Dear BM

I wish I could help you. I wish I could heal your pain. I wish I could make you understand the boundaries we have had to put up are not about you as a person, but protections for us based on your past actions.

You don’t see it, I know. You are unable to look at your past words and actions and acknowledge that they have led us to where we are today.  You can see that you have done wrong, but do not see the logical consequences those wrongs have had on my emotions and relationship, and why it is now necessary that we protect ourselves from you even in this small way

You mean to be kind, I think, but you are a manipulator. You are selfish. You cannot separate your child’s needs from your desires.  These are part of your character and I am learning to accept them. I have flaws, too. I am stubborn to a fault.  I am possessive. I will argue for the sake of arguing.  I hate to be wrong.

And even with both of our flaws, things have gotten better – immensely better between us.  I am impressed. You impressed me.  And you have earned back a small amount of the respect you had lost over the past few years.  I am glad you have chosen to be more present in your child’s life. I am thrilled you have begun to help him with school work, and that, while you do not encourage his relationship with me, you no longer bluntly discourage it.  And my husband and I DO appreciate the gesture you are attempting to make by getting us a gift.  I am sorry, so so sorry, that we cannot accept it at this point in time.  Too many of your gifts have been manipulations or underhanded.  Too many of your holiday focuses have been on the first family that never existed, to the exclusion of me and my relations.

As the Trojans would have said if they had survived. We’re sorry. You may be genuine but we have seen too many horses.  We will admire your generosity from afar.

I wish I could ease your emotions in this, and let you know how much we appreciate the changes you have been making.  But I know that nothing we say will even be heard, let alone believed, in your present state.  So I will stay silent.

But I am hurting, watching you. I am hurting knowing that this boundary has destroyed some of the connections we have made over the past several months.  I take responsibility for that and stand by my decision, but I am not stoic at all.  And I empathize with your anger at being excluded, even though we cannot change our decision because our family, which you are not a part of, does come first and we believe we are protecting it.

But I hope.

I hope you are strong enough to continue past the pain and someday try again.  I have done so in the past and I know it is possible. And I hope that in the future our boundaries can be lessened, and that the reminders when they are crossed become less and less painful for us both.  I hope that we will rebuild at some point and continue moving forward.

I have lost that hope in the past, but truly, we have come further than I ever thought possible.  And while I will accept the responsibility if we never get back to what we had a month ago, I believe that someday you will overcome your hurt. And I believe that someday I will overcome my fear.  We are both strong women.  We do not have to like each other or agree to work together.

And we have already proven that once, so I know anything is possible.

I wish you a Merry Christmas.  Truly, from the bottom of my heart. And I am sorry for your pain.

Love,
SM

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~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on December 13, 2011.

9 Responses to “Dear BM”

  1. Really?

    This letter could have been written by my daughter’s stepmother… You oh so graciously, in such a polite manner, slap again and again. I hope that you would take your own advice and get some help with those emotions. Is it really that hard to accept a gift and trash it in private? So Mom makes changes and jumps around how you and dad ‘expect’ her to behave so that you can ‘trust’ her again and then you slap her because ‘it’s not quite enough to please me, keep trying until I tell you that you’ve succeeded’. Poor mom– I feel her. I’ve been there. I was that crazy, ‘manipulating’ ex wife once and no matter how many years of peace and quiet that passes, I am still ‘the crazy ex’. Nothing I do will EVER be good enough for oh so high and mighty ex husband and his new oh so perfect/never make a mistake wife.. And what’s so sad is while our christmas cards (an honest to God attempt at showing love, compassion and family to my daughter) are marked ‘return to sender’ in front of my child. No one hurts but the child when parents behave this way.

    • Just Me — Thank you for your insights; however, our letter-writers are allowed to address their letters how they’d like (within reason). We don’t allow the posting of real names. This site is about conveying feelings in an anonymous manner and learning from each other.

    • OP here-

      I’m sorry you’ve been hurt, Just Me, though I don’t know your situation. You have a lot of anger toward the SM in your life. I imagine it has built up over many years of feeling like you were being treated unfairly or not being respected. In that case, we are in a similar boat. I recognize that I have my own emotions that need dealt with, especially a fear of repeating the past. I hope I can get past it someday, but it will take a certain amount of security I think, before I can. In my case, it has not been years since dealing with cruelty from this person. It has been months. I hope that when it has been years I will be able to get past my fear as you suggest is needed and accept an offer and trust that it is genuine.

