Ex, lessons learned, poor judgment

Repost: Ye olde surprise visit…

I’m still debating on what today’s fresh post will be about, so here’s another blast from the past. This post appeared on my original blog on March 9, 2014.

It’s rude to just show up at someone’s home, uninvited.  This was a lesson I didn’t necessarily learn as a child.  When I lived in a suburban neighborhood, it wasn’t uncommon for me to go next door and ask a friend if he or she was available to play.  When I lived in Armenia, I had a friend whose home I used to visit unannounced.  I had sort of an excuse in Armenia, though, since, at the time, the phones were mostly useless there.  I still cringe when I think about it, though.  Dropping in on people seems very rude to me now, and I don’t do it unless I am absolutely positive I won’t offend, even if someone tells me I have a standing invitation.

My husband’s ex wife does not share my reluctance to drop over unannounced.  In fact, “ye olde surprise visit”, as Bill calls it, is one of her many tricks.  She generally does it to people who are “nice”, especially if they care about her kids.  It’s mostly relatives that get the “pleasure” of a surprise visit. She’ll just pack up the kids and go, showing up on their doorstep.  She’s done it to Bill’s parents many times.  It never seems to occur to her that they might have other plans, or they might not be feeling well.  Or maybe they just want peace and quiet.

Ye olde surprise visitors… they don’t need an engraved invitation!

Bill’s family would never turn Ex away, even after the divorce.  They wanted to see their grandchildren.  Ex was well aware of that fact and exploited it to the hilt.  She knew the kids were her ticket to the family circle, even though by the time she and Bill had split up, most of the family couldn’t stand her.  She’d always be armed with them when she’d come by, looking for food, lodging, and information.  

I’m sure that if Ex had less assertive friends, she would have done the same thing to them.  On the surface, it seems like a friendly visit, even if it’s inconvenient.  Look deeper, though, and you soon realize it’s disrespectful.  Let’s look at what happens when someone like Ex pops by with the kids.  She rings the bell, startling Bill’s dad and stepmom, who may have been lingering over coffee, trying to decide what to do with their day.

They open the door.  There’s Ex.  She’s driven in from several states away.  She has the kids with her.  They look tired and hungry.  It’s a kind and Christlike thing to do to invite them in, even if they had other plans.  And putting up with Ex is a small price to pay, since it’s been awhile since the grandkids were last allowed over.  They let her in and she proceeds to park herself at their computer and let the kids run amok in their home.  They make lunch, which Ex determines isn’t to her liking.  Then Ex feels free to opine about how she thinks the in-laws’ Catholic beliefs are bullshit and Mormonism is the only true path to God.  She spends a couple of days in their home, leaving them exhausted and bewildered in her wake.

Now, if Ex had been some stranger, the in-laws probably would have felt free to ask her to leave.  But she’s my husband’s ex wife.  She’s pulled “ye olde surprise visit” many times, especially when she was Bill’s wife.  It’s never occurred to her that there are new boundaries, now that they’re divorced.  And the in-laws were always loathe to try to enforce them, since they knew she’d hold the kids over their heads.  Consequently, they got the surprise visit several times, even after the divorce.  The element of surprise makes it less likely that the forced visit will be rebuffed.  She shows up looking tired and hungry and, being nice, compassionate people, they take her in… and she takes advantage of their kindness.

I use Ex as the example in this post, but this type of thing happens pretty often in certain communities.  While hanging out on RfM, I’ve read many accounts of people getting unexpected drop by visits from church people.  Hell, it happens frequently in my neighborhood, as church people go door to door, knocking and ringing doorbells on Sundays or evenings.  They think they’re “sharing a message”, but they’re really more likely interrupting someone’s peace.  The element of surprise puts the victim at a disadvantage and manipulative types are quick to capitalize on that.

This isn’t to say that a drop in visit isn’t sometimes welcomed.  Sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise when an old friend or family member happens to be in the neighborhood and comes by unannounced.  Certain people can get away with it at any time.  I would never turn away my mother or mother-in-law, for instance… not that either of them would ever dream of showing up uninvited.  Perhaps that’s WHY I wouldn’t turn them away, besides the fact that one of them gave birth to me and the other gave birth to Bill.   

It can be hard to deal with someone who just drops in, especially when you are a nice person and don’t want to hurt another person’s feelings.  However, for your own good, it’s probably best to tactfully but firmly explain to the interloper that you need them to call before they show up.  A true friend will understand why they need to call, but will certainly not begrudge you your privacy if you tell them their unexpected visits are causing distress.  Someone who doesn’t care about you or have respect for your feelings will be deeply offended if you remind them that the courteous thing to do is call first before popping by.

This post, of course, doesn’t apply to surprise homecomings! 

This mom is obviously delighted by a surprise visit.

And here are a couple of comments left on the original post.

I think when i have kids, my kids will always be welcome with or without notice, as will their spouses and kids. The same will not apply to their exes. They could drop the kids off in many instances, but i wouldn’t want the ex there. it would be disrespectful to my child.

I would understand if other people didn’t feel the same and wanted notice even from their children. that’s just the way I think I will feel.

My mom and her best friend have an agreement that they can show up on each other’s doorsteps unnannounced, yet they never actually do it. Weird.

I do think it’s rude.

My mom’s best friend has been dealing with the Mormons for abut 10 years, since they found her after her last move, which was about 21 years ago. (She converted when she was eleven.)They show up without calling about once every three months. She NEVER answers the door to anyone when she doesn’t know in advance. (Her house is messy unless she’s expecting company, in which case she straightens it.. I believe she cleans her kitchen and bathrooms on a regular basis, but things are not picked up and straightened unless she’s expecting someone.) i don’t agree with her housekeeping habits, but it’s her house and she has every right to maintain it however she wants. I appreciate the fact that it’s always clean and neat when I’m there.I would never guess that it’s not always that way except she tells me so and she would have no reason to lie. Anyway, she never opens the door for the Mormons because she doesn’t know they’re coming. Maybe she wouldn’t open the door anyway. But regardless, it’s rude to show up without an invitation or without at least calling first.ReplyReplies

  1. knottyMarch 9, 2014 at 10:01 PMI think Ex was entitled and thought of herself as “family”, even after the divorce. She even told Bill that they’d always be family, despite their divorce. Nice that she treats him like family by getting his kids to disown him.

    I was not happy with my in-laws for aiding and abetting her nonsense, but it’s their house and they are adults. However, I don’t have to take part in the bullshit.  

    I think for Ex, showing up as a surprise is sort of a manipulative power ploy. She does it to get people off guard. What can they do? If they say no, she makes them feel like shit. If they say yes, she comes in and takes over. It’s a no win situation.
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Ex, mental health, narcissists, psychology, relationships

I am the “eye in the sky”…

Today’s mood music…

Back in 1982, a fantastic song by the Alan Parsons Project came out… and forty years later, it’s still relevant and cool. In fact, I never realized how prescient the lyrics for “Eye in the Sky” would be for me, personally. And the intro, “Sirius” just makes this an epic jam. “Sirius” is like the dramatic storm before the realization of what you’re facing. Listening to this live version, I can understand why Eric Woolfson did a lot of the singing for this band. Still… these lyrics are so meaningful when you’re dealing with a narcissist.

