Part 4...Vacation in Hell
This is a very long story and I doubt anyone would have the time or interest to read the whole thing but I have to write it. This is where it all went to shit. This is where I broke. My mental decent into becoming a stepmonster.
I've tried to imagine what Hell might be like on many occasions. There was always torture, heat, and pain...that's the typical idea of hell, right? I mean, most people think of those things immediately when someone mentions Hell, right? Boy, was I way off on that one. I went to Hell this summer and fire, heat, and pain would have been a day at the spa compared to what it's really like there.
My week in Hell was a vacation that included me, H, (who I had been married to for about 2 weeks at this time), BD4, BS9, and SD5 (who was on her first weeklong visit of the summer), and a road trip of about 1200 miles each way. There's a story as to how SD ended up being on this trip with us but that's for another day and another post. I had known SD for 4 EOWE visits by this point (other than the other 2 times I briefly met her as described in a previous blog) and had already realized that I found her and H a little annoying to be around together. Yep, somehow a road trip seemed like a good idea. I’d also like to point out that I am very uncomfortable disciplining, reprimanding, or otherwise parenting other people’s children. Always have been, and still am with my cousins who I babysit for a lot. I don’t have a problem playing drill sergeant with mine when it’s called for though.
We were visiting my family out of state, which I’ve done once every 1-2 years (with my kids after they were born) since I moved away. It's always been so great going home all these years, especially seeing my grandmother who basically raised me. This time I got to introduce her to my H, the love of my life. I'm not a mushy person and one of those who never really got what love songs were all about until I fell in love with him. I was very excited for her to meet him. This was going to be a great trip... right? HAHAHA Let me tell you, those things that are a little annoying become unbearably annoying when you are trapped in a car or other close quarters for 7 days straight. We stopped halfway, the kids played in the pool at the hotel with H and I visited a friend. I had hoped this would make the trip easier on the kids…specifically his. I have always made this trip in one straight shot with my own kids and they were expected to deal with it…and they always have. I was in a miserable mood after 12 hours in the car listening to the kids whine and fight. This lovely mood didn’t do much for my visit with an old friend.
I have done this many times before so I was prepared with toys, games, activities, movies, snacks and drinks. There would be nothing to complain about. On the trip down it started before we even got out of the state. BD is pretty easy going as far as sharing and playing well with other kids go but SD5 not so much. If BD was playing with it SD wanted it, if BD had a snack or drink, SD wanted it, if BD asked to watch a movie SD would want to watch one too but always a different one than BD asked for. SD would make up little songs and sing loud enough for H to hear (which of course H thought was great), and BD would be doing whatever she was into at the time and not be bothering SD. When BD would start humming or singing quietly to herself while doing something SD would whine “stoooooooooop” and tell BD how annoying she was. Not once did H tell her to mind her own business and leave BD alone. I bit my tongue. I’d like to note that by the end of this trip I bit my tongue so much I barely had one left. The way SD treats BD is my biggest personal beef with her, the rest is with H. Now imagine these scenes being played out REPEATEDLY throughout the entire trip.
As for H’s behavior, well, all I can really say is OMGWTF… do so many people in this age of information not know or have access to learning about how you raise your child affects their behavior presently and in the future? He is the epitome of helicopter parenting. Even when she was sitting quietly, occupied with something and not whining, H would be asking if she was ok, if she needed this-that-or-the-other-thing, did she need to use the bathroom, was she hungry…on and friggin on! At one point I ever so sweetly said “honey, if she needs something I’m sure she knows how to ask for it”. H’s reply? “I want to make sure she’s comfortable, is that so wrong?” WTF do you say to that? Like me being stuck there listening to this increasingly sickening exchange didn’t qualify me to have a say in what I had to listen to. Now imagine these scenes being played out REPEATEDLY throughout the entire trip.
Time to eat…this next part happened at EVERY meal except the 4 we went to Mc D’s for. My kids are picky eaters so I’m used to wrestling with them but I have never experienced anything like SD and H at mealtime before.
At a restaurant: SD would say she was hungry and want several things on the menu (the kid is a stick). H would order whatever she wanted. Drinks would come and she would suck it down. Food would come and she wasn’t hungry anymore. H would fuss over her not eating and try several tactics to get her to eat at least something. SD would take a few bites and the rest would be wasted. We went through this a few times when I decided H could use a little help and tried an idea and led by example with my kids. Although they didn’t have a problem with this, I took their drinks away when they came and said “you don’t need to fill up on drinks and then not be hungry when the food gets here”. BS9 gave me a ‘what are you talking about’ look. H followed suit and I thought “thank God, a peaceful meal”. WRONG! The little turd still wouldn’t eat even though H had once again order the several things she asked for. There’s ANOTHER $10-15 wasted. Meanwhile, you would think I was starving my kids to death by the way they inhaled ALL their food…food I ordered because I knew they could and would eat it. Now imagine these scenes being played out REPEATEDLY throughout the entire trip.
