Wedding Woes

You can't fix Ellen or any of this, so back away.

Dear Prudence,

I was “Ellen’s” stepmother from ages 5 to 15. She lived primarily with my husband and me since her mother was legitimately unwell. My husband died and Ellen went to live with her maternal grandmother. I was basically told to never contact them ever again. I had no legal standing.

I tried reaching out to Ellen on social media when she was in her 20s. I never heard back. I mourned and moved on. My husband and I are in our mid-40s and have twins. I love my life and my family but I always regret how things went down. Ellen recently wrote me a letter. It was vile. She basically accused me of being the reason why everything in her life went wrong: why she didn’t graduate high school, why she got into drugs, why she had several abortions and later gave up a baby for adoption, and she finished it by writing she hoped a house fell on me. It was a gut punch. I basically raised Ellen, but I was never her mother. Most of her troubles happened during the time I reached out and she never responded. My husband tells me to stop torturing myself—that I couldn’t have known what Ellen was going through if she wouldn’t tell me. I haven’t responded to the letter yet. Should I? What should I say? Is there anything to say at all?

—Love Wasn’t Enough

Re: You can't fix Ellen or any of this, so back away.

  • Options
    Ellen may be a victim of her own hereditary mental health.  You can't blame yourself for this so back off and consider finding a therapist.
  • Options
    I wonder if the grandmother told lies like, "(LW) didn't want you, so that's why I had to raise you."

    The whole thing is so sad.  Ellen and the LW lost each other when they needed each other the most.  It had devastating effects on Ellen.

    This is one of those situations where even though I know the smartest course of action is to ignore the letter, I couldn't do that if I was the LW.  I'd continue to be tortured wondering if as mean as the letter was, if it was a cry for help.

    I'd send a letter back that expressed sorrow she'd had such a difficult life.  That I had always loved her like she was my own daughter and I wish I could have saved her from some of that pain.  That while I realize she hates me, my door is open to her if that ever changes.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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