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How do I even?

CollM's picture

I've been married for 7 years and my role as stepmom was Christmas. Spring Break, and summer.  The kids get along well with me. Until recently, the kids lived in another state with mom. She died suddenly several months ago and now they live with us.  Stepdaughter, AR, is high school age and stepson, WG, is middle school. They both, especially AR, have founded and unfounded abandonment issues with dad. The divorce and following years were not generally friendly.

Since coming to us WG has been diagnosed with high functioning Autism, ADHD, and severe depression, with thoughts suicide and hurting himself. Much of this was present previously just undiagnosed and untreated. Of course,  it's all worse now.

My husband, BG, has a strong personality that often clashes with AR. She grew up resenting dad's absence. Mom had a very different parenting style that allowed AR more independence than dad. Both dad and AR have to be right, neither will back down, and yelling and screaming occur normally once a week.  Their bouts can sometimes trigger WG's suicide threats. They usually subside within a couple of hours,  but it takes its toll.

It seems that if I try to insert common sense into the fight, it makes it worse. I'm a passive person and don't deal well with the conflict. I often see myself as a coward hiding in my room. I'm the breadwinner of the home that is mine. He asks for my opinion but if it differs from his and he goes with it anyways, he usually regrets it.  Now, I just won't give my opinion. I have always played the role of buffer, but now I just want to walk away from all of them. But how can I abandon them? For my sanity, how can I not? 


It's only been seven months and not everyday is bad. The last couple weeks have been rough.  I wasn't completely happy in my marriage previously, but I continued on. But now, with everything, it feels like too much.



STaround's picture

Hi -- very sad situation.  Sorry for everyone.  Has he tried family counseling.  Also, you indicate you are the breadwinner, did the children's BM not work, are they not getting social security?  Is your DH not working?

CollM's picture

Both kids are seeing a psychologist. I often feel that more of the issues revolve around him. But I'm not strong enough to say it and devastate him. We are receiving survivors benefits. Regarding his work, its a commission sales job for a family member, not the most steady income. I have spent so much time not saying what needs to be said that I don't know how to now.

STaround's picture

Is meant to help the family function better, happier, more productive.  Who does not want to be happier?  A good counslor will tell him or the kids in private, your expectations are unreasonable.  

I suspect the older kid especially sees he is not doing much, and feels she is just a cash benefit to household.  Not saying that it is true, but just like many here think the BM is living on child support, some people do live on kid's SS (which is more $$ than SSI). 


tog redux's picture

Very sad.  How old is the oldest one? Sorry, I find initials confusing. That may determine how your DH parents - is she 14 or 18? Very different.

Both should be in therapy for their mother's death and the adjustment to your home.

tog redux's picture

Honestly, it's on your DH to be the grown-up and not get in screaming matches with his child. And he may have to soften his parenting style (not by giving into everything) for this kid who isn't used to it.  He and your SD should go to therapy together.

justmakingthebest's picture

Wow. That is a lot to take on! Coming in as a stepmom to teens is rough but then adding in the death of BM makes that role 100X harder, I am sure!

It seems like maybe the 1st step might be getting your Hubby and SD to communicate better. Have they considered counseling? Maybe they need to learn to fight and agrue and fight fair?

ndc's picture

I think the first thing you should do is find a counselor for yourself.  You have added a child with disabilities and a teenage girl, both of whom are suffering from the trauma of losing their mother, to your household full time, and that's on top of a marriage that wasn't hunky dory to start with.  The stress must be awful.  I would hope that talking the situation through with a professional would help you sort through things and communicate with your husband, and perhaps come up with coping solutions and ways to handle the yelling and chaos in your house.  You say you've gone so long not saying what needs to be said that you don't know how.  That may be a conversation you want to have in a joint counseling session, especially if your husband tends toward screaming matches.

StepMamaBear6's picture

I am so sorry that you find yourself in this situation.  I have no good advice, but I have lots of sympathy.  Perhaps a family discussion where rules are discussed and agreed upon would be more appropriate in this situation.  Buy in is huge with teenagers.  You don't have to do this when you raise kids from birth, but getting half-baked / half-grown kids is different.  You can still insist on common sense rules (like curfew is 10 pm on a school night and 11 pm on a weekend), but there are probably other areas you can give in.  

Big hugs!

CLove's picture

Adding children with emotional/mental issues in their teen and preteen years, will definitely show you where all the cracks and weaknesses are in a marriage!

Firstly, my sympathies for the children at losing  a mother. It is a devastating loss, and my heart goes out to them. You sound like a really nice person. Take some time away - this is not abandoning them! It is taking care of YOU. You need some time to yourself, to evaluate and just be YOU. You definitely would do well to read this board, and learn more from everyone's experiences.

When I first started reading and posting, it was because of a huge fight following ongoing issues. Steptalk, gave me the words, and the tools on dealing with everything, because EVERYONE HERE has lived it, is living it. A therapist will also be a great tool, to help enable you to speak your mind. It is overwhelming at first, but like I tell my SD Munchkin 12, (stepdaughter 12) "you have a voice, use it".  And she has. Its like sometimes we need "permission" to speak up. And words. Putting words to your emotions will help you immeasurably. it really helped me!

It sounds like your DH and SD are much alike, which is why they clash. And the SS sufferes the emotional fallout as do you.

The issue is DH, in my opinion, and that is where the "pivot point" is. Because if your marriage was wonky before, well, with this added pressure, it will be even more off-kilter. The conventional thought is that if you and DH are solid, everything else works better. The children need a solid foundation.

Keep posting, hope to hear more.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

I'm chiming in both as a kid who lost a parent at 12 and a SM who had a teen skid I'd never met unexpectedly come to live with me. Couseling, counseling, counseling, STAT. 

There are layers of issues here, and huge changes in circumstance that could benefit from a skilled neutral third party.  You need help, both individually and as a couple with communication problems; your DH needs to learn how to parent better, support and tools as the parent of a special needs child AND to help his grieving kids; and the skids each have their own issues. Whew!

It also bears mentioning that your DH needs to step up, get a better job, and support his kids. Whatever financial agreement the two of you had in place before the kids moved in needs to be renegotiated. Teens are expensive, and you should not be paying more than 1/4 of the household bills. Additionally, your DH should be putting part of that S.S. money away for the skids' future needs like college. I say this as a kid whose mother received survivor benefits for me after the death of my dad. They were divorced, and the amount she received from S.S. was five times what she'd been getting in child support yet she saved none of it for my future. This caused hard feelings when I was faced with college expenses.

You've found a wonderful support in StepTalk, and I hope you'll continue to post and read as you go through this transition. You need to take care of YOU first, then your marriage, and hold your DH accountable for the care and support of HIS children. I made the mistake of doing too much for  everyone else when YSD came to live with us, and it only taught my DH that he could dump the parenting on me. Feel free to pm me if you'd like. You have a lot on your plate, and I've been there.