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Pushing the release valve by writing

stepper47's picture

My son and SS are both college students and home for the holidays.  My son's birthday was yesterday, and he requested we order pizza and have a game night, which we do quite a bit when the guys are home.  My SS's girlfriend came over, the 3 of them are good friends and she often comes for game night.  It wasn't a "party", it was just hanging out doing what my son wanted to do.

It had crossed my mind to ask DH if he had invited SD17, but she and my son are not close at all and it was his night, so  I decided not to bring it up.  SD is not into games and has never acknowledged my son's or my birthdays, so I figured she wouldn't be interested anyway.  There has been a bumpy road with SD17, which I have written about, and she moved in full time with her mom almost 2 years ago.  We don't see her much.  There are spells where she and DH talk a lot, and some where she doesn't respond to him.  Dh didn't mention her, and neither did I.

At 10pm last night, SD called DH and I could hear her across the room, screaming and cursing about what an awful father he is. It was so bad he hung up.  Apparently she was upset because she wasn't invited. 

So, on the surface, I can understand being hurt if you feel like your family is getting together without you.   However, it doesn't feel like she wants to be a part of this family unless it is on her terms.  She has had no problem the last few years ignoring and skipping out on invitations that don't suit her. She just did it last weekend, he invited her to go hiking with all of us and she didn't show or respond to DH's messages until the next day when she wanted to come pick up the money DH told her she could have for Christmas toward a new cell phone.   She knew it was my son's birthday, we had just talked about it at Thanksgiving, and she didn't reach out to him at all. So I am pretty sure it's not that she wanted to celebrate, I think SS mentioned what we were doing and she decided to use it as another opportunity to kick her dad. 

I have conflicting feelings about SD17.  On one hand I get it. my parents are divorced, and I understand some of the feelings with that.   It was all about me when I was with my dad until he got married. I didn't understand the changes and it hurt.  I also know that DH and I have not done everything right.  I struggled a lot for a few years with the way he catered to her, and fell into a depression and withdrew, to where I dont even remember parts of that time.   I know the kids saw it, and I wish I could have been better. I also wish I would have addressed some things directly instead of leaving it to DH.  I think that could have helped SD and I have a more authentic relationship.  We are nice to each other if we are around each other but that's about it. I think she is a beautiful, smart, and funny person.  She can be kind to others, but she has resentment built up to where she doesn't show that to us a whole lot. She seems to think she is owed something but I haven't figured out what that is.  It is funny, I spent years feeling like DH let the world revolve around her, and she feels the opposite.   I wish things were different, and I wish we could repair.  But I don't trust her.   Every time  I start thinking there is progress, something like this happens.  I feel like it is always simmering, and she is watching for things to be upset about.   I prefer not to be around people like that. And then I feel guilty for not wanting to be around her.  I don't know how DH feels.  He has talked about missing his daughter, but also about how she uses him.   This is not the first time she has screamed at him like this and it hurts him deeply. I hear of him reaching out to her, calling or texting, but i don't see him trying to get together a lot anymore. I don't know if it is because he is tired and/or doesn't trust her either.   

JRI's picture

You sound like a sincere and caring person trying to figure out the why's of SD's behavior so you what?  Adjust?  Do something different?  Rewrite history?  I get it because I've spent countless hours trying to figure out my SD, too.

Let's face it, she is acting like a pita.  You are doing the right thing.  You acknowledge her positive qualities but you've disengaged for your own mental health.  You're polite and civil.  Your DH has his own relationship with her and I feel sorry for him.  It's probably best to do as you're doing, just let him experience the reality of her, without having to defend her to you.  That lets him get the picture and who blames him if he doesn't want to spend time with her.

I don't trust my SD, either.  She is 59 now and I literally and figuratively don't turn my back to her. I've done a lot for her in my day and always had the best intentions.  Like your SD, she does have good qualities but she has never gotten over her resentment of me because I'm in DH's life.  There is nothing I can do about that and i've accepted that.   Some SDs are just so difficult, thats today's understatement.  Lol.

Harry's picture

This is not your responsibility or fault.   Seems like SD just wants to call her father and scream at him telling him how bad he was for divorceing her mother.  
You must disengage from toxic people.  You will never have a real relationship with SD. She is not a Queen, you don't have to kiss her As* 

tog redux's picture

So does DH call SD on her rotten, entitled behavior? "SD, you rarely come over and don't always respond to me. How did we know you'd be interested in celebrating your stepbrother's birthday, especially since you didn't show any interest in it until you found out we got a pizza?"  My guess is no, he placates her instead of holding her accountable.

Yes, divorce can be hard on kids. That doesn't mean they get a free pass from civil behavior for the rest of their lives.

stepper47's picture

Thank you for the responses, I do appreciate it. I am not sure what I am trying to accomplish by trying to figure out the why.  Maybe I am looking for resolution for myself, I really hate to feel at odds with anyone, and I feel responsible for the things I did and didn't do that led us here.  But then the logical part of me thinks that this would have happened no matter who my husband married, unless that person was also willing to go along with letting SD run things.   There are definitely issues outside of me that would have come to a head sooner or later. 

