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Advice from the heart for my dear friend.

AJanie's picture

Before I ever got involved with a man with kids - I simply had no idea what it entailed. Lately, I see my friend (with no kids of her own), struggling in her (semi new) relationship with a man with a son, and a very young, very in and out of the child's life BM. This blog post is sort of an outline of the things I would love to tell her, but haven't, yet.

I believe in order to remain sane and positive in step life, one needs to have an extremely healthy sense of self. Good self esteem.

There are so many aspects of this life that have drained me. Aged me. Made me cry. Made me scream. Made me physically ill.

But there was something about this life that made me much more self aware, and forced me to take a good look at myself, and my insecurities. Had I not done the "work" on myself (this includes finding Steptalk), I would be in a much different place emotionally. (That is not to say my life currently is rainbows, kittens and sunshine every day, obviously).

I entered my relationship with no self esteem. Perhaps "the challenge" of it all is what allured me. I quickly set out to be DH's dream girl, his angel, his fixer. I villainized BM before I even know anything about her. I was in full competition mode. I analyzed everything about that woman.

Was I less than her because she had his kids? Did he miss her when they talked? Do men always secretly love the BM? Would the kids see the evil in her ways? Would he eventually miss his family and leave me to go back? I kept myself up at night wondering, comparing, over-analyzing it to death.

It goes without saying, I spent the first couple years in a constant state of anxiety and anger. I tried so hard to wedge myself into the life of DH and the skids, his friends, his family, that I abandoned my own identity. Did I even exist? Nope. I only existed as I saw myself through the lens of my in-laws (yuck), BM, the kids. The funny, fierce, smart girl who could always make her friends laugh was long gone. I was a little shell of my former self. All of my friends were off starting families, anyway. And there I was. Just coasting along, clueless.

Throughout that time I was depressed in the truest sense of the word. I did not want to endure another day of DH going to court, drained and broke from fighting BM. I did not want to endure another phone call, hearing her complain on the other end. I was sick of the skid weekends, the messes, the constant feeling like I had to help "entertain" them. When they left on Sunday I would collapse into bed.

In my mind, when the skids were around, DH and I went from being head over heels in love, to enemies living under one roof. THEM vs. me. I would stew in my bedroom with the dog, while he laid on the couch with "his family." Sure, I would cuddle and laugh with the skids sometimes, but the comments about mom would damn near eat me alive (and still occasionally do).

I never felt so completely childless until I had stepkids.

After a couple more years went by I reached a turning point. I knew I couldn't continue to let BM, skids and DH's past be the focal point of my life any longer. I had to come to a place of healing and acceptance or I had to immediately leave. I found Steptalk (and a few others blogs) and realized I was not alone. These websites made me feel human again.

Then there was therapy, blogging, vision boards, meditation, and learning to take little breaks for myself. I started cultivating an entire little "AJ self help world" and trying to understand what I needed out of my life to feel alright. To feel happiness.

I am learning it is OKAY to decide not to make everyone dinner and go have a glass of wine with a friend instead. I learned it is OKAY to tell SD I need an hour to myself before watching her practice cartwheels in the yard. I learned it is OKAY to not hear every detail of DH's conversation with BM.

I am learning DH and the skids are still family to me, even with BM hovering in the peripheral. Her opinions cannot penetrate the walls of my house.

I am learning to view child support as just another bill that has to be paid.

I am learning to let myself love my husband instead of walking around in an angry, protective shell.

I am learning it is okay to feel confused and VULNERABLE.

I am learning being a "cool aunt" type to the skids feels a hell of a lot better than trying to be back up mom.

I want my friend to know all of this. I listen to her trash talk the BM more often now. I see her curiously scrolling BM's social media. I hear about the tears and fights with the boyfriend. I want to tell her to either RUN before merging lives any further, or to take a good, long, hard look at yourself and see where you are making this harder than it needs to be. I suspect she plans to stay with this man and I hope it doesn't take her years to get to a place where she finally feels okay.

But for now I am just trying to be a good listener... because what woman in a new relationship wants to hear ^ that...................?

Comments

Ninji's picture

I've always hated the "them vs me"...DH still does that shit.

I had a hard time in the beginning too. Still have my bad days. I've always had visions of BM getting on the back of some random dudes bike and riding off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. Smile Smile

AJanie's picture

Admittedly, I've had the fantasy of BM disappearing of tragically "ceasing to exist"... then I realize I would have the skids full time so I snap out of it.

CLove's picture

Yes, BM is a fabulous skid-sitter. I used to want her gone as well, but then the thought of endless cleaning and messes and cartoons and arguments and attitude really made me change my thoughts on this.

AJanie's picture

So. Many. Gray. Hairs.

I quite literally wasted years wrapped up in someone else's bullshit. While I am not mostly at peace, I am at peace roughly half of the time and still working toward achieving full time zen status.

somethingwicked's picture

We regarded BM as "Smiley" coz she never did ever smile or exude anything expressing human warmth or happiness . Never once saw a genuine smile.
Either stone faced apathy like a mannequin or sometimes ,like on a blue moon in a leap year , she'd do this thing with her mouth like a half sneer
with bugged out eyes.
Once OSD , in her early 20's home from college , graced us with a rare holiday visit anticipating the gift bonanza said "I just love Christmas because my BM is so happy and sings carols all day long."
I thought 'wonder if her face cracked when she opened her mouth to sing'. My Dh gave me a look like he could read my mind.

onelife's picture

My newest names other than 'skids' are, "Are the liabilities coming this weekend?" "How long will the obligations be here this time?"

I have requested now to not hear their names or even the word 'kids'.

onelife's picture

yup

CLove's picture

In the bookkeeping world, Liabilities are a little more positive in connotation. I just call them kidlings, or kiddos. If I dare say anything negative I get icy stare, and cold shoulder. The worst Ill go is "princess 1 and 2".

onelife's picture

Please! Use away!

I wish there was a like button on the posts. Likes all around!

Acratopotes's picture

When my friend and his wife divorced I was rather shocked.... year after the divorce friend had a new girl friend...

His daughter was 11 and his son 4 at the time.... The new girl was never married before and has no children, I simply mailed her the disengagement link, some Disney Dad links and Mini-wife syndrome links.... I've never met this woman before in my life lol... she invited me for dinner one evening and we all got along great, she laughed and said thank you for the information but I will not need it, the kids are very well behaved..

now 4 years later, I'm laughing at her and say - Oh but the kids are angels... if looks could kill..... she admitted reading the disengagement article after a months, and the rest after 4 months... we are friends now and we can really rip the men and children apart on a ladies only wine date... Wink