"My Stepdaughter Is Out to Get Me!"
His Turn, continued
"I was an only child and, like Barbara, I was raised by my grandparents. My father disappeared before I was born and my mother moved out of state when I was 10. My grandfather was an alcoholic and, after my grandmother died, he kicked me out of the house. I was 15. I was lucky, though: My high-school baseball coach heard about my situation and he and his wife took me in. I think of them as my real family.
"My surrogate father inspired me to be a teacher and after graduating from college, I moved to the community where we live now. My ex-wife and I met shortly afterward. The first few years were great. We were young, having fun. But once we had Jessica, Miranda changed. She started giving me a hard time about earning more money, the arguments multiplied, and pretty soon we had nothing in common except our daughter.
"Even after my separation, I continued to socialize with Barbara and her husband, Mark. I remember the day I realized I loved Barbara: It was my birthday, six months after she'd left Mark, and she'd taken me to lunch. When I dropped her off, I gave her a thank-you hug. We both felt that bolt of electricity. We knew we were going to be together.
"I'm certainly not condoning what Miranda has done to Barbara, but I'm not surprised by it, either. Writing that letter was inexcusable and when I spoke to Jessica about it, she started to cry and told me she was sorry for telling her mother such tales. I didn't bother confronting Miranda about the letter because I knew it would just make matters worse. Barbara seems to think that I can make my ex-wife stop doing the terrible things she does. But how exactly? Barbara tells me in no uncertain terms how ineffectual and weak I am. I think we just have to live our lives the way we want to and let some things slide. If we don't make a fuss, it will all calm down soon enough."