Saturday, November 27, 2010

This Isn't My Version Of The Fairytale

I never pictured myself as the Evil Stepmother in any of my visions of the future. The Loving Stepmother--great. The Funny and Just A Bit Odd Stepmother--sure. Sarcastic, Snarky, Cynical-With-A-Heart-of-Gold Stepmother--naturally. Evil? Not so much.

And yet, here I am. I suppose I should have seen it coming, and I even did just a bit, but I was truly under the impression that The Dark One liked me well enough--and "like" was just fine. It would have been wonderful to be loved, but that would be pushing it with a girl already in her teens by the time I came into her life, and who is not terribly tender towards parent types to begin with.

When things got nasty three months ago and she ended up moving in with her mom, it seemed as though I was the neutral ground. She seemed to see me as someone she could talk to about certain things she couldn't say to her father. We tried hard to keep it that way.

But since then...since then things have become increasingly difficult with her. I have found myself enraged with her attitude: her use and abuse of people around her, her self-centeredness, her downright bitchiness. I cannot stand the way she treats her father. I have to bite my tongue. I have to not tell her exactly what I think of her. Sometimes a little bit of it sneaks through.

I know, I know. She's a fourteen-year-old girl. And I'm realizing that a part of my reaction is, as MTL so astutely intuited, guilt over realizing how I treated my own parents when I was her age--though it should be noted that I wasn't quite so bold in my mistreatment. I'm the adult in the situation. I can't control her behavior, but I can--and should--control mine.

Today, though, she quite suddenly took several steps beyond the boundary with MTL. The trigger? Apparently, me. Somehow, she has twisted my presence in her father's life into a Grimm's fairytale of evil stepmother and evilly-influenced abandoning father. She is using me as a tool to manipulate her mother and strike out against her father.

It's not all me, of course--she has issues that go back far before I ever was even a blip on MTL's computer screen. But my presence is a weapon she's choosing to wield...and she used it today.

I won't go into the details, but the result is that she is persona non grata here. If she wanted to see how far she could push her father, she found the limit--and surpassed it--today. She isn't to come back to our house. She isn't welcome here for Christmas. She's done.

And honestly? I can't blame him.

Now we're sitting here in the wreckage of what had been a rather good holiday weekend. It's yet another adjustment among all the other adjustments. Where it goes from here? I don't quite know.

I hope that one day we will all find our way back together, to something approaching a more whole family. But for now, we gather up the fringes around the ragged hole torn in our family's fabric, and figure out how the pieces fit again.

As for me, I have to make sure the label does not become the reality, regardless of provocation.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Because I Wasn't Already Way Outnumbered

My brother is moving in with us on Saturday. And we're happy about it.

He's an odd duck, that one, an odd duck of whom I am very fond but also somewhat protective and worried on a regular basis because he's so VERY odd, and while not caring much about what society/other people think about oneself is rather admirable....well, there are ways in which he takes that a bit too far.

But MTL really likes him. More importantly, in a way, and most definitely related, MTL understands him. Perhaps better than anyone I've ever met. In many ways more than I do. And rather than overlooking my brother or rejecting him or finding him annoying, MTL likes having him around, finds him amusing and good company--ACCEPTS HIM.

The Padawan very much likes having my brother around as well, and the boylets adore him.

So since life has gotten a bit rough lately, and he has a better chance of finding jobs and being taken care of to a certain extent and not crawling into a hermit's hole, he's joining our crowd for while.

He stayed with us for almost two weeks a little bit ago, and the situation worked out so well that I started wondering if it was at all feasible to have him move in. But it's not something I necessarily wanted to propose to MTL, especially considering the difficult family history with his parents and his maternal uncles (long story, but it basically involves her taking care of them all their lives, to the financial and relational detriment of MTL's parents). When my brother (I really need to come up with a pseudonym for him) left to take care of business down at my parents' house for a while, and asked if perhaps he could come back for another visit once the business was handled, and MTL said yes...well, that started me thinking more.

And then MTL brought the situation up, and I felt him out a bit, and he was the one to suggest that my brother move in at least until March, when my parents return to the country.

And I fell even deeper in love with that man.

I don't know how to explain it, really. It's that he GETS my brother, with whom I am very close. It's that he would welcome my brother into our house for an extended stay. It's that my brother can be comfortable around us--around MTL--when so often other people drain him.

Even that doesn't quite work as an explanation.

But consider that The Ex never particularly liked my brother--and the feeling was mutual. That The Ex decided very early on (when my brother was only eight) that he was annoying and obnoxious and too weird to have around. And never gave him another chance, not really. They were always polite around each other, but never comfortable. And while my brother never said anything against The Ex when I was living with my brother while separated from The Ex--well, let's say that he listened very well and didn't attempt to influence my decision either way, but didn't seem exactly displeased with the divorce.

So he will be moving into what was supposed to be The Dark One's bedroom. MTL even cleaned out the stuff she'd left behind and sent it to her mother's. She's been back all of one overnight in the last three months, and spent most of that time shut away upstairs watching TV. She doesn't seem interested in being part of our lives.

I won't lie about how that hurts.

But I have to say that having my brother around creates the opposite of drama. And since I already have enough going on dealing with old, old issues in therapy--yeah. I'm very happy about it.

Even if we do sound like we're trying to reach sitcom status.