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.