I realised I was in a battle long after it was over. It was so subtle that I never intuited the battle was raging at all. It wasn’t a battle I started nor wanted. This is what happened to us and what may happen to you if you have a step-daughter.
When Rhys and I married over a decade ago, he’d been alone for almost twenty years since his divorce from his ex-wife, the mother of his children.
Rhys’ children behaved welcomingly towards me at first, but I found out years after our wedding that his only daughter secretly feared that my existence threatened her father’s love for her.
Her insecurity evidenced itself at first in physical ways. As Rhys’ new wife, I naturally took my place at his side, seated next to him. She made it clear that she wanted that place in the front seat of the car with her da and expected me to crush into the backseat with her brothers.
If it was a test, Rhys passed it with flying colours. He defended my place, both physical and symbolic, as his wife at his side.
The incident happened so quickly that in the pandemonium of visitation, I scarcely remembered it. I was totally focussed on making Rhys more available to his children that ever before. I wanted them to feel more welcomed, more loved, more well fed and more comfortable than Rhys alone, impoverished and struggling with ill health, could have ever made them feel on his own.
Apparently, I failed.
It angered Rhys’ daughter (and her mother) that, for the first time in decades, her da had someone in his corner. Someone protecting him, caring for him, fighting for his welfare. He had someone taking his side, believing him, defending him from all the lies his ex told to perpetuate parental alienation. He had a posse. No longer was he the liar, the deadbeat, the parent it was fine to insult and steal from. I set boundaries on his children’s bad behaviour. I had his back and insisted his children treat him respectfully as the good father and good man that he always was. If you’ve been following this blog you know that they responded with attacks, lies, gossip, threats, harrassment, evil rumours, court battles and parental alienation for years.
If they thought they could break me and drive me to leave Rhys alone and defenceless again, they were wrong. I’m made of sterner stuff than that.
Naively, I thought all that was behind us when Rhys was reconciled with his grown children last year.
Unfortunately, again without my realising it, the old step-mother/step-daughter struggle reared its ugly head yet again. She may be an adult woman with a man of her own and children of her own, but she still demands her da on her terms.
She wanted to call at all hours of the day and night to moan about the bloody hash she’s making of her life. With Rhys’ always delicate state of health and recent battle with COVID-19, I thought it wise to set boundaries. As his insomnia increased and his health declined, exacerbated by how upset he became as she inveigled him into her sordid life, I asked her to limit her calls to certain hours so Rhys could sleep. Verbally, she agreed and I foolishly assumed that, like me, she wanted the best for Rhys’ health.
When Rhys was awake, she monopolised his time with intimate conversations she should have been having with her SO including explicit details about their sexual life and her gynaecological problems.
Again, I suggested those details should be kept between her and her man. She agreed but apparently it angered her and rekindled the old resentment and silent, unspoken battle she waged for the role of alpha female in Rhys’ life. She wanted all the control but none of the responsibility for his health and well-being.
Life has again come full circle. Rhys is alienated from his only daughter but this time, it’s her adult choice.
In retrospect, I can only conclude that I was blindly and unknowingly in a battle with the other alpha female in Rhys’ life, his daughter. Foolishly I expected that she and I would be on the same page, wanting only the best for Rhys. I thought that having cared for a man and children of her own, she would finally respect me as Rhys’ wife or, at the very least, as his caregiver.
But I was wrong. If she can’t have her da on her terms, she doesn’t want him at all.
What a shame she should choose to cheat herself out of such a wonderful father and her children out of a relationship with the kind of grandfather we all dream of having.