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briley26

HELP !! Adult Child with a Manipulative Controlling Stepmom

briley26
15 years ago

I am a 30 year old single gal living on my own. Here is the problem. I am my father's old child. My mom has a both me and my half-sister. My parents divorced when I was young and both remarried (mom 20 yrs ago and dad 10 years ago). I am an adult. For some reason my mom can see it, my father can see it, but my crazy stepmother can not. She is closer to my age than my dads. When they first started out, I just wanted my father to be happy. He often asked me my thoughts about her, if I minded if she and her son moved in with him and eventually if I would have a problem if they got married. My response to my father was always the same "as long as you are happy, that is all that I am concerned about". I tried everything I could do to welcome them (her and her son) to our family. I lived with them for a short while during summer break before returning to college. This was before they were married. I left my fathers house earlier than I planned. SM got mad at me for asking my father to pick up a package from Sears before he headed home. He worked not far from the Sears Store Merchandise Pick-up. It happened to be something I bought my mom for her birthday. My dad did not ever know what it was. He did not pay for it and he could not tell what it was. It was simply a box that was for me. SM always acts nice to get information from me then uses it against me. She saw my dad brought home a box for me. I took the box into my room, opened it and SM walked in. "Oh, how nice" she said. "Did you get that for yourself". When I told her no, that it was for my mom- she BLEW up. Called me every name in the book- some names I could not believe that she would say in front of her child. She ranted and raved and cursed some more. I left that night and have not lived with them since. We made up a few months later, but not at her doing. (and I will admit, not mine either.) Everything was swept under the rug and not discussed again.

We have continually had problems. She takes something that I say such as "the light bulb outside is burnt out" and turns it into world war III. Not sure how it happens because it happens so quickly. All of the sudden I am rude, take advantage of my father, do not care about anyone but myself, ugly, fat. I support myself and live in a condo that I purchased MYSELF. She and my dad bought me my bedroom set for Christmas yet she thinks that if not for HER I would not have a bed. I had a bed before they purchased me this bed. I put myself through college, graduated and paid for it myself. My father certainly has the money to pay for my education, but I did not ask him to pay for my college education. Once graduating, I landed a wonderful good paying job. I don't want to get into what my father does but he makes enough at his job to live extremely comfortable without ANY money worries at all- and of course SM does not work at all and has not since they married.

I am proud of the fact that I support myself and everything I have- I have because of me. I was not handed it. Unlike her son, who at 25, is still living at home and has no ambitions to do anything other than have someone else support him. I try to have a relationship with SM for my fathers benefit. She tries to treat me like her best friend. I don't want to be friends with this woman. She is manipulative and believes herself if she says the grass is purple. She will fight you to her death that it is purple and you better not disagree with her. She is a control freak.

I want my dad to be happy, but lately he has not been. He is frustrated and aggravated. SM has tried her hardest to put a wedge between me & my father. I have my own life, money and friends. I do not need to talk to her daily nor do I need to see her daily. I live in Montana and they live one town over, less than 10 minutes from my house. I have told my father that I intend to not come around as much b/c I can not do or say anything with her thinking she has some sort of say in my life. My own father & mother do not treat me like this, I certainly am not going to let her. Problem is I have taken it and taken it and does exactly what I needed to in order to keep things calm for my father. She does not care about my father otherwise she would not try to draw this wedge between the two of us. She tells him I say stuff that I do not. She bad-mouths me to my own family and friends. She constantly puts me down and talks about how much of a loser & bad person I am. She makes things up that have never occurred or taken place and believes them. I have done nothing but welcomed her and her child into our family and I regret it so much. I feel like my father is being used and abused. I actually think she started out with the best of intentions, but now she acts like she has the upper hand and controls everything, when she brought nothing but baggage to the table.

We are not talking now because I simply made a comment that her son needed to "act like a 25 year old". Well wouldn't you know it, that started WW3 and she said some pretty ugly things attacking me- both to my face and to family member/friends of mine. The hurtful cruel things that she said- you cant take back. I will never forget the ugly hate-filled things she said to me. I have "forgiven" before but I am at my breaking point. I am loosing a grasp on reality. I actually have begun second guessing myself. I want this to be the end of my relationship with her. I want my dad to be happy, but I am sick of tolerating her ridiculous behavior. I am always the one who "doesn't make any waves" but I am sick of being treated like this. I would not be friends with someone like this, so why should I tolerate it simply because she is married to my father? I tried to have a relationship with her but she thinks she has a deciding factor in my decision making process and gets MAD if I do not do what she suggests. For example, I am going with my church group to Europe in five months. I walked on eggshells trying to decide how to tell her I was going. She would act in one of two ways. She would invite herself and come along or she would get mad. Sure enough she got mad and said I should call and cancel and get my $ back and not spend it on that. WELL guess what !! It is booked and we are going and I have not second thoughts. It is my money and not hers. I am so aggravated. I think I am more aggravated with my father also for letting her be this way towards both me and him.

I do not want to "put my dad in the middle" and have told him time and time again - I just want him to be happy. I do not believe this means having nothing to do with his only child. And I hate her for putting my dad in this position to where he obviously feels torn between her and me. I have not talked to him in over three weeks. I do not feel like I should be the one to contact him. I am sure she has manipulated the situation and has attempted to change the situation to where I did something wrong. What hurts me so much is that my father is tolerating her treatment and her treatment towards me.

Problem is, every other time we have fought, after a while I "forgive and forget" although I never actually forget what she says about me. Every other time I have done that, but I feel like she went way too far this time. I told her in the past, each time she does this, you are pushing me further and further away. She explains that it is "only when she is mad". That is the only time she says hateful things to my face. The problem is that when I think everything is fine, she apparently has a hay-day horribly bad mouthing me to anyone that will listed. I did not do anything to deserve this.

