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Kids are mostly grown and we survived. Or did we? Need advice about future after blended kids are grown.

BK2007's picture

My husband and I met 13 years ago and instantly fell very much in love. He was outgoing and fun, a hard worker and good to my kids. Instantly fixing broken bikes and giving piggy back rides, I was thrilled to death to have found someone to complete me and my kid’s lives. Both divorced  a few years prior, I had 4 boys ages 4-10 and he had 3 girls 8-13. Our kids knew each other from attending school together and from living in a small town. They seemed to get along great. We thought together, we could make anything work and married within a year of meeting. In pre marital counseling, the preacher repeatedly asked if we knew how hard it would be to blend families. We both nodded but really had not a clue.

Looking back, there seem to be more bad memories than good. He turned out to be an alcoholic. I really thought he was just a social drinker for the longest  time in hind sight I should have taken longer to get to know him. I was 28 at the time though, young and blind. 

His daughters in my opinion, we’re spoiled long before I came into the picture- over compensation by dad for guilt he felt that their mother left for another man. Whatever they wanted, they always got, no matter the expense financially or other. They were irritated by having to share once our families blended and the attention not being only focused on them anymore.

The oldest stepdaughter moved in with us full time right after we got married, I think in part because she was concerned that she was losing her father and wanted to keep an eye on things, in part because of the resentment she had in watching her mom sneak cheat on her dad with her and her sisters in tow. She was an emotional wreck and in constant trouble at school.

We also had my 4 sons living with us full time, the middle daughter every other week, and the youngest on the weekends. I was the main caregiver over the years for all.

As the girls moved further into teen years they became disrespectful to me and my children, often acting shady and vindictive. For example, they took my cat I’d had a long time and together with their grandmother- dumped her in the country. I didn’t know until several years after the fact, I just thought she had run away.

The girls would get together and gang up against my sons, 1 who has a mild form of Aspergers, and they would put them down and make fun of them saying things like “I wish kids with autism could go to concentration camps like the Jews did”...just complete hate and spite filled brattiness, and of course their father never intervened, down playing things and my feelings about them.

My husband, when drinking would treat my kids the same, and sometimes his kids the same, with put downs and name calling- (no wonder why his kids acted that way, right? It’s a cycle really).

Rules he had for the boys were not the same for the girls. I recall we had stairs in one home and  if my kids would get caught running up or down them, he would force them to slowly walk up and down them 20 times, but his kids could ride down them in pillow cases for another example. (Needless to say I have 13 years of resentment towards him. My kids might also but currently state otherwise).

We separated for 18 months after the first 3 years of hell- I filed for divorce, but he begged me to take him back and said things would be better. I foolishly agreed.

I took him back and things were better for about a year. Then his drinking worsened and his girls became more the focus of his verbal abuse during his drinking rages- I grew to feel sorry for them and felt I had a duty to stick things out to be there for them, in spite of how they treated all of us- as it occurred to me they were products of their environments and worthy of love and forgiveness.

The oldest step daughter eventually moved out.The younger two girls graduated and moved on to college and started having babies, my oldest went on to college, then there were just 3 at home. I stuck it out not wanting another failed marriage or to let any of the kids down. I convinced myself that we as individuals are meant to be servant to those in need, and that I’d be letting a lot of people down if I didn’t stay, and that things would be better once all the kids were raised!

 As of today, we are down to just 1 at home,( a senior in high school), and I can confidently state- things are not better. In all honesty I think I stayed too long with the best of intentions.

Our 2 girls and 1 boy (oldest) are college educated and doing great in life (I will say thanks to my guidance) 2 more boys also in college (1 with Aspergers headed to law school). One daughter has two kids and lives with her mom at 20 (mom raised that one). 1 son home still.

In the end, the girls grew up and grew to love and respect me. The oldest daughter is very close with my boys and considers them brothers- They were in her recent wedding.- one positive highlight to it all. The grandsons call me mamaw and are a joy to be around.

My husband however, drinks just as much as he used to, has no emotional attachment to my kids or clue what is going on in their lives

My kids don’t love my husband, they don’t hate him either.

I fear fear at some point damage caused to them by emotional abuse from him over the years, will surface some day, though they assure me they are fine.

I want to leave. I want to create a happy life and prepare for my own grandkids some day.  I want peace. The only thing holding me back is losing relationships that took 13 years to forge, with my step daughters...that and hurting my step grandson (4), whom I have grown close to with.

