The grieving process can be a terribly messy one, and it can take a long time to work through.
That’s especially true if you don’t have supportive people around you, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Emotional_Teacher712 never felt a part of the new family their mother created when she got remarried after their father died in an accident.
But when their mother and stepdad tried to tamper with sentimental items, the Original Poster (OP) decided it was time to set new boundaries.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my mom and her husband that they had no right to touch my locket?”
The OP had a special locket from early childhood that they cherished.
“When I was five, my dad bought me a locket with pictures of him, my mom, my sister, and my brother (both older).”
“When I was seven, my dad and sister died in a car accident.”
“My locket became something so treasured, I wore it all the time and didn’t care if it was a formal event or not.”
The OP’s life went through another sudden change a year later.
“When I was eight, my mom remarried.”
“Mom’s husband is Jeff. Jeff had a one-year-old son called Nathan whose mom was not in the picture.”
“Mom and Jeff then had two daughters together pretty quickly.”
The OP’s locket was a point of tension over the years.
“My locket was something they all knew about because they’d see me wear it.”
“My locket had a custom feature where you can add panels to it to make room for more photos, but I never wanted that done, to change the original locket.”
“Mom still asked me a couple of times to add Jeff, Nathan, and the girls and I told her I didn’t want to.”
“So when I was 16, my mom and Jeff bought me a new locket with their photos in it. I never wore it but I put it in a jewelry box I own. There were some comments and tensions that I never wore the new one.”
“My half-sisters were upset about me not changing which one I wore all the time. I explained why the original was special, and they told me the new one was more special because it included them.”
“My mom was annoyed at me for how I handled it and Jeff b***hed at me for not appreciating what they did for me.”
Eleven years after the second marriage, the stepfamily made a move.
“I’m 19 now, and I live in a small apartment. My older brother lives with his girlfriend.”
“A couple of weeks ago, we all stayed at my brother’s house, and when I woke up the next morning, my locket had been moved (I don’t wear it to bed in case it breaks). I put it back on and went about my day and that weekend.”
“When I got home a couple of days later, I wanted to look at the photos inside and noticed they’d taken out my dad’s photo and tried to squeeze in Jeff, Nathan, and the girls.”
“I was angry. I called Mom and asked her if she’d seen my locket.”
“She told me I drove them to do what they did because I was selfish and inconsiderate and broke their hearts for the last three years by showing which locket I favored and which family I favored as well. She hung up on me.”
The OP called them out on what they had done.
“I tried to calm down and went over to their house (Mom and Jeff’s), and I told them they had no right to touch my locket.”
“Jeff told me they had every right to show a more accurate representation of my family and that I was hurting Nathan and the girls by wearing something that didn’t include them when I had something that did.”
“I lost it. I told them they did not have that right and they do not get to tell me who I carry around in my locket or not.”
“I told him he would never be deserving of a spot, I told my mom she had lost her spot, and then I left, saying they needed to stay the h**l away from me.”
The OP’s older brother sided with her.
“My brother couldn’t believe they did it and sided with me.”
“He told mom to accept we didn’t feel the way she wanted us to feel about her new family.”
“Mom and Jeff said I was an a**hole.”
“Mom said since dad bought it while they were married, then she also bought it, and she had every right to interfere with it.”
The OP was able to update her locket.
“I had a copy of the same photo and used that, but it isn’t the same one my father touched.”
“I’m considering taking my mom out now that this has happened.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were disgusted by how the stepfamily had stomped on the OP’s boundaries.
“NTA, their antics are and have been abusive. They don’t get to dismiss your feelings or decide for you that you should add them. Their stomping on your boundaries makes them massive AHes.”
“It’s not about loving them less than, it’s about grieving the family you lost. You have every right to grieve in a way that works for you: by keeping the locket as it was given to you.”
“Don’t let them convince you that you’re in the wrong here.” – Throwaway-2587
“NTA. Your mom and stepdad, however, are TA, especially your mom’s creepy justification that since she was once married to your dad, she had a right to access the locket.” – Inner-Show-1172
“First, OP is NTA. Second, I would’ve brought up the fact that Mom changing the photo in the locket was Mom erasing her eldest daughter, not just erasing her first husband.”
“OP, the next time you see your mother, ask her what your deceased sister would say if she knew her Mom could so easily replace her in a locket. I would drive that emotional point at Mom hard. To have her first husband and eldest daughter look down from heaven (if your family is religious) and know that they have been so forgotten and replaced.”
“Ask Mom: What if she (Mom) dies? Would she be pleased if Stepdad steals OP’s locket so he can replace the picture of Mom with Stepdad’s new wife?” – deebee55455
“NTA. It is disgusting that they would even touch something so precious that belongs to you. I am very sorry for your loss.” – Big_Solution_1065
“I’m with you on going NC (no contact). This behavior from your mom and Jeff isn’t likely to change since it seems neither one recognizes that they are in the wrong. They’ve even gotten the other kids involved to guilt trip you.” – GamerGirlLex77
Others confirmed that the OP had every right to wear the necklace how they wished.
“NTA. It’s yours 100%.”
“A gift is automatically yours once it’s gifted to you.”
“Her new family is not important, parents need to learn that just because they choose to move on and focus on a new family, does not mean their kids have to abide by those same feelings. It’s selfish and inconsiderate.”
“You’re 100% in the right about everything here! NTA.” – Amelia_Rosewood
“If I was the stepdad, I would have explicitly told her years ago that the locket was special and she should never lose those memories. That she could talk about her Dad to me all she wanted, that he must have been a great guy to have made such a lovely daughter.”
“And that she could decide what kind of relationship we would have, and I would respect that. This is basic respect. It distresses me to no end when I hear stories like this.”
“OP, you are NTA, and I am so sorry this happened to you.” – No_Abbreviation6884
“I truly hope you get the photo of your father back to replace in the locket or can find another to put in there (even if it’s not the same).”
“NTA. I would strongly consider this grounds for going NC (no contact) with the family members involved, it’s just WRONG.” – Loud_Situation_4682
“Oh my god. They need to back up! That is YOUR locket. They had no right to touch it. I hope they didn’t damage it.”
“I can’t imagine them being that obsessed about photos. That is unhinged. Really psychotic stuff.”
“Hurt them?? Don’t they understand they are hurting you? Just because you care about your dad doesn’t mean you don’t care about them too. Such a huge fuss they are making trying to control and force you into doing their will.”
“Stand strong. NTA.” – Anonnymusse
“Their behavior is gross. How selfish and inconsiderate THEY are. They are the ones making it a big deal so it has become a big deal for your other siblings.”
“What they should have said is that your dad gave it to you and so it is special. To respect that you wanted to keep it how is was when he gave you it and this didn’t mean you didn’t love them.”
“And that would have been it. End of story. You are NTA.” – Dogmother123
The subReddit was completely disgusted by how the OP had been treated over the years, let alone regarding this sentimental locket, which was one of the few things they had from their late father and older sister.
Expanding families may be one thing, and hoping to be accepted as one of their own could be another, but how the family had treated the OP was a far cry from acceptable or understandable.