I do not want to end my relationship with my father, but there is no way I can tolerate her treatment any- even in small dosages. I see how she treats my father and talks about everyone and now I have people, my friends and my family, telling me how much she talks about me [some as long as three years ago, some as recent as three months ago (when I thought everything was fine)] and how she says she does everything for me and how I would be NOTHING without HER. Funny thing is she would be nothing without my father ! All I want is for my father to be happy and for her to stop thinking she can control everything/everyone. If I don't do something the exact way she wants it done, in her mind and to everyone else I did not even attempt to do it. She poor mouths me for no reason at all. And I am so mad at my father for letting this happen.

Can anyone suggest ways to deal with this? My ultimate goal is to have nothing to do with her. I want to continue to have a relationship with my father, but absolutely no relationship with her. I don't think I can handle one more minute of it. With that being said, I really want to "let it go" as far as my internal anger, but I swear I could punch a wall right now. What I would like to do it talk to my dad but not ask/say/hear about anything having to do with her. How do I convey this to him without him get defensive? Can anyone recommend any good books or sites about this?

Comments (31)

  • kkny
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It sounds like your Dad is still working. Can you meet him for lunch, or after work for a drink and dinner occassionally? My DD maintains her relationship with her Dad outside the presence of his SO.

    At the risk of getting flamed, I suspect a lot of issues come out of concern re money. Her worry as to what will happen at some point in time. My advice --keep up your relationship with your dad outside of her presence.

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  • mrsmaddog
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I believe that for some reason your SM needs to believe she has some authority/right over you, perhaps because she subconsciously doesn't feel like she has any over her own life.(Husband supports her 100%, her grown son is not independent,she isn't who she thought she'd be, whatever.) A lot of "control freaks" feel this way, due to real or imagined powerlessness. I deal with MY lack of control issues by cleaning and reorganizing cupboards LOL, but some handle it by trying to control and manipulate others.
    Unfortunately, it sounds like your SB is acting the way many 25 yo people do these days! I can understand how hurt feelings and frustration could make you say something out loud, but it won't change things, and just fuels SM's fire, know what I mean?
    You love your father, and that is what matters, so can you make a list of ways you can still be in his life while subtly limiting contact and confrontation with your SM? Be creative and open-minded. I wonder if reacting in a completely different way would help. Think of her as an extension of your father, rather than the SM who drives you batty. You will not lose much, and might gain something. Ignore what those other people tell you! Even if they are being 100% honest, why do you think they tell you negative stuff? Even if you don't mean it right now, tell them it doesn't bother you what she says, and in a while it won't!
    Can I be honest? Asking your father to see you without so much as acknowledging his WIFE is really not the way to go about this. It is something I cannot explain easily, but even if he knows how horrible she acts, he will get defensive, and be hurt. When my SD wrote her dad, my DH, and told him she loved him but would not accept or support his marriage to me, WOW. She may as well have asked him to cut himself in half whenever she was around. It didn't make him cut either of us out of his life, it just drove a spear through his heart. Now, some might say I should have packed up and gave up. How much more pain would there have been? Would the relationship between SD and DH ever been a good one after that? I think it would have gotten worse and worse over time, because even loving parents have feelings, and have a right to love who they love. Resentment can happen to the best of us. Likewise, after many awful attempts by my SD and her BM to get me to leave, I have never asked my DH to choose me or his child,I have not stated if she is here I am leaving. I do try to ignore (and limit my reaction to) some very awful behavior, up to the point of my child's safety. If I love my DH, and I DO, I am going to try to stick with it, no matter what.
    Didn't intend to ramble...
    Can your father talk to your SM? Can you write him a letter explaining these feelings, and what caused them, without using "she did this, she does that," but rather "I feel..."?

  • sweeby
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think it would be easier if you were able to emotionally detach from her while not allowing your avoidance to affect your relationship with your father.

    She goes into a rant about your trip to Europe? Simply thank her for her input but say that you've made your decision and are sure you will enjoy the trip. If she criticizes the way you do something, simply thank her for her input and say you were glad you got it done, even if it wasn't the way she would have done it. When your friends repeat nasty things she's said, just acknowledge that she's entitled to her own views, or make a little joke about how it's amazing you get *anything* done without her help.

    But don't let her drive a wedge between you and your father. Call him at work. See him separately. Invite him to dinner. Visit when you have reason to believe she won't be there. But don't whine to Daddy about it. (Don't even complain in a mature and articulate way -- HE can't fix it.)

    Why is she that way? Could be any number of things from pathological narcissism to menopause to jealousy that you are independent and her own son is not and her husband and/or firends won't shut up about it.

    But don't let her pierce your shell. Be the picture of grace and forebearance, and just don't let her comments get under your skin. Master the perfectly polite but cool response -- "How interesting" "That's another perspective" "What a novel idea" "Why do you ask?" "That simply won't be possible" "Have you noticed the weather?"

  • colleen777
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    How old is your dad? If you are 30 and her son is 25 it would reasonable to think she is likely at least 45. So how old is your dad?