Don’t think sorry’s easily said
Don’t try turning tables instead
You’ve taken lots of Chances before
But I’m not gonna give anymore
Don’t ask me
That’s how it goes
Cause part of me knows what you’re thinkin’

Don’t say words you’re gonna regret
Don’t let the fire rush to your head
I’ve heard the accusation before
And I ain’t gonna take any more
Believe me
The sun in your Eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind

Don’t leave false illusions behind
Don’t cry cause I ain’t changing my mind

So find another fool like before
Cause I ain’t gonna live anymore believing
Some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind

Sharing the official video, because this song just kicks ass.

I was an English major when I was in college. I wasn’t particularly good at being an English major, mainly because I didn’t enjoy analyzing fiction. A lot of the books we read didn’t interest me. I also didn’t want to be a teacher, and the program was really geared for English teachers. I probably should have changed majors. But, since I didn’t switch, I came out of college knowing something about looking at words and deciphering their meanings. One thing I learned is that you can make a strong case for a lot of things, even if your interpretation isn’t exactly what was meant by the person who did the writing. I think “Eye in the Sky” is one of those songs that can mean a lot of things to different people.

When I look at those lyrics, I think they mean that someone has either figured out how to manipulate someone else, or someone recognizes that they are being manipulated. Lately, I have been feeling a little bit like “the eye in the sky”, watching from afar what has been going on with my husband’s former wife and her sketchy dealings with his family. It turns out my instincts were correct. Ex went to see my husband’s stepmother because she was hoping to squeeze her for money.

Fortunately, it turns out that SMIL wasn’t as vulnerable as she might have seemed. My husband’s sister asked her mother about the visit, and she learned that yes, Ex did request financial help. SMIL wisely turned her down. But then Ex went out and bought a bunch of packing materials for SMIL and told her to use them to send her any items that she wanted to “pass down”. Naturally, this really hurt SMIL’s feelings. She was hurt that Ex so brazenly asked her to send her stuff, which, knowing Ex, would just end up being sold on eBay.

I admit that I was pretty upset with SMIL for trusting Ex and allowing her in her home, since she should have known full well what she’s about by now. I’m not close to SMIL at all, but I still don’t want to see her being taken advantage of, especially by my husband’s ex wife. I am very relieved that she didn’t give in… or, at least that’s what she says happened. I doubt she’s lying, though, since she admitted that Ex hurt her feelings by openly soliciting heirlooms from her ex husband’s family. Sheesh! The attitude of entitlement is just astonishing!

In any case, I’m not stupid enough to think we’re out of the woods. It concerns me that Ex was tweeting about her “mum”– a 71 year old woman who just visited the Golden Gate Bridge. That describes SMIL. And Ex was asking about how to buy a photograph to “send” to SMIL. I doubt she would actually send her anything, because Ex is very greedy. But, if by chance she ever did send her a gift like that, there would be an expectation of “reciprocity”.

Reciprocity is a concept I learned about when I was studying social work. It’s the idea that if someone gives you something or does something for you, you “owe” them something in return. Many people fall prey to this mindset, and people like Ex will exploit it to the hilt.

Don’t get me wrong. Reciprocity can be a very positive thing. It can help foster a sense of cooperation and community. Mutually beneficial relationships are at the heart of every successful collaboration where everybody wins. But– when someone toxic abuses that concept of reciprocity, it can be a very damaging thing. Suddenly, you might find yourself beholden to someone, even though you never asked them for “help”, or a gift, or anything else.

Narcissists can use reciprocity to get what they want. They extend a kindness and then, all of a sudden, they’re demanding a payback of some sort. You might hear things like “after all I’ve done for you” or “I gave you such and such; the least you could do is help me out with this”. Then there’s “negative reciprocity”, which is when someone “pays you back” with retribution of some sort. Ex is all about reciprocity, both the positive and negative types. Whenever someone has said “no” to her or held her accountable, her response is to do something damaging.

Take, for instance, Ex’s actions in 2006, after I sent her an angry email. She had gone on the warpath, having asked Bill to talk her son out of moving out of her house. She called up Bill and demanded that he withhold child support from former stepson. She didn’t want him to have the money, because he was planning to use it to move out of her realm of control. Bill refused, and then demanded to know what was happening with his daughters, since Ex had refused to allow him any contact with them. Ex’s response was to send a hateful email to Bill, along with all kinds of mean comments about me. At that point, I had only met the kids once– back in 2003 (and actually, to this day, that is the only time I was in their physical presence)– but she told Bill they hated me and thought I was a “bad influence”. Then she asked him not to tell me what she’d written, to “spare my feelings”.

Bill told me what Ex had written, so I wrote her back, and my email pointed out all of the toxic, horrible, abusive things she’s done. Ex’s response was to get her son to reconnect with his natural father. And actually, we weren’t that upset about that, since bio dad should have always had a connection to his son. But I think she was upset that this didn’t make Bill angry, so her next step was to get ex stepson to secretly reclaim his original surname, while he was getting child support from Bill (at age 21). I found out what was happening because, like I said, I am the “eye in the sky”. Bill busted the lad, whose response was to permanently cut off all communication. That was “payback” from Ex for not accepting her demands– negative reciprocity.

She is not above using positive reciprocity, though. Like, for instance, she will let SMIL see Bill’s long lost older daughter after years of no contact. But, in return, she expects to be treated like SMIL’s daughter. She expects SMIL to be loyal to her, instead of Bill, her stepson. She expects SMIL to give her money and heirlooms. And, if SMIL doesn’t comply, she will take Bill’s older daughter out of contact again. Older daughter, bless her heart, is at age 30, willingly going along with this. I suspect it’s because she knows that if she doesn’t, she will be cut off from her mom and Ex’s “severely autistic son”. And if older daughter isn’t there to look after her brother, who knows what might happen? Actually, I suspect that if older daughter ever leaves Ex, Ex will find a way to put him in some kind of permanent care. Sadly, that might actually be the best thing for him. Ex is just that toxic. Or maybe she’ll keep him at home and something terrible will happen. I suspect that Ex uses the fear of that to keep older daughter in line, even though her brother’s welfare is not her responsibility.

This situation could also be the beginning of Ex’s use of the “door in the face” technique, also known as “rejection-then-retreat” method. The “door in the face” technique is when a person makes an outrageous request that will almost certainly be turned down– say, asking for thousands of dollars for a new fence or a therapy dog– and then, after that, making a smaller, more reasonable request that might be granted, and that was the person’s actual target all along. Ex was rejected this time, but now that she’s given SMIL a taste of having older daughter back in touch, maybe she will weaken at some point and give Ex money or gifts. Or, it could be the beginning of the “foot in the door” technique, which is getting someone to agree with a moderate request (ie; allowing the visit), and then talking them into a larger request.

Personally, I think any exposure to Ex is dangerous for anyone who has ever given her supply. She is like an addict who is chasing a high. She’ll keep coming back for as long as she’s physically able. She doesn’t target Bill anymore, because she knows that he has me around to talk sense into him. Frankly, at this point, Bill would never help her again anyway, because his eyes have opened widely to who she really is. Even if I died or we got divorced, he’s DONE with Ex. He wants nothing to do with her. It wasn’t always like this. When we first married, Bill took pains to be kind to his ex wife. He wanted a civilized, amicable relationship with her. I remember him telling me on many occasions that he wished her no “ill will”. But then, as the years passed, and she treated him with contempt and did her best to ruin his relationships and sabotage his successes, he realized that their relationship was unsalvageable and could NEVER be amicable. And now that his younger daughter has told him what went on when she was growing up, that relationship is even more severed.

