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Does he *genuinely* not know or is he being nasty and playing games?

(10 Posts)
ThatBintAgain Sat 10-Nov-12 12:19:57

Oh dear. Apologies in advance, the back story is huge and I'll try not to go into massive detail or this will turn into a thesis.

In short - currently having very limited contact with my abusive stepmother, father or halfsister. There have problems for many years, a lot came to the fore when I had children and none of that side of the family gave a shiny crap about mine, or me.

I haven't clapped eyes on HS for well over two years, mainly because she is horrible. Contact with my father & SM zero from my end, as I want them to either sort things out or just leave us alone, rather than trying to pretend everything's normal. So in the last year, they have totally ignored this request, refused to sort things out and carry on sending birthday cards and money even though we've said that under the circumstances it isn't right to accept. So they will contact me for trivia but won't tell me that:

1) My beloved aunty was in hospital. She died and we didn't get chance to see her.
2) My dad had cancer. They told the world and his dog and I found out months later by text from SM's sister because she thought it was mean me not knowing
3)That my sister was pregnant.

Now, I don't care to know that my sister is pregnant, but I'm wondering why my father left me an answer phone message (I've spoken to him twice in over a year) to tell me that she's had the baby. I'm pretty sure he knows full well that no one told me she was pregnant, so why bother telling me at all that his favourite child has spawned what will be his favourite grandchild, unless he's trying to rub my face in it?

And this has got me to thinking - maybe he doesn't know. I now know that my SM makes up quite terrible lies. Maybe he thinks she told me, because maybe she told him that? Coincidentally, it has been going around my head in the last week anyway -my SM is telling everyone that she was going to come over and see my children and I told her she couldn't at the last minute. This categorically is not true, it's not even slightly true, she's made it up. And on the phone to DH recently she told several more lies that are so blatantly lies that it's actually embarrassing. And I'm wondering if she's actively engineered this split with me and my father, like she's systematically isolated him from all of his blood family and replaced them with hers. Just like she successfully isolated me from my family on both sides, and my mother when I was growing up. I was on the phone to her once (my father must have been pottering about in the background) and she said to me, totally out of the blue, "Why do you hate your father so much?" I have never said that, I wasn't saying that at the time on the phone and I can only think she said it for his benefit. So I'm wondering if she's also told him this made up story about him not being welcome to see my children, and many more, to keep him away?

If this is the case, I'm not sure what I should do. He's ridiculously passive and has stood back and been complicit in her treating me and my brother like shit for our entire childhoods. He really doesn't seem to care about me in the slightest because I've pissed them both off by having a relationship with my mother. My SM is a very larger than life personality, comes across as a pillar of the community, is a JP, very kind and respectable and no one seems to be able to see through it. And yet she is ridiculously controlling; she phoned the hotel where we had our wedding to get a list of guests so she could see if my mother would be there, she used to get a family member in the police to run checks on boyfriends, the list goes on. And I don't know if my dad just doesn't see what she's like or doesn't care.

I'm torn between trying to talk to him (hard as he shares an email address and mobile with her so I have no way of addressing him directly without going through her) and thinking that it's probably not worth the aggro. I'd say he just doesn't care, and after a course of counselling I've been advised to cut myself off completely and take care of myself and my family, but this is the second time he's tried to call me in a month and I'm wondering if I ought to respond in some way? It feels a bit like if I just back off and we never see them again then she's won, she's got exactly what she wanted and has totally managed to cut him off from his whole family. He's let her, but still...

Sorry, this is incredibly long. I just needed to get this all out and down, and if anyone can offer any perspective on this that would be much appreciated.

ThatBintAgain Sat 10-Nov-12 12:52:15

I suppose, in short, the HS baby thing is an aside really. Does he know what his wife is capable of and is there the slightest point in me trying to talk to him about it?

OpheliaPayneAgain Sat 10-Nov-12 12:53:47

Unusual for your father to have custody, why was that? How old were you when your parents split? Was she instrumental in your parents marriage splitting up?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 10-Nov-12 12:55:20

I have personally experienced (by marriage) a stepmother that went out of her way to isolate the widowed father from adult children and get her own children into preferred status. (There was family cash) She was only a few years older than the oldest sibling and her method was a combination of phone-tapping & poisonous letters.

The adult children in that case rather split down the middle in terms of response. Half of them chose to detach completely and the other half opted to try to maintain some relationship with their father. The ones that detached were not at all happy, even though they'd rationalised the decision, and this led to all kinds of personal problems. Problems that were worse, I felt, than dealing with the step mother. The ones that maintained a relationship were slightly happier so long as they managed things on their own terms, ignored any poisonous letters & lived at a healthy distance etc. Still angry but rather more empowered by continuing to engage, if you can understand that. The father in the middle of it all was a weak person as well.

I think both options have their downsides. You can't detach and then complain that you don't hear news on the one hand. You can't engage and then complain that the step-mother remains true to type on the other. Good luck

ThatBintAgain Sat 10-Nov-12 13:07:19

I'm not sure how old I was when they actually got divorced, but I know that my dad married her when I was 4 and my brother was about 18 months old. I'd say (even ignoring my mother's version of events) that I'd be very surprised if she wasn't involved, as 18 months seems like a short space of time for a breakdown in a relationship, divorce, alleged meeting of someone else, courtship and remarriage?

My mother had a mental breakdown after my father left - she'd got a restraining order against him because he beat her up but he ignored it and kept bringing SM to the house. In the end she was in no fit state, broke and had no support, whereas he had family to help etc.

I think I'm clutching at straws and the bottom line is that he really doesn't give two shits about me which is quite hard to come to terms with, especially now I have children of my own. I know that she's lied to him, but I don't know if there's any point fighting her because it feels like I can never come out of this any better off. But the injustice of it really gets to me, she gets to be completely evil and totally gets away with it. And she also manages to make me look like the bad person in the process. angry

ThatBintAgain Sat 10-Nov-12 13:09:50

People have often said that he must have been a great dad to get custody back then. But in hindsight I think that having custody and therefore control of us was just a way of continuing to get at my mother; we were used as pieces in a game of power struggles and access battles.

ThatBintAgain Wed 14-Nov-12 16:21:36

To be honest this whole thing has now flipped me over the edge. I really wish that this crap did not keep coming back into my life over and over again. sad

tallwivglasses Wed 14-Nov-12 16:33:12

Oh OP. I'm sorry no-one replied to you on saturday. I thonk you're right about your dad being controlling. Please try and get some rl support and there's a thread here - the stately homes thread? wqhere I'm sure you'll find people who will empathise and be able to give you good advice.

All I can say is aim for the day when you can be proud that this man and his family have not destroyed you, because you are strong.

Pilgit Wed 14-Nov-12 21:37:47

My SM is very similar. she only came in to my life at 25 and was part of the reason my parents separated. The only way to deal with it (IME) is to let them get on with it and move on. We maintain minimal contact, just in case he sees the light. My heart goes out to you.

ThatBintAgain Sat 17-Nov-12 17:31:39

"All I can say is aim for the day when you can be proud that this man and his family have not destroyed you, because you are strong."

Thank you- that really made me think, it helps to look at it that way!

Pilgit sorry you've had similar. I think you're def right but its quite hard to move on (especially when they won't just leave it) and circumstances have conspired against me this year! I'm just trying to stay out of all of it until my head's in a better state. Thanks for the replies. smile

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