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Emotionally Charged Trauma Response & Vent

CastleJJ's picture

Last night, DH informs me that he got an email from BM regarding Thanksgiving break. We are scheduled to have SS from Tuesday to Sunday that week. Typically, DH drives down at the beginning of visitation and picks SS up, then BM comes up at the end of visitation and takes SS back home. BM informed DH that she, GF, and SS will be visiting family in our state the weekend before pickup and asked if she could just drop SS off on that Tuesday on her way home and DH could then swap legs and bring SS back to her on Sunday. Of course her email was so nice and sweet, because she wants something. It was all "Thank you for considering" and "Thank you so much for your flexibility."

Immediately, my blood boiled. It was almost like a trauma response. DH could see the anger and asked why I was getting so heated. I told him that I am sick of constantly doing favors for BM, but when we ask for a favor, it is always met with major hostility and emotional abuse and is always denied. I told DH that I want BM to actually have to do some work and be inconvenienced every now and then when it comes to coparenting, just like we do. DH countered that BM is already "doing the work," because she is bringing SS up to our state. I countered that yes, she is bringing him to our state, but she was doing it for other reasons; being able to drop him off on the the way home is just a perk because she was coming up, either way, regardless. 

DH talked it through that he thought it works better because then DH wouldn't have to waste PTO day on Tuesday to pick-up SS from BM. He argued that both BM and DH are driving the same mileage regardless so it shouldn't be a big deal, even if BM had other plans which led to the drive. I told him "Fine," and immediately went to bed. DH sent BM an email agreeing to her terms. 

This morning, I called DH on his commute to work. I was still bothered by it but calm. DH still doesn't understand why I am upset over it. I just want BM to be forced into our shoes every now and then. I am so sick of her changing the rules to make it more convenient for her, but then we aren't allowed to change the rules. I want her to be inconvenienced. I want her to have to drive up that weekend and then drive up again 5 days later to pick-up SS. Heck, last summer, BM wanted DH to drive SS back down to her state and back up to ours (8 hour trip) in one day, just so SS could attend a football tryout during our visitation. So that's okay, but her doing that type of driving isn't? I am also sick of DH's disengagement from SS. I get that we dropped rope and only do our court ordered visitation and phone calls, but it still feels like we are doing too much. We are forced into this awkward limbo where we aren't fighting for SS anymore and DH literally responds "Thanks for the update" to every email, but we also haven't fully given up and cut ties either. I want us to either be in it 100% or be in it 0%, not this weird 25%. Frankly, I would be totally happy if we just paid our CS and never saw SS or communicated with BM again. But no, we are smack dab where BM wants us, exercising just enough time and communicating enough to keep us under BM's thumb but not enough to interfere with BM's perfectly crafted life. I just want all of this to be over. 


ESMOD's picture

My DH's EX never would do any of the driving.. at most.. she would meet "halfway" on a blue moon.. and her version of half way was 20 or 30 minutes towards us when the total drive was 3 hours.. oh.. and only if DH could give her 20 for gas money..  So, I get that frustration.

And.. I think your DH needs to hold his Ex'es feet to the flame a bit more.. maybe not in this situation.. because while the change does benefit her.. it sounds like it is mutually beneficial.. and for that reason.. him refusing on "principal" is cutting off his own nose to spite his face.

I would suggest the next time BM makes a demand to have the kid come home for an extra time mid visit.. that she be asked to make the drive.  "Oh.. sure BM.. if he needs to get to that tryout.. you are welcome to come get him and bring him back".. or .. We can meet halfway.

But this case... I don't think it's worth twisting it around in your mind much longer.  In the power dynamic.. it sounds like she has the upper hand.. and unfortunately.. sometimes the person who doesn't hold the keys.. has to listen to someone else's radio station.  Yeah.. I get that she is doing something that benefits her.. but it sounds like it benefits him too this time.. so at worst.. it's a neutral issue right?

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

for her DH to pick up SS at BMs and make the drive back to the area he just came from.

I hate when there are things that are done that could be a favor to BM, but sometimes like in this case it is not just a favor for her, it is for others involved too and think it isn't just benefitting BM and to not do it just because it also benefits BM. 

I totally understand it being irritating though because I do not want to make BM's life any easier or benefit her in any way. BM is a terrible human being and I don't want to "help" her EVER, but sometimes helping her helps SD and/or my DH too. 

