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Who's All In Therapy Over Their "Step" Situation?

Penny19's picture

I was just wondering if anyone was seeing a therapist just to vent about the step situations we find ourselves in at times. No one in my life is in the same boat as I am so venting to a friend is no use. Plus, they all have their own life issues and don't need to be burdened with mine. I have a lot of bottled up emotions from years of tolerating steps and feel like I just need to get it out. They're adults now but the older they are the bigger the issues.  It just never ends.  Just curious.

Jcksjj's picture

I feel like if I did I'll just get the usual crap about seeing things from her point of view, blah blah. 

sandye21's picture

When SD had her meltdown in December of 2010 I went to a therapist.  I asked DH who refused to go so I went by myself.  The first therapist I contacted was just plain nasty, and I suspected she had some SM issues herself.  The next therapist was great and helped a lot with disengaging from SD, and setting boundaries with both SD and DH.

I would highly recommend it but make sure it is a good fit.

Kes's picture

I am not any longer but saw several therapists during the years that the SDs were coming here regularly - the longest was for 3 yrs.  The most useful thing one of them said to me was "it's not YOUR drama" - about the constant episodes that NPD BM and the SDs would inflict on our household.  This helped me to disengage and take a step back. 

Eve-Bee's picture

I did go to one for several years. I came into my SD life when she was 2, and we have had her more than her mom, yet still, at the age when children start learning compassion, empathy, and care, she was just not capable of it, even though we really kept on trying, it was impossible. And it did not help that anytime DH tried to parent her, BM's mother would come running to "save" her. The same mother that raised BM into the narc she is today. 

When SD was 8, we were on holiday, at this beautiful huge swimming pool. We were there with many kids SD age, and they were all happy playing in the pool. I took DD, 1,5 at the time, to the baby part of the pool. DH was hungry and was ordering some food and waiting at the table for the food. SD asked me to leave DD in the shallow waters of the pool, and swim out with her to the other side of the pool and be with her. I said to her that I could not do that since I need to take care of DD, she can't swim on her own. She then called for her dad, and he said that he was busy waiting for the food and asked her, why don't you go play with the other kids. Then he asked me what I wanted to have to drink, and as I was answering him.

What happened next, broke my heart, at the time I loved SD so much despite her problems. So what happened was, SD quickly pulled DD under the water, and tried to hold her down. I noticed immediately and pulled her up again. Then I told SD don't do that DD will drown if you do that, she can't breathe underwater. Then I started answering DH again. And SD pulled DD underwater again. I once again pulled her up quickly. And asked SD what are you doing? And I will never forget the look on her face, and she had these dark eyes, it was so disturbing. I felt at that moment that she wanted to kill DD. DH talked to her about it, but I felt like it was nothing he or I could do, because she was not able to have empathy at all. Her capability to be so evil, and show no remorse. Honestly, scared me, and I felt like this was something I did not know how to handle, other than making sure DD was never alone with SD. 

So I went to a psychologist, hoping for insights on how to address this. But, after she heard about everything that was going on, she basically told me that SD was a genetic blueprint of her mom and that she would most likely never be able to feel empathy with others. People with these problems will only be able to change if they spend years in therapy, and even then, they are the hardest patients to treat since they will not be honest about their problems (not even to themselves ), and probably try to manipulate the therapist. SD went to terapi for years, but my psychologist was right. I did not see any improvements.

She also said, that I should look at it like an impairment that she was born with, and that will most likely never change. And I should feel no responsibility or shame for not being able to parent her because I never had the opportunity, she was like this before me, and with or without me in the picture, she would end up the same way. She also said that the only way DH would be able to parent her was if he was able to get full custody of SD, but the way family court is that was never an option.  

So I went there hoping for some directions on how to solve this problem, was told that it was not my problem to solve and that it was a problem without a solution. 

I am glad I went to her to sort out my emotions and vent. I also think that it was probably a good thing that she was a woman old enough to be experienced on these issues. Before her, I tried a young man, he meant well, but it was evident that he lacked the life experiences to be able to see things for what they were or my motherly instincts for DD. His advice was that I should leave DH, and let him have visitation with DD and SD, and trust DH to handle it. Or I could go to court and take away DH visitation rights and have full custody. The first option would make me into a nervous wreck. The other option would make me feel so guilty for destroying DH and DD relationship. And the therapist thought my real problem was that I was afraid to be alone (No(!), I was afraid for DD to be alone with SD).

susanm's picture

Smart woman.  It takes intelligence, life experience, and courage to recognize when there is simply no solution to a problem and that you have to do the best that you can in a bad situation.  Life is messy and sometimes there just is no good answer that gives everyone a happy ending.  Idealistic twaddle may make people feel all warm and snuggly in the moment but it can get people seriously hurt in actual practice.

