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What Would You Tell Your Daughter?

HeHadADoubleLife posted 12/3/2019 11:01 AM

I posted this in the Betrayed Womenz thread, but didn't want to take over since more seems to be coming out. I also figured I could benefit from perspectives from both genders, as well as from some of our reformed waywards. I've edited to add more info and context, as I've been ruminating on this all night, so I'm remembering more details.

**Quick background for those who don't know my story. I have two stepDDs from my relationship with XH. I call them my DDs as that is what they are to me, and as their own mom is uninvolved (meth head who lost custody). XH is a sex addict and a flaming asshole who I caught in bed with OW November of last year, but had too many DDays to count with his compulsive masturbation and sooo many other things. He was verbally abusive to DDs after I left. Found meth in the house while he was out of town a month later, they asked me not to say anything, I figured that they had had all of their agency stripped from them when their dad decided to blow our lives up, so I wanted to give them the chance to make choices for themselves. Everything was also more complicated since he had sole legal and physical custody, and I had no rights to them legally. They had previously been removed from their mother's custody due to her meth use, but only after *years* of CPS visits, so I spoke with my MIL who also agreed that we didn't want to traumatize them with more CPS visits that would ultimately end in nothing because of their ages etc., and we agreed to put an escape plan in place should it be necessary. Then DDs found more of it once they moved into a new place, and he had continued to be verbally abusive, so MIL and I orchestrated an exit for DDs at their request. DD18 (17 at the time) decided after a couple of weeks to go back so she could finish out school in her own district, and she continues to stay there as she graduates June 2020. She has ceased communication with me, as XH has made it clear that she will be punished if we speak. DD20 left the house at the same time as DD18, with her BF and never went back. I keep tabs on DD18 via my MIL, so I know that she is safe, doing really well in school, and thriving with a new group of friends who keep her out of the house most of the time. I can only do so much for her until she feels comfortable talking to me again, so this question is about DD20, and I figured I would give the background for context.**

Yesterday, DD20 came to me and said she thinks her BF is cheating on her.

Now, I have been contemplating that this is a possibility for a while based on some of the anecdotes she has divulged to me. But, I wanted to consider the possibility of projection after what Iíve been through in the past year. Heís on his phone all the time, for example, but maybe heís just a self centered asshole, who knows? I didnít want to plant seeds of doubt in her head for no reason, so as they came up I addressed these concerns as, well if itís bothering you, then you should communicate with him about how you would like to connect more with him and would appreciate if he spent less time on his phone, yada yada.

Then a few weeks ago she tells me that earlier this year she went on his phone and found a bunch of screenshots of women. At the time she didnít go into too much detail with me, but it seemed by the way she was describing it like it was random nudes, like porn. This was about 10 months ago, she apparently confronted him about it then, and she has not seen anything or had any issues since. I couldn't figure out if she was just trying to bond with me over this shared issue (fun fact, just before revealing this info re: her BF, she confided in me that she had discovered nudes on my XH's phone several times over the years via his Snapchat notifications when she would be using his phone to play music in the car etc., and that that she didn't tell me about them as she found them because she didn't want me to leave, so she just deleted them any time she saw them). So when she told me about finding these things on BF's phone, and she kind of brushed it off and acted as if it was an issue they had buried a while ago, I advised her to make sure he knew it made her uncomfortable, but let it be.

Yesterday though she went into much more detail because of an incident the night before and yesterday morning. He ordered her food on Sunday night, and he fell asleep, so she used his phone to track the delivery through Uber eats, and in the morning he asked how did you get your food? When she responded that she used his phone to call the driver, he flipped out on her and said I canít believe you went through my phone you went through everything didnít you? She then apparently said something to the effect of if you didnít have anything to hide, it wouldnít matter if I went through your phone. Is there something on there I need to see? He denies any wrongdoing of course. Funny thing is, she had not even looked at anything else on his phone, even though she easily could have since he was asleep. She kept hammering this point home to me, which was so sad - I remember those days of feeling like I had to defend myself to her father.

Anyway, I told her she didn't need to explain herself to me. But I did ask for clarification re: the pictures earlier this year, how did she handle that, what if any resolution did they come to about how stuff like that was going to be handled moving forward? Basically she said she just told him Iíd better not see that ever again, and that was that. But when I pressed for more details on the nature of the photos, she revealed that they were screenshots of girls on Snapchat in various states of undress some fully nude, others in lingerie. Some were from before they were together, others were right alongside photos of her in his camera roll. And these were not cam girls, these were people he had met via dating apps like Tinder!

So of course I tell her, you know that was cheating right? You have every right to be upset and to be suspicious of him because he has broken your trust. That from now on his phone will always be a point of contention, and he needs to do everything he can to show you that you can trust him with that again, all the same stuff we usually point out to any newbie here on SI.