 I also worry about what would happen to my husband and have fear that if anything bad happened to him I would be blamed and forced to live with guilt the rest of my days.

Or what if I go and he finally gets better and then finds someone else and is happy?

I can’t envision my husband ever changing. Or him embracing my kids and future grandkids the way I have his. They deserve better, I deserve better but I’m scared to make the change and to leave.

 Yes I’m co dependant, yes I need therapy. Yes I want advice or to hear about similar stories and final outcomes. No I don’t want your criticisms. I criticize and second guess myself and choices multiple times a day...


Lollybobs's picture

'For example, they took my cat I’d had a long time and together with their grandmother- dumped her in the country.'

My god. It would have ended there for me. There's never any excuse for cruelty to animals.Did you manage to get her back?

BK2007's picture

I did not get the cat back, and didn’t learn for several years after the fact what had happened to her. 

CloudCuckooLand's picture

What you are describing is codependency, lack of boundaries, low self worth, and misplaced responsibility. You put your husbands and stepdaughters over the emotional and mental health needs of your sons, and stick around waiting for the trauma-bomb is going to drop. They deserve a better model than what you have offered them. Your stepdaughters and their father are responsible for your step grandson. You are not responsible for your husband's behavior and if he drank himself to death it is on him, you have to choose to be healthy and not responsible for his dysfunction, this sentence screams enabling co-dependent. He isnt going to find miraculously find someone healthy and everything be magically ok. If he started a new relationship it would be just as dysfunctional as your current one and no longer your concern.

The crux though ---- your step daughters dumped your beloved animal in the country -what the ever-loving f??????!!!!! Why are you still there? Why didn't you take your precious sons and leave that little system of psychopaths? Why do you think of any of this acceptable??? Dear god, this post screams self worth of a wet paper bag, please go and find a therapist and figure out why you think any of this is ok for you, and how to apologize to your sons for keeping them in this insanity.

CloudCuckooLand's picture

There is nothing about what you describe that can be described as survival. Survival is healthy, resilient, resourceful. This is the exact opposite.

BK2007's picture

I disagree that I put my stepdaughters ahead of my sons. I left for 18 months when things were really bad, the problems with my step daughters improved upon my return. 

My sons have always been my first priority and always will be- I apparently did not articulate myself well enough nor the situation. You have no idea what wonderful human beings the boys turned out to be in spite of everything in life. They want zero apologies from me.

In my perspective, I have taught all 7 kids perseverance, forgiveness, love, compassion and grace. But I do think it’s now time to teach them a lesson of self preservation in setting an example for myself. 

Out of all 4 parents in the equation, I am the only semi-stable one who worked my ass off to raise them all and gave up on none of them. All while working full time and finishing a BS and an MBA, and making sure they didn’t miss an Ortho appointment and I never missed a sports event in doing so.

I am extremely close with all of my sons (18,20, 22 and 24), all who understand that alcoholism is a disease. If anything they pity my husband. They do not judge me.

I don’t disagree that I’m likely co dependent. I for sure need therapy.

My kids are bonded  with their step sisters, the oldest who is now 27- most of all. I am only asking for advice on how to exit if I need to and still hopefully maintain some relationships with the step family.

I’m not seeking criticism, I’ve handed myself enough on my own, but thank you anyway.

CLove's picture

And fast!

Go on a vacation to visit someone like one of your sons, and explain how you feel to them. They will tell you the hell that they went through and hopefully open your eyes.

Stay away for a while - you really need to get clear.

You spelled it out to us here, anonymous strangers and your last 13 years sounds horrible. And your poor cat! The grandmother in on it? Geeze I just cannot!

Just start a new life - it doesnt matter where - and get away from this abusive alcoholic mess. The kids who truly love you will stick by you.

BK2007's picture

I do take all my vacations alone, and now mostly to see my sons out west. We often talk about the last 13 years and the future. They tell me they want me to be happy and for me to do whatever it will take to be happy- be it to stay or to go. They do not feel as though their lives were hell. They grew up knowing the exact type of man they didn’t want to be thanks to their father and step father’s examples.

notarelative's picture

Have you ever tried attending Al-Anon? It's great for the spouse of an alcoholic. It's not for getting you to stay in or leave the marriage. It's to give you the tools to do what's best for you. 

