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Trying to Thread the Needle for SO

Russell1981's picture

My SDs come from a generation with a victim mentality. All signs point to the explosion of social media as the cause of this. They are offended by something and when asked what the issue is they give vague answers that leave you scratching your head wondering what you did wrong.

I have a SD who has been coming back around and for the sake of her mother, I have been gentle with her. She wanted to "talk" to me and requested a time to speak. I work 60 hours a week and have a wife and five kids who are a priority, but I pull out my schedule and set up a time that her mother will be there while my other children are in school. She showed up and the conversation lasted about a half hour. 

In a nutshell here is how it went:

SD: You were never there for me emotionally

Me: Well, honey I am sorry you feel that way. What is it that I did specifically to you so I can do my best to repent and make things right?

SD: It wasn't anything specific, you were just never there.

Me: What do you mean? I was always available and when you graduated you even wrote me a letter thanking me for always being there.

SD: Yes you were always there, but you weren't there emotionally

Me: Well I apologize for hurting you, but I really would like to know what I did to hurt you so deeply. 

SD: It was emotional so you can't see it.

...and you get the point. Never anything specific, just that I was never there. It was accusation after accusation. This is what those with a victim mentality do. They accuse with blanket statements that can mean anything. I learned from my oldest SD that these types of questions are usually their way of trying to trap you when you make a suggestion of something it could be. This is why I insist they answer and tell me what I did wrong so I can make it right. They can never give specific examples.

To be clear I am a step-dad and her biological dad left for three years when she was 10 until 13. I could list all the times I took her out to eat so she could vent, took her to and from basketball practice and work, and stayed up until 3 AM listening to her problems despite having to work at 7 AM. Just recently when she popped back into our life with no money or job it was me who set up an affordable place for her to live and even worked to get her old job back. Yet, she has the nerve to tell me I was never there for her...emotionally. 

I believe she is projecting her father's failures onto me or possibly her dad worked her over and made up lies. In the end, I don't really care anymore and I do not have time for it. I come to this forum to vent a bit because it is a safe place with others in similar situations and sometimes you just need an outlet.

As the conversation ended I went and picked up my 5 other children from school. When I came home my 12, 11, 10, 8, and 5-year-olds came into the house, began their chores, did their homework, walked the dogs, and then I took one of them on a golf cart drive so I could spend some alone time with them. (I do this every day with one of my kids so they each have their own day to talk to me)

I returned from the golf cart drive after an hour and without knowing it my SD was still at my house talking to my wife. I usually try to keep her away from my kids, but that day it didn't happen.

She came up to me and said, "If you had done that with me then I probably wouldn't feel the way I do about you now" (another accusation and a form of entrapment) My two boys overheard her say that and my 12-year-old was visibly angry. She wasn't even gone for 10 months and she acts as if it has been 10 years. I have not changed and have done the same thing for the past 5 years which included the time that she and her sister lived here. The only difference is that a deadbeat sperm donor does not have any influence over my children. 

I did not respond. I loaded up my two boys for football and headed off to practice where I was able to relieve stress by throwing 40-yard post routes to middle schoolers. 

While I want my wife to have a relationship with her daughters these little intrusions do me more harm than good. I could feel my blood pressure go up when she was there and I was just recently taken off of my blood pressure medicine due to reducing my stress, losing weight, and changing my diet. It is as though I am walking on eggshells all over again. 

I have to thread the needle with this because my wife wants a relationship and I do not. If I spoke to my SD and had an adult conversation and told her that we are going to have to agree to disagree about how she was treated but don't bring it up to me again then there is a good chance that she just cut my wife and me out. I wouldn't care, but my wife would.

Man, I just don't want this anymore.

CLove's picture

It just really never ends - it just gets more tiring. Vent-a please. It definitely helps with all your health improvements.