Well THEN she goes on to tell me about his female ďfriend,Ē who heís been talking to a little too much lately. They were introduced in a friendís group chat, but then apparently they started their own side conversation. That in and of itself is suspect (and weird to me - maybe I'm old, but who the hell gets "introduced" in a group chat? DD insists that this is a normal thing "the kids are doing these days," but I still don't get it. Anyway). Then she tells me that he is talking to this girl for hours on end, even sometimes while my daughter is trying to spend time with him! And sheís sending him selfies with various filters on them - none of the ones DD has seen are sexual in nature, but still, who sends selfies to someone of the opposite sex?

I guess he has shown her the messages a couple of times where this girl says things like ďyour girlfriend is so pretty!Ē And ďI want to be friends with her!Ē Her BF has also tried to push the idea of them being friends, to which my daughter has said hell no, Iíve got my own friends. Now Iíve heard about him pushing this friend on her before, but never in the context of knowing that this girl is talking to her BF for hours on end.

Anyway, the final nail in the coffin for me is when my daughter tells me that this girl has apparently been describing to DDs boyfriend in great detail how other men have been trying to lure her (other girl, not DD) away from her boyfriend, and how one almost succeeded. Ummmm, grooming much?? BF also tells DD that this girl is madly in love with her BF so thereís nothing to worry about. Oh HELL to the no. Red flag city and this asshole is the Fucking mayor!

She is asking for my advice and I honestly donít even know what to say. I mean obviously I know all of the SI things to say, but I really donít want to project my own baggage onto her.

I really want to tell her to run for the fucking hills, but she needs to come to that conclusion on her own. I know at 20 if my parents had told me not to date someone I would have laughed at them and carried right along.

Even in many non infidelity related ways he is a terrible partner for her. I could list all of the reasons why, but suffice it to say it is that he is not much of a partner at all, but more like a man baby in need of a parent/secretary/assistant/someone to do his bidding. Sound like anyone else we know? Hint: itís MethHead McSexAddict, my ex H, her father. And again, every time she tells me one of these stories, I take into account the possibility of my projection, and try to give her the most neutral advice I can. But fuck if this isnít textbook FOO shit.

Itís really gotten to a point now where itís glaring. How do I break it to her that this guy has got to go? I know itís ultimately her decision, and given her age sheís likely to continue in a relationship with him for quite a while before she finally wises up. I guess just looking to hear from any parents who have been there: what would you say to your daughter in the same situation?

Oh, and the kicker? This bitch has the same name as my husbandís mistress. Not a super common name. What are the fucking chances?? You just canít make this shit up

When driving her home last night, she added in the fun tidbit that when they were fighting yesterday morning he said something to the effect of "Well I've got another girl anyway." He apparently calmed down, apologized and hugged her, but I'm sorry, there's no question now, right?

I emphasized to her that she is always welcome to come live with me, so having a place to stay should never be a reason to stay with him. That I know she probably feels an allegiance to him because he provided comfort and a place for her to be when shit hit the fan with her dad, but that she doesn't owe him anything. I know she would never want to go back to living with her dad, and I assured her that this wasn't her only option if she chose to leave. She said oh I know, that's what I told him when he told me "if we break up you'll be homeless." Ummmm, what motherfucker? Are you really trying to intimidate her into staying with you by insinuating that she has nowhere to go?? I said, don't listen to him, that's just his way of trying to control you, and then she told me about how they fought about something a few months ago and he told her he was going to "send her in an Uber to your Dad's house." Again, what in the actual fuck?? I said that is his way of trying to shut you up - he knows that you would never want to move back to your Dad's, so he's basically saying, stop making me angry, or else.

I told her look, I know you love this guy, but you really need to take a long hard look at everything that has been going on and ask yourself how much more of this are you willing to take? I said the best advice I could give her was to try to pull herself out of it, and look at the story of their relationship as if it was a movie - if you were watching the heroine going through all of this, what would you be screaming at the screen for her to do? I know what I would be screaming, but I don't control the heroine in this movie, only you do.

I also reminded her that she has a tendency to keep things to herself until it becomes a very big problem. She has always done this - waiting until she is failing to ask for my help to study, waiting until she doesn't have enough money to pay the tow truck fees to call me for help with her car. I know why she does this - her asshole dad would yell at her for every little thing, so she avoids conflict until it becomes too big to cover up anymore. I told her look, the fact that you're coming to me with this means to me that this is a very big deal, because you tend to avoid asking for help or advice until it is a larger than life problem. You also tend to let details trickle out, you rarely give the full truth on the first, second, or even third go around. So I'm anticipating that there will be more that you want to tell me, and I'm here to listen when you're ready to talk about it.

I am trying my damndest to fight all of my codependent tendencies that make me want to just show up, pack all of her stuff into my car and drive her over to my place. But at a certain point, where does this cross the line into abusive stuff where someone needs to step in?

I can't even imagine what she's going to spill the beans about today. If I don't reply it'll be because I've been arrested for kicking this asshole in the nuts.

Some things I'm already working on:
cocoplus5nuts has suggested that I get her a copy of Not Just Friends, and I agree that this is definitely something that could benefit her, so I will work on that today.

I've also been trying to get her in to see a therapist. She has expressed wanting to see someone, but when it comes to actually taking the initiative to research therapists or make appointments, nada. My therapist isn't taking on new clients (and to be honest I think it might be strange for DD to see her, as my IC would already know soooo much about her father, and even her, but all through my lens), but she told me she is going to come up with a list of her colleagues who offer sliding scale options.

