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A selfish, b****y rant

LuluOnce's picture

This will be long. I don’t know if you’ll read it all but I’m posting it anyway because I just want to unburden my mind and I can’t say this anywhere else.

I know visitation is important for the kids and parents, but I feel like it’s the dumbest thing ever, and supervised visitation is becoming a unique version of hell for our already stressed out family. 

Background: BM has a serious mental illness and stopped taking her medication this summer, which resulted in some questionable situations, some hysterical (chasing people down the street with deer antlers) and some highly dangerous (closing her eyes while driving SD7 and SD12 to school because "the lord is in control of the car"). Though BM's mental illness is well documented, she has (this round, at least) refused to acknowledge the mental health component of what’s happening and believes she does not need treatment, just “more sleep”.

She is currently only allowed supervised visitation by a mental health professional until she can provide 1) a statement from a mental health professional confirming her current level of stability and 2) a treatment plan which 3) she can show she has consistently followed “for a period of time”. 

It’s been three months since she basically lost her mind and a little over two months since she was given that order and lost her 50% custody. During the first five weeks after the first court hearing, she didn’t exercise visitation at all. But, she was still getting CS during those first few months because #California.

So then about a month ago, they have the CS hearing, and her CS gets suspended (starting this month; she still gets alimony) and lo and behold! She must see the children. Right now. Every day. Literally 20 minutes after court was dismissed, DH got a call from a supervisor about BM wanting visitation that very same day and every day after.

Umm, no.

BM then wanted twice weekly visits and DH agreed at first, but it ended up being very problematic for the kids’ school and extra-curricular activities so now it’s been changed to once a week, but double the time. So here’s where my selfish rant comes in.

I f***ing hate visitation. Each time a visit occurs, SD7 freaks out and gives herself a stomach ache so badly she throws up. She has a giant tantrum about something ridiculous; her clothes are suddenly “too itchy” and “don’t fit”. Her toothbrush is “too pointy” in her mouth. It is flipping exhausting. Of course I feel for her. This is SO hard. I’m having a hard time and I’m the adult. So I can only imagine what’s happening in her little 7-year-old mind, but also ME! I’m tired. This is not how I want to start my Sundays!

SD12 actually does fine in the time before the visit, but she comes back from the visit crying and worked up. She has written BM as series of letters stating (in 12-year-old language) that she is both scared FOR BM and scared OF BM but she misses how things used to be and asking BM what she’s doing to make things “be normal again”. BM does not reply to the letters.

And BM in the visits! Of all the things I am mad about, this is what pisses me off the most. She knows the kids miss her. She knows the kids feel uncertain around her – is she well or is she not? Will she act normal or will she be scary? And BM, instead of having a single kid-appropriate conversation about how she acted or where she’s at or what she’s doing to get better, she brings 12 crafts and 800 sweet snacks and then leads them in a demo on how to create a glitter bead bracelet or the worlds ugliest Christmas ornament! She acts like it’s a f***ing day camp and she’s the arts and crafts teacher.

 They do not discuss a single relevant thing to what the kids are feeling or struggling with and when they try, she either lies or changes the subject. She tells them she’s better now. SD12 is smart enough to recognize: hey lady, if you were better, we wouldn’t be meeting in this sh**hole of an office with a stranger watching us. She makes them promises like they can come live at her house soon, and she’ll have them for Christmas. SD12 knows this is a lie, but SD7 does not.

So SD12 comes home devastated her mom is lying and is confused about why BM isn’t trying to get them back, isn’t trying to make their lives normal again, so she writes another letter to BM because “I just knows that if Mommy could really understand how much she hurt us, she would want to fix it. Mommy just needs help remembering what she’s supposed to do and I can help her so I’ll remind her again because I know she cares about us and what’s us to be happy” and SD7 is making plans for Christmas at Mommy’s.

And then DH (sometimes with me, sometimes without me) has to have another age-appropriate conversation about what’s really going on where we say kind things about their mother’s struggle and try to lead them to understand the depth of mental illness in the gentlest way possible while all I really want to do is scream, “YOUR MOM IS A F***ING LIAR WHO DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOU BECAUSE SHE CAN’T EVEN CARE ABOUT HERSELF!” Which I obviously do not do.

And I feel confused too. I understand that it’s not BM’s fault for having a mental illness, but it is her fault for NOT treating it. I have factual evidence that she can, has, and is completely capable of managing it. So I do blame her. I blame her for hurting her girls, and selfishly, I blame her for f***ing up the last three months of my life and now apparently every Sunday where I start my morning with one child crying and screaming, lose 4-6 hours with my DH who has to be at the center while the visits are happening, and then end my day with the other child crying and heartbroken.

I am drowning in this. I’m so angry. Our whole family is in therapy, and I’m trying to work through this, but for the first time in a very long time, I feel like a victim. I feel as if I’ve lost the ability to make choices for myself. Now, all I can do is respond to choices someone else made. And when she makes another decision, that’ll dictate what happens next for me too. I have just never had such a hard time with anything. DH and I are basically shell-shocked. Having the skids full time, very suddenly, is a ton of work but that’s not really the problem because it’s not even the daily maintenance that’s so difficult. It’s that the girls aren’t the same kids that lived with us with it was 50/50. They have experienced serious trauma. They are upset, emotional, frustrated, and confused. Having THOSE skids full time is the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done. I’m so tired and I’m so angry.