  • serenity_now_2007
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Oh, Briley, how I feel your pain.... I come from a very similar situation. The only real difference with mine is that my SM doesn't try to be "my best friend". (Perhaps on occasion over the years, she would here and there propose some kind of "girl talk", but once I finally realized that the only times she tried that were to "get information" that she could later twist and use against me, I stopped sharing JACK with her. Case in point: at naive 14, soon after my Dad & SM got together and were fighting at high decibels all throughout my visits, I felt bad for her ---assuming she was a 'victim', as female, of my Dad's male rage--- and told her privately one day "I don't know how you can stand living with him when he yells like that." Years later, now 32, I still have to hear her parrot back to me my words, completely out of context, completely distorted: "Remember how you've always said you don't know how I can stand living with him?" like she's going to convince me I hate my father or whatever the h3ll effect she thinks it'll have... And no matter how many times I remind her of the context ---or of my age when it was said--- or correct her obvious misunderstanding and misrepresentation, she cannot and will not stop repeating and distorting it the way she prefers it.)

    Anyway, I think Sweeby's reply to you is good advice. And I agree with kkny that money may have something to do with it (it certainly does in my SM's case), although possibly not. I think some people are capable of that sort of behavior to fulfill security needs that even money can't ultimately fulfill. Since money simply *represents* security, and, too often, power. Hence the power-mad, control-freak qualities... (My SM's latest favorite catch-phrase to my Dad, which she enjoys repeating at least 4 times a day in whatever random context: "Remember -tee hee!- I HAVE CONTROL.") So yeah, I feel your pain.

    Thing is, unfortunately, it will be very difficult to avoid her altogether if you want a relationship with your Dad, or at least ever want to visit him at home again. You could do what kkny suggests and arrange to see your Dad completely outside his home life, but if circumstantially that doesn't work out, you're going to have to deal with her in some capacity. It's your decision to make on that. For some people that seems to work better, or is worth the trade-off of not being in his particular domicile. (For me, unfortunately, that wouldn't work, especially now, b/c my Dad has always been a homebody and now he's terminally ill, so he is at home most all the time. If I want to see him: there's SM! Sitting in his lap, even, so there's just no completely avoiding her.)

    If you can, try to take this as an opportunity for learning how to "rise above" the ridiculous lowly twistedness of the situation and be the graceful, more mature human being. As hard as this will be at times :) Don't let her drive that wedge. Keep giving what you can of love, courtesy and general positivity but imagine you have a bulletproof vest on. Be tougher than her b.s, paardoxically, by remaining 'tender', on your terms, and mainly as regards your Dad, not her. If you can manage this path more-or-less, you will be able to free yourself from a lot of the insecurity and guilt that sooner or later tends to go along with your position in this situation, where ---as you've noted--- it's oh-so easy for things to get twisted so that you're the bad seed (i.e. even on this thread where your personal/financial independence ---so vehemently insisted on by so many SP's--- suddenly becomes YOU'RE a control freak who can't abide any other way but your own) and oh-so easy to even start doubting yourself. It would be oh-so easy and understandable for you to say "Oh, man, f**k THIS whole freakin' situation!" (especially when your Dad starts caving to her) but you would always at some level regret that and get to thinking it was YOUR anger, YOUR problem, YOUR fault. And it isn't. It's an *interpersonal* dynamic, it takes more than you, so do what you can to prevent the blame and self-blame. If YOU KNOW that YOU have done the most strong, mature, gracious, appropriate thing possible, you will not have to doubt yourself, or reality in general. It's just like the other things you said you have built by yourself on your own: you know you've done well, and no one can take it away from you.

  • finedreams
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    it seems that you are overly involved with your SM. Disengage. But keep seeing your dad. And do not critisize your stepbrother to her. You don't like to be critisized. I also think you blow things out of proportion. So what she says you should not go to Europe? If every time my dad gives me stupid advice I would want to punch a wall, there will be no wall left!

  • gigglemonster
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree with all of the advice to disengage from SM.

    As you've said, you are a grown woman who has gotten somewhere in life by yourself. SM can say anything she wants to anyone she wants, but all anyone has to do is look at what you've done and they know the truth.

    No one can make you feel a certain way unless you allow them. So, on some level you are allowing her to treat you this way. Don't allow it! Don't entertain any of her silly notions!

  • briley26
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I appreciate everyones help with this. I have come to the conclusion that I need to seperate myself from SM. I totally agree with the post about letting her control me in some way. It was always easier to let her think she was in control and I did what I wanted to, it is just hurtful that even when I *let* her think she is in control (which it seems like she wants) that she stiill feels the need to bad-mouth me. As far as the trip to Europe, I do not care what she thinks, and I am learning to not tell them things that go on in my life, because absolutely everything I say/do gets changed into being something wrong. When I try to make a conserted effort to not tell them anything, we end up not talking b/c I can not think of anything I want to say that will not get turned around on me 5 years from now. I do try to avoid specific questions she asks b/s most of the time I can tell she is now asking b/c she is concerner or cares, she is fishing for information.

    SM still brings up trips I took while I was in college- again- on my own dime- I just shrug it off. But I just blew this time. I finally had enough of the criticism and bad mouthing.

    I appreciate everyones advise. I am SO glad that I am not the only one experiencing this. My friends/family have told me that they think it is possible a jealousy issue by the fact that I can support myself and do not need a husband to *rescue* me. Regardless, when someone tells you your a bad person over and over and over again- you sometimes doubt what you know to be correct and begin to think maybe their right, especially when your own parent(s) are allowing it to happen. I know I need to be strong and stick to my guns and when I am out of her web, I do really good, but the last few weeks have been hard because of the change, and since I have not talked to my father. I totally feel backstabbed by her. She could be so nice to me but if I did not jump when she said jump she would 'spit bullets at me'. I know alot of it has to do with her insecurities, but I never thought it would/could come to this.

    My dad is 59.