BK2007's picture

Hello, I actually started going to al anon this year. They preach compassion and grace and understanding that you cannot change someone, that you can only change yourself. I wish I’d gone years ago.

advice.only2's picture

There is no prize for being a martyr.  I hope whatever choices you make that they make you happy at then end of the day and give you peace of mind.

Gimlet's picture


You're going to call me harsh and I'm ok with it.   You remind me so much of my own mother.

You are co-dependent.  Not might be.  Are.  You are self-sacrificing and loving, which are ingredients that tend to make the best co-dependent people.   You're going to Al-Anon and all you hear is the compassion, but they also talk a lot about boundaries and letting go.   You have more compassion for your alcoholic, abusive husband than you do for yourself.  While I don't think you completely chose his kids over yours, you were more invested in "fixing" kids who treated you and your sons abysmally than you were protecting yourself and them. 

Your sons probably feel protective of you and won't tell you the true extent of the effect of your husband's treatment of them.  I can tell you as a daughter, I saw my mom as a victim and was never able to fully express my anger and disappointment at bring subjected to my alcoholic father and that's without the step family involved.   Yes, your kids are tougher because of it but I guarantee they are shielding you from the worst.

Advice on how to exit?  Be honest. Tell the stepdaughters the truth.  If they love you the way you think they do, they will support you and stay in touch.  

Get some counseling, for yourself and for your kids. This man doesn't welcome your son at home and you're worried about him getting better without you?   He's not going to get better, he's just going to become more of a miserable prick and you're going to keep tying yourself in knots to make it better.  This is the life you want, where you care about everything and he gives you nothing in return? 

Your husband is choosing to not get better and you are choosing to stay.  Choose yourself. Choose your kids.  Choose happiness.

Take a long hard look at this before it's too late.

BK2007's picture

I needed to hear a lot of this, as hard as it was to do so.

I’m a care taker by nature, even at my own expense because I grew up with a very mentally ill mom and no dad, and as the eldest child, felt it my obligation to take care of my siblings and my mom. This is a cycle too.

Gimlet's picture

So did my mom.  Her mother was a mentally ill alcoholic and her father left them.  She raised herself and her brother, so caretaking is all she knows.  It's the only place that she sees value in herself.

She never left.  She's still there, in that miserable house with my miserable dad and my now-addicted miserable brother.  I don't see her anymore because it's too painful and because she wants me to enable them too, and that is something I cannot and will not do. I wish she could have found some happiness and a life for herself.   She's smart and kind, but she has no self-esteem and can't separate herself from the people she's determined to fix, even as it is slowly killing her. 

Go find a counselor today.  Get some help to break the cycle.  Your sons will support your decision and if you stepdaughters don't, then they weren't in it for the right reasons.  They may not like the new you if they have grown used to your caring for and enabling them, and that is OK.  It is your life and it's time you claimed it. 

Good luck.

SacrificialLamb's picture

I would not give a damn about relationships with SD's who drove my cat out and dumped her off. I don't care how much they tried to make it up to me later.  Anyone who hurts one of my animals is dead to me for life. 

And quite frankly, your DH should have been kicked to the curb yesterday.

Bottom line is you are not going to have a welcoming home that includes your DH.  You're going to have to take a chance that your SD's will still want to be in your life if that is important to you. My father and former SM (married 46 years) are no longer married, but I still consider her my SM and probably talk to her more than my father.

And don't let the fear of having two failed marriages ruin the rest of your life.  I think you know what you need to do.

Lollybobs's picture

'I would not give a damn about relationships with SD's who drove my cat out and dumped her off. I don't care how much they tried to make it up to me later.  Anyone who hurts one of my animals is dead to me for life. '

Yep...this exactly

Siemprematahari's picture

All I can say is place yourself 1st for once, in your entire existence what does BK2007 want & need to lead a happy, healthy and fulfilling life??

Fear and low self worth has been running your entire life, make a different choice this time and choose you.


justmakingthebest's picture

I honestly think that your SD's will still have a relationship with you. They know how their dad is. They know what you have done. They are grown women. 

I am sure that your son's are all very worried for you. It is time to leave and find your peace and happiness. You aren't here searching for a quick fix. You aren't throwing in the towel without any work. You aren't just giving up. This is a long time coming and for your health.