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Recently Disengaged from SD23

caninelover's picture

Hi everyone,

I've been reading this forum and glad I found it - there is very little other help out there for dealing with 'adult' stepkids.

I met my SO 5 years ago when his youngest DD was 18 and already away at college.  He has two other kids but is estranged from both (though he is starting to reconnect with his DS, who is one year older than DD.  He had a nasty divorce (long before we met) and long story short it tore the family apart.  His ex-wife did major PAS on all the kids but DD (who was 14 at the time) still wanted a relationship with her father, and that made BM (who had a history of mental health problems) turn really nasty towards DD.  From that standpoint, I had a lot of sympathy for what they had all gone through.  When SO and I decided to move in together 4 years ago, I made it clear that his 18 year old DD was welcome to live us through college, made sure she had a room in the house (it is mine), and tried to engage with her when she was home for summers.  Basically she was polite but didn't seem interested and I also had issues with her messiness, but it was typical teenage stuff so it wasn't a big deal.  Her last year of undergrad was when the issues started.  She was home for Thanksgiving (at my invitation) and SO spoke to her about moving out the summer after graduation, and offered (as SO and I had agreed) to keep her stuff for a year to let her get settled (she wanted to move to the Bay Area).  Ever since then DD turned nasty towards me.  I would bring up the issues to SO and at first he didn't see it (guilty parent syndrome).  We went to counseling and he did begin to see my point of view and we agreed we wouldn't tolerate the behavior any further.  

The issue is he does see DD with rose-colored glasses and doesn't notice obvious things - like a nasty tone of voice to me.  DD (who is now 23) has visited about 3 times since graduation and made no effort to move things out of their room.  When requested to give us  a plan and timing, DD threw a fit - first silent treatment to SO, then 'crazy' texts saying SO was a bad father for not providing them a room that they were 'owed' to come and stay whenever they wanted, etc.  We all agreed to go to counseling but it was a dumpster fire. 

I should pause here and mention DD has many mental health issues stemming from the divorce (and maybe just inherent to DD personality).  First, they suffer from PTSD/Depression/Generalized Anxiety from the years with their BM, who was verbally abusive after the seperation.  Next, they are a raging narcissist and require 'special' treatment wherever they go.  They are randomly vegan - meaning one day (like Thanksgiving) they will announce at the dinner table that they are vegan and can't eat anything there.  Then the next day, they will ask their dad to take them to Boston Market and chow down on chicken and mac and cheese.  They also think its fine to show up a whole day later than they planned when they visit and we're expected to accomodate them (this happened 3 times already).  They are also identify as non-binary trans-masculine and want they/them pronouns but will 'allow' you to refer to them as he.  If anyone messes up accidentally they complain non-stop and rudely, even if it was their 87 year old grandma.  In other words it is always a lot of drama whenever they are around.

Anyway, we did end up getting them to move their stuff out and I feel a huge sense of relief.  At the conclusion of therapy I did specifically say that I suppored DD and SO having a relationship but I would be disengaging.  DD had a fit and still doesn't seem to understand, is hugely upset about 'feeling homeless' and 'not feeling comfortable to visit'.  I am fortunate that SO is supportive of me and my desire to limit time with DD.  He understands I was clear I wanted no children when we first met and doesn't feel like I owe his adult child anything.  He has said he will go visit and it is not my problem if DD doesn't 'feel comfortable' to visit here (we did agree in therapy that DD could visit, with clear expectations on timing for the visits and that SO would 'host' - meaning I wouldn't lift a finger towards cooking, cleaning or spending time with them).

This is our first holiday season where I feel relief at not being forced to engage with DD and the associated drama.  For holidays, DD whined about being lonely so I said I didn't mind if SO spent holidays with her.  I have always been independent and have an active social life so I'll be spending Thanksgiving in Napa with friends, and Christmas will likely be on a ski trip with a friend (usually travel to the east coast for Christmas to see my parents but not this year due to the pandemic - I'm ok driving places but don't want to risk flying).  I don't like that we'll constantly have to juggle plans like this but feel much more at peace!

Anyway sorry so long and thanks for reading.  Just wanted to post my story I guess and add it to the forum, since I found other posts really helpful to me as well.

tog redux's picture

Well, SD (SS?) is out of your house, that’s good. Make sure they never move back in again, and keep your distance. 

caninelover's picture

Yep..that has been made clear to them.  SO and I have a joint account for common expenses but otherwise we are financially seperate.  I did tell SO I don't care what amount of financial support he provides to his child, but it his own funds, not our joint money.

Lol my abbreviations are all over the place on the post but welcome to my SD/SS crazy world!

NoWireCoatHangarsEVER's picture

Someone with this disorder doesn't have a strong sense of self.  Therefore they are constantly trying on different personas and looks like being trans one minute and vegan the next and then switching constantly.  They are also very volatile and have poor relationships with others.  They also suffer from an intense fear of abandonment and wanting to move things out of their room and put it in storage for graduating college kids also freaks them out.  . 

Survivingstephell's picture

Sounds like daddy coddled her as she was the only one wanting a relationship (aka access to his wallet). Men (my DH included) have a really hard time when BM alienates his kids from him.  