Eve-Bee's picture

Susanm, I really liked your comment, and especially the part about: "Idealistic twaddle may make people feel all warm and snuggly in the moment but it can get people seriously hurt in actual practice." 

Your comment truly verbalizes the problem with the unsolicited advice or comments I have gotten previously from people with zero relatable life experience. 

Actually, this is precisely why I stopped telling people that I am an SM (if I don't have to), like at my past and current workplace so that I do not have to deal with such comments or questions in my daily life. 

StepUltimate's picture

Me too. Unfortch.

Dovina's picture

Yes I am. I am on my second one. The first one was also a SM and SD...big mistake. She spoke to me as a hurt widdle SD. She told me to go "date myself" if DH ditched me at a social/work function to be by SD's side. Or better yet just let them go to work events together that invited their spouses. This did not sit well. She also wanted to see SD and I and have us counsel together. WTH...like I wanted to give SD the satisfaction I needed therapy because of the daddeee SD dynamic.  Sorry I dont "negotiate with terrorists". Also she is an adult..and disengagement was what I was looking for. She wasnt a child with visitation.

The one I go to now is fabulous. I have got my confidence back and am able to disengage pretty well. 

However this site has been by far the BEST therapy. I have learned that my adult steps atrocious behaviour is the direct result of my  DH. He excells at Disney dad!

Sometimes it takes a few therapists to find the right one!

Rags's picture

Nope.  However, therapy can be a great thing if the threapist has half a brain.  Sadly there are many who don't.

Be selective.  Talk to firends and family for referrals, research, research, research.

strugglingSM's picture

I am and I've gone to several counselors, including a couple that I've gone to with DH. I'm not sure it's been overly helpful, because all the counselors have agreed that my feelings of frustration are normal. They have all agreed that BM is terrible. It's been my counselors who have said that BM seems to have "borderline tendencies". 

They commisserate with me, they support me in my decision to go no contact with BM, they tell me that I should try to limit my time with DH's family, they push DH to set boundaries, but none of them can really help me come up with strategies to not be bothered by all of the drama that BM kicks up. I've tried to insulate myself as much as possible, but the drama still seeps into my life. I feel like I have to tiptoe around and hide things when SSs are around, because they are spies who report everything to BM. MIL is nice to my face, but does things behind the scenes that indicate she thinks I'm just out to keep her grandchildren from "getting what is rightfully theirs". She also thinks DH is "at war" with BM, even though BM is clearly "at war" with DH even though he's basically gone grey rock with her. BIL also said that he thinks DH needs to be nicer to BM, because "she's a good person". It's difficult to want to stick around with all the toxic energy around me. So far, no counselor has been able to help with that. The only one who has come close is the one who pointed out to me that DH's family treats him poorly and acts as if he doesn't matter as a person, so I shouldn't take it personally when they treat me the same way. 

In my view, a SM can only disengage so much, for the most part drama will still swirl around, even if you've removed yourself. I'm someone who hates drama and have cut other toxic people out of my life to reduce drama. You can't totally cut Skids out. 

Rags's picture

This is exactly why came to the position where rather than avoid and side step, I confront toxicity immediately.  Whether it is from the blended family opposition or from my IL clan. And even from my Skid.

Avoiding, hinting, behind the scenes complaining, etc, etc, etc....and for sure, tolerance doesn't work.

IMHO the only way to take others treating you poorly is personally.  I would also take his families treatment of your DH personally.  If DH won't confront their crap, then you do it.

If nothing is done, nothing will change.  If confronted the likely outcomes are that they will either stop their crap or at least STFU.  Unpleasant consequence and embarrassment tends to modify toxic behavior.  Though that can't happen until their inappropriate behavior is confronted each and every time they perpetrate it. Every... time.