This morning, I read yet another AITA column on Reddit Ridiculousness. It was about a woman who had an affair, causing her to divorce. Her teenaged daughter was shattered by her mother’s infidelity. The woman married the man with whom she had an affair, then had a son with him. The daughter has been estranged for six years and has no desire to meet her brother or stepfather. She also shuns her mom, who has told her that she needs to meet her brother if she wants a relationship with her mom.

Yes… you are the asshole, Mom. Although I don’t think Daughter should hold Son accountable for their Mom’s actions. It’s not his fault Mom is an asshole.

Someone commented that she didn’t even need to read the responses, since her “narc” mom had done the same kind of thing with an ultimatum. Below is the comment she left, which really made my heart go out to her. Ex has the same “transactional” attitude, and is quite fond of the ultimatum– bartering valued family relationships for attention and supply, and money, of course.

I don’t even need to read this. My narc mother had a similar ultimatum with my whole family: they had to have a relationship with her in order to be allowed to have a relationship with us children. Everyone ended up having to choose not to know us kids anymore for their own safety. It caused me to have a HUGE extended family that I know nothing about, and now there are so many people that know and love me that I don’t feel like I can approach because even though they’re family and I know they’re great people, I just don’t know them.

I left the above poster a comment, and this was her response. It’s like these narcs have a fucking playbook! Tragic for her brother! Tragic for Bill’s older daughter, who is being held hostage and acts like a slave.

Yep. My dad lives across the country and we are slowly learning about each other every chance we get, and unfortunately my brother (who lives with mom in still another far corner of the country) hasn’t been able to make the choice to take any chances to try to do that.

Watching Bill reconnect with his long lost younger daughter has been a rewarding, yet heartbreaking, experience. Because she always had him… and if she was only allowed access to him, she could have had a very different life. Or, at least a very different childhood and adolescence. But, I am so heartened to see that younger daughter isn’t like her mom, and is determined not to be like her. She is stronger than Ex is. Ex used to complain about her adoptive mom using similarly damaging and abusive– transactional– tactics on her. But now, we see, she learned a lot from her mom. We also know this is learned behavior, as Ex was adopted. So, just because younger daughter has a narcissistic mother, she doesn’t have to follow in her footsteps. She has told Bill that she is not going to go that path. All I can say is BRAVO! Thank God she found better role models.

Well, once again, it’s time to bring this entry to a close. We have another lunch date today, and I need to get dressed. I am truly glad that Ex didn’t score any funding from SMIL, and I’m heartened to know that SIL is being vigilant. But I also know that Ex will try again. So I will continue to be the “eye in the sky”… although I would rather not be. Maybe it’s not my responsibility to be so vigilant… but I genuinely am concerned. Also, I genuinely despise Bill’s ex wife, and I want her to stay away from his family. If that makes me “mean” and “selfish”, so be it. I’m human, and I have personally had to pay for some of Ex’s bullshit myself, simply because I love her ex husband… a man who is, thankfully, very deserving.

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complaints, Ex

Repost: While I’m ranting, how about a few comments on entitled people?

Yesterday, I reposted a couple of articles that were on my original Blogspot version of this blog. One of those posts originally had a link to the post I’m rerunning today. I’ve decided to repost this because I think it has relevant information to my recent Ex bashing theme. So, if you read this, keep in mind that it was originally written in 2010, and things have changed somewhat since then. I like to try to keep reposts as unedited as possible.

I know this is a subject that has come up on my blog before, but since no one reads the damn thing anyway, I might as well vent.  

I have a hard time dealing with entitled people, especially when they’re family members.  Now, I do realize that I was once one of those entitled people.  It seems to be a rite of passage when you’re growing up.  Sometime in my 30s, I guess I started to realize the error of my ways and changed my attitude somewhat.

But seriously, I have noticed a startling attitude of entitlement in certain age groups.  I guess that’s a sign that I’m turning into a crotchety old fart.

Take, for instance, my husband’s kids.  Of course, I guess we can barely call them his kids, since they haven’t spoken to him since 2004.  But he has faithfully paid child support for them anyway, at least until the older one turned 18.  Originally, my husband was supposed to pay until each kid was 22.  And, in fact, he did pay child support to his former stepson until the lad was 21 years old.  It’s a long story as to why my husband paid support for a kid that wasn’t his.  Suffice it to say that my husband has a huge heart and thought of the boy as his son.  Bio dad was out of the picture.

Anyway, this kid’s name was legally changed to my husband’s name when he was a young lad.  My husband, stupidly, had nothing to do with this name change business.  His former wife had handled the whole thing and convinced my husband that it was all for the best.  The boy was calling him “daddy” and all…

Well, when things went south with my husband’s first marriage, the ex decided he needed to pay.  And so she set up a divorce decree that awarded her a sizable amount of child support that would be paid for many years, even beyond each kid’s 18th birthday and even for the boy who wasn’t his (hubby never adopted him).  Again, stupidly, my husband agreed to it.  On the other hand, maybe he wasn’t so stupid, since their decree was not drafted by a lawyer.

Because my husband is a decent guy, he fully intended to keep paying support for these kids, even as they became more and more alienated.  The day came when his daughters disowned him and refused to call him “daddy” anymore.  I suspect most of their problems stemmed from half baked bullshit they were hearing from their mother, their own anger and abandonment issues, and the fact that their father had married me.  Now, before anyone tells me I’m to blame for this, understand that I have only met these kids once over the almost eight years I’ve been married to their dad.  I haven’t had the ability to fuck up their lives in any way.  And their dad has not missed a child support payment, at least not until the older daughter turned 18 and continued to refuse to communicate (not even to give her dear old dad a bank account number so he could send her the money he’d promised to pay).

So… last year, we discovered that the former stepson, who was 21 years old and itching to take a trip abroad, had finally gotten back in touch with his biological father.  And he found out that bio dad wasn’t such a bad guy after all.  My husband was actually happy about this because, aside from bio dad not paying any child support for all those years, he never had any real proof the guy was as bad as his ex had made him out to be.  And since ex’s third victim was now being called “daddy” by my husband’s kids and victim’s own two kids with ex, my husband could see how the first victim must have felt to be outcast all those years.

Sometime in 2008, then 20 year old ex stepson told my husband that come June of 2009, he could stop paying him child support because “he wouldn’t need it anymore”.  My husband was impressed by what looked like an act of maturity until a few months later.  I happened to be looking around on the Internet and ran across some information that indicated that the lad was planning to change his name.  This wasn’t such a big deal… again… the name never should have been changed in the first place.  But that boy didn’t mention a word about his plans to my husband, the man he had been calling “daddy” for so many years.  Hubby gave him plenty of opportunities to tell him, but the lad must not have gotten the hint.

So… my husband decided to cut the boy off, since he wasn’t coming clean.  Kid confronted him.  Husband confronted him right back and busted him for what he was trying to do.  The first thing out of that kid’s mouth was not “I’m sorry” but, “How did you find out about that?”

My husband told the young man that he had until Easter to get his shit together and he wanted to know when the name change was final.  The kid agreed, sending the following crappy email.