In the mean time, I told DD that I could share some of the infographics and short blog posts that I have found helpful re: abuse and infidelity. She has always had trouble with reading, so I figure infographics and short pieces would make the info easier to digest. She was open to hearing about it, but I wanted to cultivate a few that I think would be particularly helpful, rather than send her my entire bookmarks folder that has about 20 different categories with their own sub categories.

I was thinking Why Does He Do That might be a good thing for her to read, but it's so long. Maybe there are just snippets I can give her? Not just for understanding this particular asshole, but also to give her some clarity re: her dad. She has the presence of mind to acknowledge when her BF is doing things like her dad did. Some of the less obvious ones, I will point out to her by asking, "and what does this behavior remind you of?"

So, what say you SI? Any other suggestions?

ibonnie posted 12/3/2019 11:16 AM

I think your instincts are all correct. I think she would benefit greatly from therapy.

What if you invited her to stay with you through the holidays? It could give her a break/some clarity, and you could also present it as, you love her and would love to have her around to decorate for a few weeks and light the menorah and/or put up a tree.

nekonamida posted 12/3/2019 11:20 AM

She is asking for my advice and I honestly donít even know what to say. I mean obviously I know all of the SI things to say, but I really donít want to project my own baggage onto her.

I know you think you're trying to not burden her here but it's too late. She's already carrying that infidelity baggage. You can choose to help her with it or you can be like everyone else and leave her to carry it alone. There's no way to compassionately step back and ignore it without hurting her further. She's opening up to you about it for a reason maybe because she knows you've been in her shoes.

It's true that she probably won't take your advice but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it her and let her know you will always be there for her no matter what she decides. He's obviously been cheating on her for a long time and she does deserve better. It sounds like she badly needs that validation of what she knows is the truth and that's why she's been opening up about it more and more to you.

Chaos posted 12/3/2019 11:23 AM

I'd tell her to run, do not walk, away from him before she finds herself in indefinite infidelity.

I really donít want to project my own baggage onto her.

There is a big difference between projection and protection. You are PROTECTING your daughter.

HeHadADoubleLife posted 12/3/2019 15:13 PM

Thanks guys!

neko, you said exactly what I was thinking!

You can choose to help her with it or you can be like everyone else and leave her to carry it alone. There's no way to compassionately step back and ignore it without hurting her further.

Especially this!! ^^

I can tell after re-reading my initial post that I've taken the "neutral" path way too far, like an over correction. I know this is in an attempt to draw boundaries because I am over compensating for the fact that her father has no boundaries at all. But I need to trust my gut instinct which is to shake her and tell her to get the fuck out!

In the aftermath of my split with my XH I did a TON of reading on how to handle it with the kids, and so much of the literature says to not involve them with your relationship issues etc. But there is a huge part of me that feels wrong in doing that. Obviously I shouldn't be relying on them for emotional support, but I also feel like I'm lying to them by acting like I'm ok when I'm upset etc.

So I've been working on being honest with her about what I'm feeling when I'm feeling it - sad, angry, grieving etc. - without making her responsible for those feelings. I know what it's like to feel responsible for someone's behavior/feelings because of her dad, like how anything I said/did could set him off. And I know she has experienced this as well with her dad, so we can relate on a very deep level with that. It's a fine line to walk, as she automatically wants to "fix it" when she sees me upset, but I've been working on this with her, and telling her she doesn't need to fix it, but I also don't want to hide it from her.

Call it instinctual, but all of this "don't make this your kids' problem" talk feels so utterly wrong to me. In run of the mill divorces, maybe. But they lived this too! She was in the next room with her sister when I caught him in bed with OW. They personally witnessed DDay, and then were forced to live with the OW afterward. Do they not deserve to commiserate over these things? Yes, they happened to me, but they happened to them too!

The same thing goes for discussions of her father's behavior. I know about all of the stuff that says not to alienate a parent. But when she is describing incredibly abusive behaviors, things that were hidden from me, but happening under my nose, I have no problem with naming it Abuse with a capital A and making sure that she knows she was victimized. To her this behavior is normal, so if I don't help her see it for what it is, name it as abuse and let her know that in no way was this behavior ever acceptable, I'm just as bad as the abuser, am I not?

I have been thinking of this quote a LOT lately:
ďIf you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.Ē

I am trying to carry this through into all of my interactions, just having difficulty navigating it as I figure out all my CoD shit.

Call it confirmation bias, but I guess I just wanted to hear from others that this instinct to protect her is not crazy. With all the work I've had to do on my CoD stuff due to his addictions, there's so much talk of "you can't save people who don't want to be saved," and sometimes it has me erring on the side of not getting involved, because I also want her to learn to stand up for herself, and not to rely on others for protecting. I will try to view it not as protecting her, but as empowering her to make the best decision for herself.

Anyway, thanks for listening to my musings on this stuff. I will update as I hear more. I'm sure more will come out today.

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