She needs to hear what healthy self functional 23 yo do and can accomplish on their own.  Her father should be the one telling her. She's an adult, not 14 anymore.  He needs to treat her as one.  Expectations and boundaries are essential in making things clear.   Remember right of passages?  I used them raising my girls, and they were very effective in getting them to that next benchmark.  

Make hard boundaries around your home(sanctuary) and your marriage. Anyone who is not friendly towards the marriage needs to be kept at a distance, not have exceptions made. Especially if she has boarderline tendencies.  You don't need that kind of drama anymore.  

caninelover's picture

Yes, he has guilt because DD 'chose' him I think - he still doesn't quite see it that way and doesn't think his child is capable of that type of manipulation though she clearly is.

We aren't married but are co-habitating and commited life partners.  We just donn't need the legal issues with marriage and we both have significant financial assets (individually) to protect.  Our relationship is not a 'young' relationship that is about 'starting a family' - it is for our own mutual companionship, emotional support, and growing old together - DD has trouble understanding the world does not revolve around them so how can Daddy be with someone who doesn't love and support DD, etc.  Ridiculous.

Kes's picture

It sounds like you are handling things pretty admirably - well done and keep up the good work.  I also have an SD23 and an SD25 from whom I have been disengaged since they were aged 6 and 8, for similar reasons, ie the mother PAS'd them big time.  I hope you find this forum helpful and supportive, as I have done. 

MissTexas's picture

accommodating with her, despite her nasty outbursts and behaviors. You have graciously opened your home to her in the past, allowed her to be there, store her things free of charge I presume and much more.

Thankfully all the stuff has been moved out. 

SO's rose colored love goggles and his daughter's mental health and narc issues are NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. His daughter has graduated from college and it's time to step into adulthood.

All of this being homeless, fit throwing and thinking she is "owed" a place to stay are all to guilt daddy. After all her mind manipulations have been working for 23 years now. He's just as much at fault for all of this as she is because he has turned a blind eye behind his rose colored glasses when it comes to you and your concerns and the disrespect you've suffered from the daughter he sired, all the while looking at his daughter through non scrutinizing eyes.

These "adult kids" all pull the "I don't feel comfortable visiting in your wife or SO's presence" or "I feel like I'm walking on eggshells" with their dads. Why do they do it? They do it because it is a form of manipulation on their part. It's an ultimatum of sorts. Daddy is to choose who he wants to spend his time with, but SKs make it clear they have a boundary and daddy is not to cross it. You need boundaries too. 

If she is masculine or whatever she is identifying with "today" as is the case with her being a vegan, then they can spend the holidays with like minded people. She can have her vegan Thanksgiving with her other dysfunctional man-women. No more even inviting "her/him/they" to your home. 

Holiday trips are wonderful! Indulge. Enjoy! Start planning next year's now!

Glad your SO seems supportive in some ways. It's a start.

caninelover's picture

Thanks everyone, and yes, I'm comfortable with my decision to disengage because I feel like I have done my part and then some.  I am proud of SO for standing up to his adult child and insisting they clear out despite the tantrums, guilt trips, etc.  I think he has the unconditional love that any parent has for a child, but I don't so it is not possible for me to look past their behavior.  I feel pity for SD/SS and for SO both.  But I also feel that everyone needs someone, and she/he don't speak with BM or siblings and really only have him.  I am fine with SD/SS visiting (within reason) as we live in a two story house with a downstairs guest room, so I wouldn't even see the child much, and as I said I'm independent and would do my own thing - don't need this child to acknowledge me at all (would actually prefer it if they ignored me).  Now if they don't feel comfortable visiting I could care less as they can stay at a motel or SO can visit them - not my problem at all.  

Regarding holidays I need to stay strong there.  As the child has no real friends and doesn't get along with alot of family, SO is struggling to find something to do with them on Thanksgiving this year but I told him it is his problem - they are not ruining mine and my friends' holiday and are not invited to join us in Napa (which is hard for me because I don't like the idea of people being alone on holidays).  SO and I will have a small celebration together at a seperate date, also without his child.

To be fair although the child is, well, nuts, they are functional and do work full time and pay most of their own bills (rent, food, gas, car repair).  SO still pays for insurance but from his money so that's his business.


simifan's picture

I think you have been more then fair. Separate holidays would have been a deal-breaker for me. I think you have things well in hand. 

CLove's picture

Shes got mental issues as well. Almost a year ago, her mother, Toxic Troll baker-acted her - put in the hospital because she was too much. Shed ask her to help clean and FF would go into one of her now famous rages.

I wont live with her again, believe me! 

7 months after she graduated high school, we cleaned out her room. She had a fit and texted DH. She hadnt been in much contact. I was tired of storing her TRASH. But of course I am the evil one. So what? I laughed when she named me the "stupid wife".

NAPA? I thought the fires were still going.
Keep planning fun excursions Biggrin

caninelover's picture

Yeah hopefully it doesn't burn completely before Thanksgiving :)  I also know SD is envious of my travel so that gives me a little extra motivation, ha ha.

If I try and point out that SD is throwing a tantrum they just say 'you can't say that, my mom used to say that all the time'.  Um, well, if two unrelated people are calling you out as a drama queen...maybe you actually are one?

BTW, even though BM had mental health issues - the other two kids turned out fine and are living happy, independent lives.  Its just this over-coddled drama queen that is 'special'.