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Compassion for family (that don't deserve it)

CindyLouWho?CindyLouWho? Registered User regular
edited March 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Apologies in advance, this question requires a bit of backstory.

My Dad and stepmom met when I was 5 or 6 and have been together ever since. She never made it a secret that she hated me and my Mom. She didn't want my Dad to have anything to do with me...and for the most part she's succeeded for the past 20+ years. I lived with them for 3 years which was utter hell. My Dad missed all of my games, recitals, plays, concerts, even my college graduation because of her.

I moved far far far away from home a few years ago and my Dad, I think, has come to the realization that there's a good chance that I'm never coming back and he's only going to be able to see me maybe for one or two days once a year. In that realization, he's been trying to get more connected to me...email, texting, FB, twitter, skyping, etc.

Fast forward to today...He sends me an email detailing my stepmom's recent battle with depression and anxiety. He wants me to talk to her or text her more often because "She loves you like a daughter and really loves hearing from you" and he thinks it will help lift her spirits.

I myself have dealt with depression and social anxiety for most of the last 10 years....largely on my own. I didn't have family doting over me, friends calling to make sure I was OK, nothing. I locked myself in my room for almost 2 years coming out only to eat and go to work. My Dad certainly never made any effort to let me know I was important to him during the worst of it or that I was loved or cared about... Yet he wants ME to be there for his wife.

I know when I was in my worst times, having something as simple as a text from a friend or a loved one telling me they loved me and missed me would have meant the world to me. I remember just praying for someone to notice what I was going through... and now this horrible woman who has all but destroyed the bond between my Dad and his ONLY child needs that same care... and I don't know if I can do it. I resent this woman so much that I just want to tell my dad to take a flying leap and take her with him. But again... I know how she feels right now, I know how much it hurts, and I know that sometimes just one tiny "I care about you" can make the biggest difference. I wished and prayed for someone to care about me when I was going through it...and now I could give what I never had to someone else feeling that way...but my disdain for her and all the bad blood makes it feel impossible to show her compassion.
I know my Dad would be lost without her and that's the only thing that is making me feel bad about the situation as a whole. I know I should care and show the kindness that I wish I would have been given...but I'm not sure I can.


TLDR; Stepmom who destroyed my relationship with my Dad is now dealing with deep depression and anxiety. Having gone through the same, I know the power kindness and support could have on her situation, but my resentment and hate for her is baring me from actually wanting to help or show her any compassion.

I know there's not a specific question...but I don't know how to deal with my hate for her but my love for my Dad. I want to do right by him and help be supportive of her, but I feel like she deserves to fester in the same lonely miserable pit I was left in for almost a decade. I know I would have wanted to be treated with kindness and compassion, but got none...so I feel like maybe I should be the better person and show her what I was denied. I don't know.

CindyLouWho? on
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Posts

  • ObsidianiObsidiani __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2010
    Didn't you destroy your own relationship with your Dad by moving far far away and saying you're never coming back?

    Obsidiani on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    To be honest, I'd tell Dad how I felt and why I felt that way and I wouldn't apologize for it. Tell him you're sorry she is having a rough time but that you have never had a real relationship with this woman and you don't want to start one now. There's nothing wrong with feeling this way. Frankly, if I were you I'd tell him everything and that if he had a problem with it that he could shove it.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Obsidiani wrote: »
    Didn't you destroy your own relationship with your Dad by moving far far away and saying you're never coming back?

    She's pretty clear that she left because of this:
    I lived with them for 3 years which was utter hell. My Dad missed all of my games, recitals, plays, concerts, even my college graduation because of her.

    Which I would call her father destroying their relationship well before she moved.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • Caramel GenocideCaramel Genocide Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Treat people how you would like to be treated, not how shittily you've been treated in the past.

    I understand how difficult a situation like this can be. The temptation to say "get the fuck over it, I did, no thanks to you" is overwhelming.

    You could simply say to her, "Hang in there. It's tough, but you can get through it. I know, I've been there myself." You don't need to fake any positive emotions towards her.

    Caramel Genocide on
  • PerpetualPerpetual Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Your love for your dad is more important than your hatred for your stepmother. She acted like a total bitch by manipulating your dad into ignoring you (not saying your dad is faultless here, but still), but your dad is your dad. You only have one of him.

    Perpetual on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    You also don't have to keep toxic people in your life just because they're family or married to family. You have every right to cut them out for your own sanity.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I would just send something like that post in an email to your dad, or call him. Everything you said seems pretty logical and frankly, if she decided she hated you when you were still a little kid and tried to take your dad away from you, then she can go fuck herself. No sympathy.

    Chop Logic on
  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    You also don't have to keep toxic people in your life just because they're family or married to family. You have every right to cut them out for your own sanity.

    Agreed.