Since SD24 Feral Forger hasnt been around, SD17 Powersulk has spent majority of time with her mother toxic Troll BM in Beach Town, my life has been super calm. Powersulk ages out of both visitation and child support, so we know where things are going.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

All i can offer is empathy. My SO's 24-year-old daughter is 2 days into a 3-day visit and has already left a steaming trail of bullshit everywhere she has stepped. Some people are just hard broke and you can only try to minimize their effect on your life. At least i don't live with my SO. If i did, idk what i would do.

Also, your SD is full of crap. Don't entertain her accusations by taking them seriously. 

ESMOD's picture

Your SD clearly is unhappy and looking to blame her failure to thrive as an adult on some imagined lack of meaningful hugs as a child growing up.

At this point, it is what it is.

SD.. I'm sorry you did not feel I was emotionally there for you growing up.  I imagine the fact that your father abandoned you has also left it's mark and unfortunately, there is no way to turn back time is it?   For what it's worth, I can't expect you to understand how difficult it is for a step parent to come into a family... especially one that has experienced  traumas like your family did with your father.  I'm human, and I did the best I could.  If that was not good enough for you, I'm sorry.. I thought I was being supportive.. financially, physically.. emotionally.. but you are free to have your own opinion.  But.. at this point.. you are an adult.. it's up to you to go live your life as you want.. surround yourself with people you find supportive.  Me?  I am not interested in a continual rehashing of real or imagined deficits from years past.  If you need therapy.. get it.  If you want my apology for not knowing precisely how to parent you.. you have it... but I don't have the ability to go back in time and change anything.. and I have the responsibility to raise the children in my home.. and honestly don't have the bandwidth to constantly have these discussions with you that resolve nothing and have no hope of fixing your life.. t hat is in your hands.. good luck.

Then.. be pleasant.. and when she makes those comments.. you can remind her.. "I told you that subject was closed.. if you want to continue that kind of talk.. you can do it outside this home.. and you will be asked to leave"

Elea's picture

Excellent response. A slightly modified version of this would also work for a bio parent responding to accusations from bk's that have been trained to blame the wrong parent for the failed family.

Russell1981's picture

At some point, you make your own decisions.

I could come in with a list of everything I did for her as proof of me at least trying to help out. I raised her and her sister for 13 years and then they spent 6 weeks with their dad in the summer and now I am emotionally abusive...what a shock. 

I don't have time for this anymore and if she hates me then I will give her a picture to burn for Halloween. I just want to thread the needle on this one.

ESMOD, thank you for your response. I will use some form of that.

JRI's picture

I think some of these folks are looking for a scapegoat when their own lives don't go well.  Of course, we step-parents are prime targets since it hurts too much to confront a bio parent.  Now that tv and the internet "educate" us all about psychological jargon, we get to hear about "emotional unavailablity", panic attacks, depression, abuse,  anxiety, etc.  Of course, some people in this world DO suffer from these ailments but my experience with my own SD61 is that these ailments pop up more frequently after being covered on Oprah or on the Kardashians.

You're a good person for trying to figure out what's wrong.  I tend to go 'hmmmm" and change the subject



ESMOD's picture

My younger brother (in his 50's now)went to rehab  (well more than once.. but the final over 10 years ago stuck).. and for years after he got clean.. he was quick to pull out his "therapy" words.. and talk about how disfunctional our family was.. and how he was self medicating.. our parents didn't show love .. modeled bad relationships etc..

I mean.. my personal feeling is that every family has their struggles.. their dramas.. their dysfunction.. we moved every year.. my parents didn't have the best relationship.. but they did the best they could.. for us.. and we had a lot of advantages.  

At some point you have to accept that they had control over your life.. for 18-22 years.. but then at that point, it's up to you to build your own life and make different and better choices.. I mean.. sure we had some dysfunction.. you learn to deal with it.. and resolve to live a better life.. all we can do really.

JRI's picture

DH86 and I often discuss how, in hindsight, we should have done xyz for one (or all) of our 5 kids.  We always end up saying we did the best we could do every day given 5 wildly-differing kids from 2 families, his extremely hectic job, deadbeat bio mom and dad and our own flawed selves.  It is what it is but I can look in the mirror and say I did my best.  I'm sure Russell1981 can do the same.