  • organic_maria
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You know, i had a falling out with my SM for a while. It was an ugly situation and way too detailed to get into it. Suffice it to say, we both wanted nothing to do with one another from hurt feelings eetc....but i would continue phoning my dad. She would not engage me and i would steer clear of her. This went on for about 5 years. Then i got pregnant.
    Well..things changed. My father became more active and me and her rekindled our friendship. Its still not the same as before but hey..we're not perfect.
    Your SM sounds like she has jealousy issues and insecure...blowing up over a package????? Its none of her business what you buy for your mother. She complements you if its for you ( and i got the impression she was sarcastic with that remark) but then she blows up when she finds out its for mom.
    You both said things to each other to piss each other off and its becoming a snowball now. Been there, disengage. Give yourself room to breath and ask your father to meet you for time alone with him. Call to ask and speak with him and focus your attention on your father.
    If you choose to have no relationship with your SM. this is your choice and your father should respect that. And your SM shouldn't demand a relationship from you either. If you truly do not like her then tell your father the past few times you don t see eye to eye with her and need a break all together. And that you would just like to see him for dinner and go out with him a few times for Father Daughter alone time. Simple.
    If she doesnt' liek that, then its just too darn bad.

  • serenity_now_2007
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Be prepared, though, when you talk to him, that he may get very defensive and even somewhat upset with you. A lot of this depends on how psychologically invested he is in their relationship: the more dependent he is on it, the more he will instinctually 'defend' it; for example my Dad is now dependent on my SM b/c of his cancer. If not as 'locked in', he will be more amenable to hearing you out and hopefully won't vilify you for sharing your feelings, but bear in mind he's still going to have a hard time hearing it. Try to not to get too upset if he at first bristles at hearing that you don't want anything to do with her. Bear in mind that you stating this makes him aware of not only the fact that any dream of a perfect little blended family he may have had is not going to happen, but that he may not EVER get that little perfectly harmonious family life. And even more upsetting to him is the fact that this in itself will make him question his judgement about choosing your SM... along with his own ability to involve himself in healthy relationships where no one feels like they're being overrun by anyone else. Parents do care about whether their children 'approve', even if they don't have to live by it. At some level, he will wonder if you are observing something he has been blind to, and this will distress him a lot, it's natural.

    Maybe my experience can offer you a glimpse into (almost) the worst that you might have to brace yourself for:

    When I shared my feelings about my SM with my Dad last summer, for basically the first time, in the most diplomatic way I possibly could, after almost 18 years of putting up with it, he acted like it was a total shock, even though just a few years back he was confiding in me that he was about ready to leave her due to her selfishness and hostile insulting mouth. But again, his circumstances are much different now, so his attitude at hearing my feelings (which in large part echoed his own complaints about her) was very different. When I cited some of the really inappropriate things she's done and said to shape my perception of her over the years, he actually said "but, she was only 27 when we got together... she was just a CHILD!" to defend her. (I wish I'd had the gumption and presence of mind to say "NO, Dad! ***I*** was just a CHILD!!!!") That's the extent to which his psychological investment in her at this point has caused his defenses to somewhat warp reality in order to continue to see her how he wants to. Of course, I was extremely hurt by his reaction, and it precipitated a huge three-way fight on that visit... But it's now almost a year later and he and I continue to share loving communication and he still wants me to visit, and he has made a point of telling me he loves me "unconditionally" [his exact word]. I know he is torn, so I don't dwell on his earlier, more instinctual reaction, and I don't see any need to keep bringing up any issues about SM to him. I said what I needed to say once, and the intention is to move beyond it, not dwell on it. I think he has just needed some time to absorb the reality of what I was imparting to him: SM and I just don't see eye-to-eye, we're two very different people, we tend to rub each other the wrong way, there's plenty of perfectly valid circumstantial reasons why she & I wouldn't (and don't) trust each other, and so it's probably best to minimize how entangled she and I are with each other. She and I don't HAVE to have a relationship, but as far as I'm concerned, my dad and I ---and my dad and she---absolutely can and should.

    Certainly, I welcome the possibility of SM and I one day resolving our differences. It would be great if that could happen. But in my particular situation, I fear that as long as my Dad is 'in charge' of certain things (and not her, 100%, YET), she has entirely too much of an agenda for me to trust her sincerity were she to ingratiate herself to me now. Not saying she shouldn't try to be nice (and I will continue trying to be nice to her), but it's not going to make me her best friend or make me trust her with anything. She has betrayed my trust way too many times before, and she has entirely too much to gain from snowing me now. The only honest and genuine opportunity to see if she and I can ever TRULY reach a peace is when she no longer needs me ---or my Dad--- as a party to anything in order to achieve any agenda.

    So, just be prepared when you talk to him to bring up (and remind yourself of) these concise points:

    -He may very well be defensive, and you should understand it to a point
    -His defensiveness will likely abate after some time has passed and you continue to show HIM that you love him and that you don't blame him (at least not very much) for the situation being what it is
    -You are not bringing up any of this to upset him or make things harder or more wierd for anyone; you're bringing it up to move forward in a new capacity where there is less expectation of enmeshment and thus less chance for disappointment, all around
    -You do not claim your persepctive of SM is "gospel truth", but you're not crazy and you have a right to have your opinion on events as they have occured.
    -You will keep your mind open to the possibility of improvement in the relationship with SM, but you do not HAVE to have one with her. If it improves, it will not be overnight and may not happen at all, and that has to be okay too.
    -You will do everything possible to not be a source of conflict between the two of them and keep your relationship with him separate. You will respect the relationship between the two of them and you expect respect for your relationship with him

  • finedreams
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Serenity, completely off topic, but I am very surprised that you are 32. All this time I thought you are in your early 20s, that's why no money, no stability, and engagement in parents' lives. 32 is very much a settled adult, usually parental approval or help in every little thing is not needed at this age. My dad did or said bunch of ridicilous things in my life (the last ridicilous thing he said to me and my brother two days ago!). We did talk about it to each other for 15 minutes, laughed and moved on. if we would start fussing over it, involving our mom into it etc who would that help? you cannot change your parents. when i was very young, I certainly wanted parental approval. I certainly do not need it now. I do care about them, but i hardly have time or energy to be that engaged in their lives. you need to disengage and be busy with your own life. Just move on with your life and let them be!