    I would explain to your Dad politely that you don't feel comfortable talking with your stepmother about these issues as you've never connected on a personal level with her. And maybe in the future you'll be more connected to your Dad and then you can hash out the issues you had growing up, but I don't think it would help anyone to lay blame (no matter how much they deserve it or don't)

    Usagi on
  • CindyLouWho?CindyLouWho? Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Um, no I did not destroy my own relationship with my Dad. I had countless fights with him BEGGING him to spend time with me, to go to a movie with me, to go to my concert or game, to want to see me more than just every other weekend. This went on for more than 15 years. So, no, I will not let you tell me that my Dad's actions were MY fault.

    And I do want to tell him to fuck right off...but the past 2 years that I've been gone he's actually made that effort to be in better contact with me...and honestly it has meant a lot. It's fucked up and fodder for an ENTIRELY different thread, but despite what a dumbass he is, I do love my Father. I've gone to therapy, I've dealt with a lot of shit, granted, yes, there's still a lot of ill will harbored towards my step-mom.

    Caramel, that's the road I feel like I should be taking, but it makes me so angry that I just want to spit. I know it would have meant the world to me if my Dad (or anyone I knew) had taken an interest in helping me get better when I was at my lowest.

    I like that statement though, shows some thought, but it's not overly engaging.

    CindyLouWho? on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    If you were in therapy over the treatment you received from your father and stepmother you are more than entitled to not speaking with this woman. Your mental well-being comes before hers.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • MetalbourneMetalbourne Inside a cluster b personalityRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    You dont need to let people into your life that are going to be destructive influences, no matter how closely related they are.

    Additionally, you know that the abrasive nature of the relationship is going to erode what relationship you have with your dad. So in the interests of keeping things civil with your father, don't talk to her. If your dad can't accept that you're not talking to her, then that's his problem.

    Metalbourne on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2010
    To be honest, I'd tell Dad how I felt and why I felt that way and I wouldn't apologize for it. Tell him you're sorry she is having a rough time but that you have never had a real relationship with this woman and you don't want to start one now. There's nothing wrong with feeling this way. Frankly, if I were you I'd tell him everything and that if he had a problem with it that he could shove it.
    ^

    Well, I probably wouldn't tell him that he could shove it. I would, however, calmly explain to him that he failed to show even a little bit of the compassion for you over many, many years in your depression (at her behest, no less) that he is asking asking you show her now. I would also be honest and say that you're pretty hurt that he shows this much more concern for an emotional hiccup in her life when he ignored the entirety of his own daughter's because this same woman showed you nothing but disdain, so no, you do not want to call her or talk to her ever.

    I will also point out that I am honest with my feelings to quite a fault, and my tendency to say what I feel is not always the most diplomatic way of going about things.

    For God's sake, he couldn't even CALL you to talk about this. He EMAILED you. Lost without her, still can't pick up the phone for you. You actually have the option of waiting for him to call and saying "Whoops, must not have gotten that one. What's new, Dad?"

    I mean, you don't need to go to her house to point at her and laugh because she's sad, but you are also under no obligation to make small talk with a woman who made your life miserable.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Treat people how you would like to be treated, not how shittily you've been treated in the past.

    I understand how difficult a situation like this can be. The temptation to say "get the fuck over it, I did, no thanks to you" is overwhelming.

    You could simply say to her, "Hang in there. It's tough, but you can get through it. I know, I've been there myself." You don't need to fake any positive emotions towards her.

    I'm with Caramel G.

    Cindi, you said before that a little gesture in a time of need can mean a lot. You've been there, you know how horrible a place it is, why not help shine some light in her dark days?

    MagicToaster on
  • Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Treat people how you would like to be treated, not how shittily you've been treated in the past.

    I understand how difficult a situation like this can be. The temptation to say "get the fuck over it, I did, no thanks to you" is overwhelming.

    You could simply say to her, "Hang in there. It's tough, but you can get through it. I know, I've been there myself." You don't need to fake any positive emotions towards her.

    I'm with Caramel G.

    Cindi, you said before that a little gesture in a time of need can mean a lot. You've been there, you know how horrible a place it is, why not help shine some light in her dark days?

    Just wanted to chime in and say that I could not disagree more with these two posts.

    Chop Logic on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2010
    Treat people how you would like to be treated, not how shittily you've been treated in the past.

    I understand how difficult a situation like this can be. The temptation to say "get the fuck over it, I did, no thanks to you" is overwhelming.

    You could simply say to her, "Hang in there. It's tough, but you can get through it. I know, I've been there myself." You don't need to fake any positive emotions towards her.

    I'm with Caramel G.

