Please contact Evil Stepmom at ESM@evilstepmom.org with your questions or ideas about stepfamily living with 17-30 year olds.

 



Dear Amy
Stepdaughter Is Hurt By Stepmom's Rejection
Dear Amy,

I have come to you because I am feeling a lot of pain and emotional strife over my relationship with my stepmother and am just looking for some constructive feedback. People who are close to me do not understand it and I feel very isolated.

My dad and stepmother married when I was 3; I have another younger biological sister between my dad and mom. I was definitely a daddy's girl (still am), where my sister was closer to my mom. My stepmother and I were close growing up, but as I look back on it I see a viscous cycle of badmouthing my mother, me going and telling my mother, then going back to my stepmom and telling her what my mother said. She encouraged the gossip and I didn't know any better, but it unfortunately created a somewhat toxic bond. My father worked a lot and so my stepmother was definitely the disciplinarian at my dad's house. I adored and looked up to my dad, but he allowed the toxic relationship to continue and didn't have much to do with deciding on how to discipline me. My mom worked full time and I was a latch key kid when my days were spent at her home. My dad and stepmother had three additional children (who I adore) and I grew up as somewhat of a live in babysitter. My younger sister was born when I was 15.

I am now 30 and after some incredibly difficult growing pains, my stepmother wants nothing to do with me. She has a relationship with my younger biological sister and her three children, but will not have one with me. I consider her a toxic person in my life, but feel incredibly rejected and hurt. My dad has to sneak a relationship with me because she does not like that he gives me things or has a relationship with me. Her children have a very different life than I was provided and she does not like when my dad provides resources (access to the family cabin, birthday gifts, etc.) to me. It is most painful though when my biological sister and her have a relationship and I am not included. When my sister brings up that they hung out or were talking on the phone, it makes my blood boil and I am immediately in a bad mood.

I have been excluded from family events (Christmas, my dad's 50th birthday, etc.), and every time I do see her I just tell her hello and try and be very nice. It hurts and is exhausting to constantly try and be nice to someone who wants nothing to do with me, but I don't want to say how I really feel to her because I feel like it puts my dad in the middle (kind of forces him to choose) and I don't want to bring that stress to him. My dad and I have a nice relationship now and I don't want to ruin it. I am not close to my biological mom (she does not like my dad and constantly talks badly about him). I have had to enable boundaries with both my stepmother and mother in order to keep the viscous gossiping cycle at bay. This did not go over well with my mother and she is very hurt that I did that.

I feel very alone and stuck. I am not sure how to get over the pain of feeling rejected by my stepmom, but don't even know why I care since I consider her such a toxic person. I was wondering what the best way to handle my emotions of feeling rejected is, and how to handle the jealousy I feel for my other siblings, especially my biological sister. I know I can not change my stepmother, but all I know what to do is treat her with grace and walk away. I'm feeling a bit tired though.

Thank you for your feedback. 

Signed,

Feeling Rejected

Dear Feeling Rejected,

I am sorry that you're relationship with your stepmother, or lack thereof, is causing you pain. Relationships between biological family members are hard enough, and stepfamily ones are often much harder.

Feeling isolated because you don't have people in your life who can relate is a tough place to be in, and it can be frustrating that people close to you don't understand. Even though it's natural that they can't understand what they've never experienced, sometimes it feels as if they should. There have been times in my life where I have gone through difficult things, and have felt a surprising amount of annoyance towards my friends who seemed to brush it off. I know that they didn't do this to hurt me, but it felt isolating none the less. I'm glad you found our website, and I hope in reading other people's letters you have felt a little less alone.

The dynamic between yourself, your mother and your stepmom growing up is one that you should never have had be a part of. Parents are supposed to be looking out for their kids, and not putting them in the middle of their own issues. I'm glad you realized as you got older that it was a toxic cycle and removed yourself from that dynamic. It seems as though your stepmom didn't like that fact that you did this, and now she's punishing you for not enabling the bad-mouthing between herself and your biological mom. While it's not right that she did this, she probably was caught off guard. It was the only relationship she knew with you, and now is likely unsure of what to do. Instead of thinking about it and talking with you, she's dealing with it in anger. Changing the dynamics of a relationship is hard, no matter the situation.

You say that you don't want to tell your stepmom how you feel because you don't want to put stress on your dad. While I understand your thinking, I believe that the situation would only benefit from having a real conversation with her. Try and make some time with her, but not at a family event where your dad and siblings are present. Tell her how you feel about being cut off from her, why you removed yourself from the mother-daughter-stepmother dynamic, and anything else you want her to know. Don't do this angrily; she'll be much more receptive if you can stay calm. Regardless of how she reacts, try and let it be. The person you're really having this conversation for is yourself. I think that by getting out all the things you've been holding inside you in regards to your stepmom you'll feel a lot less burdened. It would be lovely if she would take what you say to heart and change her attitude towards you, and I hope that she does. But even if she doesn't, by taking this step you're helping the most important person: you.

In regards to your dad, I think it's natural that you don't want to cause him any stress or to put him in the middle of your relationship with your stepmom. This means you care about him, and don't want to see him hurt. But I think that your dad probably already knows at least a bit of what's going on. I think this would be a good time to spend some one on one time with him, and let him know the situation. I'm sure that he wants you to be happy, and would be receptive about you having a talk with your stepmom because he cares about you. Remember that if your stepmom does get mad at your dad, that's between them. You wouldn't be the cause of your dad getting stressed – your stepmom would be, and you dad knows this.

It must be difficult to know that your sister has such a close relationship with your stepmom. Although you can't change that, one thing I think you should do is ask your sister to not bring up the fact that she and your stepmom talked last night, went shopping over the weekend, or have a lunch date next week. If your sister doesn't know how you feel about your stepmom, please tell her. You don't need to say anything negative, but let her know how hard it is for you that they have such a close relationship. It seems like you and your sister are close, and she should respect how you feel.

It sounds like you are in need of a good support system – outside of your family. Talk with your close friends. I know you feel isolated, but they don't need to fully understand to be supportive. Let them know what you're going through, and that you really need their support. Being close friends of yours, they care about you. They want you to be happy. During this tough time of yours, make a plan with your friends to meet up at least once a week. A dinner night is always great because you can be active together while cooking, and there's less pressure to talk nonstop. Then after dinner, you can share what's going on in each of your lives. You don't have to bare you soul, but you'll become more involved in what's going on with each of you, and natural support will stem from that.

I hope this gives you some ideas about ways to ease the pain of your situation.

Feel free to write again, I'm always here.

-Amy
< Return to Dear Amy