At family’s homes: My 83 yr old grandmother made us breakfast a few mornings. A real southern breakfast; eggs, bacon, and grits. My BS, I and H were in heaven. SD turned her nose up at everything or would only take a few bites of the eggs and bacon. My grandmother was very offended. BD followed suit to a lesser degree (ate all her eggs and bacon but would not touch the grits). I think I would have had more luck getting her to eat and try new things without SD there always turning her nose up at everything. But I digress. I’m sure it would have been the same at my aunt’s house but my aunt made hotdogs specifically because SD had said she didn’t want what they had made for dinner. This was my first opportunity to eat away from her (in peace) but I hear she ate 3 hotdogs. I think the kid is fed nothing but crap, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, pizza...Other than eggs I've never seen her eat anything that wasn't a fast food type of meal. After not eating during these meals she would tell H she was hungry and he's get her whatever she asked for (mostly snack stuff) and he would do it mostly on the sly which pissed me off but at the same time I was glad my kids didn't see it. Now imagine these scenes being played out REPEATEDLY throughout the entire trip.
Now imagine these scenes being played out REPEATEDLY throughout the entire trip…inside the car and out.
Now for the part that really freaked me out. The part that showed me what my life with H would be like if she ever came to live with us. SD clung to H almost the entire time and if she wasn't clinging to him she made sure she could always see him. Anytime I went near him when she wasn't presently crawling all over him she would immediatly stop what she was doing and crawl up in his lap and start doing something to get his attention. It would not matter if we were mid conversation, H would stop and tend to her. Very frustrating to say the least. Got to the point where as soon as I saw her heading our way I would stop in the middle of our exchange, be it a hug, kiss, or talking and just walk away. After a couple of times H asked me what my problem was I said I was saving him the trouble of cutting me off when SD got to him. H said he didn't realize he was doing that and would try to be better about it. I still haven't seen this happen...so I still get up and leave when she spots us alone together and starts heading our way. The reason this freaks me out is because she consumes all of his attention (he has given her this since birth) and if she were to live with us I would have about 5 minutes alone with H a day after she goes to bed. Not good enough and not interested. I don't mind stepping aside and letting her have him to herself during her EOWE visits but for long periods of time, like Hell, and this next weeklong visit and ESPECIALLY if she lived with us it is just NOT going to work. Yes, I've talked to H about. Says she understands it's like this because they don't see each other much but she's 5, she doesn't get it AND it's really no different than how they have always been. Even if she did get it she would still expect it to be the same when she lives with us because through his parenting he has already taught her that no one's wants or needs are more important or special than her majesty's. Now imagine these scenes being played out REPEATEDLY throughout the entire trip.
The ride home was worse than anything I've ever endured. We drove straight through. No one was comfortable but we tried to make the best of it. Well, everyone but SD who whined and complained the whole time about how uncomfortable she was. When it got late and the kids realized they were sleeping in the car my kids were "that sucks but whatever", his kid was "how am I going to put my pajamas on?, where am I going to brush my teeth?". When we explained we weren't doing that tonight because we were driving all night she flipped out and started crying that she needed this and that and on and on it went. H got her every f'n thing the spoiled little brat whined for. FINALLY she fell asleep. H was driving so I took a nap so I could drive later. I got a couple of hours sleep before I was woken up by her whining that she was uncomfortable. H kept talking to her, reaching back to hold her hand and she keeps whining and he keeps talking her through it. Meanwhile my kids are out cold and not budging. I got frustrated because I couldn't get back to sleep with them going on and on and I'm pretty sure this was where I finally snapped. Something in my mind just flipped. I had been listening to and putting up with these two and their disgusting little codependent relationship for 7 days straight and I'd had it.I shot up in my seat and said "that is the most whiney, pampered, spoiled little brat I have ever met". I know I should not have said it but I literally just snapped. H yells at me that I should help him with his pampered kid instead of complaining about it...fix her problem so she's ok. WTF? I told him if he wants to cater to that shit, that's on him I want no part of it. I said if he wants to coddle her he can pull over and I will be more than happy to drive while he deals with that mess. I'm not doing it. The next time we stopped for gas I started driving and we didn't talk to each other again until the day after he brought his kid home.
This child has never been allowed to experience any discomfort that could not be helped by H. Things like waiting, going without, and not getting what was wanted almost as soon as it could be gotten. This is the making of a very needy, clingy, dependent, self absorbed person...now and as she ages. Hell, I'd bet good money she will only get worse if H doesn't do something about it soon.
Anyway, if you can imagine being exposed to all those little annoying things being done repeatedly for 7 days straight in a situation where it was difficult to impossible to distance yourself from, maybe someone will be able to see how I came to be at the point that I am at the moment. Unable to spend anymore time than absolutely, unavoidably necessary around H and SD when they are together (even the amount of time it takes to say hi, bye, and goodnight is riddled with anxiety). I'm working on this but the 3 EOWE visits since that trip haven't been easy on me and I'm desperately struggling to overcome the huge wall and all the anxiety, dread, resentment, and irritation I feel about them. These are the things that have brought me here. It's what made me feel the need to reach out and see if there were others like me or some advice in general. I found Step Talk. It has made all the difference in the world. Thank you all.
So this is my situation up to the present where I am trying to adjust to my new life and at the same time, overcome the major damage the trip to Hell caused. Her next weeklong visit starts tomorrow and I'm scared my marriage might not make it through it.