    Cindi, you said before that a little gesture in a time of need can mean a lot. You've been there, you know how horrible a place it is, why not help shine some light in her dark days?
    Because nobody, nowhere, not her father or this woman, will appreciate what it means to the OP for her to do so. Her father has no concept because he has been willfully blind to it her entire life, and the stepmom hates her. These people do not deserve this charity because the gesture, small to them, everything to her, will literally mean nothing to one, and next-to-nothing to the other.

    Probably better to pretend you didn't get the email, IMO.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • starmanbrandstarmanbrand Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Assuming your dad knows how you feel about the stepmom, I would be amazingly offended by the request. He treats you pretty poorly and is now asking you for favors that seriously conflict with your opinions? "Trying to get back in touch" through the internet or not, dude sounds like the kind of person you wouldn't talk to if he wasn't related.

    starmanbrand on
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  • LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I'd go with "pretend you didn't get the e-mail."

    LadyM on
  • GreasyKidsStuffGreasyKidsStuff MOMMM! ROAST BEEF WANTS TO KISS GIRLS ON THE TITTIES!Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Yeah, I'm gonna pipe in and say you really don't owe either of them anything. Explain the situation to your father calmly, but leave it at that.

    GreasyKidsStuff on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Show compassion. It might help you heal. Bitterness will gain no-one anything.

    CelestialBadger on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    And not letting toxic people who made your life hell back into your life is also a good way to heal.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • MysstMysst King Monkey of Hedonism IslandRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    If your stepmom hates you, saying something to her is going to benefit nobody. she won't accept what you have to say because it's coming from you, and you will be putting yourself in a position that is potentially self-harming. the important thing here is whether or not you speak to your dad about how you feel, and if explaining to him how nothing you say would have an effect on your recently budding relationship.

    Mysst on
    ikbUJdU.jpg
  • MetalbourneMetalbourne Inside a cluster b personalityRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    And not letting toxic people who made your life hell back into your life is also a good way to heal.

    Yep. Sorry, but while people do change, its very slowly over a long period of time. To me this is more like, "Wow, hey, I'm feeling really down. Know what'd make me feel better? Kicking a puppy."

    Metalbourne on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    My gut feeling is that the OP desperately wants to reach out and show herself to be the better woman. Doing the right thing can be a great tonic. Being able to say, "I am a better, stronger person than my stepmother" might be very healing for her.

    CelestialBadger on
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010

    I know there's not a specific question...but I don't know how to deal with my hate for her but my love for my Dad. I want to do right by him and help be supportive of her, but I feel like she deserves to fester in the same lonely miserable pit I was left in for almost a decade. I know I would have wanted to be treated with kindness and compassion, but got none...so I feel like maybe I should be the better person and show her what I was denied. I don't know.

    If you really love your Dad, do it for him. Not sending her a 'How've ya been? <3' text isn't going to show her, but sending it would probably mean a great deal to your pop. This all depends on what sort of relationship you want to have with your family going forward. You could tally up all the real and imagined slights and let it embitter you, let go of them and lead a happy productive life without these people, or make your old man happy and work to improve the relationship.

    Do what makes you happy. they're far enough away where the mother can't make you miserable, but you only get one family.

    Deebaser on
  • MysstMysst King Monkey of Hedonism IslandRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Deebaser wrote: »

    I know there's not a specific question...but I don't know how to deal with my hate for her but my love for my Dad. I want to do right by him and help be supportive of her, but I feel like she deserves to fester in the same lonely miserable pit I was left in for almost a decade. I know I would have wanted to be treated with kindness and compassion, but got none...so I feel like maybe I should be the better person and show her what I was denied. I don't know.

    If you really love your Dad, do it for him. Not sending her a 'How've ya been? <3' text isn't going to show her, but sending it would probably mean a great deal to your pop. This all depends on what sort of relationship you want to have with your family going forward. You could tally up all the real and imagined slights and let it embitter you, let go of them and lead a happy productive life without these people, or make your old man happy and work to improve the relationship.

    Do what makes you happy. they're far enough away where the mother can't make you miserable, but you only get one family.

    actually some of us get two or more, so dropping the bad ones isn't too bad an option

    Mysst on
    ikbUJdU.jpg
  • mysticjuicermysticjuicer [he/him] I'm a muscle wizard and I cast P U N C HRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    I would just send something like that post in an email to your dad, or call him. Everything you said seems pretty logical and frankly, if she decided she hated you when you were still a little kid and tried to take your dad away from you, then she can go fuck herself. No sympathy.

    Total agreement with limed comment.

    You don't owe this woman a relationship. Nobody "owes" anybody love, especially when they've been sowing dischord and shit for this long. It's perfectly within your rights to see if you can salvage a relationship with your dad and not seek to pursue one with your stepmother. Send him this email.

    mysticjuicer on
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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    You don't owe this woman a relationship. Nobody "owes" anybody love, especially when they've been sowing dischord and shit for this long. It's perfectly within your rights to see if you can salvage a relationship with your dad and not seek to pursue one with your stepmother. Send him this email.