April sounds fine dad. I am leaving for China in May and I was planning on having one last installment while I am there, but that is fine. I have given it alot of thought, and even though I use the money. I should start living on my own. I do have some debt, but i will be able to take care of it. I don’t want this relationship to be solely monetary. I don’t always have time to write and email, and I do not have a phone number for you. Do not be upset that we rarely speak. I have not replaced you with [bio dad]. You are both my dads in different ways. I love you Dad, and I always know you are there. Give me some insight as to why the installments were not automatic as you said they were. I do not understand the reasoning for that. I mean everytime you are out of town, they get set back. Like this month I understand Feb. ended early, but I am trying to get my car fixed and I am dependent onthose funds for the time being. It is just a curiosity factor. After April.I will have diff!!erent plans for money, but as of now. I am depending on timelyness dad. I want more than just this keeping us in contact, but how am I supposed to contact you. Please Write back and know that I love you and look up to you as a father. because you are my father.



Love, A.

Aside from atrocious writing skills, the kid seems to think that I’m behind my husband’s decision to cut off his money.  While I certainly supported my husband’s actions, I am not the one who cut off the boy’s funds.  That was entirely my husband’s doing and his decision.

And then we found out the name change had gone through and we didn’t hear a word from the boy… who, incidentally, was also driving a car that my husband had given him free and clear.

So my husband cut the kid off again, sending him this note.

A, 
I’m sorry to hear about your car. That’s just how life is sometimes. 

I was clear when I told you that I needed to know when you changed your name. After not hearing from you for nearly eight weeks I surmised that your name change was final and you no longer wanted my help. Your bank account and email address haven’t been changed, so I stopped the allotment to protect myself. 

I’m glad you don’t want our relationship to be about money and that you are ready to be on your own. Good luck in China. As always, I’d love to hear from you when you aren’t so busy. 


Best Regards, 


Now, when my husband is kind and forgiving, it takes the boy weeks to write.  When he’s a little impersonal, it takes hours.  Next thing we get is this…

I was too shocked and hurt during that time to reply to your emails Dad. My name change is final and for your record my name Is […] I am still your next of kin, so im sure you need that information. until my legal proceeding I am in quite alot of debt. There is no more money I would ask for, but I have maxed my credit card. As one last installment, would it be possible just to receive 500 dollars. that is all i ask from here on out dad. I love you and will always stay in contact with you. 
Love, A

Needless to say, this email really pissed off my husband.  Nevertheless, he did try to help the boy, not by sending him money, but by giving him some information and advice.  “A” didn’t want to hear it, though, and refused to answer phone calls or emails.  To this day, we haven’t heard a peep out of him.  Actually, I’m kind of glad about that.  Even though “A” and his sisters probably think I am the world’s biggest bitch and, I’m sure, think I’m behind what they perceive as my husband’s “meanness” (though it’s actually just a sudden growth of a spine plus a set of balls), I’m actually kind of enjoying the silence.  Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to embrace one’s inner bitch anyway. 

I still can’t believe that a 21 year old man would expect child support, especially after pulling the stunt he did and especially when it was coming from his former stepfather, who at this point, legally can’t be anything more than a good friend to him.  Clearly, my husband’s relationship with his former stepson was entirely about money.  

And as for victim #3, I hope he’s been taking notes.

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Ex, narcissists

Repost: Since you asked… questions and answers

My friend Alexis asked several questions in the comment section on the original Old Emails post, so I answered her in a new post. I am only reposting this because it goes with the other post, and because I think it clarifies things a bit. Just a reminder that this was written in August 2013. Things have changed somewhat since then.

Since you asked…

Alexis asked me a few questions about my “Old Emails” post.  Here are my responses to her questions and comments. Alexis’s questions are italicized.

There’s so much material here that I don’t really know where to start, so I’ll just mention a few things. I think Bill was a very brave man (though maybe he had no choice) to be worth more dead than alive to such a complete psycho.

I don’t know that it was bravery or complete guilt that prompted him to compensate her so lavishly after their divorce.  When I met him, he thought the whole thing was his fault.  He was really overwhelmed with guilt.  I was inclined to be open-minded about Ex when we first got together, but then I quickly started to see that she was totally exploiting him.  That is her typical M.O.  She finds people who are vulnerable and uses them.

This was just a little thing, but it really got to me when she was describing her co-worker who resembled Bill, and alluded to his even being writer as Bill is, except that he, the co-worker, pursued his craft diligently, while Bill went to work for the Pentagon. Precisely where the fuck does she think any of us would be if, throughout history, at least some of our brightest and best didn’t make the sacrifice of devoting the better part of their lives to careers in the military?

I read that comment a couple of ways.  First off, the gushy way she writes about the co-worker makes me think she was not over Bill.  The part about him being actually published (and who knows if he really was or not– anyone can be published nowadays) was a way of keeping Bill in check.  She likes to pepper her responses with subtle little digs that you might miss if you aren’t paying attention.  I do know that Bill’s salary in the military was what made it possible for her to be getting $2550 a month in child support for ten years.  Had he stuck with her plan and continued to work in factories, it would have been a hell of a lot less.  Also, it’s proof that despite her comments to the contrary, the girls knew who Bill was.  Apparently, they “forgot” about him as they got older, though.

Is she a really good actress? I’m trying to get inside Bill’s head and figure out what made him think she was ever worthy of even his holding a door open for her at a post office, much les marrying her. Some of those Cluster B types can hold it together for just long enough to get someone to make a commitment.

I don’t know about her acting skills, but she can be very slippery.  My mother-in-law says her presence is overwhelming.  After you talk to her, you feel like you’ve been caught in gale force winds or something.  She found Bill when he was very vulnerable.  He was a young lieutenant in the Army at a time when the Army had no tolerance for mistakes.  He had a low opinion of himself and wasn’t doing that well.  She overwhelmed him with attention and positive regard.  Once they married, that went away. 

She is not a particularly attractive woman.  I mean, she looks like a normal middle aged woman.  She’s very pear shaped, with a big butt, hips, and elephant like legs.  My mother-in-law said she looked at my legs when we first met… so did Bill.  They were delighted to see that they weren’t like Ex’s.  The one thing I noticed in pictures of her is that when she smiles, it looks very forced and fake.  I’m five years younger than Ex and, I think, a whole lot prettier.  Not that I think that I’m particularly pretty… it’s just that when I smile, you’ll believe it.   

Bill had such low regard for himself in those days that he thought his Ex was his only chance for marriage and family.  A lot of people who have seen him since we’ve married have told me they think he’s handsome (and I agree).  I have told him he could have had his pick of women.  He’s good looking, intelligent, considerate, interesting and has a good job.  But when he was younger, he didn’t believe these things about himself, so he was vulnerable to Ex and her ilk.  I always told Bill that if I ever had a son, this would be one area that I would try hard to influence.  No one likes conceited people, but it can truly be dangerous to have a super low self-esteem.

Have you been able to create a relationship with Bill’s dad and stepmother in spite of her attempts to circumvent the happening of such?

Sort of.  There were some pretty hard feelings between us for a few years after that Christmas incident when I didn’t show up.  Bill’s stepmom thought that I didn’t show up because I was snubbing them.  I’m sure Ex did her best to make it seem that way; Bill said they were crying on each other’s shoulders and whining about how I spoiled Christmas by not showing up to the slaughterhouse.  Bill’s dad was upset because he saw my refusal to attend as being uncooperative and obstinate.  They didn’t really speak to me for a few years, not that I really minded.  Back in 2009, Bill’s stepmother did apologize to Bill for that Christmas debacle that they allowed Ex to stage in their home.  And she asked him to apologize to me on her behalf.