Catmom024's picture

Ugh.  I'm sorry.   It truly never ends.   I wrote a blog in the Adult Step Children forum titled exactly that.  

The loyalty of some of these bio kids to the crap parent (in this case, her father) is really mind blowing.   Due to that loyalty (to a loser, or at least he was) she needs to turn against you and will come up with something bizarre and untrue or comically minuscule.  My SO of 21 years was just told by his 35/36 y.o. son that my SO beat the kids and their mother "all the time" and she had to leave and that's why my SO and his ex got divorced.   Nothing about her alcoholism.   Needless to say my SO was shocked by these horrible accusations.   He tried to defend himself but these kids are so blind and so adamant about wearing their victim label.

I would try to ignore her the best you can.  Be cordial and civil, but that's all.  Be done with her and focus just on your children.  If the subject comes up just say "I did my best, I'm sorry you feel that way."

CajunMom's picture

From DHs youngest daughter. She accused us both of mental abuse. When asked to clarify that, she couldn't come up with anything more than "she wouldn't talk to me." Not her dad...just me. So no telling what her reason was for accusing him. He let it go (as bio parents can do); I did not. And now she says she can't have a relationship with her dad because of me. Nope. Again, that one is on the 30 YEAR OLD ADULT WOMAN.

I'm with you on just not caring anymore, Russell1981. I could write decent size book about everything I've done for her and all of DHs kids but it would not matter. What is "stuck" in their heads is just plain STUCK. Lots of projection, I'm sure and us being Stepparents makes us the "easy" target. I'm just not taking it anymore. DH sees his kids away from our marital home. I don't ask questions. He doesn't volunteer much information. And that works for us.

Is there a way your wife can see her ADULT daughters away from the home? Or have them over when you and the other kids aren't home? This is impacting your physical and mental health....your wife needs to see this and make some changes. I have two adult bio kids and if either accused DH of not being there for them in any capacity, you can damn sure know I'd be insisting for examples or events where that happened....not just some flippant excuse. I wouldn't allow them to do that to anyone. It's wrong. SMH

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

Yep. Same here and it does NEVER end. I am done too. I disengaged a couple years ago and it improves your health in many many ways. After finding out one SKID blabbed about horrible treatment from me to anyone near who would listen and the other SKID told his significant other he's been "on his own as long as he can remember" (total load of garbage and a flat out lies LIES- financially, emotionally, physically, you name it I was there.) My breaking point was a fancy dinner where they went after me and it didn't stop. I realized the amount of garbage in their heads and now I no longer care. I do the minimum and I don't plan a thing. They *can* come to the house on holidays but everything is permission based and DH is in charge of them while I focus on other family. I wish I could tell you it gets better, they get healthy, and they become wonderful human beings - but that's not what I am seeing in reality. I have come to the conclusion that this might be a permanent situation and no need to go beyond basic for adult SKIDs. Disengage my friend, that is your only hope. 

Elea's picture

I can relate so much to your post. Sdiablas have a laundry list of injustices and grudges against DH and I despite that DH was their ONLY stable parent. He fully supported Sd’s financially as well as being a present, involved parent. He was beyond generous to BM in the divorce. Yet Sd’s are still mad because BM says they have been wronged. According to BM she and SD’s are the "real" family and they have been replaced by us. Real life doesn't match the narrative but they seem to lack the critical thinking skills to figure it out.
SD’s toxic, mean girl attitudes give me anxiety. For my own mental health, I have had to remove myself from the drama as much as possible. DH understands I can’t take much more and works to keep SD’s reeled in and insulate me when they come around.

Russell1981's picture

Thank you for the responses and sorry for my upcoming rant, but it is therapeutic. 

My wife would agree to do something separately but I was hoping it would not get to this point. 

I know it is going to bother her, but she will do it for me. She has done other things in the past, but I want to navigate this well because it does seem to make her happy that she has some sort of relationship.

