Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

December 21, 2006

wicked old witches

In all families and communities there is always a wicked old witch, a scapegoat who gets blamed for everything, and the last thing Elsie, 68, wants in her old age is this unfortunate mantle falling upon her.

"I may be old but I am not wicked and I am not into witchcraft," says Elsie, "and I am not going to allow anyone to get away with blaming me for their problems."

"When my youngest daughter approached me recently trying to manipulate me into reconciling with my eldest daughter whose marriage was in trouble," says Elsie, "I stood my ground and respectfully asked her to consider the damage she was doing to her relationship with me when she drags the problems of her big sister into her conversations with me."

"My health isn't the best right now as the result of endless problems - and my youngest daughter knows that," says Elsie, "so the last thing I need right now is more stress - and I certainly object to her dragging me back to the hell of ten years ago and accusing me of being to blame for her sister's problems."

"With no money and a host of problems to deal with I'm not much fun to be these days," sighs Elsie. "I can appreciate that her big sister's family is better capable of enhancing my youngest daughter's life than I am. I can appreciate, too, that it must be difficult for her to remain impartial, or to defend me, when they're running me down, blaming me for their problems and probably brainwashing her into blaming me for things that I may not be going well in her own life right now. But it's sad to think of her allowing them to manipulate her into upsetting me. I'd like to believe that my youngest daughter is incorruptible - but maybe she's not so strong after all."

"And maybe this whole thing about her big sister is really about her - but she cannot bring herself to tell me what it is," says Elsie. "Whatever, I refuse to take on the mantle of guilt for how my children's lives have panned out."

"I told my youngest daughter that by taking her reconciliation beliefs to logical extremes, she will next be hassling me to have a 'friendly' relationship with her father - who deserted me - too," says Elsie. "She denied that, and yet conceded that even if her sister and I agreed to reunite it would ultimately lead to my being blamed for other decisions she may be in the process of making - such as divorcing her husband."

"I told my youngest daughter something she didn't know - that her big sister's marriage was in trouble from the start," confides Elsie. "My eldest daughter was having an affair with another man within weeks of her wedding vows at church. No doubt her husband was behaving similarly - just like mine did - but at the time I didn't want to hear about her excuses. Marriage is a solemn decision, whether in church or not, and despite being shocked by the behavior of my eldest daughter, I had no right to impose my beliefs on her. Similarly, when she had an abortion prior to marriage I listened without judgment, even though I had offered to help her by looking after the child. It was her life, her decision."

"My decision to break a relationship with my eldest daughter came about much later," explains Elsie. "It wasn't bitter and twisted. She knows I love her, and in loving her I just allowed her to live her own life, one that won't hurt me. I was fed up being poked fun at, blamed and generally treated like a scapegoat by her, her husband and his family."

"A reconciliation now would allow my eldest daughter to use me as a scapegoat again," sighs Elsie. "By blaming me for what she may intend to do - divorce her husband - she will escape responsibility, blame and guilt. I don't want to be labeled an evil, interfering old witch of a mother-in-law, and I certainly don't want to endure years of abusive hassling from her husband and children - and other relatives of his - for the undeserved crime of breaking up his family."

"It's likely that I'll get blamed for whatever she does - whether I am in her life or not," sighs Elsie, "but at least while I am out of her life I am spared from the stress of being directly involved."

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