Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dear Math Maven...

First of all, thank you very much for reading my blog and for writing that I seem like a lovely person. That was very kind of you. Many times when people leave me comments, especially about this particular subject, they aren't very nice.  So I appreciate the fact that you not only took the time to write to me, but did so with compassion and consideration.

Things have gotten a bit dark on this blog lately for several reasons. The holiday season is always difficult for me. This year has been a little more difficult, mainly because I've been so worried about my dog, Zane. Zane is mostly fine, but he did have a cancerous tumor removed recently. Four years ago, I lost another dog right before Christmas. It's irrational to worry that Zane would end up in the same situation as my other dog did, since they had completely different types of cancer.  Since the anniversary has already passed, I know Zane probably won't die in 2016. But unfortunately, my anxiety level has still been very high this month, and I admit it's affected everything lately, especially my writing.

I don't know how long you've been reading this blog or if you've read the whole, very complicated backstory to this situation we're in. Just so you know, there have been many times over the years that I've been willing and even wanted to give my husband's daughters the "benefit of the doubt". It's true that I don't know them well.  I have only met them once. It was back in 2003, when they and their older brother came for one visit that lasted less than 48 hours.

My husband's ex family converted to Mormonism. Bill was LDS when I met him, but has since left the faith. I have never been LDS.  My husband's daughters, especially the younger one, have always been extremely devoted to Mormonism and were so even as young kids.  Younger daughter may have relaxed a bit since those days, since Bill did spot her wearing a strapless wedding gown.  But she goes to a Mormon owned university, went on a mission, and has a blog that indicates that she was, at least at one time, a very radical Mormon.

The older daughter, who had seemed to be the most anxious about meeting me, was about to turn twelve. Her mother told Bill that she'd been "difficult" lately and we should "promise not to hate her" for her behavior. I remember when I met that child, the very first thing she did was apologize to me for being "shy". She visibly relaxed when I told her I didn't have to get to know her in one day (if only I'd known what was in the future). We went on to have a nice visit. She spent most of her time with Bill, but at one point she spontaneously gave me a hug and even called me her other mother. Although Bill has not seen her since 2004 and she sent a letter disowning him in 2006, I am much less pissed off at her than I am her younger sister. Sadly, I think she's in a situation where she feels like she has to go along to get along, even though she's now 25 years old.

Younger daughter was nine when we met for the first and only time.  During the visit, she peeked into our refrigerator and spotted two beers there.  She went absolutely ballistic. I watched in shock as that kid slapped my husband across the face in his own living room and chastised him for being "a drunk". Since I had just met her and Bill and I had only been married for about six months, I was unsure of what to do.  Bill just sat there and looked really sad. We did explain to her that not everyone is Mormon and not everyone who drinks beer is an alcoholic. Things calmed down until she told her mother about it. You can imagine what transpired after that.  I mention this, not because I don't understand that she was a kid at the time, but because it was very strange behavior.  Not many nine year old girls would have the nerve to strike an adult.  She clearly wasn't afraid of Bill and felt perfectly entitled to hit him.  It's not something most kids would dare do, especially to a parent.

Like her sister, younger daughter also sent Bill a letter disowning him. The last time he saw her in person was in 2004... Christmas time, to be exact. I have written about that Christmas in 2004 many times on this blog and the story is easy to find if you want to search for it. I don't have it in me to write it again in this post. Younger daughter's letter was very short, cold, and hateful and it was devastating to Bill. It also arrived just in time for his birthday.

For several years, my husband's father and stepmother did not hear from their granddaughters or Bill's ex stepson.  They were devastated, because all they ever wanted was to have a relationship with all three kids.  To that end, they bent over backwards to accommodate their mother, who had a habit of simply showing up on their doorstep whenever she felt like it-- driving from Arizona to Tennessee without even so much as calling ahead to see if it would be okay.  My husband's parents always welcomed her and said nothing as she berated them for being Catholic and let her younger kids with her third husband run amok in their home.  They would take up residence there for several days and then leave, not to be heard from again until a need arose.  Meanwhile, my father-in-law and his wife would give Bill grief for not calling them enough or visiting.  When he did visit, he'd have to hear about his ex wife and kids for days.

In 2006, we heard from Bill's ex stepson, who was at that time regarded as Bill's "son", even though he was never formally adopted. He had decided to move out of his mother's house and wanted to make sure Bill would keep paying child support to him. Bill was happy to do it and gave him his love and support. Ex stepson and his girlfriend (now wife) even visited us at Fort Belvoir for Thanksgiving. About three years later, it became very clear that ex stepson was simply using Bill for money and had plans to ditch him once the gravy train ended. That story is also in this blog.  He hasn't spoken to Bill since 2009, after begging for one last payment of $500.  He was 21 years old at the time.  He's now 29 and apparently a new father (more news that I didn't want or need to hear).

I'm not sure how much you know about narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder. I believe that like alcoholism, it's often a family disease that affects everyone, even people that are ordinarily decent and kind. People who wouldn't ordinarily purposely cause other people pain end up as instruments at the hands of the narcissist, who manipulates them into doing their dirty work. We have seen this happen many times over the years in ways I could explain, but that would make this post even longer than it is.  Moreover, narcissists love to mess up special days.  It's one of their trademarks.