I seriously do not know what else I can do at this point. I have three SDs who when they get around their dad (now they live with his family states away) just fabricate lies and it never ends. Over the past 10 years, I have been through multiple court battles that ended with the court throwing out the case and marking my oldest SD as a liar, been investigated by children's services twice due to false accusations and all came back negative. The list can go on and while it sucks to go through this, with every positive outcome they look worse and the evidence mounts against them, but they do not care. It is not as though they will see consequences and these accusations just cost me money.

I have volunteered to take drug tests and urine tests for alcohol, and this was just to prove my innocence. It simply does not matter and they never face consequences. They can fire up any accusation and it is me and my attorney heading to court again. 

When those girls are around I will not even sniff a glass of alcohol for fear of being called an alcoholic. Despite never being drunk since college and never touching a drug! I have a barrel of bourbon my neighbor and I invested in months ago and since my SD returned I haven't touched it in fear of her popping in. I won't even drink a Coke in a glass of ice because they will take a picture and doctor it up. If I drink anything it is usually water or a plastic bottle of something with the brand written on it. 

I am a bit of a disciplinarian with my biological kids and when they are around I tend to fade into the background for fear of being labeled abusive and having something fabricated on me that will result in Children's services or the county police at my door.

I have an attorney on retainer who knows everything they have done and I have documentation for what they have done just in case they try and launch something else against me. At this point, it would be stupid, but that is the world I live in.

At this point, I THINK I am safe from all of that but based on the past and these constant accusations I am more than fatigued. My counselor told me that I suffer from PTSD and I did not believe it when he told me that because I have never been in the military, but last week I admitted to him that I think he was right. 

I would not care if I never saw these human beings again. The only attachment I have to them is my wife, whom I love and promised for better or worse and I will honor that commitment. When my last SD left at the end of last year it bothered me but after two months I felt relieved and for about 6 months lived happier than I ever had been in over 10 years. 

But...damn, I'm punched out everyone. I have plenty of fights in me, but not for them. They just are not worth it.

I actually have a therapist due to these girls, lol and I never thought I would get to that point but I was so tired of the anger that I knew I needed help. The therapy helped change my perspective, diet, and lifestyle which resulted in a loss of close to 70 pounds and no more high blood pressure medicine. 

I think I may look into couples counseling to try and ease the blow. 

I just do not want to live like this anymore and it is not fair for my real children to have a shell of a dad for their childhood. 

CajunMom's picture

Seriously...with what you've detailed in this comment....I'd go for staying away from these WOMEN to keep your mental and physical health in a good place. AND to protect your younger children from their venom. Ask your wife to  see them away from your marital home, keep them away from the younger kids (I'd NOT trust any of them around minors with what you've detailed). 

When our counselor advised this arrangement (DH seeing his kids away from marital home), I knew it was what I needed for my peace of mind and safety. DH wasn't totally on board and tried to strong arm me by saying the only place they could "visit" was at his ex SIL's house. I shocked him when I said, fine by me. Do what you have to do.

Bottom line, just as I didn't cause these troubles, you did NOT cause any either. And the troublesome teens are now troublesome adults. Nothing has changed accept their age. Stay away from them.

Catmom024's picture

Oh my goodness!!  I am so sorry,  they have really put you through the wringer.  Yes, PTSD is definitely a thing that many step parents have.   That's great you see a therapist and have improved your health,  congratulations!

I think couples counseling would be fantastic to help you and your wife come up with a plan together as to how you both will handle your SD's.  That may be her seeing them away somewhere and them not coming to your home.  I feel you are justified in not wanting them in your home. 

NoWireCoatHangarsEVER's picture

Your children deserve all those financial resources that were wasted on lawyers due to your step children.  Your children deserve a father who is present and not living in fear for the other proverbial stepkid shoe to drop.  I would have done everything that you have done and you have made great strides but I wouldn't let that toxic stepkid crap into my home and around my children so that the well isn't poisoned.  Your wife should understand that and see her kids outside of the martial home.  It was her decision on their father that let to this.  Not anything you did.