      Yes, refusing a gift in front of a child would be horrid. I have never done that and that is not what happened in this case. But when parents try to one-up each other with gifts, it also hurts the child. When one parent gives a gift and then complains of not getting anything from the other home, it hurts the child. When parents help children make or buy things that are inappropriate for a child to give, either sexually suggestive or inside jokes that are inappropriate with a remarried ex, well then it also hurts the child since “their” gift will not be appreciated as it should. Even if the parents pretend to appreciate it, children are not stupid and they will pick up on the true emotions. It is more appropriate that a child receive help buying or making gifts from within the family anyway, rather than from someone who neither knows nor particularly likes those the child is giving gifts to.

      Anyway, I appreciate your response and I also hope that the ex and SM in your life are able to move past their issues at some point.

  2. Oh and It’s Mom, child’s mom. Mother of my stepchild but not BM or bio-mom – it’s just Mom. BM is so horrid. Just Mom. Thanks 😉

    • I am sorry to say this because the site is supposed to be a way for people to let out their feelings, but seriously… Just Me, You are the one that needs some help dealing with your emotions. How dare you “attack” SM about her own feelings. They are hers to have and do not need someone to agree. SM, I don’t think you said anything out of line. And gaining someone’s trust back is a difficult journey regardless of the situation. I say kudos for even giving BM a chance some people are not able to move on from those hurt feelings.

  3. I can empathize with both the OP and the Mom who commented here.
    I’m curious to know what sort of gift might not be accepted at face value – for example, something extremely expensive or tickets for a group event might not be appropriate. I have certainly experienced manipulation in our family situation, as I suspect the other Mom in our family probably feels she has, too. That being said, at some point, it behooves most of us to decide which battles are worth fighting. I’m thankful neither modest gifts nor Christmas cards have ever seemed worth the fuss with anyone in our situation.
    I can’t speak for the OP’s motivation, though I readily admit that there have been many times when I have been guilty of approaching everything in our family as a fight. Taking a step back to consider what is truly in our children’s best interests, even when that means swallowing my own feelings and pride has brought us tremendous peace and made me much less crazy. I did address the behaviors and boundaries with her directly, and gradually (over several years) the button-pushing has greatly declined. Hope that you both find the peace and resolution that you deserve. Not engaging crazy with my own crazy has helped me tremendously.

  4. OP, I just saw your response. I am very sorry for the situation that you are in and hope it gets better. I think it’s safe to say that you’re preaching to the choir on the subject of innaproriate inside jokes and sexually inappropriate gifts. I hope that the Mom in your situation matures emotionally. Asking that your marriage be treated with the respect that she probably shows everyone else on earth is no high horse. Those antics are gross and childish, and I suspect she will one day realize how pathetic using her children to manipulate her ex really has been.
    I wish you the very best, and have hope for your family. Ours has been truly surreal at points and is much better now.

  5. Absolutely beautiful! Bravo on your understanding and congratulations on your sweet intelligence.

  6. Honestly reading this letter remindes me of all the things I want to say to my childrens Mother. But at last I know in my heart it wouldnt change anything. I pray for all who cant move past the fact that their ex’s have moved on. I know im the bonus mom and never the blood Mother. Im ok with that. But I will not sit here and say im anything less than the mom I am to these kids. So when thier Mother decided to return a gift to us out of obligation and these gifts are used pieces of crap she has laying around her home, with glitter glue all over it….well that just isnt a real gift! I dont mind the fact that her children asked us for a gift for their Mother. I actually encourage the idea of allowing them to pick out a gift for her and wrap it. But one from me personally NO WAY! Shes done enough to me that if Santa was truly real shed be getting a dump truck FULL of COAL! But for her to think sending me used crap from her house is an acceptable gift shes crazy. Had she truly wanted to do something for me and the ex hubby then sitting down with paper and crayons allowing the 3 children to draw something would have been more of a gift! Christmas is about giving yes but not when there is a evil intent behind it by a spiteful and hateful person! Merry Christmas to all blended families. May your new year be brighter!

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