You are here

Introduction and Question

Goldmoon2000's picture

Hello everyone!

 

I'm brand new to the forum, so sorry if I post something somewhere it's not supposed to be, if I don't get the lingo yet, etc!!

 

My 11-year-old BD and I have been living with my boyfriend of over 3 years and his two kids, agest 10 (son) and 12 (daughter) for about a year and a half now and things are going surprisingly well.

My main source of frustration/hurt comes from their mom who has borderline personality disorder and refuses to acknowledge I exist. Though things have gotten much better, I know this puts a big strain on the kids as they are always trying to look after their mother and her feelings (instead of how it should be--the other way around).

I think I mostly joined this forum so I could get a better feel of what others go through, what's considered 'normal', what to take issue with and what not to. I am not close to anyone who is going through the same thing I am, so wanted to reach out and learn more from others in similar situations.

My first question is, how do you handle it when your stepkids have events such as school concerts, sporting events, etc.? Do you go to them? All of them or just select ones? I have struggled with this from day one as, at first, I was not 'allowed' to go because their mom couldn't handle me being there. Though this has gotten better, I still get anxiety every time they have an event and I think: "Am I invited? Should I go? Should I be hurt if they don't want me there? What if they want me there but don't tell me and I don't go and they get upset?" GAHHH! Help : )

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Welcome to Steptalk! Smile

I dont think there is any real "normal" in step life. You and your SO have to work out what works for you two and your household.  It is common to have a crazy BM (kids mother - biomother) in the picture, wanting to call the shots and make rules for your house. That is out of line.

Sometimes it is worth it to walk away from joint activities at the skids school just to keep the peace. However, if you are interested and want to be part of it, and the kids are benefiting from your interest in their school activities, I wouldnt let BM dictate if you can go or not. If the events are open to family and friends, you have every right to go. You dont have to sit or be near BM. It is your decision. It should be a decision made in your household with SO and the kids.

The BM sounds like a selfish self-interested person. Instead of trying to make things work accross households she is happy to cause problems when there shouldnt be any.  It isnt a bad thing to have nothing to do with her - that is in your favour. Let your SO do all the contact with her. There is no need for you to ever speak to her. Above all, stop giving her space in your head. Focus on your SO, your child and the stepkids. You can live without BM being an issue for you if you put up decent boundaries and dont let her intrude into your home and dictate to you. She really can be a non-entity as far as you are concerned.

Wookiee_Momma's picture

Even when BM and BF and I were in a better place, I always felt extreme anxiety going to the events. Right now things are very high-conflict, and I didn’t even get out of the car for drop-off. She’s threatened by my presence and is attempting to marginalize me.

BM and kids live in an area that is very uppity, and also small. Rich people wearing clam diggers and floral blouses. I don’t fit in whatsoever, being covered in tattoos and jeans and a tank top.

It is super weird because she’s obviously “friends” with all the parents, and I tend to feel like a sore thumb. In the past, we’ve sat with her and her husband at events and I hated it. She will come over to us and hang around, and honestly...who wants to hangout with their spouse’s ex?

My advice is, go to every single event. Cement your place in the family dynamic and know your presence may mean more to the kids than you could imagine.

Goldmoon2000's picture

Thank you for the comment! I agree that I let her take up too much space in my head and it's a constant work in progress!

As for the kids' events: I am always asking myself, "Are you wanting to go for THEIR benefit or to prove something?" In many cases I realize I just want to prove that I belong and that I'm a part of the family, while in the process making the kids uncomfortable because they're worried about their mom's reaction. That's selfish on my part. I know I will always end up being the bigger person when it comes to me and their BM and that's ok--I knew this when my SO and I got together.

Wookiee_Momma's picture

If the kids are uncomfortable, it is because of the BM and not because you’re there.

Don’t blame yourself for her not acting in the best interests of the kids.

Survivingstephell's picture

If you are in this for the long haul, I would recommend you learning all you can about Borderline PD.  You will learn skills on how to deal and not deal with her issues.  Her main issue is that her kids will abandon her for you and all the crap she deals out is rooted in that fear.  

As for going to events, take it on a case by case approach.  Big events where you and SO can get lost in the crowd are way better then small family events.  You go as long as you are respected by SO and his kids  Once you get treated poorly, skip the next event.  You absence and the aftermath will give you more info to apply to your next move.  

There's a lot to  be said for going, being by SO's side, presenting a united, couple front.  There is also a lot to be said for skipping these events if its a hot mess stress bath.  Not worth putting yourself thru that.  

Don't hesitate to explain why you bail to the skids.  They aren't stupid and know that their mother is a drama nut, even if they can't put it into words. Make any explanation age appropriate and truthful.  Showing yourself to be a solid sane human will be a touchstone for the skids as they age, although they probably won't appreciate it until they are much older.

I've been at this for 13 years now, and I wish someone would have told me to stay true to myself, that I was the normal one, and my thoughts and values were the norm, not wacked like BM tried to imply to everyone.  BPD is a tough one and you really need to stay grounded in yourself and let SO handle BM.  He's the reason she around in the first place.    

Goldmoon2000's picture

Thank you so much for this advice! Yes, I have done some research on borderline personality. While I try to use that talk with my SO and help him understand her behavior, I stay out of her drama. I made the mistake of giving him advice or criticizing him on how he dealt with her, but that led nowhere good and I promised both of us I would trust him and know that he was making decisions in his kids' best interest.