ESMOD's picture

If this is the case.. at this point.. you need to do what is necessary to protect your nuclear family unit... from outside toxicity.

I would tell your wife the needle is threaded with her problematic ADULT daughters not being welcome in your home.  If you have to watch every word.. or sip of liquid to stave off accusations.. if their accusations are costing your family financial and emotional resources.. that's it.. that is the line that will no longer be allowed to be crossed by those women.

She is welcome to have a relationship with her daughters.. outside the home.  She has to protect you.. her partner.. and her children.. and your resources.. she may feel badly that her daughters didn't have a great life.. and have problems now.. but the ship has sailed with any thoughts of fixing it with you.. at this point.. with actual legal actions?  you are "out".. you are done.. and they can take that for what they will.. but you are not obligated to constantly apologize and make amends for whatever imagined or real slight that happened a decade ago.  

What they will NOT be allowed to do is ruin the home of your young biological children.. that is a hard stop.. and your wife should support that decision.  If she insists on bringing her daughters in the home?  You take your youngers and leave to go to a hotel.. make her know that this is a hill to die on for you.

Rags's picture

Her fee fees are not fact. Make sure you force feed her the facts and point out that the facts are not variable.  Facts are neither good nor bad, they are merely facts.

Be ready for her follow up by playing "This is MY reality" card. But bare her ass that there is only one reality and that reality is clearly defined by the actual facts and not her fee fees or delusions.

Let DW know that she can have a relationship with her delusional willful victim away from you and your young children and that you will not allow the delusional SDs to disrupt the lives of the  young children.  Your DW being the mother of the young ones, should get on board in protecting them from her self delusional hurt fee fees failed family progeny.

I would purge the SD's from your life and family and relegate them to a presence away from your youngsters.

I get that DW might be upset by this, but she needs the facts clarified for her as she was there when the toxic SD repeated her self delusional crap blaiming you with her self delusional lies.

Do it. I would. Take care of you and your youngsters.  Hopefully your DW will be the partner she should be to you in this effort.

IMHO of course.


Russell1981's picture

I have confronted her and the others several times the problem is within your title, they are delusional.

If you are looking at a wall and the paint is brown and they say it is blue then they will stick to their story no matter what. It does not matter if I bring over 25 neighbors that agree with me. It does not matter if I take them to the store with me and buy a bucket of brown paint then go home and slap it on and the color is the same on the wall...they will still say the color is blue. It is enough to make your head explode and I don't know if they are serious or just messing with me. 

The therapist says it is pathological. 

There are foolish people and evil people. A foolish person is irresponsible and makes a bunch of bad decisions that lead them into a bad situation. If they get hurt enough they eventually change their direction, but they do not do anything to intentionally hurt anyone, they are just irresponsible. 

The evil person gets pleasure out of seeing you squirm and struggle. They will manipulate and make up lies just to accuse you. It does not matter if it sticks because as long as they can get one person to believe it or go to the police who are required to check on an accusation of abuse it at least causes you some issues. It is sick and they do not care if they are putting my younger children through hell. 

These girls are seriously nuts and I have seen enough of it. I do not even want to waste the air in my lungs trying to confront them to see the truth or even call them out. You can't talk sense to a crazy person because they are nuts. 

My youngest stepdaughter says that her mother "triggers" her. When asked what triggers her she does not know so I guess it is just blind hatred toward their mother. What triggered her? She had to clean her room, go to work, do chores, and get off of her god-forsaken phone for 20 minutes. It does not matter because they don't know. They pick up a few words and then use them.

My oldest SD once told a judge that her mother "groomed" her. Grooming like a child molester does to convince children to get in their car. The judge laughed at her and said, "She is your mom, she is supposed to groom you." Meanwhile, her dad is in the same room nodding his head in agreement with my SD while the judge is tossing her case out and calling her a complete liar. She had no idea what that word even meant.