I know it will get better. Eventually. Probably. LOL. But today is a visitation day and I’ve been sick for two weeks and my tolerance threshold is really low so I just needed to get this out. Thank you for reading.


Maxwell09's picture

I can't fault you on the length. You have a lot to deal with. It is just all so frustrating sometimes and when you have a BM who doesn't recognize they're the reasons for the chaos and hurt going on, it's mindboggling to us normal people who try to not destroy other people and their families with our actions. I have no real advice for you. My situations in worlds away from this, but take care of yourself. 

LuluOnce's picture

Thanks Maxwell. Just having someone say "Wow, that's a lot" means the world to me right now. Most people feel really bad for BM because she can't be with her kids.  And I get that to some extent, but I'm also like, "Feel bad for ME! This is hard for me too!" LOL. And I just needed a place to do the brain dump and get this out. 

Gimlet's picture

Lulu, rant your heart out.  Rant any and every time you need to do it. 

I'm sorry this is happening, for the kids, for your husband, and for you.  It's awful, because you're trying to do the right thing for the kids but you're also at the mercy of the court and of someone with a serious mental illness.  You can't just decide to not deal with her, or see her, or deal with her fallout.  That has to feel incredibly overwhelming sometimes.  It's not one bit fair, but unfortunately that doesn't matter.

What does your support system look like?  What are you able to do in terms of self care and maybe taking a short break from the situation sometimes?  

I'm afraid that I don't have much in the way of advice, other than trying to take care of yourself as best you can.

((hugs)) Lulu.

P.S. There is nothing selfish or b**chy about you.  You are handling this with as much grace as anyone could.

LuluOnce's picture

Thanks Gim. Your reply really makes me feel... human. LOL. Like all right, this sucks but it's okay. I'll get through it.

I actually feel like I have been handling this pretty well up until right before Halloween, and then a bunch of things happened that kind of knocked my support system off line. 

SD7 got sick the last week of October and then once she got better, I got sick. So between taking care of her and now trying to get better myself, I haven't had the time or energy to meet with friends, go to yoga, or do personal training, which are my most favorite thing to do for self-care.

Normally, I'd at least try to get out and do something as simple as a short walk through my neighborhood, but we're near enough to the fires in California that while we don't have to evacuate, the air quality is terribly heavy with smoke and ash and something as simple as a walk around the block feels like a huge undertaking. Plus, we are hearing so many stories of the friends of friends or family who have lost their homes, and the sky looks so dark and depressing even in the middle of the day... I swear it's been feeding into my mopey mood too.

We live very close to my family (parents, sister, aunts and uncles) and the skids are super close with them. Everyone has taken a turn babysitting the kids in the evening every so often so DH and I can go out to dinner. (DH's family and BM's family live in very distant cities and states.) Last week when DH was out of town and I was starting to get sick, my mom had the girls spend the night at her house so I could just sleep for 12 hours. LOL. So normally, I feel like I do have a pretty great support system, but things have just been off the last couple weeks.

But really, just getting this out has made me feel better! So thank you for your reply and support. I really appreciate the kindness. 

tog redux's picture

I know they have therapists, can you set up therapy appointments for them just before or just after the visit (preferably after)? This is such a tough situation - a good therapist should include BM in their treatment (not with them, perhaps, but working with BM alone on how to interact with the girls and talk to them about the situation).

LuluOnce's picture

We're working on tweaking the schedule with both BM's visits and the skids therapists, but trying to get around their extra curricular activities while still having even a sliver of personal time for our own sanity has made it difficult. I expect if this continues, something will have to be cut. There's only so much time in the week, right? But I'm also not sure how long BM can last. The visits aren't exactly cheap and given her history of terrible financial decisions, I'm not sure how much longer she'll make it happen. 

If you've read any of my posts, especially the ones I've since deleted, I mentioned that BM was getting about $5k a month in alimony and CS and was still having trouble making ends meet. Now her CS has been suspended entirely, so this month is the first month she'll have only $2k to live on, as she doesn't have a job. (BM doesn't believe she should have to work and actually told the court that working is what caused her psychotic episode. However, she has had a number of part-time desk jobs that she seemed to enjoy, but since she owes taxes from 2011 to present, her wages usually get garnished and so she quits. The works as a server, gets paid under the table, and quits because she isn't making enough money. Rinse and repeat.)

BM won't currently go to therapy for herself, which would be ideal, and the SDs' therapists said absolutely not to BM coming to their sessions. I actually think you're right and a third party therapist would be beneficial. I've thought about saying something, but I am unwilling to 1) help BM more than she'll help herself and 2) voluntarily suggest one more thing that creates another commitment/appointment in my schedule or DH's schedule.

tog redux's picture

Any return court sessions should include DH asking for BM to be ordered to therapy.

