Ive majorly ballsed up, haven't I?(104 Posts)
This might be long so bear with me.
My dad has been with his partner for fout or five years. It took a long time for me to meet her - about two/three years. This was partly because when my dad told me about her I said I didn't want to know as my parents had only been split up about six months. I was 19 at the time, at university and really struggling with my mental health. I was depressed and have always struggled with social anxiety.
After around a year of me 'knowing' about this woman I said I'd like to meet her and it still took another year because she kept cancelling on any arrangements to meet up.
She's a nice enough woman and my dad seems to love her very much. She talks very little when I am around her and in total I've probably only met her less than 20 times. Until last year I'd never met her kids. Again arrangements had been made multiple times to meet them but these were cancelled (not by me).
My family home was finally given an offer in November last year after being on the market since my parents split up. On Boxing Day I turned up to see my dad as arranged knowing that this would be the last time I was in my home of 20+ years to find that her kids were there without me knowing they would be. Me and my DP arrived to them already settled in, one of them already settled in to my childhood bedroom and my dad hadn't told me I couldn't stay that night. I probably came across as very awkward and uncomfortable and I did have to leave the house to have a small cry on the street as I found the experience overwhelming. They were aware that me and dp were attended and so had bought us gifts. We were not aware and so had only brought gifts for my father and his partner. I felt embarrassed and my social anxiety completely took over. I probably came across as very rude as I hardly speak when the anxiety takes over (too busy having panic attacks). The night was not a complete disaster however as eventually I loosened up a little. I felt worried I'd shown myself up to be an arse and had upset my dad but he seemed ok with it all.
That was the only time I've met my dads partners daughter, I've met her son once or twice since then. However her daughter invited myself and DP to her wedding and I felt obligated for my father to say yes. In hindsight I should have declined.
Wedding was this weekend and it was a disaster for my anxiety. Obviously knew very few people there. My dad clearly has a much closer relationship to his stepchildren as I do to his partner as he has moved far away to live with her now the house is sold. I blindly assumed me and dp would be sat with my dad at the wedding but he was at the top table. We were sat with a group of randomers (I know this is common at weddings but my social anxiety really struggles with 'small talk') and for the whole ceremony I felt uncomfortable as everyone was talking fondly about a bride or groom I'd only met once before. I didn't have any funny stories - I hardly knew them. All the speeches and the table conversation felt alien to me. It felt like hell sitting through it all and I felt guilty that I was runining the day for the bride and groom and other guests as I was so out of place. I had multiplied mini panic attacks throughout the meal.
After the meal I told my dad I was going to lie down in the room for a bit as I was feeling unwell and I didn't know if me and dp would return. I honestly didn't think we would be missed as we hardly know her. I was wrong. My dads partner was fuming the morning after that we had disappeared and the bride and groom felt snubbed. I now feel that after two awful first impressions my dads new family must despise me.
I was completely unreasonable wasn't I.
It is what it is. Your dad has consistently shafted you to be honest.
Write a few letters. One to your step mum (NOT your Dad), one to the married couple and explain why you did what you did and apologize. Explain clearly about your anxiety and that your Dad didn't say the kids would be there last Christmas etc and that your expectations were completely different to the situation that you found.
It's a cleanish slate after that.
Not unreasonable, no- but it does seem a bit like some of the wedding drama could have been avoided. Did you not think to enquirer whether you'd be sat with your dad, if you anxiety is that bad? And you must have known that you wouldn't really know anybody there, or any stories about the bride and groom etc, it's just part and parcel of being a wedding guest if you've been invited out of politeness. The daughter didn't have to invite you, she was nice enough to try and build a relationship with you, and to an outsider who isn't familiar with your anxiety it could quite possibly just look like you were behaving like a drama queen.
Be honest- do you actually want a relationship with your dad's partners and her family?
carjacker if I'm completely honest probably not. Not because of anything to do with them, but more that it is completely outside of my comfort zone. This is my issue completely.
But I do want my dad to be happy and part of that is having a relationship with the woman he loves. Im open to developing this but I'm not sure the two occasions where I've met her daughter so far have been the best situations for 'getting to know' someone.