In 2010, we went to their house and had a visit.  We talked for two or three days straight and I explained in detail why I wasn’t there.  I told them that I felt it was the most respectful thing I could do, given how wickedly pissed I was about the whole thing.  I knew if I were there, the tension would have been intolerable.  There would have been a fight.  I stayed out of the vortex for everyone’s sake– Ex’s included.  At that time, she didn’t know who she was fooling with.  They said they understood and seemed to forgive me, especially when I added that we really couldn’t afford that trip at the time, either.

But we still don’t have a very good relationship.  I deleted stepmother-in-law from my Facebook when they started talking to younger daughter again (again– things have changed since 2013– younger daughter eventually came around).  I did that because I don’t want anyone from Ex’s sphere to have access to my Facebook page.  And even though stepmother-in-law claims to be angry with Ex, they are somewhat cut from the same cloth and I think any relationship they have with the kids will include one with their mother.

As far as her current husband goes, is he as manipulated as Bill was, or is he a real tool who deserves her as much a she deserves him?

I think victim #3 is every bit as manipulated as Bill was.  I also think he’s a real tool who deserves her.  He was extraordinarily rude to Bill on multiple occasions, while Bill was always civil and polite to him.  He acted like a complete asshole in Bill’s father’s home.  And he spent a good portion of his marriage to Bill’s ex, sitting on his ass playing video games and living off Bill’s child support.  It’s only been recently that he’s gotten a job in which he might support his own two kids.  I know the Ex has told him stories about Bill… she told Bill stories about her first husband that led him to believe he was abusive.  But #3 apparently lacks any critical thinking skills, just like everyone else in that household. 

We hear that Bill’s ex is not working now, supposedly because her youngest kid has autism.  And yet she bills herself as a master’s level “educational consultant”.  This, from someone who dropped out of high school and took about twenty years to earn a bachelor’s degree.  I don’t think she has a master’s degree… but if she does, I have serious questions about the quality of the program she supposedly attended.

Have you ever met this woman in person?

No.  I chose not to meet her when we dropped the kids off after that one visit in 2003.  I chose not to attend the Christmas debacle.  Though it wasn’t my plan to avoid meeting her, I think it was a blessing we’ve never met each other in person.  People like my husband’s ex wife thrive on information about their victims.  Meeting her would give her the chance to find out what makes me tick.  As it is now, I know a whole lot more about her than she does about me.  That’s the way I like it.  As time went on, I realized she wasn’t someone I wanted to know anyway.  All I need to know about her is that she’s highly manipulative and dangerous.

Also, she has a way of overwhelming people.  I liken it to being in a shaken can of soda.  She doesn’t let people relax, settle down, and think, so they’re in constant crisis mode.  It’s exhausting, but it also keeps her in control.  I think if the people around her had the chance to settle, they would soon see what they’re caught up in.  Bill said he felt better as soon as they separated and got better and better as time went on, despite living in a tiny, drafty apartment on $600 a month.  He was much happier being almost destitute, but on his own, than he was with all his paycheck but living with her.  She is a very toxic person.  Besides, she controlled the money he brought in and she spent it like a drunken sailor on things like Disney collectible plates, Swiss Colony snacks, and trips to the temple instead of on their mortgage.  At least when he was on his own, he could control his money and start to recover from the financial nightmare. 

It took several years for Bill to get his good credit back.  I was there for those years and we kept things mostly separate for the first few years of our marriage because my credit rating is excellent.  It also took him several years to trust me with the finances.  He had to, once he went to Iraq.  I paid off all his credit cards and a couple of my own.  Ex, on the other hand, did not pay Bill’s credit cards when he was incommunicado.  He should have been handling his own money, granted, but she had convinced him that she was better with finances and again, there was the issue of her meltdowns when he didn’t go along with her demands.  Abusers typically control the money in their household; that’s how they keep people in line.  Ex was apparently under the impression that I was handling the money in our house.  See this post for more on that… (it’s a post from 2010, that maybe I’ll repost some other time…)

Standard
divorce, Ex, narcissists, religion

Repost: Old emails…

In today’s fresh post, I mentioned a post I wrote in 2013 that appeared on my original blog. It was called “Ripple eff-Ex”. I indicated that I might repost that entry today, but now having read it, I don’t think it would add anything new to this blog. So, instead, here’s a post from August 2013… I think it offers more information about the type of person we’re dealing with. I warn you that this is really long and kind of fucked up… I completely understand anyone who doesn’t want to wade through this shit. But I also know I have a few readers who might find this an interesting read.

I found a bunch of old emails from Bill’s ex wife today…  Since I’m in a mood, I think I’ll post them for shits and giggles…

This first one was written after the kids’ one and only visitation with us.  It was sent on August 18, 2003, almost exactly ten years ago… before the shit really hit the fan in a big way.  Notice that she insults me by implying that I’m going to manipulate my husband into not taking care of his kids.  She also demands more money in the form of life insurance.  Bill had about $750,000 in insurance for ex and the kids.  She had wanted $1 million, but USAA would not insure Bill for that much.  So she’s basically saying that she wanted him to replace the then $250,000 SGLI policy if he decided to make me the beneficiary.  And she also wanted him to give her the original $1 million in coverage she wanted…  We did the math and determined that had Bill suddenly died back in 2003, ex would have missed out on about $300,000 in child support– and that’s if he had paid until each kid was 22, which he ultimately didn’t.  If he had died young, she would have stood to get quite the windfall.  We ended up making me the beneficiary of the SGLI policy, while ex had $500,000 in coverage until each kid came of age.  Now, I am the sole beneficiary of the insurance. 

Hi Bill,

Just a quick note about a few things, it is practically impossible to talk privately on the phone and I imagine you have the same situation at your end as well.  = )

1 – I have not asked for you to help with the kids’ medical bills for some time, as I have been able to manage them.  The girls have not been ill to speak of and [ex stepson’s] prescriptions and visits to the Dr., albeit numerous, are not exorbitant, though I have spent a few hundred dollars on his medical bills just recently due to office visits more often and changing prescriptions frequently.  He is now seeing a dermatologist and I have not yet received a bill; if it is outrageous and I cannot afford to pay it all, I will let you know, but I do not anticipate it being so.  I generally pay only about $50 per visit for [ex stepson] to the Doctor plus his prescriptions that run me about $25 a month. However, the girls both need new glasses.  I picked up [older daughter’s] this week and [younger daughter’s] will be ready next week. Could you help me pay for them?  They are a couple hundred dollars each; [older daughter’s] were $211 to be exact. This was the cost after insurance coverage that I purchased because Tri-West does not cover eye exams.  [Younger daughter] will not be getting her second stage of braces quite yet, so we have a reprieve for a little while.  Please drop me a line and let me know.

2 – I know we forgot to do the bank paperwork and ID for [younger ex daughter] and [ex stepson] while we were there. I am sorry.  Please let me know what information you need in order to get the paperwork at your end so I can provide it to you.  I will then take them to the nearest military installation or (hopefully) reserve unit here to get them processed.  If you will sign your portion and send the paperwork for the bank, I will be happy to sign it for you and submit it to USAA thereby removing me from your bank accounts. (Note– this was over two years after their divorce!!!)

