Full circle… lessons learned

Bear with me, folks. Those of you who hate it when I write about Ex probably ought to pass on this post. I’m about to vent about old business.

In April 2006, when my husband’s ex stepson was 18 years old and planning to move out of his mother’s home, he called Bill at home. I answered the phone, because Bill was at work. Bill was overjoyed to hear from his ex stepson, since they hadn’t spoken for about a year and a half. Of course, he was just calling to make sure Bill would still pay child support to him, as he had promised when he and Ex divorced. Although ex stepson was technically not Bill’s legal responsibility, Bill had practically raised him and thought of him as his son. He assured ex stepson that he would support him with $850 a month.

Ex then called us at home. I answered the phone again. I remember her sounding very professional as she said, “Jenny, I hate to bother you, but may I please speak to Bill.” I handed the phone to Bill and they proceeded to have a very long and heated talk. Ex was basically telling Bill not to keep paying child support to his ex stepson, even though it was she who had demanded it in the divorce. She didn’t want ex stepson to have that money and the freedom it would bring him. Bill refused to grant Ex’s request, mainly because he felt ex stepson needed to get away from her.

That phone call started a tsunami of trouble that has lasted for years, but really crested about a week later, when Ex wrote Bill a hateful email. She wrote that everything bad that was happening, complete with ex stepson’s decision to move out, was Bill’s fault. She claimed he was a terrible father, conveniently forgetting that almost everything that had happened was her doing.

For those who haven’t read the backstory, here’s a brief recap. She tracked Bill down in Germany in the late 1980s, dumped her first ex, convinced Bill to marry her, had two kids with Bill, and then unilaterally decided to divorce him and completely estranged him from his kids. At the same time, she tried to force the kids to bond with her third husband and had two more kids with him. The youngest one has severe autism. She also did her very best to ruin Bill’s relationships with his own family of origin. Fortunately, that didn’t work, though there were some tense moments after Bill’s parents first heard Ex’s lies. She does lie convincingly.

In her email back in April 2006, Ex blamed most of her problems on us, but she also specifically called me out. She claimed the kids hated me, even though they only met me one time and I had seen firsthand that they had fun during their visit. Then she asked Bill not to tell me that they hated me. Bill doesn’t keep secrets from me, so he shared her email with me– specifically the parts she had written about how I was to blame for how terrible the situation was.

I knew that what Ex wrote was untrue. I was angry with her for bringing her drama into our marriage and for demanding that Bill keep secrets from me. So I wrote back to her. In some ways, I wish I hadn’t responded to Ex’s vitriol. In other ways, I think it was a good thing to do. At the very least, my email to her put a stop to her emails and phone calls to Bill. But I have also learned that whenever you respond to a narcissist, you give them ammunition. I’m sure she’s shared my email with people she could use to manipulate, not that it matters anymore. She no longer has any power over our lives. However, thanks to Ex’s hatefulness, Bill has missed out on a lot of his daughters’ lives. He missed younger daughter’s wedding, and ex stepson, who used to be a son to Bill, is now ex stepson. It didn’t have to be this way, and now the chickens have come home to roost.

In 2003, when Bill and I were first married, the kids visited us. It was the only visitation we ever had with them when they were minors. They clearly had a good time over the 48 hours they spent with us in our apartment in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We later heard from Bill’s dad and stepmother that they were raving about how much fun they’d had. Apparently, the fact that the kids had fun, particularly with me around, was deeply upsetting to Ex. So she decided to rattle her saber.

After that one visit in 2003, Ex wrote a hateful email to Bill, demanding that he double his life insurance coverage so that it totaled $1,000,000. Bill couldn’t afford to do that at the time, and it would have also required him to get another policy from a different life insurance company. So he declined to cooperate with her demands. He asked her to leave me out of her complaints about their divorce, as I had nothing to do with their decision to end their marriage. And yet, even though we’ve never met each other in person, she was certain I was doing all I could to sabotage her. I specifically remember her haughtily writing, “I’m so glad we have everything in writing so I won’t have to battle your wife in court.”