    32, what a great age! not a child, but still no wrinkes. lol

  • serenity_now_2007
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You having a bad day, FD? I ask because your words seem a bit harsh, not to mention presumptuous. Since I myself am sometimes guilty of 'reading into' or assuming things based on limited info, I won't hold that against you. But I would like to take the opportunity to clarify a few points:

    -As for "no money": Well, to some extent that's kinda true. I earn a low salary. It often happens when you follow your interests & abilities and those interests & abilities involve education and the arts/humanities instead of say, high finance, stripping or computers. (I have no idea what you do to earn a living ---if anything---so this is not any snarky barb directed at you, just a statement of fact.) However, to defend my relative poverty (that endeavor itself being odd), I hasten to add that I pay all of my own bills and have no debt because I live within my means (unlike many, many, many people in America who perhaps avoid the stigma and reproach that comes with the outward appearance of poverty but nonetheless are *this close* away from the hole or the dole.) I also have managed to eke out a meagre teensy amount of savings from what I have left over, that is: whatever I can. My tuition for college has been paid for by my own simultanenous full-time work, and I even have some money left over for the occasional pint of luxury ice cream. How do I do it? I make choices and live without things that most Americans wouldn't dream they could: a car, home internet access, a dishwasher, and I haven't been to a dentist in 8 years (I brush and floss very well and haven't had any problems with my nice white teeth).

    -As for "no stability": I will assume you are merely referring to *financial* stability. Which in itself can only ever be partial, circumstantial, relative and ultimately illusory. You never know what might come along in your life to destroy your sense of having financial stability. It could be that the corporation you work for and trust (Enron comes to mind) suddenly crumbles and leaves you without a future; or your husband whom you may be dependent on decides he wants a "newer model" and you're out on your a$$; fire, flood, theft, terrorism, disease or acccident can all, similarly, throw what "stability" you thought you had, out the window. In my personal case it was my Dad suddenly being diagnosed with cancer over a year ago. I've done the best financial juggling I can, saving as much as possible, but no, I was not prepared for the sudden financial need to have to pay in full, up front, for a move across several states without at least a partial loan. One can only anticipate so much in advance, or have the means to allot money to it in advance. You do your best, and that's all you can do.

    -As for "engagement in parents' lives": Guilty as charged! I love my parents and am a part of their lives as they are in mine. (I mean, as much as I can be given that I live on a total opposite coast from my mother and stepfather and several states away from my father & SM, work a full-time job, have been actively involved in earning my college degree, have friends and a life, and household chores to take care of, errands to run and all of it by foot or bus. Not to mention many, many interests and hobbies. Let me assure you, I am *extremely* "busy with my own life"!) It's only someone who either doesn't have children, or who never experienced a close relationship with their parents, or both, who would see "engagement in parents' lives" as a bad thing. I'm sorry, genuinely, for you if either or both ahs been the case for you. And I'm sorry if you feel your SD is OVERLY engaged, or intrusive, but I'll bet you a hundred bucks [which I don't have, as you've so graciously reminded me] that your fiance' doesn't mind. In any event, there's a very fuzzy line between what you might perceive as excessive involvement and what may be simply a loving, caring parent-child relationship that happens to follow different patterns than what you're used to.

    -As for "parental approval or help in every little thing": As mentioned, living so far away from all my parental units makes that impossible. Many times my mother and stepfather (and, it used to be, my Dad too) have offered and desired for me to move closer to them, offering that if needed, I could live with them rent-free for a while to save some money. And I've stuck to where I am because I wanted to be able to do make my way on my own. Say what you want about that decision (and it's a bit complicated), but it sure as s**t doesn't make me any kind of dependent parasitic freeloader. In terms of their "approval", I have made life choices and taken action on things in my way, in my time, following my path. For many years it kept me somewhat stuck and I am only now beginning to see an upswing in my future direction (which I define primarily in terms of self-actualization and achievement independent of money, but as it will likely come with a bit more of that too). My parents have by no means always "approved", and if I needed their approval so desperately, I wouldn't have spent so long doing things on my own terms without some of the help they have offered. My Dad and SM don't even, to this day, "approve" of the directions I've gone in. They think higher education is unnecessary, and, what's more, snobby. (My Dad didn't used to think this way, but apparently he does now.) Every honor and opportunity that I have created for myself in the last few years means little to them, and they easily find fault with it. So I have learned the lesson well that some people (including your parents) you're just not ever going to please no matter what the h3ll you do, and you simply can't win everyone's "approval", including that of your parents. How do I deal with that? I let them have their opinion, and I live my life and continue to love them anyway.

    -Finally, to address your comment that you have found it relatively easy to laugh off and move on from any issue with your Dad. That's great, and perhaps you have many less "Dad issues" than some of us. Clearly, you have been able to "disengage" from HIM in a way that is satisfactory to you (and hopefully him too). But can you "disengage" from getting bent about what your SD does that you may find "ridiculous", especially considering that you only have to deal with her for a small amount of time in a year? If you "can't change your parents", do you think you can change your SD? Or your fiance'?

    As I said elsewhere yesterday, we all have our areas & 'issues' we're not done dealing with. In my case, I choose to focus on the ones pertaining to my dying father, not somebody else's child who I barely have any relationship with or barely even see.