3 – Now that you are married, I realize you may need to adjust your life insurance policy needs to account for added responsibility.  Please keep in mind our agreements and consider having separate policies for knotty and us as it would make life a lot simpler for knotty and myself should anything happen to you.  If you wish to change the SGLI to show knotty as beneficiary, I would understand, as long as you have a separate policy, as agreed, with me as the executor on behalf of the children and for the appropriate amount, including what would have been covered by SGLI.  I recall that you originally only took out a policy for half the amount we agreed upon for the children only, as that was all that you could manage at the time.  I received information from USAA recently that their policy rates have dropped dramatically and hope that you will consider checking into it before they increase again.  Additionally, I wish you would extend the life of the policy from 15 years to 30.  It would be nice to have something for the kids …when we are gone.  I have similar arrangements myself because they deserve it and because I know how it feels to have no one at all to depend upon for help.  I’ll soon have “trust” accounts for each of them through USAA so that I will have a place to put money for them, for college, etc., both from the money you send me and from myself, until they are of an appropriate age to manage it for themselves.  I understand, from what the children and Papa and Mimi have said, that knotty is quite adamant about how things should be most of the time.  For this reason I am glad we made the provisions in our paperwork that we did; it will keep you from having to battle your wife over providing for your family.  I am truly glad for this and hope that the children are never a bone of contention in your relationship; I want you to be happy, always.  If you wish, we could set up the policy so that I could make the payments myself and you could slightly adjust the allotment I receive accordingly to cover that amount.  I am not sure how USAA would set it up logistically, but I am certain that they would allow me to be the responsible party for the policy though you were the insured party and let me do some sort of auto withdraw from my account for the premiums.  Please let me know your thoughts on how best we should proceed and how best to insure the children’s long-term future is stable.

Lastly, I am truly sorry we did not get a chance to talk while we were there but it was a wild and crazy trip, just no down time.  So much I wish I could say but…I won’t.  I do want you to know the kids are doing well.

Younger daughter told me your dog was injured; I hope she is all right (C.C., our blue eyed beagle mix got very sick with a mycobacterial infection after their visit. Sadly, he died a few months later.).  I know they have told you about the guy at my office who looks just like you.  They are driving him nuts, pointing and giggling, poor thing!!  It is highly amusing, I must admit, although it was a bit unsettling for me to be introduced to you from 15 years ago, mannerisms, looks, demeanor, he’s even a writer …although he has pursued it diligently and has been published where your path took you to the Pentagon instead …it is all a bit bizarre!!  The kids are all doing well in school so far.  The girls are in new schools this year, older ex daughter in Middle School and younger ex daughter in a school closer to home and where some of her church friends attend.  I became aware of some negative influences at her old school that I was afraid for her to have to deal with since older ex daughter was leaving for Middle School.  Ex stepson will be starting Aikido lessons in about a week and I am hoping the girls will attend as well.  They are tired of dance classes and can take gymnastics and swim through the YMCA membership I bought them; this would be a great extra curricular activity for them.   Ex stepson is buckling down and studying …at last …because he has decided he wants to try to get into BYU and is requesting transfers into several honors classes to try and improve the looks of his transcript and boost his GPA.  If he loses the $100 calculator I bought him he’s dead meat!! ::laughs:J.  He had a wonderful experience on his kayaking trip and was quite impressed by the BYU campus; he seems quite serious.

Thank you for calling them this weekend, they are always glad to get to talk to you and catch you up on what is happening in their world.  Please reply when you have a chance.  If email is the only way you and I can talk, then …email it should be.

I hope and pray that you are well …and happy,
As ever, Ex = )

Bill sent his ex an assertive response to this email, which pissed her off.  

Ex,
Good Morning.  There is a lot to cover here and I’m afraid I’m quite busy today.  I have a meeting with “now” BG Durbin, who was LTC Rossi’s XO back so many years ago in Germany.  We certainly live in a small world.  Let me know ASAP what you need for the girls glasses.  We are going to Dad’s next weekend, so I have to plan finances.  Also, I’ll send out the paperwork for USAA this week for you to sign and drop in the mail.

The kids look great!  I was very happy to see them, although our time together was limited.  They told me they liked Virginia, and would like to visit again.  Ex stepson also said he was interested in a career in acting, and was even looking at schools here in Virginia.  As it happens, the son of one of the contractors I work closely with is an actor, has done commercials and has a cable TV show in NY.  He  recommended JMU and I forwarded that information to ex stepson. 

Recently, I looked at the life insurance situation, and my responsibility to cover knotty as well as the rest of the family.  Currently, the children (with you as the executor) are covered by a combination of $750K of life insurance.  Should anything happen to me, that would cover their support payments almost three times over, maxed out till age 22.  Concurrently, I’m maxed out with USAA (500K maximum on AC soldiers), although they will review my file for a rate reduction this December.

I honestly feel since the dynamics have changed all around that we should reevaluate this situation.  I think that right now, the 500K I have with USAA will sufficiently cover the children.  You are remarried, and have a good job.  I don’t know if your husband is working now, but that is a second source of income as well.  Given this, I want to make my wife the beneficiary of my SGLI.  I have a responsibility to cover her as well. 

I know full well we have a legal agreement, and I’ve done my best to adhere to all of the tenets within that document.  You’ve always gotten support on time, without any complaint from me.  I’ve always been ready to help with medical bills whenever you should ask for that help.  Please recall that I helped with younger daughter’s braces while in Kansas, paying child support, alimony, and a mortgage.  I think we’ve seen a lot of give and take with that agreement–we’ve both done things above what was agreed, and failed to adhere to some things as well.  I’d like to think of it as a “living document” amongst the two of us.  I’d prefer to avoid having it formally reevaluated. 

Vacation is an additional matter.  I’d like to see them more often, and I’d like to bring them to Virginia, or be the one who brings them to see their grandparents.  I’m prepared to put them on a plane either up here, or with Dad’s permission, down there for the holidays.  I don’t think any threat of terrorism is a viable excuse to avoid this.  They have traveled on aircraft before.  Last year was the safest year for air travel in this country.  Let me know your thoughts.  I’m sure we can come to an agreement here.  

knotty is just clear with her thoughts and feelings.  I don’t have to play any guessing games.  We are a partnership.  She has never attempted to persuade me to neglect the children, in fact, she’s always on me to call them, Dad and my stepmom, and Mom.  I think the kids benefited from meeting her.  It helped to dispel the “evil stepmother” motif that seems to run through children’s minds.  Papa and Mimi have met her twice personally, although they have talked with her on the phone several times.  I’m hoping they will have a chance to form a deeper relationship as the years go by (sadly, that never happened). 

You should understand Ex that I know my responsibilities.  I don’t think that is in dispute here.  I understand (as do you) that I have to care for the children.  But I also have a responsibility to care for my wife, and together, we have a right to start our own family.  You have done the same with your new daughter, through your husband.  This will sound cold, but if I died tomorrow I’d have no faith that the kids would get $250K a piece.  I’d know instead that they’d be “cared” for, in the general sense of the word.  Any financial obligations benefiting you personally are ended on my part.  This may be hard to swallow, but it’s how I feel.  I perceive that you are in better financial shape with career and husband than you were four years ago. 

I think the idea of trust funds for the kids is a good one…one that I was going to recommend but you beat me to it. 

Bottom line, I want the same opportunity.  The opportunity to see the kids more, on different soil, and the opportunity to provide for a second family that I have started.

Think about it and write me again.  But let’s take care of the glasses issue right away.  I’ll also see about extending my coverage out to 30 years.  If ex stepson wants it, I’ve got a 2MB Handspring Visor PDA that I’ll send him.  It’s more than what he’ll need for school/work/personal use, and runs on Palm software.

Bill

This was her response.

