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This life isn’t for me

may927's picture

Does anyone else just feel like this life isn't really for them?  My DH (together 8 years) is the model husband and father.  Not a Disney dad at all, has boundaries, expects his children to be independent, tolerates no disrespect, prioritizes our marriage.  SD 21 and SS 19 have been out of the house since they were 18.  Only 2 years to go until SD 16 graduates high school.  All kids have been accepting and respectful towards me.  There have been bumps in the road but nothing huge. I've been hands off from the start- my husband never expected me to parent them or be responsible for them.  I know he wishes I was more interested but he accepts that I'm giving all I'm able or willing to give. BM sucks but isn't high conflict.  I have a much better situation than most people it seems.  

Even so, I just cannot wait for this to end.  It took me 3 therapists and a life coach to come to the conclusion that this just isn't for me.  I grew up feeling disconnected from my family and I just want to be with my husband and OS 2.  I don't want to try to fit it or be super engaged with children he made with someone else.  This last year has been so hard.  We all took Covid seriously.  School was only online and SD 16 was home all the time- no friends except hanging outdoors.  I've been a SAHM since my son was born so I'm also home all the time.  I'm an introvert and they are extroverts.  I have no desire to have to constantly make small talk with her.  I don't want a roommate.  I'm always respectful to his kids, I am just beyond over sharing my home.  For a teenager, SD is fairly pleasant but like all kids, and especially with the stress of the past year, she complains about our home a lot.  She's emotionally needy of my husband in annoying ways that he shuts down luckily, but it makes me uncomfortable and irritated.  

DH has been working 70+ hours the past few months.  My family and his are all 3,000 miles away on the other side of the country.  OS and I are going to stay with my parents for 2 months this summer.  I just need a break.  I need to be with my family.  I need to come back here in September and have SD resume her busy life of school, friends, sports.  I think I can get through the next couple years if things are "normal" 

I don't understand why I can't just get on board with my not so bad situation.  I will push through bc my husband is wonderful and I don't want my son having divorced parents.  I constantly either feel irritated, anxious or shameful.  I can only conclude this life isn't really for me, but I do need to persist.  Thanks for listening.  It helps to just vent it out sometimes.  

Winterglow's picture

Have you always felt like this or have things come to a head with all that the covid situation entails? 

may927's picture

I've ahways felt this way but it was easy in the beginning to tell myself it would change.  The kids were always sweet and respectful, and no red flags from my DH.  It was impossible to believe it wouldn't get easier over time.  I also worked nights and weekends the first 6 years- so I wasn't having to face in nearly as much as over the last two years.  I actually like his kids as people, I just do not want to live with any of them (50/50).  Covid has pushed it to a less tolerable place for sure.  

Rumplestiltskin's picture

Since you have a kid, maybe try to hang on the last 2 years - you are in the home stretch! It's hard living with near-adults, even if they are yours. Usually harder if not. You are almost there! 

GrudgingSM's picture

I totally get it. DH's kids aren't my people. And honestly I hate faking family with them. We clearly aren't each other's inner circle, and that's really, really super okay! I'm sorry for how hard this past year has been, and I'm in the same boat. I just really, really need to get to fall and let things return to some version of "normal". But your feelings are valid, and you're welcome to vent here anytime. 

may927's picture

Thank you so much for saying this! The validation is huge for me.  It helps me to lift the guilt and shame I feel.  

JRI's picture

Im an introvert, too.  DH and 2 of his 3 kids are extraverts as is my BS (my DD is an introvert, like me).  I found steplife difficult due to this mismatch.  We also had all 5 living here, it was intense, to say the least.

I went back to work, part-time at first.  That helped tremendously, I'm not sure why.  A couple years later, I went full-time.  That really helped me, being with adults all day.  I still don't understand the dynamics but maybe it might be something to consider.

I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be a SAHM for several years, I realize it was a gift during that time when the SKs were moving in and we had so many issues.  But I was a happier person when I worked.  Good luck.

 

may927's picture

I totally feel this.  I'm hoping to go back to my old job part time in the fall.  I do love being home with my son but I sense my that i'll feel a lot better to do something outside of the house with other adults.  

Gimlet's picture

One of the things that has been the hardest for me is learning to lower the bar.  I've had so many ups and downs, because I wanted things to feel more cohesive and would see the anomolies as a pattern, just to be let down again.