With the whole phone call issue it was frustrating BM held the cards because since it was so difficult to schedule a time for the phone call with SD we had to go on BM's schedule. BM messaged an hour before SD called us saying she would call in a bit. To us, "in a bit" is not an hour, but rather under 20 minutes. Allowing a specific time not to be scheduled ahead was the first and last time for it because it gave BM all the power and there was nothing we could do about it.

CastleJJ's picture

BM in our situation also didn't do any of the driving for 5 years. DH drove 360 miles every other Sunday for 3 years and then drove 120 miles every other Sunday and 60 miles every Monday for 2 years. BM would never agree to transport because she was CP of SS and drove him around daily to school, daycare, and sports. 

After taking some time to calm down, I know it's a neutral issue. I know that it benefits SS and DH. I just wish it didn't also benefit BM. 

When it came to the football tryout last year, we were kind of stuck. Our CO states that DH will shift his parenting time and work with BM to accomodate all sport obligations. BM felt it was reasonable to make DH do the 8 hours of driving roundtrip to get SS to the sports tryout or she offered to come pick SS up to take him to the try out, with the caveat that she would keep him for the remainder of our visitation and we could have makeup visitation at some point. If DH doesn't agree to work with BM's accomodations, he can be found in contempt of the CO, but if he proposes his own accomodations, BM shuts them down. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

I feel you 100% on this. It's one of the crappier parts of steplife. It would be SO MUCH EASIER to just totally drop the rope and only pay CS.

But...that would kill our spouses emotionally. It would damage our SKs. We end up being grumped because it never feels "fair", and it's not. But, it's a lot harder for our spouses and their kid(s) than it is for us. We are just in the unfortunate position of having to watch it all play out from a logical perspective without the added emotional pieces, and it makes it so much harder.

The answer here is for you to drop the rope and disengage. Unless your DH is going to be interfering with your plans, you just have to tell yourself that it is what it is. It's hard - really hard - and takes a lot of practice and patience. But it's an effort worth making for your mental health.

CastleJJ's picture

I feel like I have gotten to a good place with disengaging. Since DD has been around, I don't do much for SS during visitation and I'm not around for any of his calls with DH. I don't get involved with the day-to-day emails with BM. I don't know how much more I can disengage. 

The only reason DH came to me with this email was because he wanted to confirm that we didn't have plans that Sunday so he could make the switch. I think it is frustrating for me though because steplife takes away from our family time and our finances. And yes, it is our finances, because after CS, DH barely makes enough to survive, which puts it on me to support everything. I am actually in full resentment mode toward DH right now because I encouraged him to get a better job to help me support our family, but he is saying "No," because he likes the culture and low-stress environment of his job. I swear I am almost ready to walk but then I don't want to have to miss out on DD's life half the time. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

Tell your DH that YOU want to be able to have less stress but YOU can't because his "less stress" adds onto your stress.

Then separate finances and show him just how stressed he'll be with zero cash after BM gets her share for SS, you get your share for DD, and he still has to pay out bills. Perhaps seeing what life would be like without you will kick his arse into high gear. Plus, when you're only having to worry about money in your own bank account, you won't have to worry about how poor he is. That level of stress may push him to get his ish together.

Hell, I'm pregnant and grouchy. I'll have the conversation with him if you'd like. I might make him cry, but I'll get the point across.

CastleJJ's picture

I literally just told my friend that I'm considering separate finances and then DH can figure out how fun it is when he has no money. I'm sick of picking up the slack so he can work with his friends. 

ndc's picture

Do it.  Until your DH feels the pain, which he doesn't now because you're picking up his slack, he'll have no incentive to give up his low stress work life and try to make more money.  It's not fair to you to deal with all the SS/BM crap plus subsidize DH's finances.  Just say no to that.  Separate the finances and let him experience some real life.

CajunMom's picture

These toxic BMs always want to be accomodated but when we ask, hell no. And while I can see this as beneficial for DH (not taking PTO time off), it would still irk me, also. I don't have an answer as to how to get around it. Toxic BMs are usually very smart and manipulative, too, and play the game well. Sorry, Friend. Just know I'd be peeved as you. And was in that position many times before we finished up with CS and custody days.

MissK03's picture

I 100% understand how you feel. You want something to happen to them that isn't about them! Why is always what they want.. BM stopped taking skids going on 5 years on HER terms... 

Also.. not sure your location but traffic is going to be heavier Sunday compared to that Tuesday. His normal 8 hour drive will probably be much longer given holiday traffic... If I were DH I would have said no because of that fact.. maybe traffic isn't an issue for you.