  • finedreams
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    lol serenity, I actually have a very good day, planning a three day trip for tomorrow! sorry, didn't mean to offend you. it just did came as a shock to me because all this time reading your posts I assumed you are way younger.

    actually older SD stopped being overly intrusive because she got engaged two months ago. she was quite unhappy about her BF not proposing for three years and not making any other commitments. she gave him an ultimatum and he proposed so no more obsessing over daddy. she is very busy with her own life finally and she stopped complaing about BM because dad told her to stop bringing unnecessary drama. BF very much objected her intrusiveness. She is still very demanding money wise and dad objects it but as he puts it: i don't want conflict, i just want it to be quiet so i do whatever to avoid conflict (sounds familiar?). she never complained about me though. there is no drama about me, i am quiet. and she is growing up! although she still asks for money or expensive gifts, last time she asked for somehting he said no it is too expensive. so he is learning too.

    it is too funny you say I have no children when i talk about my DD almost in every post. she is 20 and is in college. i am very close to my parents and my brother. but not into each other face, no drama or arguing. with the exception of dad saying stupid stuff that we have learned to not fuss over.lol and dad usually fixes it as well. we are kinda boring...

    serenity i talk about SD maybe in couple of posts and even those were awhile ago. i do not argue with her, do not tell bad things about her to her dad (who would dare to do such a thing?). i ocassionally vent here but this is different from bringing such drama into your children' or parents' lives.

    I commend you for not having debt. good for you. i do have a lot of graduate loan to pay back.

  • finedreams
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    just to add:
    i certainly do not care who my parents leave their money, i want them to spend every penny on themselves or give to whoever they see fit. they will be inheritance drama.

  • finedreams
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    i also do not think that closeness is measured by the amount of conflict or drama in a family. I see engagement in my parents' life as a great thing, but not if engagement means ongoing conflict, demands leading to dissapointments, dissaproval, guilt trips, blame etc. It is engagenment but not particularly healthy one. We do not have that in our family, not on any levels. And I do not have "daddy girl" issue. Neither has my DD. That's for sure. I sympathise about your father dying, sorry about that, sad, very painful, but that's why i think you need to focus on making his last days peaceful not full of drama.

  • kkny
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    FD, I agree, I want my mom to spend every penny on herself. But I see situations here where SM appears to want funds for herself or her own biological children. I think that can create tension in relationships. I consider myself (and my DD) fortunate that Dad is young enough to put trusts, etc in place. I can see a lot of issues if Dad doesnt do this, and then loses his mental faculties.

  • serenity_now_2007
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    FD, I guess we're all guilty on here of forgetting certain details of other posters' lives. In this case, I momentarily forgot you have a bio-daughter... truly a mistake, sorry... But you have also forgotten several things I have written on here about my situation. (I'm not upset about it, it's just frustrating to keep going over it.) For example, I think it was really recently actually that I said *I* was the one committed to never speaking about issues with my SM to my father again, after having done so once, and ONLY because I was literally TOLD to 'share' and had it put to me that I was being uncooperative if I did not give details. As it happens, my Dad and SM *continue* to try and drag such discussions out of ME, and as illogical as this may seem for someone in his shoes, the reasons seem very clear to me: in her case, it's simple goading, and in his case, he is hoping that he can convince me to like her and thus 'right' everything with his world. (I will treat her with civility, respect, avoid her constant baiting attempts to trap me into an argument so that I get upset and look like "The One Bringing Drama", and even go out of my way to do certain nice things for her, but I can't change 18 years worth of her abusive behavior in a way that makes me 'like' her. Not unless things drastically change, which I remain open to.)

    I WANT a nice pleasant situation, I want peaceful co-existence. These are principles that I live and breathe by. As a child, I wanted to be able to go visit my father and have time with him that wasn't completely eclipsed by SM pitching picayune snits with him that turned into week-long wars to utterly divert his attention, or that wasn't marred by her near-incessant comments that I was physically sub-par and in need of improvement. At 18, I wanted to be able to work out a fair three-way college funding plan with him, the discussion of which didn't end up with her screaming at him that "She doesn't give a S**T about you and never will!". All through the years, I wanted to be able to enjoy Chrismas visits where all three of us could be present together without her silently seething and plotting eventual vengeance in resentment of my existence. I wanted to be able to have a conversation ---about anything--- within her earshot without her inevitably twisting my every word into something disgusting and using it as ammunition to drive a wedge between my father and I. I wanted to have relationships with the half of my family that have been alienated by her and thus from my Dad so we could never visit. I want, to this day, to be able to have nice, nostalgic uncomplicated relationships with figures from MY childhood whom SM has now cozied up to and to whom I know for a fact she has been telling nasty (and, of course, grossly distorted) things about me. In the last year-and-a half, I have wanted to be able to offer to be there for my Dad in whatever capacity he wanted me there, to give and help him at this time in his life without it being twisted into something I'm somehow trying to "take" from him, or without my help being refused as though it were a personal insult (i.e. SM refusing to eat my food like a 3-year-old child), or without being told what my *mother's* responsibilities are, or without her telling me she's going to miss him more than me or to "Remember: I'M IN CONTROL!!!". I wanted her to honor what have been his oft-repeated wishes for over 15 years regarding his estate (which involves sharing it amongst she and I) instead of coming in with a million ways to imply he's not leaving her enough (including having HER mother call him and shame him to that effect: who is "just a child", indeed?) or to manipulate situations so that he doesn't leave me anything (thus twisting HIS wishes around). I wanted her to let him have say over which relatives of hers he actually wants in his house, and when, instead of muscling her family members in to take my place at previously-scheduled visitation times. I wanted him to be able to enjoy spending his money on things HE will enjoy in his last days, such as trips to the beach, delicious food, comfortable clothes, music, movies, whatever, instead of her pushing that he pay off her $10,000 in credit card debt, buy her a brand-new car and pay for a mountain of home improvements that have to be done NOW and disrupt the entire freaking house. I WANT peace, for him and for me. When I visit there, I cook, I clean, I do yardwork, I help him set up and figure out various technological gadgets, I bring knitting, I sit, I eat, I carry on polite and light conversation, I watch tv or movies with him, I sleep. I go out of my way to help and to leave the place in at least as good a shape as I came to it, at all times, and I do so pretty darn peacefully and quietly. I am a low-key person who just wants to enjoy some nice relaxing quiet comfortable time with my father in his last days without some obsessively vengeful devious manipulative greedy fork-tongued control freak starting s**t all the time... and not only starting it with ME, but with HIM because nothing is EVER good enough for the woman. If you want to call the one time I shared my feelings with him about SM (which largely echoed his own complaints) ---after it was dragged out of me--- "bringing drama", you go right ahead. I think that's a very relative and simplistic notion in this situation.