I have come to a position of being pragmatic about it all.  My SSs, like grudgingSM said above, are not my people.  My DH loves them, I care about YSS and tolerate OSS because he's my DH's kid, but it will never feel easy or comfortable.  DH and I take trips with my DD and it's not work - no one has to have his/her guard up because we're all just honest with each other.  Spending time with his kids feels so forced and artificial.  So, it's just going to be different and that's never going to change.

Just because your situation is good compared to others doesn't mean it's good for you, you know?  You're self-aware enough to see it and it sounds like you have a plan to get through it. 

may927's picture

Thank you so much for your kind words and understanding.  The shame is a tough one to get through, but getting validation on here that I'm not an awful person for my feelings is really helpful!

stepper47's picture

I completely relate to the introvert/extrovert, I am an introvert through and through and so is my son and I would put my SS21 more in that category.  The 3 of us are pretty similar in that we are more low key for the most part, and don't need (or want) the company of others or a lot of activity all the time.  My DH and SD18 are extroverts.  DH grew up in a house with people in and out all the time, and being with friends and family constantly.  SD always wanted a friend over or to be on the go.  She was also in and out of our house often, which was a pain point for me as an introvert who wanted privacy - I was totally fine on their 50% of their time here with them being in and out because I expected it, but if they were on their mom's time, it really affected me to have her walk through the door at any given moment.  Whether that was fair or not, I don't know, and it wasn't that she wasn't "welcome", I just needed consideration and control over that piece of my home to know who was going to be around. As a compromise, I asked DH to talk to her about letting us know before she came, and that was a trigger for her to meltdown and claim she wasn't welcome here, and the start of years of conflict.   She got better about texting him first, but that didn't help me if he wasn't home, or if it was right as she hit our driveway.  Anyway, it came down to personality types and expectations, and it is hard to meh that in a stepfamily situation. Instead of everyone wanting to work together for each other, it feels more like everyone working hard to protect themselves.  Just not a natural situation, and not easy for anyone to navigate no matter what role or how "easy" things may seem like they should be.  

My advice is to keep the dialogue with your DH open on things that do impact you, it sounds like you are blessed to have a DH who is willing to set boundaries and listen.  That is huge.    The next thing is not to be so hard on yourself.  There are so many factors and feelings that go into stepfamilies.  We have to take care of ourselves too, that is how we can best be there for everyone else.   It sounds like you are doing a great job, and everything is going to be ok.  That's so great you are able to get away for a couple months, I hope that refreshes you and you come back ready to start again!

may927's picture

Thank you!  Luckily the skids hardly ever show up when at their mother's.  I also made it very clear from the start that my private time is necessary for me to recharge and that's mostly been respected all these years.  The introvert thing is so tough- SD 16 is loud and constantly wants to talk.  It can even get to DH and he is an extrovert too.  We've talked a lot about me being introverted bc I think she takes it personally sometimes when I'm quiet.  She doesn't totally seem to get it.  So when she's home all the time, I constantly feel pressure to talk to her or else I'll seem like a bitch.  It's exhausting.  

Anyway I really appreciate your thoughtful response.  One my good days I can have those kinds of thoughts! 

Invisibear's picture

Yes! I am also an introvert and the pressure to talk to the Skids the second I walk in the door brings a lot of anxiety. I have taken to going to the gym until Partner gets home. Or after the quick pleasantries before they (SS especially!!) can dive into a 20 minute monologue, I state I have chores to get done before dinner and scurry off to take care of those things. It has been working well - I usually have something to busy myself with (or pretend to) and when Partner gets home, he gets to hear all about their days

JRI's picture

One time I read an article about really paying attention when kids talk.  So I decided as each of the 5 came home, I would give them my undivided attention, individually.   At the end of the day, I have never felt so exhausted!   End of experiment.  Lol.

may927's picture

I would totally be doing all those things too but between being. SAHM with a 2 year old and the pandemic, it's been so much harder to avoid.  Small talk just drives me up the wall.  

SMto3's picture

"instead of everyone wanting to work together for each other, it feels more like everyone working hard to protect themselves"...that's exactly what my household feels like. 

tog redux's picture

Personally, I think you are doing fine, you just aren't the storybook picture-perfect stepmother that really exists in fantasy only, anyway.  You feel like many people feel about stepkids - they aren't yours, so you tolerate them instead of embracing them.

Your DH is a good parent, his kids aren't rude, he doesn't coddle or baby them - so really, how things are is fine.