My parents marriage was a mess and I think I still have not processed all of that. My dad is very negative about my mum openly in front of me and sometimes I do worry that all these strangers think my mum is evil which is 100% not the case. I have always been closer to my mum - me and my dad did not have much of a relationship until I went to university.
But I do want my dad to be happy and part of that is having a relationship with the woman he loves.
He doesn't seem as bothered about your happiness though does he? I actually found this sentence of yours heartbreaking. You are not responsible for his happiness. Has he even explained to his partner about your anxiety problems? Does he even know about them? More to the point, does he care.
I think you should write to your Dad's partner along the lines that Wallywobbles suggests and see what happens then. Don't accept any invitation which will exacerbate your anxiety - and explain this - or check what the situation will be before deciding. Explain that these details are important to you because of your anxiety.
Anxiety is an absolute bitch.
I'm maybe not one to talk as I've completely given up any hope of cultivating outside relationships of immediate family due to my own social anxiety BUT people generally seem to be more aware of mh problems now and I think are more understanding and appreciative of just how difficult it is for sufferers. Id say just be honest with them. Have a conversation (you don't need to give too much of yourself) just let them know you like them, appreciated the invite but sometimes these things really are out of your control but you realize it can come across as rude.
Then just leave it. I think anyone who would hold it against you are people you don't really want in your life anyway.
Are you addressing your mh? X
Don't be too hard on yourself!!
I also come across as a total stuck up bitch when my anxiety gets the better of me.
You have realised your error and are sorry. That makes you a very good person.
As other posters have said I think a lot of what you're feeling is linked to your dad and his behaviour and you are projecting it on to his partners family.
So they don't like you! Who cares!
Your DP likes you and I'm sure he's not alone! Please don't spend a long time feeling rotten about this
I really think your dad was unfair to you. His DW may not have known about your social anxiety but he does! Your whole experience at the wedding could have been so different it you and your DP had been seated with your dad, that could have been arranged.
At my wedding, I spent such a long time working out the table plan, wanting to make sure the guests would have an enjoyable occasion.
For someone with social anxiety, that situation would have caused you so much stress, don't give yourself a hard time about it. You told your dad you were lying down, he should have squared it with his DW.
It doesn't sound like you're too bothered whether these people like you or not, so don't give it another thought. (Easy to say, not so easy to do, I know that!)
I've tried explaining about my social anxiety to my dad but I'm not sure he fully gets it. He was a bit dismissive of it when I brought it up again after the wedding. I also tried telling my dads partner about this the morning after the wedding when I was apologising to her for disappearing but I think I did not explain myself well and she took me saying 'I was having panic attacks' as just me being unwell? Unfortunately the bride and groom were not awake by the time we had to leave so I couldn't apologise to them which has probably made the situation worse.
I think my dad wants me to be happy but I'm not sure he's very good about being proactive and 'managing' situations. In the last few years I've realised how indirect he is with sorting things. I don't think he is the best commminciator and as a result I don't believe he is communicating to his 'new' family what I am saying to him in full.
I just feel awful. I care way to much about how people perceive me sometimes though I'm quite happy with my own bubble of friends and close relations. I know I probably come across sometimes as a total bitch and look miserable in large social situations but inside I am freaking out over every minute detail.
Sometimes I can't win.
Had a discussion with dp today and I think I need to talk to my GP. This whole wedding experience has knocked me and now I feel incredibly useless and low.
These people are strangers and not really related to you. Your father should have smoothed the way about the wedding if he knows what you're like in such situations. I'd say be civil with them for his benefit but you owe either him or them nothing more than that.
TBH your dad didn't care about you and your situation, he's not making any efforts to make this a big happy family, they live far away so I'd say get on with your life with dp and leave them to it.
Anxiety doesn't come from nowhere, it's usually a really sensible reaction to unbearable emotions.
You are allowed to feel the way you really feel about your parents breaking up. You don't have to behave in the "right" way, or perform for them.
With my mum I don't feel like I have to perform. I can talk to her about how I'm feeling (and if she's annoying me tell her to piss off so to speak).
My dad it's different. It's awkward occasionally especially now he's moved in with his partner as I don't feel as relaxed when I visit him. As I said previously our relationship was rubbish until I went to university (in fact it wasn't until he and my mum split up that we had anything close to a good father- daughter situation). We used to fight a lot in my teens. sometimes it feels that his 'new' family think he's perfect and I want to scream at them all the thing she put me and my mum and my brother through.