I've made the decision to talk to the kids about their preference. For example, tonight is a swing choir performance for the 12 yo girl. It's not a big deal, yet I would feel bad if she wondered why I wasn't there. I am going to talk to her tonight and as her if she'd like it if I come to things like this (and bring my daughter when I can).

We've mostly faced sporting events as both of his kids are very active in sports. I go to some events, but definitely not all as I feel that would just be trying to make a point and I know they appreciate time with just their dad (he coaches some of their sports). So we've navigated that one okay.

Family events are okay--I'm invited as a member of the family even though SO and I are not yet married. For a while, BM was invited too, but that's starting to taper off. I try to be gracious at events where she is, but she still tends to pretend like I'm not there.

Here's hoping the conversation goes well with the kids tonight. Even if they say they'd prefer I don't go, I'm going to not take it personally and understand where they are coming from. At least I'll know!

Survivingstephell's picture

With this type of mother, the kids are put in the middle and can receive and asounding amount of drama from their mother about other people.  I also made the choice to just stop participating to make life easier on SD18.  I have went to various things thru the years for her, knowing that each time she would recieve some kind of drama afterwards.  She is graduating HS in a few weeks and I will be going to that.  Last one and CS is done.  I've earned the right to see this benchmark in our lives! LOL  

Do realize that the skids will need life skills on managing their mother, as they are stuck with her, their father should be aware of that and you two can teach them critical thinking skills from now on.  Our therapist taught us to aks them the question why BM would say/do that and let the kid figure it out.  Nothing more fun or effortless, then sending a skid back to BM asking her why she did or said what she said and wondering what her motives are.  Of course these questions come from the thought processes of the skid, NOT from you or SO.   Be sane, keep the houses seperate on all things, and the skids will get thru this.  

amyburemt's picture

I am so sorry you are dealing with this! I have dealt with a high conflict bipolar bm who has been just outright nasty. Youre best bet is to disengage from bm when she is being a nightmare. If she chooses to not speak to you, do not take it personally. Don't try to please her. You CANNOT change her or her actions. Instead, focus on being supportive of your SO and take each event one step at a time. If your skids want you to go, then go and be supportive of them. Ignore bm and her nastiness. It's not easy but in the long run the kids will remember that you supported them. If it's something that will cause a huge conflict, ask the kids. Maybe phrase it something like "If this event will cause a huge conflict between your mom and you  skids, I can stay home if that will help". Let them decide.  That way they having to be feeling like they need to please everyone. these types of bm's can be downright nasty to their kids. Read up on PAS(Parental alienation syndrome) and that will help you  navigate these situations. But again, it might be that you have to decide based on each specific event. 

Goldmoon2000's picture

Thanks so much for your comments! Yes, I am thinking more and more that involving them in the decision is the best way to go. I just need to take any of my own hurt feelings out of it and realize that if they say it's better I stay home, it doesn't mean I don't belong in the family or am being left out. It was not their decision to be put in this situation, so I need to be kind to them as best I can. I cannot undo anything their mother has done or will do to them, but I can always be someone they can count on to take their best interests to heart.

Rags's picture

11&12yo kids do not get to decide what adults do.  Ever.  So, if  you want to go to the events and be with your BF then go. What BM wants is irrelevent as is what the Skid's want.

You and your BF are the adults in the home and the relationship and together you set the tone for how everyone and everything else fits into your relationship and blended family.  This is what is best for your relationship and it is also best for any kids in the picture.

Kids get an opionion but no say in anything until they are adults.  They do what they are told when they are told and if there is something going on that they don't like... they suck it up.

I went to all of my Skid's events over the years.  Period.  No discussion. His mom is my wife first and foremost as I am her husband.  Our relationship and each other always comes first and is the priority for both of us over all else. The Skid was our top marrital responsibility but never the priority. 

So, quit thinking that  pre-teens gets to decide what adults do and for damned sure BM gets even less say in what you and BF do.  BM does not even get an opinion.

IMHO.

Wookiee_Momma's picture

Preach.

There is something to be said for the fact that kids of divorce are given SO MUCH power in the household, when in reality, they should have zero.

StepUltimate's picture

On big regret me & DH have is giving then SS13 "choices" as he chose poorly regarding which school, summer camp or not, etc. Now SS18 "chooses" to fail classes, cut class, get high, lie, and neglect things like hygeine & personal care. Telling us he doesn't "need" to go to class. It's a nightmare my DH nurtures by asking, not telling, SS what's gonna be hsppening.

I am trying to disengage & counting the minutes until ungrateful, entitled SS18 is out of my home for good. He is 18 now and I've let him know that my tolerance for being disrespected in my own home by an 18 year old man is very different from what I endured from a minor my DH had legal custody of. Still, SS playing his same b.s., over-confidant as usual. 

Coco72's picture

This is the best advice that I ever received on this site!! Do NOT give the skids power in your relationship or household, you are setting  presidencies that are nearly impossible to change. 

Goldmoon2000's picture

I certainly appreciate all of your advice. I do not think that asking the kids their opinion on whether or not they would like me to go to events is giving them power. I simply wanted to know what they thought and view this as giving them respect. Of course, I have no pattern of these kids disrespecting me or my daughter or SO, acting out, being mean, or any of the other things that I know a lot of you are dealing with. I know we are lucky in our situation in that the kids respect me and my place in the household and I hope it remains this way.