I think narcissism can be a trait passed down among family members, if not by nature then through nurture. My husband's ex wife was adopted, but her mother reportedly treats people in the same inconsiderate and hateful way my husband's ex wife does. We've also seen that behavior in Bill's former stepson. While I have not spent any time with my husband's younger daughter in many years, I've also seen that behavior in her actions over time. What she does always gets back to us. Personally, I believe that's part of the plan. It was probably spearheaded by my husband's ex wife, but I'm sure there's a part of younger daughter who wants us to know what she's doing and probably enjoys the idea that it causes Bill pain that she won't speak to him and excludes him from life events like weddings.  It's no accident that she didn't use her own block settings on Facebook because she has apparently blocked me (and I am absolutely fine with that).

I don't think there is anything wrong with cutting toxic and abusive people out of your life. In fact, that is one piece of advice that victims of narcissists are often given. You have to go "no contact" to maintain your sanity.   I am all too happy to go "no contact" with my husband's daughters.  I really don't want to think about them or write about them.  My husband does love his kids and probably would see them if they ever asked. I wouldn't stop him from doing that, though it would take a whole lot for me to ever trust them.  It does cross my mind that Bill's younger daughter could have turned out to be a decent person.  However, she is also now an adult and responsible for her actions.  She should be held accountable and, so far, she really hasn't been.  In fact, she's been rewarded with complete forgiveness by my husband's parents, even though she disowned them and changed her last name.  They're just happy to talk to her again, despite her shitty behavior.

I would never tell my husband's father and stepmother who they should be friends with.  However, I do think it would be nice if they would show their son the slightest consideration that they regularly bend over backwards to show Bill's younger daughter.  They could, for instance, ask her not to say disrespectful things about Bill when they talk to her (which they then pass on to Bill).  Bill has never been anything but an excellent son to them, but he has been repeatedly expected to swallow abuse from his ex wife and accept the abuse they deliver on her behalf.

Bill mainly does stay off Facebook. He doesn't have very many Facebook friends and works a lot, so he doesn't hang out there the way I do. I have blocked my husband's ex, the people affiliated with her, and Bill's stepmother on Facebook.  I did so because I really don't want to be exposed to information that will disrupt my peace.  Bill mostly doesn't go looking for information about his kids anymore, either.  This time, he discovered his daughter completely by accident when we were in Ireland, celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary.  She was listed on Facebook as a "person he might know".  How is that for a kick in the teeth?  We have spoken at length to Bill's father and stepmother about how we don't want to hear about the ex or the kids (see my posts on Christmas 2012 for the backstory on that).  Unfortunately, they don't seem capable of respecting those boundaries.

I deliberately did not go into specifics yesterday with what my husband is planning, but you can rest assured that there's absolutely nothing diabolical about it. In fact, what he plans to do is something any decent father, or really any decent person, should feel perfectly comfortable in doing to another person.  I do think it will cause shockwaves, though, because Bill has been simultaneously painted as both a chump and a villain for many years.  They will wonder where he got the nerve and probably assume it was my doing, just like they assumed it was my doing when Bill finally stopped letting his ex wife and former stepson extort money from him.  It may lead to a resolution one way or another, though, and that's really what I'm hoping for.

I am simply tired of having the holidays screwed up by intrusions from people who have repeatedly told us that they'll never speak to us again.  Once or twice could be considered an accident, but this happens very regularly and usually at the most stressful times of the year.  I think if they want to be "no contact" with us, they should actually go "no contact".  It's the kindest and probably the healthiest thing to do.  Moreover, they might want to consider that before too long, there will be funerals to attend.  Unless he predeceases him, Bill will be at his father's funeral.  And if Bill's daughters also plan to be there, they might want to get over themselves.

Math Maven, I appreciate the fact that you took the time to comment and shared your story.  I actually think your comments make sense.  If we were dealing with normal people, what you wrote would be perfectly logical.  These folks are not normal people.  There's a lot to this situation to include extreme religious beliefs, malignant narcissism, and a variety of repeated abuses.  I don't expect the people who read this blog to understand it.  I mainly write about it because it helps me process things and because I know that there are others in similar situations who may be comforted in knowing that they aren't alone.  You'd probably have to know the people involved to understand where we're coming from.  You'd also have to know me, because I have my own baggage that has nothing to do with Bill's situation but affects things nonetheless.

You're not the first person to give me the advice you have.  I understand why people give it; although frankly I think I have the right to be butthurt on my personal blog if I want to be.  This situation has been heartbreaking for Bill and for me.  Writing about it is helpful for me.  I understand if other people find it painful and dark, though, and feel the need to "armchair quarterback".  You say we should "cut her some slack".  I think Bill's daughter should cut Bill some slack, be an adult, and either do her part to heal the rift or simply go away for good.  Aside from that, I've seen no indication that she wants me to cut her any slack.  In fact, I've seen no indication that she has any thought for anyone but herself.  She appears to be oblivious to the pain she's caused other people, which I think is the saddest part of all of this.     

Anyway... sorry for the length of this and to make you the focus of a post.  I just wanted to be clear, and preemptively respond to other people who might wonder if my husband's daughter has turned into a "different person than she used to be".  She may have, for all we know.  She's never given Bill a chance to find out, though.  

I hope you enjoy your holidays!  

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