    She doesn't owe anyone anything, but at her discretion she could exercise compassion.

    A few phone calls wouldn't hurt.

    If the stepmother is still rejecting and hurtful, the OP should not continue to make contact, but there is an opportunity for reconciliation here.

    CelestialBadger on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    As well as the opportunity for her stepmother to be hateful and ignorant and the OP having to deal with it all over again. Why open that door again?

    VisionOfClarity on
  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    You don't owe this woman a relationship. Nobody "owes" anybody love, especially when they've been sowing dischord and shit for this long. It's perfectly within your rights to see if you can salvage a relationship with your dad and not seek to pursue one with your stepmother. Send him this email.

    She doesn't owe anyone anything, but at her discretion she could exercise compassion.

    A few phone calls wouldn't hurt.

    If the stepmother is still rejecting and hurtful, the OP should not continue to make contact, but there is an opportunity for reconciliation here.

    Why exactly should she want to reconcile with her stepmother? Why open the door on bad memories and possibly new and more exciting forms of painful emotional torture?

    It really is OK to say "I realize that you're related to me but no, I don't want anything to do with you."

    Usagi on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    If her stepmother wanted to reconcile with the OP then the stepmother should pick up the phone and apologize for years of emotional abuse and neglect.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    If her stepmother wanted to reconcile with the OP then the stepmother should pick up the phone and apologize for years of emotional abuse and neglect.

    There you go, it might even help her stepmother out of the depression and anxiety she's in now by accepting responsibility for her past actions and moving towards healing.

    Usagi on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Usagi wrote: »
    There you go, it might even help her stepmother out of the depression and anxiety she's in now by accepting responsibility for her past actions and moving towards healing.

    True, in which case the OP would have to tell her Dad that she was willing to recieve a phone call from her stepmother (otherwise the stepmother won't know her call will be answered)

    CelestialBadger on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    My best friend in high school had a shit father. He was emotionally abusive, distant, unloving and just all around terrible father. She cut him from her life and then one day out of the blue he starts sending her messages on facebook wanting to talk again. She goes with this, excited to finally have a dad in her life. And then he starts with the emotional abuse again. She makes it clear this isn't acceptable and they drift apart.

    Then after hearing from him sparsely for months she gets a lovely message about how awful she is, what a fuck up she is, how she'll never do anything with herself, how she is a disgrace to the lord (which really upset her because she is religious) and more. She wishes she never let him back into her life in the first place because going through it all over again after putting it behind her is incredibly painful.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I'd say take the middle path. There's no reason you have to choose between telling your dad off and doing the right thing - they're BOTH the right thing. I'd probably:

    1) Tell your dad exactly how you feel, and how completely absurd it is that he expects you to take emotionally painful steps to support a person who has shown you nothing but disdain and irrepairably damaged your relationship to your family.
    2) Because you're NOT a small, petty, vindictive bitch - do it anyway.

    I'd leave it unsaid that #2 is what distinguishes you from the horrible person he's asking you to help, though.

    JihadJesus on
  • Caramel GenocideCaramel Genocide Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    JihadJesus wrote: »
    I'd say take the middle path. There's no reason you have to choose between telling your dad off and doing the right thing - they're BOTH the right thing. I'd probably:

    1) Tell your dad exactly how you feel, and how completely absurd it is that he expects you to take emotionally painful steps to support a person who has shown you nothing but disdain and irrepairably damaged your relationship to your family.
    2) Because you're NOT a small, petty, vindictive bitch - do it anyway.

    I'd leave it unsaid that #2 is what distinguishes you from the horrible person he's asking you to help, though.

    This is probably the most responsible course of action.

    Normally I think that VoC offers good advice, however the OP sticking her head in the sand will not be of service to her in this matter.

    Caramel Genocide on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    To be frank, when someone abuses me I cut them from my life forever. I'm sorry if they end up depressed or sick down the road, but I do not under any circumstances let abusers back into my life and if they want sympathy/empathy for their down turn in life they can get it from someone they didn't make feel like shit and cause to under go therapy to deal with the unresolved issues stemming from the relationship. I consider what she experienced growing up to be emotional abuse and neglect and I would not want those people in my lives.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Everyone deserves a second chance!

    MagicToaster on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    No, people who emotionally abuse others can get bent. They want another chance, then can come and own up to what they did, admit it was wrong and mean it. Otherwise they don't deserve anything.


    And to be frank, sometimes an apology (even if it is sincere) isn't enough to be able to move-on and have any kind of relationship with that person.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    And sometimes it is.

    MagicToaster on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Right, and until that person reaches out and does that it's moot. The victim shouldn't have to reach out to find out if their abuser is still crazy and hope for the best.

    VisionOfClarity on
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