I would like to take a little while to absorb all that you have said.  It would seem my email to you was set in a very different tone that what I perceive is coming from you.  After all that you have done to the children, and me I find this …quite frankly …unbelievable and would prefer not to comment without having time to carefully choose my words.  You will hear from me again.

Bill wrote this.

Certainly, 

But I recommend you take a moment and read both emails in entirety. I didn’t have a problem with what you said until I read it again more carefully. You are reminding me of my obligations to the children and to our agreement. I don’t need this reminder. I’ve been faithful as best I can be, and I’ll continue  to be faithful to them long after they leave home and are free to chose to visit me anytime and anywhere. I believe they know I love them, and wouldn’t want to hurt them in any way. They are still under the impression, by the way, that I just up and decided one day to leave them, and that I’m consequently lost to them forever. What a cruel uncertainty for them to have to face, and it places the burden all on me.  I think you know I’m not a deadbeat dad.  You get (on their behalf) 30% of my salary.  You get all of the tax breaks as well, including the big one this year!  I’ve always been there to help with unexpected bills whenever you’ve asked.  I’ve put up with your reluctance to let me visit our kids on my own terms, and to see my parents visited by my ex-wife, with our kids, while I am unable to.  Also, I’d like to heal the rift between the kids the their other grandmother.  Granted, a lot of it is self-inflicted on her part, but I think they have a right to settle any problems they have with her before it’s too late.  Recall as well that I covered your move to Arizona for almost a year.  What I paid into the house (equity that neither of us realized) could have covered braces for the entire family, or nearly all the 15K of their inheritance from your father that you intended to recoup by selling the house yourself.  

Later, in your letter, you insult my wife. You insinuate that she’s manipulating me into breaking obligations with you. You also allude to observations that my parents and my kids have made about her. Dangerous, and potentially embarrassing if I were to ask my mom and dad what if anything, they’ve said about knotty. Let’s leave her out of this. She came into the picture well after our marriage ended. In fact, our marriage was over long before I even met knotty. She never lived in our house nor came to visit while we were still married, she didn’t break the two of us up, and she certainly hasn’t influenced me to be anything but a stronger father, and a better son. If the children should think she’s a bad influence, then I’ll work through it with them personally. They have a right to meet with her and make their own assessment of her character. I expect my parents will be honest with me concerning their feelings as well.

Interestingly enough however, if she were to meet you, she’d probably thank you. 

All I want to do is work with you where our children are concerned. I don’t want to fight with you at all over any of this. It was my sincere hope that we could work together as two more stable, and stronger adults, but you reacted to my letter with a lot of scrutiny and anger. You are immediately on the defensive, when you shouldn’t be. I am asking for equity, that’s all. After all you call all of the shots here.

You leave me with the impression that I should do whatever you say out of guilt, and that if I don’t, I’m a deadbeat. That it’s all about money, and that I don’t care about my children. Sure, I plan to have something for them in the future. I’m not going to forget them. When I’m gone, there won’t be fights over inheritance, no ugly situations similar to what you had to go through with your father. I just don’t want to be ordered to be generous to my own children.  I will no longer be manipulated by you or anyone else. You act as if I have no right to life and happiness, as if that is an adequate penance for whatever sins I’ve committed in my past.  That my wife and potential family should do without, and have no say in our finances, when there is plenty to go around– especially since you’ve covered them as well against your own life. That’s good to know.

These are my feelings, and I have a right to them. I have a right to be angry, to be hurt, and to be frustrated. 

Regardless, I still want to work with you. Again, let me know what you need for glasses and I’ll have a check in the mail either next day or same day. 

Let all of me go, Ex.  Accept that things happen for a reason and move on.  Father (he’s referring to Heavenly Father– Ex claimed that when she went to the temple, HF said she wouldn’t be alone) told you you wouldn’t be left alone, didn’t He?  When our children have left, you’ll still have a husband and child unique to the both of you. 

Bill

Several years later, the shit really hit the fan when ex stepson decided he wanted to move out of his mother’s house and go to Chicago.  I think it was because he didn’t want to go on a mission.  But Ex called us all upset and tried to strong arm Bill into getting him to stay in her home.  He refused.  The first two sentences of the email are about getting ex stepson’s bank info so Bill could pay him directly.  Apparently, Ex had been on ex stepson’s bank account and was helping herself to the money Bill was paying him.  Of course, Bill shouldn’t have had to pay for ex stepson, since he has a real dad.  But real dad wasn’t making the same money as Bill, so there you go.

Ex,

Thanks.  I can make the change online and parse it from the rest.  I’ll do that either today or tomorrow.

I didn’t sleep well last night after your call.  I imagine you’ve had more sleepless nights than usual lately yourself.  I will talk with ex stepson again, and reinforce my feelings with him.  I’ve told him before, he has several options…he doesn’t have to go through with this plan to move to Chicago.  I sense there is quite a bit of tension in your household at this point, and this facilitates his want to leave. 

For what it’s worth, I asked him earlier last week if he’d spoken to you of his plans.  When he hesitated, I reminded him that he’d regret any “midnight moves”, and that regardless of any differing points of view the two of you might have, you are still his mother, always will be, and deserve respect accordingly.

Ex, you and I are not on good terms.  Our relationship is tenuous at the very best.  However, when I’ve had contact with our children, I’ve always supported you as their mother.  I don’t feel that you can say the same of me. 

I’ve gone over our conversation in my head these past few hours.  You alleged that I didn’t care, that I wasn’t interested, and that I encouraged ex stepson to blow his money.  I’ve done nothing of the sort.  I reminded him that it was his, because I wanted him to establish a separate account that wouldn’t involve yours in any way.  But I recommended he save his money and put it toward college, or a house, or a future marriage.

In five years, younger stepdaughter will be 18.  Sooner than that for older stepdaughter.  If you perceive that there will be problems similar to what ex stepson is encountering now, and you want my help, then we have to make some changes.  Ex stepson and I have remained close enough that I believe he will listen to me.  After our discussion last night, I’m not so sure about the girls.

Consider this.  Over the past six years, they’ve never called me, even though I’ve given them more than one phone number.  Since I remarried, I haven’t received a Father’s Day card/call, Birthday card/call or a call on Christmas.  I’ve never failed to send them a card or a gift or call them on special days.  That’s my job as a Father, but if I’m not to be treated as such, at least they should have the courtesy to thank me for a card or gift with another card, or even an email. 

This is partly your responsibility as a parent in direct contact with them.  If they aren’t going to treat me as their father, then they should at least learn the courtesy to say “thanks” as if I were a friend.  I’m not telling you to force their hand, but I will tell you this:  If our children have given their stepfather one Father’s Day card, or Birthday card, or Christmas gift and either of you not asked them to consider the same for me (even if they refuse…it’s all about asking), then both of you are passively alienating them from me.

The fiasco that was Christmas 2004 is a perfect example of actively alienating me.  I wanted to take the kids to the movies.  Very quickly your husband turned an opportunity for me to spend time with our children into a “supervised” event. On another occasion, younger stepdaughter called her stepfather “dad” within earshot of both him and me and he said nothing.  With exception of your summer trip to DC three years ago, the only way of spending time with them has either been in Arizona, or Tennessee.  Again, all of these amount to “supervised” visits where either you or my parents are nearby.  Your telling the girls that they should never “separate” around me only adds more relevance to the argument.  The fact that you won’t send them on a plane to see me, for danger of terrorism, but allowed ex stepson to fly to NY drives the point home quite loudly.