In our case this position significantly improved relationships within the IL clan across the board.  There is far less back stabbing, far less polarization, and notably more pleasant family interface.  Though did not do much to improve the SPermClan it did teach them to minimize their crap and significantly decreased the volume and frequency of their toxic crap the last years we lived under the CO.  So much so that we have heard nothing of them in the nearly 9 years since SS-27 aged out form under the CO.  Though they attempted to manipulate and guild SS into a payroll deduction to support the three younger also out of wedlock SpermIdiot spawned half sibs after the CO expired he understood that to bow to their crap was not the right thing to do.  As he had grow up he learned to apply his own smell test to their actions and learned that confronting their manipulations immediately was the best way to protect himself from their lies, manipulations and drama. 

Other than his younger sister (SpermIdiot Spawn #2) no one in the SpermClan makes an effort to have a relationship with him and he reciprocates that to the rest of the SpermClan.

He is living a happy successful life while the rest of that part of his family founder at some level of the shallow and polluted gene pool very low performance scale.

Doing nothing in these situations is not an option IMHO.

Take care of you.  Bare the asses of the toxic in real time as embarrassingly as possible.

Lather, rinse repeat.

Good luck.

 

 

 

 

Gelid3664th's picture

I've thought about it.  I vent to my mother a lot about the situations and to get a perspective on whether I'm being logical or not.  I'm not sure a therapist could help because in my situation I'm not the one who is allowed to have an opinion or say and when I do I get my head chopped off.  I'm just the new wife who sits on a pedestal until I'm beckoned for or a responsibility needs tending too.

It's frustrating not having someone you can vent to to just say, I'm not crazy right!? I interalize a lot and just sit back and say not my cows not my pasture.

ITB2012's picture

I don't want to crab to family and I have no girlfriends in a similar situation. There was a divorced parents group around here but it turned into basically a meat market rather than a support type group. So, I started half a year ago? It's been great. I can crab, she can challenge me, I even told her I was coming to her just to be able to let it all out. She's really helped me become more zen about some of it. We've even gotten into some drama-baggage in other parts of my family and I have clarity on that.

susanm's picture

I tried several both with DH and alone.  I could not find any who did not buy into the "first family comes first and you knew what you were getting into so what is your problem?" crap.  With each attempt things actually got worse because they strengthened DH's argument that I should sit down and shut up in my own home even when his wounded little poopsies were bringing drugs into the house and rifling through my personal belongings to steal cash and jewelry.  After all, they were just sad about the divorce a decade ago.  Not being insufferable brats who had been spoiled to soap opera proportions.  (eyeroll)

Turned out that the best "therapist" was myself realizing that I was perfectly fine before I got mixed up with their pile of hot steaming garbabge and as soon as I disentangled myself from it I would be fine again.  I safeguarded my belongings, resigned from all caretaking duties, and began treating them like the annoying roommates they were while concentrating only on my own life and marriage.  I felt better almost immediately.  DH felt much worse as he had a lot more work to do then but that was not my problem.  It was actually rather pleasurable to see after all the crap I had previously had to deal with.  Especially since it caused their launch to take place as soon as was reasonably possible.  

Penny19's picture

It was interesting to read everyone's perspectives on this. There were some statements that definitely struck a nerve with me....having to internalize and statements about disengaging were the main two.  But as many of you have found, disengaging 100% is pretty much impossible when all the spokes in the wheel plug into your spouse/partner.  We find ourselves 'going along to get along' much of the time and this does cause a lot of internalized emotions because eventually the emotional landfill gets full. That's why I need a therapist.  I have found lately that I just put myself on auto-pilot to deal with the adult steps and their spawns, yet appear to be pleasant, and try to focus on what I'm going to do AFTER the encounter.  No emotional bond = zero tolerance. 

MissTexas's picture

independent therapists.

Here's the breakdown: (pun intended)

The church counselor had adult daughters and sided with DH, and this was clearly a conflict of interest situation, and he had a PROFESSIONAL OBLIGATION TO REFER US TO a better qualified, non-biased counselor.

The clergy "helped" but has never been a product of divorce, or in a "remarriage" or "blended family" situation, so this was merely hypothetical armchair observation, rather than actual counseling. We cannot pray away SD and her ridiculous feral antics. He referred us to a female clergy colleague. I loved her, because she didn't mince words and "shot straight from the hip" and DH didn't like hearing how dysfunctional his relationship with his NPD Princess is, and what a passive parent he has been that created the human flesh wrapped molotov cocktail of a daughter he sired, and  the changes that must take place in order to preserve our marital integrity.

