. South beach. 

MorningMia's picture

None of them have ever liked the idea that DH and I would enjoy a vacation together. On the other hand, we could give a rat's patootie that BM "buys" her grown-azz kids, a son-in-law, grandbabies and an extra grandchild (long story) with big annual (at least) vacations. We. do. not. care. Have at it, guys! Enjoy life! Put your focus elsewhere. And save some money for retirement! lol. 

Harry's picture

Or just doesn't want her ex to have a good time with the one he loves.  BM wants the benefits what she lost out on.   As DH pays for a vacation for BM group. Without him.  The kids feel the same. You are making them miss out,  it doesn't matter to them, that no one likes them.  Or wants to deal with the kids 

Harry's picture

Or just doesn't want her ex to have a good time with the one he loves.  BM wants the benefits what she lost out on.   As DH pays for a vacation for BM group. Without him.  The kids feel the same. You are making them miss out,  it doesn't matter to them, that no one likes them.  Or wants to deal with the kids 

Rose_Pedal's picture

Ugh! I feel your pain. I have one of those "Look at me!" SDs (12)

It is beyond frustrating and I think you are hitting the nail on the head that this is exactly what she is starting to do. My SD does this EVERYTIME we have something going on in our lives that does not absolutely revolve around her. It's like she cannot handle it and loses her ever-loving-mind grasping at anything she can to keep all the attention and focus on her, even if it is negative attention.

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. What I have found to be the most effective is applying pressure to my DH and making my opinion known (in private) and constantly questioning her behavior to him. I make him face the reality the best I can.

Sometimes he gets defensive, sometimes he completely agrees, sometimes he is indifferent but knowing I speak my mind helps me cope with it and knowing I'm not choosing to live in ignorance or let him live in ignorance. I know if I throw enough darts some will stick. 

It sucks, it really does. Constantly feeling in "competition." Sad

Rags's picture

My Uni BFF's niece, more accurately his DW's niece, is one the these LAME spawn.  Always has been.  It was so nauseating that if she was going to be with them when we had plans, we would find an exit point and play that card.  They finally figured out that if the niece was going to be there, we would not be there.

Now that she is nearly 30, she is less in everyone's faced about it, but she still does it.  If it is a group gathering, we will go, if it is just them and us, nope.  If the niece is there, we are'nt.