The Queen's Court
Five years ago my father left my mother for another woman. I wish my father could have remarried a nice, decent person, but unfortunately he didn't. His wife is a manipulative, money-oriented woman who shows no love for my father.
Of course this is his problem, but unfortunately his wife went on a hate campaign against me. I tried to smile back and be pleasant, but she uses every opportunity to insult me. She won't let my father do me any favors. At Christmas he gave me a present but said not to tell her.
My brother and I went on a weekend trip with them and walked on eggshells the whole time. My father said not to make any noise because "she needs her beauty sleep" and "she noticed you always lie in the best deck chair." I'm the sort of person who looks for the best in everyone, but this is terribly upsetting.
I am lucky my father lived abroad, and I didn't see much of them. Now he's moved back, and she came back with a big bang! My baby was sick so I couldn't pick them up at the airport. They took a taxi. She told me I was a horrible person and scolded me like a small child.
Enough is enough. For the first time in five years I exploded. My father apologized on her behalf and asked me to do the same for not picking her up. He said she's never apologized to anyone in her life and "if you don't apologize, we won't be able to have a normal relationship."
I didn't cede. I thought if I don't stand up for myself she will keep acting like this. She told my father, "It's her or me." Although my father drops by to see me and his granddaughter, he's never invited me to his house, and true enough, she never apologized.
This is the first time in my life I have experienced such behavior. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me. Do I have to accept that this woman has damaged my relationship with my father forever?
Allison, your father isn't this woman's husband, he is her chief of protocol and her emissary to the rest of the world. He thinks his duties include telling others how low to bow or curtsey in the presence of this regal personage.
Like any good protocol officer, he smoothes ruffled feathers, deflects blame and maintains the famous protocol smile no matter what happens. But just because your father has elected to serve in this woman's court is no reason you must.
Understand the nature of the beast you are dealing with. Your father's new wife views the world solely in terms of what is helpful or unhelpful for herself. You can't apply your way of thinking to one who thinks only of herself. She is so determined in her egocentric behavior she can make good people start to doubt themselves.
Your father has dropped out of his fatherly role. In trying to make you accommodate yourself to her, he robs you of your free will. He is trying to ensnare you in a life of lies and deceit. That will work only if you consent to it, but if you consent to it, you've lost yourself.
You can't successfully serve your father and this woman, but you can successfully serve yourself. Live your life from your own sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair, just and unjust. Then act and react to others from that sense of who you are, not who someone else would like you to be.
Giving into your stepmother is the strongest signal you can give her that you are another person she can use. You don't give respect to anyone incapable of respecting others. You stand up to them.
Wayne & Tamara