  • serenity_now_2007
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    So sorry, Briley... I'll quit posting on this thread about my situation so you can continue discussing yours here...

  • briley26
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    SERENITY- please email me at adultchild1 at live dot com. I was not sure if the forum allows email addresses, so I spelled it out :)

    I think we probably have a lot more in common than we have posted on here. If you have the time I would love to discuss our issues, since it sounds like our are so similiar, and maybe help each other with suggestions.

  • sandra3022
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Dear Brailey, Being a step mom I totally understand where your coming from. Being any part of a step family is very trying. I do think she finds fault with you for many reasons all that end with resentment. For you just being there period , for her son who doesn't seem to be very independent,for your father not taking a more active role with you. I have a son and a step daughter both live with us he 24 she 19. My husband is very passive and I am more agressive so most of the parenting (and punishing ) fall on me. Now where does it say you must be friends with her but I beleive it would make both of you happy. Maybe she doesn't know how to be a step mother to a girl ( which trust me is very different than a son) I really had to learn how to talk to a girl. I have only brothers and work with mostly men. I wanted to have a good relationship with her for my husband and because her mother and she really didn't have a relationship. There have been many fights but somehow we make up. If I may suggest before you leave on your trip have them both sit down with you and tell them before you leave you want to tell them a few things .First say I know my going on this trip is not something you approve of however part of growing up is making mistakes and learning from them so if I constanly don't try new things I will not learn anything and this is a trip I want to take and since I am paying for it I would appreciate you respecting my decision to go. Say you don't want to leave on bad terms and your hoping when you return that you all can start out on new footing and appreciate each other.
    While your gone send emails or post cards sharing your trip and how you are growing from the experience. When you return START OVER a clean start. Remember she is your father wife and your step mother only if you want her to be she can just remain your Dads wife. Being a step daughter or step mother has its rewards but honestly you really have to be able to see things from each others stand point. Respect her and appreciate her and I promise the rest will follow. You both come from such a negitive view point and you get back what you give. I really beleive that if when you comeback you make a point of staying positive she will follow. Example : Briley you shouldn't have spent so much on that trip you could have bought blah blah. you say: SM I know I probably could have bought? but I have memories that will last a lifetime and when I have a family I probably won't be able to go so I'm really glad I did. She most likely really wanted to live the life your living but had her son young then married your dad and hasn't done anything just for her. Try to have compassion I promise it will be so worth it one day. my step daughter and I have had so many disagreements but I really try to see her side and I tell her my side so she will see where I come from. I'm hoping when she has her own family she will understand life a little more.Just imagine being married and that person having there adult child living with you. Trust me it would be hard. Be proud of where you are and pat your own back , when you hear negitive just say to yourself: how can I answer this and think of her as a fellow work mate, someone you have to deal with and have to tolerate. I also think you should have a conversation with your father that you tell him that he needs to step up when she makes comments about you he needs to say " honey she is 30 and I want her to make her own decisions and mistakes so lets stay out of her business. Tell him you want to live your own life without being critized .Most likely your Dad has taken the " I want to do as little as possable when it comes to being a parent. I don't mean that disrespectly just that most men do that and naturally that makes the stepmother the mean one. I see it all the time with my kids friends.I think you will be very surprised if you just see things a little different.I bet she really would love to be your friend. Have a wonderful trip be excited for you and when you come back start fresh. good luck Sandi

  • loladoon
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I would tell your dad that you only want to have minimal contact with your SM. It sounds like you really tried to make something work with her, but she's not a good person to you.

    Tell your dad that you still want to stay in contact with him. Maybe email or the occassional dinner after work kind of thing, but you don't want to be around the SM. You are not obligated to have a relationship with her at all.

    Your dad might not want this arrangement, so prepare yourself for the possibility of losing him for a while...but, I would stick with it and stop contact with her. You would still have your mom and half-sister.

  • adoptedbyhounds
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Briley,

    I think it would be worth your time to get some counseling, so that you are more confident in putting up boundaries between yourself and your SM. She's walking right over them as though she has some special privilege or right to weigh in on matters that are not her business.

    You don't need your SM's permission, or even her "blessing" to take as many trips as you please. You don't need to explain or justify anything, and it's not your job to do so because you think it will make things unpleasant for your dad. She's your dad's wife. If they have problems, they need to deal with them. Not you.

    I agree with the suggestion that you simply respond to SM's comments with something like "That's interesting" or "We'll have to agree to disagree" or whatever seems appropriate. Just don't get badgered into continuing to discuss something you don't care to discuss with her.