Please try to be objective and see things from my foxhole.  I’m not here to start a fight with you, I’m just being honest.  We don’t have to be friends, but if you consider me their father, then at least give me a little respect, and encourage them to do the same. 

Also understand my skepticism.  You say ex stepson has all but dropped out of school?  School ends for him in a month.  Why haven’t you asked for my help sooner?  If ex stepson is having trouble, what about the girls?  You never speak to me of such things.  Equally, I’m guilty of never asking you.  But I can only help when I know the whole story, and early on. 

I am not the same man you used to know.  Our children are missing out on what I can offer them, and even on what knotty and her family can offer them.  There’s 350 years of Virginia history in her family.  She’s a classically trained vocalist, writer, and former Peace Corps volunteer who served in post Cold-War Eastern Europe.  We’ve got two beagles that love kids and plenty of room in a secure location.  They really enjoyed their time here three years ago, although very brief.  They seemed to bond with both of us.  I don’t know why all of a sudden, they won’t talk with me.  Only you can tell me. 

I really didn’t want this to turn into a rant.  I have as much responsibility for the way things have turned out as you do.  I’m only advising you to consider that I’m virtually ineffective as a father/mentor to the girls.  If that’s never been your objective, then tell me now that I’m wrong, because every indication is that I’m not.  I won’t be able to help you at all with them in the future if you consider me a threat.

I have to get back to work.  Please read this carefully and thoughtfully if you intend to respond in anger.  I’ve written this as detached and objective as I can.  I just want you to understand that for all intents and purposes, I feel that over the years you haven’t thought of me as a capable parent, (in fact the word “unworthy” has been used more than once).  I wanted you to see the impact of that impression…it severely limits your freedom of maneuver.

Regardless, I’ll do what I can for ex stepson.  And I would very much like to be a better part of the girls lives.  After all, I could be gone tomorrow.  I know for a fact that you’ve been angry with your father in the past.  But I also know you love him and miss him.  I ask you to consider our children’s feelings accordingly.

Regards,

Bill 

The above email caused Ex to really go on the warpath.  She sent Bill an email that basically said the kids hated me and didn’t want to have anything to do with me.  She also asked Bill not to tell me any of this stuff, in order to “spare my feelings”.  Bill immediately shared the email with me, which got me really pissed.  So I wrote to Ex and ripped her a new asshole, then let her know that the kids could feel however they wanted to about me, but they shouldn’t throw away their father.  I also let her know that I have seen her emails, know how she feels about me, and didn’t appreciate her asking my husband to keep secrets from me.  There was no point to doing that because he doesn’t hide things from me; he has no need to, because I don’t go ballistic when he’s honest with me. 

A couple of months after that, Bill’s daughters disowned him…  So Bill wrote a letter to them.

Dear older daughter,

I’m saddened to read that you don’t want me to be your dad anymore.  I will not sign anything that would allow your stepdad to adopt either you or your sister because I don’t feel that it is the right thing to do.  I told this to your mother several weeks before you wrote to me.  It’s a shame that she would lead you on this way.  You must think that I don’t care about you or your sister.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

You write that you want an “everyday” daddy, not a “once in a while daddy”.  I agree with you, but “everyday” daddies do more than help with homework, chores, and spend time with their kids.  They also have responsibilities to others outside their homes—they work to provide and protect their families, and see to their futures.  I am still your “everyday” daddy even though you don’t see me.  When you and I were together, I spent time with you, helped you with schoolwork, dressed, cooked for, and cleaned after you.  When you went to bed at night in Arkansas, I went to work to make sure our family would have food and a place to live.  When I returned every morning, I took you to school and I was there to pick you up most days.

You and I have a connection that your stepdad will never have.  As my daughter, you are a part of me.  We share similar characteristics of both mind and body and this will never change.  I was there at the moment of your birth.  I named you and was the first of us to hold you in my arms.  For the first few months of your life I checked on you every night.  I stayed up with you when you couldn’t sleep or were sick, and took you to the hospital more than once when you needed a doctor.  This all true, and even though you were too young to remember, it did happen and I remember it.  

I’ve never stopped being your daddy, nor was it ever my intention to do so.  I returned to the Army because I knew I could provide more for all of us, not because I wanted to leave you and your mother.  I asked your mother to come with me to Kansas, and she refused, telling me that I’d make a better father to another family.  Despite this, I had to go and leave you and your siblings in Arkansas.  In the beginning, I thought you might join me, but this didn’t happen.  Since then, I’ve provided for your food and clothing, housing and healthcare every month without fail.  As I said before, this is what daddies do.  You must understand that if your stepdad adopts you he will have to do the same since it will no longer be my responsibility.  You will probably see less of him than you already do.

Over the past six years I’ve tried to have a relationship with you.  You’re smart enough to know that I can’t be there with you very often.  My duty to the Army won’t allow me to leave at a moments notice, although I would have liked to be with you on your birthday or at other special times.  Instead, I’ve called at various times to speak with you.  I’ve tried to discover your likes and dislikes so that I could give you meaningful gifts at Christmas and your birthday.  Mostly, my conversations with you have been “one-way”.  You are old enough now to write, call, or email me anytime you want.  You and I share responsibility for our relationship, despite what others may tell you.  You will be considered an adult in three short years, and this is how adults behave.

There are aspects to adoption that no one has shared with you.  Adoption is not a matter of simply changing your name.  If you think it is consider this:  when you marry you will change your last name anyway.  If your stepdad adopted you, I would no longer legally be your father.  Your birth certificate would be changed to reflect your stepdad as your natural father, and it would be as if your last name was always his.  Legally, my parents would no longer be your grandparents.  Your stepdad would have to provide for your future as you would not be my heir anymore.  Adoption is serious, but even so it wouldn’t change the fact that I’m your father and always will be.  

You write that I will feel better if I allow you to be adopted.  That’s a lie and if anyone led you to believe otherwise they are lying to you.  Your mother may have said that this was my idea and I did make a remark to that fact in an email to her, but I was angry after reading that you didn’t want to see me.  Have you ever said or written anything that you didn’t mean?  I have and I wrote your mother later to tell her that I wouldn’t consent to your adoption.  I won’t change my mind.

Older daughter, I can’t control you, nor would I ever want to.  If you still feel the same way about me in three years when you are 18, then you are free to let stepdad adopt you.  It will be your decision as an adult.  You should consider however that your sister will still legally be my daughter, since she is three years younger than you.  Regardless of your decision, I will still consider you my daughter and that will not change.

Despite what you write, your letter is filled with anger.  This is a good thing.  If you didn’t care about our relationship at all I don’t believe you would have written as much as you did.  I told you that I would always listen to you, and would never leave my door to you, even if you were angry with me.  This hasn’t changed.  I would still like to talk with you.  There is still time to work through your anger with me.  Only then will we truly feel better.  Call me and I will talk with you, write or email me and I will answer you back.  If you want to see me, then I will arrange a meeting with you.

Daughter, I am your father and your daddy.  I am not Bill to you, nor will I ever be.  I love you very much, and I will not sign you away to stepdad.  Someday you will understand.

Love,
Daddy

Of course, there was no response.  After younger daughter turned 18, they apparently changed their names and/or got adopted.  I wish to God Bill had never laid eyes on his ex wife.  This is why Bill felt compelled to trash those photos (referring to a post I wrote about how he had thrown out old photos that caused pain).  The above letter was written in 2006.

On the original post, Alexis left me a comment asking a bunch of questions. I answered them in a separate post, which I have reposted here.

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