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I Refuse to Wear the Label

DoberGirl's picture

“You’re not perfect!” 

Those were the words my future Stepdaughter said after I confronted her for being rude and disrespectful to me. 

“You’re not my mother,” Stepdaughter then said. 

Such a curious thing to say. Birth Mother preferred the bottle to her own children. Did Stepdaughter think Birth Mother was more deserving of basic human respect than me?  

Fiance blatantly favored Stepdaughter over Stepson. I never understood why. Stepdaughter was pretty and outgoing, always smiling. She consistently pulled in a 4.0 at the prestigious college she attended on a sports scholarship. On the surface, it appeared she had it all together. But I saw past the mask. I noted the irrational outbursts and name-calling aimed at Fiance and Stepson behind closed doors, away from public adoring eyes. I felt the passive-aggressive resentment toward me demonstrated by displays of dominant behavior designed to teach me that she was in charge. I saw an angry and fearful 20-year-old little girl demanding to be recognized as a responsible adult who had no clue what it really meant to be one.  

It wasn’t her fault. When your own mother discards you for a beer it tends to shape your sense of self-worth. I would know. There was a time in my childhood when both my parents abandoned me for a drink and romantic relationships. I have boundless compassion for both Stepchildren. 

“You’re not perfect!” 

Those were the words Fiance spoke to me when I told him it was unacceptable to allow Stepdaughter to disrespect me without consequence. 

“She’s just a kid,” he then said. 

Another curious thing to say. If she was just a kid, wasn’t it his responsibility as the parent to teach his child how to manage her fear and anger, and to appropriately discipline her when she’s out of line?  

Stepdaughter and Fiance were both correct. I’m not perfect. I’m impatient. I have a short temper. I wield my honesty like a blunt object.     

But I’m also generous. I’m creative. I’m sensitive and empathetic. I love deeply. I learn from my mistakes. I strive to do the right thing.  

Stepmothers across the globe are forced to wear a label that doesn’t fit. Too often, we’re branded with words we didn’t earn. We aren’t wicked and cruel. We don’t want to inflict more pain on the children than their parents’ divorce and abandonment already has. We don’t want to shove the children to the side so we can have their fathers all to ourselves.  

No, we want to help. We want to provide and protect. We want to be accepted as another person in a network of support, someone our stepchildren can turn to in their time of need.  

I refuse to wear the ‘Stepmother’ connotation. I refuse to tolerate my good deeds being spat on. I refuse to marry a man who can’t honor me by holding his children accountable when they’re abusive. I approached Fiance and Stepdaughter with loving intentions. Had they shown an ounce of regret for their repeated offenses, I would have stayed. 

I’m not perfect, but I deserve to be treated with basic human respect. I deserve to be in relationship with those who have healed the hurts of their past. I don’t deserve to be punished for wounds I didn’t inflict.  

It’s time fathers and stepchildren had their own warning label.  

susanm's picture

So anyone who is not perfect is OK to for them to disrespect.  Before you can demand a normal level of respectful human interaction from wounded children of divorce and their fathers you must first purify yourself to a superhuman level of perfection.  Interesting.  I just want to know one basic thing.  Who the flying f*ck do these people think they are?   

StepUltimate's picture

Good for you. Stay strong!

SonOfABrisketMaker's picture

this is structured like an essay for a parenting magazine. 

susanm's picture

Really?  Huh.  It is well written and well edited with proper grammar and punctuation.  I just assumed that the writer was educated.  Is there a particular format used by a parenting magazine that you frequently read?  As a very disengaged childless SM, I think a parenting mag would burst into flames if I ever picked one up!  LOL

DoberGirl's picture

I'm just an amateur fiction novelist trying to heal a heart broken by a damaged man and his daughter. It isn't fair that the new girlfriend/stepmom is instantly labeled as someone to resent, disrespect and dismiss. But life isn't always fair, is it?  Sigh. I guess I'll just have to keep striving for that superhuman perfection so I can get some respect. :-) 

susanm's picture

Good luck with that!  LOL  As soon as you achieve the level of "perfection" they desire, a new standard will come out to strive for.  Kind of like the I-phone.  

Amateur novelist?  They say that evereyone has at least one book in them.  I think people in steplife have enough extra material to get to a trilogy!

Etta's picture

I am living this right now!  I'm 4 years in and the last 3 months have been exactly as you describe, but my SD is 12!

I wish you love and light!  Oh, and write that book, because Step Monster did nothing for me!

DoberGirl's picture

Etta, if SD were 12 then I would expect that kind of behavior and would have tried harder to be patient. ExBF refuses to acknowledge the issue of his adult daughter acting like a child. I expected to have issues with SS16, not SD20. Ironically, SS16 is amazing kid. Sure, he has his own set of unique issues, but I see a goodness in him that no one else seems to. It breaks my heart that SD20 gets all the positive attention. This is why I didn't mention anything about SS16 - to demonstrate that he's lost in all the drama. 

I read about half of Stepmonster. I thought there were some good points in there, but after doing a lot more reading from other sources, I realized that we each have to decide how to engage with our stepchildren. I believe I had a moral responsibility to treat BF's children with dignity and respect, but I don't believe I owed them anything beyond that. SD was right. I'm not her mother. I owe her nothing.

Maybe I will write a book.  LOL 

Rags's picture

I look at it this way.  You may not be perfect, but compared to this toxic adult crotch nugget's BM, you walk on water and talk directly to God.  Compared to her coddling toxic adult kid worshipping father... you walk on water and talk directly to God.

Hopefully you have taken direct affirmative action to heal your heart by putting this man and his shallow and polluted gene pool fading in your rear view mirror as you move on to a new phase in your life adventure.

DoberGirl's picture

Rags, we broke up in October and haven't had any contact since then. Posting this is my way of purging my hurt feelings. I genuinely tried to have a positive relationship with all of them, but IMHO, none of them have acknowledged their PTSD from the toxic abuse they suffered from the alcoholic BM. Feel sorry for them, but until they heal those wounds, they aren't 'safe' to be in relationship with. I realize that now.

Rags's picture

Ahh hah.  Thanks for providing me with clarity.

Good for  you. I am glad that  you are taking active steps to work through the grief process, to purge and to heal.

The impact that a relationship with a toxic person can have can take years to work through.

Take care of  you.

DoberGirl's picture

The long answer is that I made myself vulnerable and went to him with a list of things I think I need to work on to improve our relationship with an actual plan of how I was going to do it. About a week later after yet another argument, I realized that I was the only one making commitments with an action plan to make things better. I told him to go spend some time in self-reflection to figure out what he needed to do to make things better also and that I didn't want any contact until he did. Haven't heard from him since so I can only assume he believes its all my fault.

Siemprematahari's picture

Dobergirl, its so liberating to know that "until they heal those wounds, they aren't 'safe' to be in relationship with." I'm glad that you realize that now and didn't waste years on a man that didn't want to change his toxic dynamics. I feel bad for them too and any other person who gets caught up in their web.

I wish you well and know that you did the right thing by choosing you!

CANYOUHELP's picture

Those words are powerful and that is how she actually views you---non related, and you never will be if she has decided this already. She is telling you who she is and where you stand with respect to being in "her" family.  Listen.

Welcome to the wicked SM club, those of us who honestry tried a million times and then finally threw in the happy family towel.