I attended several sessions alone with various counselors/therapists. Some were faith based, some not. 

The long and short of it is this; there just are not many professional counselors or therapists who are adequately versed and have real world applied strategies to effectively counsel step-life situations. It's really interesting as it's estimated at least 50% of marriages are not first marriages, and include offspring from one or both spouses. Society has moved forwar4d, but therapists seemingly have not.

My best advice is to only visit with ladies like those of us here (and RAGS) who are living it, and have reality based experiences and solutions for the life NONE OF US could ever have seen coming or prepared for. I've found when I talk with church "friends" for instance, they look at me as if I have 3 heads that are all speaking a different language, and profess, "I will pray for you, Texas." (& avoid me like a leper, thereafter) That is appreciated, but what has genuinely helped me is a handful of people,( one in particular), who I rely on heavily for reassurance, direction, guidance and support. If I had to pay for that which I have received here, I could in no way afford it or repay the debt. Thank you to the creators of this website, and all of the wonderful "STEP SISTERS" (& RAGS) I have met and become acquainted with here! Nobody can truly understand, empathize or appreciate the level of dysfunction many of us walk through and live daily. I've said it before, many scenarios featured here could either be a great Lifetime Original Movie story line/script, or a chart topping , Grammy Worthy Country Music song.

You have to find your "fit" and go with it.

piegirl's picture

Texas, you have summed up the support here on ST so eloquently. 

I also must give you kudos for the "human flesh wrapped molotov cocktail of a daughter he sired" which had me laughing out loud Smile

Sandybeaches's picture

I did go to a therapist years ago.It was very helpful to go somewhere and talk about anything I needed to.

I think you have to shop around and find the right Therapist.  There are some that will always be on BM's side and more than likely the kids.  Mine was good while she didn't necessarily see it from my point of you on the first visit by the time I stopped going she felt I needed to get a restraining order against BM and watch myself for those kids playing me and my husband.  I think the therapist learned as much as I did.

Therapy is great just find someone who is thinking of your needs!!

sandye21's picture

"-- disengaging 100% is pretty much impossible when all the spokes in the wheel plug into your spouse/partner. "

I've been fully disengaged for 9 years but there is always someting that pulls from the sidelines like an elehant in the room.  Sure, you want your DH to love his children - and he CAN while he guides them into being responsible, well behaved adults.  Many say love should be unconditional, but every child should be brought up with 'conditions' so they will be able to negotiate in the real world.

DH never told SD, "You must treat people with mutual respect."  Her life would have been a lot better.

Evil3's picture

I totally agree with disengagement being great except for the remaining elephant in the livingroom. I completely disengaged from my SD and we were both shunning one another. However, there was still that mini-wife dynamic which caused soul-destroying agony for me. Disengagement can go only so far when our DHs are involved in whatever dynamic that is causing such pain for us.

still learning's picture

Find a counselor who supports you. Don't go with DH, or skids, go alone and learn how to set boundaries around your personal -well-being.  Your sanity is worth it!  And yes, I did go to therapy over adult skid issues. DH refused to attend, initially, I was hurt but it put the focus and responsibility on me to put on the big girl panties and own the circumstances of my life.  

The therapist outlined strong boundaries I should draw around myself and letting DH go it alone with SS. She also advised me to take my safety seriously around ss.  Therapy was time well invested.  

piegirl's picture

One for me and my issues with steplife and the other is a marriage counsellor for DH and I. I find I really need assistance sometimes to get DH understand my point of view when it comes to his adult kids, and our counsellor helps with that

Evil3's picture

I went to more than one therapist over time and DH and I went for both marital counselling as a direct result of the mini-wife bullshit and to learn how to parent DD19 better when we realized that we were wrong for running a child-centric household.

The first couple of therapists I went to sided with SD and made me feel much worse than I already did. Their stance was that SD was super clingy because she's insecure. This was a budding narcissist and was the most fawned on brat I've ever seen, yet she's insecure. Bullshit! Then, I'd get told that she was wronged. OK, how was she wronged? Well, her parents got divorced and she didn't ask for that. Well, mine are divorced and it never occurred to me to do what SD does. Also, SS doesn't do what SD does. Then, I'd get crickets.