As a child therapist myself, I would meet with BM to discuss the girls' needs - but not with the girls present.  I'm guessing, though, that BM would refuse to be involved. 

Weekly seems like it’s too much, at least for SD7. 

Step-girlfriend's picture

I’m sorry you’re dealing with this! I hope for everyone’s sake she gets her crap straightened out, stat. 

ndc's picture

Your rant is neither selfish nor b****y.  I have much sympathy for all of you.  This is a dreadful situation, and it must be frustrating to know that none of you, your husband or the skids can do anything about it.  Rant away.  I'm thinking positive thoughts for you.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

You need to disengage. She is not your ex wife and those are not your kids. You cannot care more than the batshit crazy BM. If you want kids, have some or adopt some.

StepHell is not worth your money or sanity. They are not and never will be your family no matter how much you wish it were otherwise.

 I can’t believe you stay with an idiot that agreed to waste THOUSANDS in alimony to his idiotic and psycho ex wife. Sh!t.

Damn, girl, damn.


LuluOnce's picture

I find this comment interesting SayNo. I feel like I regularly agree with many of your posts, but this one has me a bit puzzled.

What should I disengage from? My SDs are really good to me. While not at all perfect, they speak to me with respect and treat me with great kindness and affection. That may not always be the case as they become teenagers (ha!) but it’s how they are currently and how it’s been for the years DH and I have been together so far. My DH is not asking me to take them to visitation or therapy. This morning, he did not ask me to do anything about YSD’s tears, but I heard her crying and she came to me for a hug. Sometimes they will come to me and share their thoughts with me, especially when they are anxious or sad and upset. What good would it do me to refuse their hug? Or not offer them words of sympathy? That’s why I posted here this morning myself. I was feeling low about how hard things seem and I just wanted an internet hug. Why wouldn't’t I give that to my SDs?

Of all the disagreements we have as a group on this website, this one is my least favorite: "they are not and never will be your family". How do you define family? How would you recommend others define it? And what’s the benefit to using one definition over another? 

Do you think I would care less, or my heart would hurt less for my SDs, if I didn't’t consider them family? Would I love them less if they were my best friend’s children I’d lived with for six years? Would it be more acceptable to be sad about what they are going through if it were my nieces instead? It just feels like such a pointless discussion. They are my stepdaughters. I love them very much. I hate that their biological mother is dismissive and disruptive of their stability and that they feel scared for her and of her. It makes my heart hurt to see their hearts hurt. I believe that’s the kind of person I am and I’d feel that way for any child who was experiencing something similar – family or not. I certainly do when I read about some of the other skids who have really craptastic BMs. 

And the money. LOL. I never know how to address this. You are absolutely right. DH pays her THOUSANDS of dollars. It is a lot of money, but what pains me is how poorly BM manages it, not that she gets it. BM gets more money just for being someone’s ex-wife than many people get in a month, working 40+ hours a week at an actual job, yet BM’s mom has to pay her cell phone bill because she “can’t afford it”. You don’t find that particular kind of financial stupidity hysterical? Because I do. I think most of us acknowledge that alimony and CS are (usually, hopefully!) only a percentage of one’s income, and while the latest round of attorney fees and therapy sessions has made for a rough couple of months financially, we still want for nothing. What good does it do me to judge DH for the amount of alimony he pays to BM if I am still able to do most of the things I want to do (financially speaking)?

At the same time... please know I totally understand your sentiment. LOL. I am sure I seem as crazy as BM given the circumstances. My life has never looked like this before. BM has never been pleasant and she's often unstable, but she's never created this kind of havoc in our household. She's never not gotten treatment. I don't know what else to tell you. I love my husband. I love my stepdaughters. I normally love my life and feel so grateful for the things I get to do and experience. This is definitely not one of those things. Haha.

Harry's picture

Need some type of therapy.  SK the most, They can not understand what’s is happing .  You and DH on how to cope with all of this 

advice.only2's picture

Honestly it sounds like BM knows how to work this  crazy system of California....think about it:

when she goes back for a modification she can show the courts and the mental health worker can concur, that she is an attentive hands on mom who spent her visits “making memories” with them.

by ignoring the SDs questions and refusing to validate their concerns she is not giving the therapist anything tangible to tell the courts.  Instead she’s ignoring that aspect thereby making the girls fears unfounded in the eyes of the therapist.

Aniki's picture

I'm so sorry all of you are dealing with the crazy. {{{hugs}}}

Don't ever be sorry for ranting. Rant all you want!! It's cathartic and can help you feel better.

Aunt Agatha's picture

The compassion you have for these kids, even as they are driving you crazy, is awe inspiring.  

Anyone would find this difficult, so let it go here, amongst friends who understand.

Livingoutloud's picture

I am sorry for everything you guys are dealing with. My SDs are grown so we don’t need to deal with it besides paying alimony as well but I can relate to BM with mental illness and refusing treatment. My SDs are estranged from her now. Hang in there 

Livingoutloud's picture

I don’t understand comment about DH “agreeing” to pay alimony. My DH also pays alimony to lazy cow but not because he “agreed” to it or thinks it’s fair but because judge awarded it to her.