I think this thread is making me realise I have a lot of unrealised stuff going on and maybe I need professional help.
Don't judge yourself too harshly, anxiety really gets the better of me so I totally understand where you are coming from.
I did something truly awful at my DHs birthday which I am actually too scared to write in case he or anyone else ever reads it...
Believe me, it was much worse than heading home early from a wedding. Let the bride and groom know how lovely it was to receive an invite, that way they will see you were not being ungrateful or 'snubbing' them.
Families can be complicated and take hard work sometimes, like any relationship. But with time and the more you all get to know each other the easier the relationships will form and come together.
I was puzzling about why they got the hump that you disappeared at the wedding (how did they even notice given it was presumably quite a big event). I think it could be various things:
1. It came across as: they invited you out of politeness, you turned up, noshed their food and then immediately left.
2. There were some photos that were meant to show what a marvellous blended family they were and so you sabotaged that by not being present.
I would assume the former, since group photos don't typically happen after the meal.
I would write to the bride and groom to thank them for inviting you, and apologising for disappearing so suddenly. Explain perhaps about your anxiety or just refer to illness, whatever is easier for you. I wouldn't make any reference to the previous situation of them being in your childhood home - but I would reflect on the fact that these were two difficult social occasions completely mismanaged by your dad. Add on the fact that he is bad mouthing your mum in front of you and I wouldn't be going out of your way to have much to do with him.
I think getting some professional help with your anxiety is a good idea, but I wouldn't be making any efforts at contact until you're feeling stronger.
I'm afraid I would have expected you to try a bit harder on both occasions. Social anxiety does sound like a get out clause for having to make a real effort for someone else's sake.
You were in a no win situation, decline and be slated or attend and have to suffer with your anxiety and still end up being slated. Whilst mental health is more discussed it is still not treated with the seriousness it deserves. Is there a reason why your brother was not with you at the wedding?
Anxiety is not something you have to live with. We all experience anxiety to a certain extent but when it reaches a level where it is seriously impacting on your life it is time to seek support. Counselling, cbt, medication even, can be incredibly helpful in learning to manage and reduce anxiety.
Make an appointment with your gp and go from there. You do not have to suffer like this.
My brother was there and went to his room the same time as us but he's got much more of a 'I don't give a fuck' attitude and so doesn't care if he hashave upset anyone (I wish I could adopt this). I often have to be the 'adult' one because of this.
I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. You were younger when they first got together and understandably upset and since then I think your reactions have been reasonable and your dads partners responses unreasonable.
I also feel for you as I went to my step sisters wedding having only met her a couple of times because I felt I should after being invited and I felt incredibly awkward and came home early as I felt that I’d shown my face and me leaving wouldn’t be missed.
Well why didn't your dad expect you to stay on the home visit? Where did you stay? Was he bothered? Did he not think you'd like a final night in your bedroom? He didn't care .... he could've asked or been more sensitive to your situation
The wedding however, why did you expect him to sit with you? You had a partner there and as the brides mothers partner he would've been either at the top table or with any other step parents/grandparents?
I think you totally over reacted at the weeding! I think you visualise how things will be and feelnover whelmed when they aren't.
You did nothing wrong excusing yourself, however your father should be the one to speak to as the bride and step mother are your relatives (they aren't your dads either, but he isn't responsible for how they behave either)
I'd lose the strings a bit and make your DP your family and not worry about your dad
Please get some CBT - needing to go and lie down because you had to sit at a wedding with people you don't know is not normal.
Get a Thank You card to the newly weds with a brief apology for your leaving early. Maybe you and DP can manage to see everyone around Christmas, New Year. By then let's hope your GP has sorted out some suitable support for you. All the best
I didn't need a lie down because of that. It was more because I'd been up since 6, and it was now 8pm and I felt tired. A day of socialising with people I barely know does exhaust me.
I have had counselling in the past and I'm a lot better than I used to be. But I doubt I will ever get to a place where I am an extrovert who finds small talk and meeting new people easy.
Op your not in the wrong at all your dad is if he wanted these new relationships to work he be making more of an effort so don't go blaming yourself at all
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