Nope, these girls took a trip to crazy town and are still searching for those 3 fries they were short in their happy meal. I just want to keep these psychos the hell away from me and my children. If my wife wants to jump on the train to crazy town then go for it, but I am OVER IT. 

Russell1981's picture

Thanks again for all the input.

After reading the responses it is good to see similar cases because I honestly thought I was losing my mind, LOL.

Rags's picture

Than the machinations of someone willfully evil.

That the toxic victim may not mean it is irrelevant.

To me it is about their behaviors regardless of their intent.

IMHO in many ways the toxic victim is significantly more dangerous than the willfully evil because the toxic victim blankets themselves in being the victims while perpetuating their evil by sucking others in.

I seek to end the crap of both.

Harry's picture

It's your fault that they failed.  There bio parents actually didn't care about her because they divorced..  put themselves and there happiness.  The Greener grass.   Before there kids. Or bio would stay as a family until kids age out.  
Tus kid has two parents who screw her up. How does it become your fault ?  Bio parents are the ones who made her, it's there responsibility to raise her.  It's there fault for thinking of themselves...

BF Decided not to visit [ take SD and parent her ] for three years because he was busy [I guess]  Now that normal ... most likely your fault.   Why do these kids.people not take responsibility for themselves.  Why don't they realize,, You don't have any responsibility in raising them.  You did this out of the goodness of your heart.

Just another PTSD Rant.  

Russell1981's picture

I had a long talk with my wife and just laid everything out. 

I literally wrote down every legal bill and pulled out every police report, court document, etc. to just remind her of everything. While it was not a fun conversation and it took her a couple of days to really grasp it, she understood and supported me and our kids with this decision.

The decision was a complete divorce from those three SDs. If she wants a relationship with her daughters then that is completely up to her and it will be required to be somewhere where I am not. 

I also spoke to an attorney and the option I have is a Civil Protection Order, which I won't use unless I absolutely have to. 

A few days later my wife set up a meeting with my SD at a local restaurant. She paid for her lunch and then told her that she wants to have a relationship with her, whatever that may look like, but that I do not and she is no longer allowed to come over unless there is some repentance and even then the likely of her reconciling with me is slim.

She and her two other sisters are no longer in my will and are not to come around my children. There will not be any holiday celebrations, birthday parties, or randomly showing up at events that my children attend.

Her quote to me is that she said "If you are unable to honor that then he will take legal action against you. These actions were your decision and there are consequences."

With that all being said my wife gave her the option of continuing her relationship with those parameters in place. 

SD apparently tried to use the victim card to which my wife said, "Well, it would be wise to not push this with him because he has the resources and you do not and you don't want it on your record."

She had that meeting without me knowing and informed me that evening. It was like a weight was taken off my back and I just slumped into a chair and sat there and did not say a word. My wife was actually worried about me for a moment and asked me if I was okay.

My response was, "So you are telling me it is finally over" 

She just laughed and let me have a moment to take it in.

I will probably have to see those girls at some point for a wedding or a funeral, but now that they know how serious I am I am pretty sure that they will stay away.

As far as my wife, she is going to continue her relationship but she even made it known that she is going to keep them at a distance. 

That evening I went out to my neighbor's driveway and had a nice glass of our bourbon that I had not been able to touch. Then went to bed and had the best night's sleep I have had in weeks.

It is finally over...Thank you for all of the wonderful advice.

Rags's picture


However, it isn't over so do not self delude into thinking that your SD's will abide by the new requirement and sadly, that your DW will stick to the requirement herself.

You and only you are the one to monitor and enforce.  

Make sure you synch with your DW regularly on this. And... one violation... immediarely file the CPO and take it out of DW's and the SDs's hands.

I hope that it does not come to that.


Catmom024's picture

Wonderful!  So glad your wife is onboard with everything and "gets it" and didn't cave to sd's attempt at playing victim (they always try to lay on the guilt to get what they want).  

CLove's picture

Now that the groundwork has been set, thats great - however - make certain you monitor all the ensuing activities, and dont give any inches.