I went again to counselling when I "had" to step down from my career due to having DD and working shift work. DH freaked the f out over BM claiming that DH was too busy looking after an infant while I was at work, to be able to tend to the brats. I got very depressed and stated that if it weren't for having DD, I would kill myself because I was THAT bad off. That counsellor's advice was to go to the library and get a nice coffee table book with nice pictures and look at it on my coffee breaks at a job that I despised that I took as a voluntary demotion to escape shift work. I was in a constant rage over "having my career stolen from me or else," and a fucking book with nice pics would heal me. I wanted to throttle that dumbass counsellor.

So, to make a long story short, interview a bunch of people and ask what specific training and experience they have on step-families. Not all are trained and educated and can say damaging things.

I finally found an Imago Relational Therapist, which means that she helps me delve into past patterns and why I end up in the patterns I'm in today. I found that extremely helpful, because I was able to really turn the mini-wife dynamic around. It's not completely there yet, but it's 1000% better than it was.

Interview, interview, interview. I can't say that enough.

Penny19's picture

I wish there was a key to some of these abbreviations....

What is DD....I'm thinking 'dear daughter.'

What is a mini-wife?

And a comment on the coffee table book:  WTF?  If I had a coffee table book, it'd  be used to clobber people with!  It'd be a good way to vent my frustations. I can't believe she even suggested that. Did she learn that in college?

sandye21's picture

At the bottom right of this page click on Frequently Asked Questions.  Then click on 'what do the Abbreviations mean?'

BellaMemawof5's picture

I am not but I applaud you for going!  I it results in you getting some peace of mind and spirit.

NYCEastside's picture

I have been married for almost 9 years. One of the issues has always been and continues to be my step DIL. I disliked her from the moment I met her - when she was just dating my now SS. She comes from a large family (which is very appealing to my SS who is an only child) and always has to have a posse of people around her. At one point, I offered to take her out to lunch, pay for her babysitter, and try to have an adult conversation about how we could have a better relationship. Instead, she insisted that both husbands be involved so that she could create her usual triangle with me on the outside.The lunch ever happened. As the years have gone by, I remain cordial but distant. Everytime there is a family gathering there are always lots of people around. I kiss her hello and move on. I haven't had a real conversation with her in years. I am presently in therapy because DH treats me like a roomate. His son, DIL, and now the grandchilren clearly come first. Unfortunately, I am dealing with my own financial business-related issues and I just  can't walk out the door at this moment. Therapy is helping me hold on to my self-esteem and sense of worth. I will NEVER let anyone steal that from me no matter the circumstances. 

Hesitant to try's picture

If you can find the right counselor, I like good therapy is a game changer! My late husband and I did joint counseling before we got married to discuss skid issues proactively. And while seriously dating since his passing, I've used my counselor to discuss future skid issues and how best to handle them. A good counselor should let you vent, make you feel supported and understood, and give you some good options for moving forward. Hope you give it a try!

captjacksprrw's picture

Yes.  Luckily it happens to be a good counselor who is not one of those new age child centric types.  For me, it has been a near marriage ending set of issues; probably much more mild than some here on the forums (No jail, drugs, etc).  Still, it came within a small hair of destroying my marriage. 

If you are in the same boat, you may have feelings of anger and resentment that you can't totally associate at first.  I'm still struggling with a veryu downward trending almost 5 year period and am only now working with my wife to rebuild.

SteppedOut's picture

After I left, my formerSO thought I should attend therapy so I could learn ways to cope with his son's psycho behaviors. 

I didn't think I should have to attend therapy to learn how to cope with horrific behavior. To me, THAT sounds crazy.

My thought was his SON should attend therapy, to learn not to be psycho (if possible). FormerSO did not agree because "nothing is wrong with my son".

I think therapy is good if you have something you need help addressing with yourself, as long as it isn't how to learn how to accept poor behavior from others. 

bertieb's picture

several years. She felt like a friend I could vent to and that is what I needed. I can't say she gave me any specific advice I still follow but I could get out things I couldn't say to anyone else. I would probably still go 2-3 times a year but she retired. 

SacrificialLamb's picture

I had two over the years, and DH went to one of them with me.  He went to the second on his own few a few times. Both were helpful and no nonsense.  I learned to stop trying to get the approval of people who didn't want me around in the first place. DH learned that his children were adults and he needed to stop thinking of them as kids.  He also learned the subtle things females do when they group together to shun someone else. Everything the coven in his family did to me went right over his head.

