My dearest husband

When we met 5 years ago, I had my eyes wide open to your situation with your ex. My own past with my ex was very similar in a lot of ways. At that time, your ex-wife had left you and your daughter for 6 months in abandonment of her parental responsibilities and her marriage. Your daughter was young, innocent and had the slight hint of developing psychological scars. My heart opened to your daughter and she latched to me for a mother figure that could provide consistency in her life and something she lacked in her relationship with her mother. She turned to me in times of turmoil and misunderstanding for the behaviors of her mother. I was more than happy to take on that role as a friend and mother figure in her life.

Unfortunately, during our 3 plus year courtship, we dealt with such tremendous events and drama instigated and manipulated by your ex-wife. It left many deep wounds and scars that still to this day have not healed. After realizing what she walked away from, your ex-wife was bound and determined to destroy us and the connection we had. She left no stone unturned…and she continues to turn over any stone she can find….. I can honestly say most women out there would not have put up with the stalking, the attacks, and the consistent lack of boundaries and respect that I endured. I look back at all that has happened and say to myself, how did I ever survive it?  I survived it and tolerated it because I was bound and determined to keep us and our deep soul connection alive and I did not want to give the power to someone else to take you from me. Besides my son, I have never loved anyone with every inch of my being. Nor has anyone, not even my parents, and my best friends, have ever understood or appreciated me like you have.

When we finally rebuilt our foundation with a lot of soul searching in our partnership and a lot of work to keep our goal of being together first, we walked down that aisle. Just over 1 year ago. Since that marriage, the last 12 plus months there has still been the constant challenges with your ex-wife in regards to her stalking you and ignoring my existence..but unfortunately, there has been a huge shift in my relationship with your daughter. When your ex-wife knew that she could not likely break us, she focused all her energies with parental alienation of her daughter towards me. In further frustration, your daughter has grown and has developed a lot of unhealthy modeling behaviors that we see in her mother. You and I have had a lot of discussions lately about this and my frustration that I have felt that the parental alienation against me is completely off your radar….I don’t get a lot of validation for my beliefs in that category.  In the end, what has happened is your daughter treats me like her mother treats me. I in essence live with a miniature version of her mother. I told you a few months ago that I feel like I am living an 8 year jail sentence…..until she turns 18 and will likely move on and out. You suggested family therapy but of course never initiated. With her sporadic meanness towards me and my son, I developed a very hard detachment from her. A wall around myself not to subject myself to being hurt if I open myself up to her and then she turns on me. I treated her with respect but I won’t deny I closed myself off emotionally from her. I had no choice at the time. It was my only self-preservation for what I was being confronted with….and her mother’s tactics were still present. It was the only way to survive in my own home.

This recent development of her mother leaving again for what she reports is a 4 week deal has brought up all the underlying challenges again. She says she will return. We shall see and we shall see for how long. We are in disagreement with this recent deal. Either way, this is going to be an ongoing back and forth leave and come for the next several years or she will finally leave permanently. Either way we will deal with the incessantly unending disruption of our lives, unnecessary stress and psychological ramifications in your daughter and all the other family members.  I just don’t know if I have it in me.

What people don’t think of, is it’s not just about the child? The step mother has an unfair expectation on her. She is expected to love and shelter and protect that child because she took an oath with the father. Resentments or anger is supposed to be set aside because ….that’s not fair to the child.  I am just not one of those people that can turn off the valve like that. Is it fair for me to let go of past hurts on how your daughter has rejected me in the last 12 months and love her openly because she has such a horrible mother that has now abandoned her again. Believe me, I want too. My heart aches for her but my anger is more pronounced. My resentment runs deeper. The last several weeks her mother started up this abandonment due to other issues and our schedules were completely disrupted. We were dictated to show up here and there when she wanted us too. Now this. Now we had less than 12 hour’s notice that we were 24/7. I grapple with the responsibilities this involves. I know it might sound selfish to be angry and resentful but is it? I did not bare this child. I did not make her and bring her into the world. I accepted being a step mother but did I really sign up for full duty at the whims of her mother? I am trying so hard to take the high road but I have lost sight of it. I am so resentful of you and your daughter and everything I have been put through. I really did not get much support in the last 12 months when she treated me like a door mat…a maid. Now I am supposed to let go of those feelings that have not gone away and open myself up and be a pseudo mom. It could only be 4 weeks but it could be 6 months as well. We just don’t know. When her mother returns and your daughter is elated and feels she has to turn on me again to keep her mother to stay, is it fair to me?

What’s worse in the situation is we both have very deep differences in response to this behavior. There has been more times than not I have insisted you pursue the courts for full custody and decision making but you have always took the non-conflict way of letting her screw with us at every turn. Before I married you, I had to come to terms and accept your way of how to handle these situations. I did relinquish to support you in how you decided to deal with the things on how they came up, majority of the time. But….this recent deal…..I don’t know. I just can’t accept a no conflict way. I just can’t accept setting in motion a pattern of letting her come and go.

I am at a significant crossroad. I know I can’t leave you. I love you with every ounce of my being. But I am not sure my mental health and physical health can take this psychological beating every week. What’s ironic is that every time we get to a point of stabilizing ourselves and being on a committed path on how we approach things….I find something happens to test us. I just want the tests to stop.  You would say the situation is much better and less dramatic than in the beginning…is it? I don’t think so…it’s just the same tests but in a different form. How much drama does one subject themselves of for the ones that they love? Where is the breaking point? When does it stop? I just can’t have the positive outlook as you that it will get better. It isn’t getting better. I will never get better.  I know I can’t leave you. I can’t be the one that does but deep down there are many days where I wish you would just release me ….but you never will. That’s where our deep soul mate connection comes in. That underlying wave and momentum of love…. I just don’t know what the answer is. Do I leave for a month to figure it out myself? That would be ironic for my own ex-husband wouldn’t it? Do I file for divorce? Do I get counseling? What the hell do I do at this point? I can’t escape it either way.  I keep thinking about the story that therapist tell you about parenting…being on a plane and using the oxygen mask for yourself first…..if I do that and I answer to my health first, is losing you just going to destroy me anyway?  She wins then. She absolutely wins and that I know I cannot live with.  So am I just going to be in constant ups and downs until your daughter is on her own? I just don’t know the answer.