I don't have much to do with my SS21. I'm cordial to him, but that's about it.

may927's picture

Yes you are right.  Im respectful to skids and we even have our moments where we genuinely connect.  I wish I could find a way to be more at peace with it- the anxiety and dread make it tough sometimes.   I really appreciate you saying it's normal to simply tolerate the situation because that is completely where I'm at.  It just feels so unnatural to me.  Who in the workd would want to live with someone else's teenager?!

tog redux's picture

Exactly. It's a weird situation. Yours seems better than most on here because your DH is a good parent who doesn't coddle them or expect you to "love them like your own". You might find they get more likeable and easier to tolerate when they become full -fledged adults. 

may927's picture

I hope that will be the case every day.  Once I don't have to share my home and my space, I don't think I'll have as many negative feelings.  

TheAccidentalSM's picture

When YSS lived with us, it felt like I had a roommate

  • I didn't get to choose (and I wouldn't have chosen some one who was as loud, messy and at times plain gross)
  • Who's rent, food,etc I subsidised
  • Who I could get rid of

It drove me insane.   I was ready to move out myself and end the relationship with DH.  But eventually YSS got to college/uni age and DH helped him to find a shared house with roommates his own age.

My mental health has improved drastically since then.  And my relationship with YSS improved too.

may927's picture

Yes I totally think about it in that way too- she feels like a roommate that I'm being forced to live with.  I'm very protective of my private space and I need a lot of down time.  Having someone in and out of my home, esp someone who's loud and wants to talk a ton is just way way too much.  The weeks she isn't here are better but it still weighs on me bc I know it's only 7 days til she's back.  

Im glad to hear your mental health and relationship with SS improved when he left.  I believe that'll be the case for me as well.  

EvieLou's picture

I can relate quite a lot to what has been said here.  I would definately say I'm more of an introvert and my partner more extrovert, when together tho we seem to create a nice balance.  His family are very much extrovert tho and SD is just WAY too over the top - to the point that I find it incredibly hard to relate in any way - there's simply no common ground there at all.  Pretty much everything about them grates on me.   As others have mentioned - they are not 'my people' and never will be.  It is what it is.  It is hard though when your OH wants you to be more involved or more interested. I question myself all the time but ultimately you can't change how you feel.  It's either find a way to deal with it so it has the least negative impact on you - or make that decision to call it.  It's not easy though.  

may927's picture

Yes I hear you.  I need to stick it out bc I truly want to be with DH and we have a child together now.  However it's really difficult to talk about with him even though he's been fairly understanding and accepting.  Every Sunday that she comes back (like yesterday) I get very depressed and anxious.  He's always asking what's wrong and it just becomes this same back and forth about it.  We don't argue but it's such a touchy subject.  My DH is also an extrovert and I feel we balance each other nicely too.  But add his loud extroverted kids in and it just makes me miserable.  

JRI's picture

Whenever I go nuts about a step issue (and believe me, there are many), I think, what if it was my mom?  What if, instead of living in a long-term, she had to live here? Or, what if she lived elsewhere but had to be here a few days on a weekly schedule.  Of course, I would want the best for her but I know it would be hard on DH.  

Maybe try to think of your situation in those terms.  You have a family member who must be there regularly.   It might be a little aggravating to you but probably much worse for your DH.  You would hope he'd be polite and civil to her.  You would dread the thought that he might leave you over it.  You would think, this won't go on forever but she's your mom, what else can you do?

Hoping for the best possible outcome for you.

may927's picture

I hear you.  In my better moments I do try to think that way. I know it's hard for SD too, as well as DH. In those moments, I can feel empathy for everyone and it's much better.  This is why I'd be petrified for my son to have a step parent.  Although I'm kind and respectful to skids, it would kill me to know someone felt annoyed with my kid just for being a normal kid.  This is where a lot of the shame comes in for me- I know I should be more empathetic.  

I have struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life.  It's gotten easier to manage as I've matured but it definitely plays into my difficulties with the skids.  

I really appreciate your perspective!

JRI's picture

When you said its hard on SD, too, it reminded me of my very belated empathy.  It wasn't until all 3 SKs were launched that I realized how tough their weekend visitstion must have been on them, too.  SD was going into her teen years and instead of going to sleepovers with her friends, had to go to dad's house every weekend where there was a sullen SM and 4 younger brats running wild.    OSS, a sensitive person, had to get to know a strange woman who lived with dad and her 2 kids.  YSS 's competitive spirit revved into high gear as he shared dad with these new people.  I think all 3 grieved his loss from their home, I'm sure of it.