    I would guess that SM is focused on you because it beats trying to deal with her own son. Also, you have a college degree. Does she? She could be jealous of your achievements and your independence. And your youth could bother her, too.

    Sounds like you are making good choices. Keep it up!

  • Mahnoor Ahsan
    7 years ago

    Unfortunately, I am going through a similar situation. Just want you to know how happy I am you shared this story, it kind if warms my heart, I guess maybe to know im not alone.

  • maylin22
    6 years ago

    Briley, this post was written a while back but I hope you still read the comments. I can so relate to you. My dads wife came into the picture and acted nice as pie at first..then she slowly drove a wedge between my dad and I. Her jealousy of your relationship with him and concern for $$ after he dies I believe are her motivating factors -as are my dads wife's motivations and concerns. I truly feel that if they don't care about the adult children -they really don't care about their spouse. Caring for your spouse is being cordial and welcoming at the very least to your husbands children-no matter what age. My dads wife has wrapped such a web around him-he cannot even see what she's done to us and our father daughter bond.

    ): and the grandchildren.


    My advice to you is to make plans often (3x) week to see your dad outside the house without her-quick coffee, dinner, breakfast, a walk on his lunch break -keep your bond strong before he retires. Once retired, the talons get even stronger.

    I am so very sorry and I can relate more then you even know. It's really really important to not let her keep you from having one on one time with your dad. My dads wife would call and talk to my dad for 20 mins when I was out having a special lunch with him. She would tell me as they left my house"they were going home to have some fun". It makes me want to throw up. She would exhibit naked statues around the house when we came to visit with young children saying it was art. She's highly jealous and suspicious if I am talking alone with my dad like I am the other woman. Some people are really mental. I wish every day that my dad had never married her and ruined our family.

  • maylin22
    6 years ago

    Briley, this post was written a while back but I hope you still read the comments. I can so relate to you. My dads wife came into the picture and acted nice as pie at first..then she slowly drove a wedge between my dad and I. Her jealousy of your relationship with him and concern for $$ after he dies I believe are her motivating factors -as are my dads wife's motivations and concerns. I truly feel that if they don't care about the adult children -they really don't care about their spouse. Caring for your spouse is being cordial and welcoming at the very least to your husbands children-no matter what age. My dads wife has wrapped such a web around him-he cannot even see what she's done to us and our father daughter bond.

    ): and the grandchildren.

    My advice to you is to make plans often (3x) week to see your dad outside the house without her-quick coffee, dinner, breakfast, a walk on his lunch break -keep your bond strong before he retires. Once retired, the talons get even stronger.

    I am so very sorry and I can relate more then you even know. It's really really important to not let her keep you from having one on one time with your dad. My dads wife would call and talk to my dad for 20 mins when I was out having a special lunch with him. She would tell me as they left my house"they were going home to have some fun". It makes me want to throw up. She would exhibit naked statues around the house when we came to visit with young children saying it was art. She's highly jealous and suspicious if I am talking alone with my dad like I am the other woman. Some people are really mental. I wish every day that my dad had never married her and ruined our family.

  • Sylvia Gordon
    6 years ago

    I know this is an old thread, but one of the posts reminded me of a conversation I had with a lady I ran into at the quilt shop of all places. I asked her something about her position in the birth order of her family, and she said that she had been an only child for 50 years but now she was a younger daughter. Her parents had been "befriended" by a woman who manipulated them into not only giving her control over their bank accounts, real estate, Health decisions, Etc but who had talked them into adopting her. This woman is now in absolute control of the quilt shop lady's parents. The quilt shop lady is not allowed to speak to her own parents. Even if it is very difficult, even if they resist, even if it is painful, even if you feel humiliated, please keep up with your parents and be on the alert for someone gaining a position of power and control.

  • Casey Bear
    4 years ago

    Can I just say, RELATABLE. Same issues with stepmom clearly having psychological issues that therapy couldn’t help. Personally I think it’s because they are miserable people. Jealous of anyone who does anything they have never accomplished. Envious of your drive and will to succeed with little help. Definitely a narcissist disorder, there are 4 types of I remember correctly. SM feels inferior and be-rates you and alienated friends or family when possible to make her self look like the night in shinning armor or the victim. They constantly search for praise/ because they don’t believe in themselves or pitty and play the victim. I hate these people. Go to therapy, that’s what I’m doing. Not your monkey, not your circus. Walk away and don’t look back: you can’t maintain a normal, positive or healthy relationship with someone like this ever. Just better to let them live their lives. If your dad ever figures it out, he’ll leave her and if he doesn’t well then he made his bed and he’ll have to lay in it. This is life and it’s not fair. Lucky for you, your step mom hasn’t been around long.

  • Lizabeth Setliff
    last year

    Boy, this sounds so similar to my situation with SM.

    I am a no wave maker too. SM said the most awful thing, I said I was done with her. She ultimately forbid my Father from seeing me etc. so tired of her MOUTH & CONTROL.

    I can't stand that my Father has lived like this for 60+ yrs.

    My Dad early on in thier marriage used to shut her up, but she has worn him down.

    my Parents choices have had the worst affect on myself. the worst, to not be able to speak up because of her wrath has caused me to take it out on myself. example “cutting myself”. depression.

    Anyone who doesn't understand step people that choose to be in our lives should not comment.

  • Lizabeth Setliff
    last year

    If the child walks away, the SM suceeded in what she set out to do.

  • colleenoz
    last year

    True, but sometimes the game is not worth the candle. How crushing it must be to be constantly trying to connect with a weak-spined father who doesn't have the balls to stand up to wife #2 for the sake of maintaining a relationship with his children. Better to write him off and go off to live a good life.

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