Saturday, May 18, 2013

An open letter to my alienated oldest step-daughter

Dear Oldest Child,

I have started this letter several times and in several ways, but the likelihood of you ever reading it is slim, so I guess it doesn't really matter. You are 18 now, graduating (or graduated). Welcome to life after childhood. I know you won't understand what that means yet. You still need time to work out the hormones and figure out what life really is before you can see reality for what it is.

My days of trying to be the super-step-mom are long over, so I won't issue sweet platitudes o r give rose-colored advice on your future. It wouldn't matter to you anyhow. We aren't a part of your life; we won't be invited to your graduation. It's not as much of a stepping stone anymore. It's just another mile marker in the long road where you and your siblings move further and further away from your father.

Your father still waits for you to call because he believed you at Grand-dad's funeral. He believed that you were sorry; he believed that once you were grown and free, you would call. He doesn't want to bring pain on you from your mother, so he didn't even send you a Facebook message regarding your birthday because you told him she would “freak”. And, since I have relinquished my step-mom crown, I am working hard on letting it go. I am not responsible for his relationship with you or your relationship with him.

Letting it go is difficult, though. especially when I look back over the years. 10 years, your father and I have been together. I still remember you as the little girl who cried at the wedding because you were afraid you weren't going to get to come. Your mom had told you she wasn't letting it happen, and so your father and I sneakily moved the wedding forward. We paid for it afterwards. We didn't see any of you for three months.

I remember many things, stories that we kept from you because we wanted to believe that doing the right thing meant that we would achieve the goal of having a happy, blended family in the long run. So, we didn't involve you in the battle, we followed advice that said to answer the questions briefly, but remind kids that they should be kids and not worry about it. Boy, were we wrong. Funny how you can play by the rules, but still lose. That's a lesson in being a grown-up. Good luck with that one.

I remember the last day, when you left our house for good. You hated us, you said. You hated Little Guy. He wasn't your brother... Never mind that your mom's child, born of a different relationship, apparently was, and is. It was then that I realized, listening to the words coming from your mouth, that I could never trust you with your father's and my child.

We were mean. How? You didn't know. You just knew we were. We were abusive. How? You didn't know. We just were.

You stared at me sullenly when I finally confronted you about some of the lies your mom had spewed, and confirmed that you had fed them to her. I doubt you ever cleared up that misconception, and it doesn't matter anyhow, I suppose. Your mom has and always will hate your dad. You and your siblings will always be sucked into it.

So, I suppose in a way, I am glad for you. This is your chance to escape. I hope you take it. This is your chance to make amends and build bridges with your father. I hope you do that too. He loves you, more than you will ever know. He is a good man who believes the best in people. It was how he lasted so long with your mom. He believes in you, too. And he desperately misses you and your siblings.

As for me, as I said, I am done being super-step-mom. I'm not playing by those rules any more. I won't pull punches and I will never sugar coat things about your mom ever again. So, while I encourage you to build bridges with your father, I encourage you even more to do it without me. I am not who I once was, and I will not pretend things are as they once were. That land has been burned and salted.

But mostly, get away from your mom. I know you love her, and I believe in her own sick, twisted way, she loves you the best a bi-polar narcissist can. Your own sanity may depend on you loving her from afar.