Too bad I didn't have that empathy in those years.  I was totally overwhelmed.  Sigh...

 

may927's picture

I feel like that's exactly how I'm going to feel too.  Yet I've tried so many things to change my feelings and have continually failed.  I am easily overwhelmed and skids plus being a SAHM the past two years and a pandemic has left me struggling to cope.  I am always respectful and nice to SD but she definitely picks up on my difficulties.  Now that our son is here I must make this work.  I do feel like they'd all be better off without me sometimes.  

JRI's picture

You are the most important person in the house.  Truth.

Rags's picture

If my parents lived with us, or us with them, both DW and I would be fine with it.  Though... I would be the eldest kid on the planet with chores.  I joke that I will be the only person in the retirement home with chores because I will be there with my mother.  They had me when dad was 21 and mom was 19.  They had been married nearly two years when i was born.

My DW is my mom's BFF and vise versa, and she and my dad enjoy each other's personalities very much.

My MIL would likely not be a huge PITA if she lived with us, but.... the odds of that happening are slim and none considering she will not leave SpermLand and we will not live there.  We are the only ones with the resources to support her so that would likely look like us subsidizing her housing, etc.... if and when it were to happen.

BPDHell's picture

It's awesome that you are honest with yourself about where you are and your situation. That's a very good place to be. Honoring your needs is important and necessary and it's ok to vent in a safe place when you're struggling. You're aware that your situation is temporary, there will be an end to this, you just need to hang on until then. And it looks like you have some plans to make your situation more tolerable; I see you're planning to go back to work part-time in a few months and that is awesome!

I think it's human nature to focus on the negatives in our lives instead of focusing on the positives, but this can lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression that may be unnecessary and not really true to our situation; i.e. make your situation feel worse than it realistically is. To counter this, sometimes I make gratitude lists to refocus my attention on the blessings in my life, especially when I'm obsessing about the things that are pissing me off! LOL Find something positive to focus on, something that gets you excited, when you're starting to feel the drag. Sometimes I'll plan a day trip, or new plants for the garden, or look for new trails to hit. Anything that gets me to take the focus off the negative thing I'm obsessing about. It takes practice, but it has worked very well for me. Biggrin

You aren't alone, what you're feeling is pretty normal, and you're almost to the end of the hardest part! Hang in there.

may927's picture

Thank you!  And yes, gratitude lists!  I've started doing that regularly several times in my life but never have stuck with it.  I need to go back to that.  Thank you for the understanding and the reminder! 

shellpell's picture

You're not alone. We are long distance and I barely see skid, but I still hate the fact that dh has another kid with someone else who he's responsible for. I can't get over it, I've tried therapy, meditation, everything. It's not for everyone and it's definitely not natural. When he is here, I have panic and anxiety. I  turn into a different person. I'm so glad that dh is happy not to blend because if he insisted on facilitating a relationship between skid and our two young kids, I probably would freak. But the feelings of guilt and shame are there, too. Societal expectations are strong.

may927's picture

I struggle with the same things.  Both of my SD's are very emotionally close to my husband.  It truly is great for him and them but i really struggle with it.  It's healthy but not like any other father daughter relationship i've seen.  It makes me uncomfortable sometimes like i'm sharing my husband with something other than his kid.  I don't want to say it's like a girlfriend or friend but it feels that way sometimes.  I thought that would end when they were young but now i see it won't ever change.  Again, it's great for them, just too much for me.  

SMto3's picture

My step kids are not the worst on the planet either. They don't argue with me, and they aren't "needy" so much as they are sorta selfish. But I feel you. I've never felt that it's right for me, it feels like someone said above, artificial for me. My therapist says I'm doing an amazing job but I feel like such a fraud. I just keep focusing on what I got out of the whole thing, DD6. 

may927's picture

I relate so much to everything you said.  How do you navigate this with your husband without upsetting him?  My DH is pretty accepting that I am giving what I can but it causes issues too.  It hurts his feelings and it feels impossible to explain it in a way he can understand.  
And I feel like a fraud too- hence the shame and guilt.

shellpell's picture

Can you have him read Stepmonster? That might help, especially from a sociological and biological perspective.

may927's picture

I could try for sure.  I've found articles before that I wanted to share but so often the focus is on how it's hard for Stepmothers to deal with bratty disrespectful kids and I know that wouldn't ring true in our situation.  I personally haven't read Stepmonster (i've read so much online, i wasn't sure if i'd get more out of it) but maybe I should and then pass it on to him.