I remember the first counselor looked at me and said "Dh has the right to see his kids."  I remember thinking "uh oh one of the Holy Original Family Supporters."  Then she looked at DH and said "your kids are adults - do you want to stay married?"

I have gotten a lot of help from several here on ST. And I also want to recommend meditation......quieting your mind of all the bull$$$$ helps you become more centered, less defensive and more clear on your own personal boundaries. I can't recommend it enough. 

Onemorewickedwitch's picture

I had my first appointment last week. I told her straight I needed someone to vent. Sometimes it's all it takes... a little bit of empathy and an unbiased opinion to see more clearly. I'm going solo for now, my SO knows but i don't want him to come for now. We'll see if it helps. 

Lady Tea's picture

I have been considering going to therapy for about 2 years now.  I think this is the year I will finally start trying to find the right therapist.  I know if takes time to find a good fit and I have been so busy with life and career I didnt want to take the time.  My BF of 10 years said that he would go to couples counseling with me but he did not seem happy abou it.  Our relationship is mostly great with the exception of the issues with is ex wife and kids.  The kids are becoming young adults now and I'm hoping that therapy will help us navigate this new life stage and the new boundaries that come with it. 

Momof2Girls's picture

I started going after  months of my SD19 moving in. I just started back up today. My SD19 is manipulating my husband and her mother. She is in a downward spiral and I'm praying to God she moves back to be with her mother. She is ruining my marriage. Next step is bringing my husband to therapy.

Rearview's picture

Yes I've gone. DH has gone with me.  He's codependent,  enmeshed,  Disney Dad, mini wife syndrome.  I have no kids. They live 3k away. Yes therapy helped him some. He came from a dysfunctional childhood,  then dysfunctional  marriage.  He said he wanted a happy life. He has incorporated some of the therapy recommendations,  he is some better.  Progress not perfection is the goal.  I e been very  very patient.   But one thing I've done is set a FIRM FIRM SET OF BOUNDARIES.   I've shown him several  several videos on successful marriage and the proper place for people,  and that the MARRIAGE COMES  FIRST FIRST FIRST......NO EXCEPTION....I will not will not be treated like th . ...MISTRESS KEPT IN SECRET.....You have to set boundaries and when you do  stick to them and be willing to WALK AWAY.   I've been widowed twice. My last spouse had 3 kids. They alienated him and he said FINE BYE.  They didn't even come to his funeral. Dont be a hostage to skids.  They are not the center of the world. When you and your spouse are at death's door , sick or disabled who's going to be there holding your hand.  Your spouse.  Kids are building their lives, making life with their kids, their grandchildren.   That's when you step back and become a small piece of their life. YOU ARE NO LONGER their world. They've left the nest so let them fly and keep them out of your personal business.  FOCUS ON Each OTHER.  If your spouse doesn't get that, then be willing to VENT FULL FORCE TO HIM REGARDLESS WHERE THAT LEADS, BE HONEST with hiw you feel.  He'll respect it or he wont. But respect YOURSELF.   Walk away if you must. 

sandye21's picture

" - respect YOURSELF."  This is the key. 

"If your spouse doesn't get that, then be willing to VENT FULL FORCE TO HIM REGARDLESS WHERE THAT LEADS, BE HONEST with how you feel. "  If it takes therapy to achieve this then it is truly worth it.  Up until recently I thought I was rather fearless.  After therapy I have come to the conclusion that many times fear was the motivating factor in many of the 'inactions' I made regarding SD and my marriage.  Fear that SD wouldn't like me.  Fear that DH would take her side.  Fear of the marriage dissolving.  Fear of being thought to be a bad person.  Fear of being alone.  For years I thought silence was the answer - it wasn't.  Hoping that an asshole will eventually read your thoughts and have a 'Come to Jesus' moment is only true in Hallmark movies.  Not real life. 

Setting FIRM boundaries my be uncomfortable at first but it is definitely worth it.   You have to be willing to kick fear in the butt  communicate your rights - "Regardless where that leads."

Peace1's picture

lurking here at StepTalk has been my therapy over the last several years!  this site has taught me some really effective strategies such as disengagement (quietly and in a polite way) and has probably saved my sanity.  lol.