I wish I had a magic ball at this point. I wish I had a guardian angel or someone on the other side that can guide me in this decision….someone that will validate I should stay with you. Someone to tell me to stay the course, dig deep and find the strength…someone to assure me that there will still be more good times then bad times.  I am silently waiting.

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~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on September 26, 2011.

4 Responses to “My dearest husband”

  1. There are no winners or losers in this scene. The only loser here is your step daughter. When you married your soul mate , you accepted as your own , his daughter from another marriage. Your step daughter is struggling to survive in her own nightmare. So please keep loving her and try to come to terms with your anger and let that anger go. Only then will you find that happiness that you seek.

  2. I feel for you, and from your letter, I can tell you’ve not been married long (other than the fact you said you’ve only been married a year 🙂 ). Things will be OK. Focus on why you married your husband and do what you can to make your marriage great, a safehaven from everyday stress, including things related to stepdaughter. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself, to spend time with friends, to do whatever you can to feel more sane. Remember, your stedaughter is not bad, even though she may do bad things, she is lost and confused and hurting and if you stay consistent, reliable and kind she will see it and one day acknowledge it. You can be the best thing that happened to her, so just be yourself. Dont bend over backwards, dont allow her to treat you poorly, stand firm and be kind and one day…years from now…she will love you for it. To love you now is disloyal to her mom. Respect that. Not saying it’s OK, but it’s reality for her. Of course a 10 year old is way too immature to realize and/or verbalize that but that’s whats going on. It’s not that she doesnt like you; it’s that she feels in order to maintain a relationship with her mom, she has to not like you. Let her be. Dont let her disrespect you by any means, but be OK w/ a 10 year old not being a fan of yours. She’ll see it one day…and she’ll look back and appreciate your stability. As stepmoms, we have to focus on 2 things I think: Our marriage and the big picture. We fell in love with our husband, not thier children. It’s OK you dont love SD, be OK with that. Love your husband, go on dates, remind him why he fell in love with you and vice versa. As for the Big picture, it is not a bad day, or a bad month or even a bad year. It’s not a custody battle, a mom who pops in and out every few months or a tween to spews hatred. It’s bigger than all of that. At the end of our life we want to be able to look back and say we did right by those in our life. That we did the best we could, and truly know that’s true. It’s not about payoff now, thank goodness. It’s about payoff years and years down the road when we know that we were ourselves and that we were kind and truly had the best interest of the kids at heart. To love a child that is not yours is a tall order and however long it takes you to get there, it’s ok. Fake it till you make it. Be kind, see thier behavior for what it is (not personal, even though it feels painfully so), remember you’re married forever to your husband not his kids. It will be OK. There will be a lot of days that just suck, but in those times–think of your husband (him personally, not all his “baggage” ) and the big picture. It will get you through. You’re doing a great job and don’t lose heart. It will be OK. Big Picture. If you havent already the book “stepmonster” by wednesday martin is great. It made me feel sane and that I wasnt a complete b*tch from hell , but a normal stepmom going through normal feelings. great book!!
    Sarah

  3. I love Sarah’s advice, it is sooo true!!! As a stepchild myself I know I didn’t treat my own stepmom kindly all the time, it wasn’t her (at the beginning) it was my dad and my own growing pains (I was 16). When I became an adult and she did the things she did I resented her. I was open and trying, but because she felt I was mean to her in the beginning (I ignored her) she wanted nothing to do with me and would not work on repairing the relationship, even for my dad’s sake. My dad ended up divorcing her because he couldn’t take her personality, holding grudges and not wanting to work on problems, and my dad and I have never had a closer relationship becaues he knew I loved him and that I would do what I could do to accept the people in his life. You learn as an adult what you did wrong and you appreciate the people in your life that still love you and accept you when you are ready to make a change. At 10 your stepdaughter doesn’t understand her feelings and I hightly recomment getting her into counceling to help her deal with the feelings in a constructive way. I do know that if I had someone to talk to I would have most likely done things differently. Now, as a stepmom myself, I know that I have to keep an open heart, not take things personally, and leave room for my own stepdaughter to grow. She is a miniture of her mother and not the good things that hubby fell in love with but the bad things that made him leave. The only thing I can do is support my husband, love my husband, keep my marriage in tact, and take care of myself so that when the day comes and stepdaughter wants to have a relationship I’m not bitter or holding on to the past. I got counseling for myself to help with the letting go of resentment and letting go of anger. I think that was the best gift I could have given myself and my family.
    Good luck sweetie! Know that you are not alone, your feelings are valid, and the road is there, you may not be able to see it, but your feet know where to take you.

  4. One of the best resources I have is Wednesday Martin’s book, Stepmonster. Read it! It will give you some insights, not only for yourself, but for your stepdaughter. I really feel better knowing the anger and resentment is not about the stepparent but actually the parents. The stepparents are only the scapegoats. BUT, there are things the parents can do to help curve those feelings which, unfortunately, some do not do. Anything worth having will not be easy to attain.

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