I remember being really pissed off and telling Bill, something along the lines of, “Next time that bitch writes something like that to you that includes me, I WILL be answering. And you bet your ass I would not hesitate to take her to court if I ever need to assert my rights. So you’d better stay healthy until your kids are grown.” Thankfully, he has.

So when Ex wrote to Bill in 2006, I ultimately decided to write back to her because I thought it was time someone explicitly called her out on her bullshit. Up until that point, it seemed like no one ever would. I had also made a promise to Bill that the next time Ex had a complaint about me, I was going to rip her a new one.

In my email, I remember writing to Ex that someday, she would pay for what she’d done. I told her that I knew her kids weren’t stupid. They would eventually grow up, and there would come a time when they would realize what she stole from them– not just their money, which she DID do, but also time with beloved family members. Ex was adopted and hadn’t met her biological parents at that point, so Bill’s family was the only biologically related family they knew. Keeping the children from Bill and his mother, and using visits with them as tools to control Bill’s dad and stepmother would eventually backfire. The older the kids got, the less power she’d have as they inevitably woke up to who she really is. There was a lot of other stuff I wrote, but thankfully, I no longer have the email.

Well… as Bill’s father died the other day, much of what I predicted in my warning to Ex has finally come to pass. Bill and I can’t make the funeral because we’re in Germany. If we could be at the funeral, Ex would not gain admittance. But even though we’re not able to attend, other people have decided that Ex isn’t welcome. Younger daughter decided not to send the obit to her older sister, who lives with Ex. Why? Because she doesn’t want her mother to crash the funeral. Ex may decide to crash it anyway. She can Google with the best of us. But at least two of her children know enough not to facilitate their mother’s getting her hooks back into Bill’s family, especially by using Bill’s older daughter.

Of course, in this age of COVID-19, it wouldn’t be wise for anyone to go to the funeral who isn’t local and very healthy. Ex and older daughter live in New Hampshire, and we have heard that older daughter mostly takes care of her mother’s youngest child, who has severe autism. They shouldn’t be traveling to Bill’s dad’s funeral because it’s so far away, and no one needs to be exposed to their cooties– COVID-19 related or just the plain fuckery that follows Ex wherever she goes. But knowing Ex, she wouldn’t have the consideration to stay away because of a silly pandemic. Her emotions are what matter most, at least in her mind.

We have also heard that older daughter has repeatedly tried to get SMIL’s permission to let her come down to see her grandfather/attend the funeral. I’m not completely sure if she knows her grandfather has died. I assume she knows, although it wouldn’t be up to us to tell her, since she hasn’t spoken to Bill in 15 years and is now 29 years old. In any case, SMIL has repeatedly denied her permission. Bill’s sister agreed with her mother’s decision, saying “We don’t need to deal with that BS right now.” Younger daughter supposedly reminded her sister that she hasn’t spoken to them in years, so what does she expect?

Bill said he wouldn’t have a problem with his older daughter attending the funeral, since he was her grandfather, and she did, at one time, have a loving relationship with him. I’m a bit more of a hardass, which probably comes from being the evil stepmother. Personally, I don’t think she should attend. She didn’t have enough respect for FIL when he was living to call, write, or visit him. Why should she be there to mourn him and share the grief with those who loved him enough to have a real relationship?

It would be nice if older daughter would learn from this experience, although I suspect that if she’s anything like her mother, she’ll let it turn her into more of a victim. I hope she isn’t like her mother. I thought younger daughter was, but she proved me wrong. I had always assumed, from my few interactions with her, that older daughter was a kind-hearted person. Maybe I was wrong about that.

Anyway… older daughter really should grow up. FIL won’t be the first person who dies in the family. She’s made a choice to have things her way, and that choice is now haunting her. And you better believe that if I survive Bill and she’s still behaving like this, she will get an even less welcoming response from me if she wants to attend Bill’s funeral.