DH actually does call her on her behavior somewhat, which is what started a lot of the conflict that led to her moving out.  He started setting some boundaries and expectations, and she fought that so hard, which is when the manipulation and the "you're and awful person and father" came in.   Unfortunately she was 14-15 by the time he started doing that, and it's hard to change things at that point.  Especially with a BM who is willing to sweep in to the rescue and undermine DH.   I think my guilt comes from feeling like if I hadn't been around to push him to parent, things probably would have been fine between them because he would probably still he going along to get along. 

I couldn't hear everything she said when she called, just screaming and curse words.  He has told me about her doing that before, but to hear it was shocking.  I can't imagine ever taking to anyone that way, especially my parents.  This morning he said she started out with "hi, how's my favorite dad" and then stated screaming about how he only cares about the boys and not about her, and she thought things might be getting better but he keeps hurting her.  Funny, that's how we feel.   He hung up in the middle of her screaming, but he said he texted her this morning to say that she never seemed interested in coming over for something like that so we didn't think to ask, and didn't mean to hurt her feelings.  He said he was going to call her to talk to her about how she spoke to him, but I don't think he has tried today.  He said she didn't respond to the text so probably won't respond to a phone call.  I think the best plan is to keep doing what I am doing, be nice to her if she is around, and try to support DH without really getting involved in their relationship.   

I also feel bad for SS, he tries to stay neutral but I know it has to be hard caught in the middle.  

Exjuliemccoy's picture

I never cease to be amazed at the level of abuse guilty parents are willing to accept from their children. It's gross. And your SD must feel very sure of her power over your DH, because most kids are on their best behavior during the run up to Christmas.

You sound like a kind and compassionate person, and since your SD is a powderkeg, disengaging is the only smart/healthy option open to you. All parties would turn on you if you inserted yourself.

Although you don't mention BM, it seems likely she's poisoned and weaponized her daughter against your DH. Has the skid had any counselling? That's what she needs to find under the tree this year: father-daughter counselling.


stepper47's picture

Thank you for your reply. I agree with you, I can't stand to see anyone treat someone the way she does, let alone kids and parents.  And the fact that he took it for so long was not attractive.  I do think she is sure of her power, or at least she knows she is able to hurt him, but just so happens she has already collected her Christmas gift.  I feel like her good behavior often corresponds with getting something out of it, but it could be that is what I am looking for. 

I appreciate those that have said I sound compassionate, I really try to be.  I always look for the other side of the story.   But in this case I struggle, I would love to help her but I feel like she judges everything about our lives and is looking for things to be upset about.   I have to disengage, I can't let myself get as low as I did a few years ago.  I just can't seem to stop thinking about it.

BM is definitely a contributing factor.  She has always tried to be the "better parent" to SD, which from what I can see means doing whatever she wants.  She has undermined DH many times, picking SD up if she was ever upset and feeding SD things to say.   DH made a comment yesterday that SD is reminding him more and more of BM, and there is a reason they are divorced.  I want to ask more about that, if BM screamed like SD does.    SD has been in counseling, and on antidepressants. I am not sure if she is doing either right now.  After what I heard the other night I feel like she needs it.

When we first got together,everyone got along, including BM.  She seemed to have a little bit of a controlling personality, but nothing that was too intrusive.   SD and I got along great, she wrote a speech to give at our wedding at 9 years old about how happy she was.  We used to do things together and I would take her to practices and lessons.  That started changing aroud 11 or 12, her attitude started and I had a hard time dealing with DH not doing anything about it   I used to be so proud of how we all seemed to work together, and now to see where it is just makes me sad. 

tog redux's picture

Your DH does not do her any favors by allowing her to abuse him. He really needs to find his spine and put a stop to it - yes, he will lose her possibly entirely, for a little while. But the alternative is that she will never have any respect for him. And what he has now is not a real relationship.

Don't feel guilty, DH chose to make the parenting changes that he did, to keep you in his life. That was the right thing for him to do - now he needs to step it up and stop allowing her to abuse him by proxy for BM.

Merry's picture

My DD screamed at me exactly once. I actually laughed, it was so uncharacteristic and I know brought on by her d!ck of a BF at the time. It was also a marker of her own unhappiness. I handled it by telling her I love her but would not tolerate her abuse, and then hung up. And my own DH has grown tremendously from the guilty parent he had been. Oh, I still see signs of it but for the most part he has a MUCH healthier relationship with his adult kids now, and rarely jumps at their demands. 

Anyway, all you can do is support your DH as he does the hard job of parenting. No doubt he wants a good relationship with his daughter, but she has to want that and work toward it too. Time, patience, we all need more of both. Tolerating her abuse, even for a minute, continues to destroy their relationship.

And I agree with Tog. He made parenting changes because it was the right thing to do.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

You should know it's incredibly common for sweet SDs to do a 180 when they reach puberty. While many girls become angsty, some display a puedo sexual posessiveness for their fathers that pits them against the mother or SM. Females are territorial, so your SD may be in unconscious competition for "ownership" of your DH. It's not personal, but should have been nipped in the bud.