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Feeling Drained

MentallyChill's picture
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I absolutely love my step-daughter, I have since the first time I met her when my BF and I got together about four years ago. At first I was the perfect step-parent, baking and doing arts and crafts with her. I taught her how to tie her shoes and braid when her dad couldn't, I just seem to understand her mind more naturally. Then a year or two ago I slowly started to just not be interested in her anymore, and started getting annoyed when she came over for the weekends, and it really messes with me when we have her without warning, which happens a lot since my BF doesn't seem to understand that I like some warning. Something that kind of kickstarted this weird semi-resentment was the almost two weeks the the spring/summer where I had spent months planning a staycation, meditations, at-home EMDR therapy, etc. My BF knew about my plans, but didn't tell me we were going to have his kid for nearly all of it. I wound up spending most of it depressed, helping them clean her room and house, and was too upset to do pretty much anything on my list. I went back to work feeling less recharged than before.

 I feel so incredibly guilty, because she got used to me being fairly active in her life early on, a really understanding and patient energy, and now I can barely hang out in the same room as her without my BF. I need way more alone time that never seems to be enough, my temper is shorter, and her normal childlike mood swings and messiness are getting to me more than they ever have. The contrast I can tell has really effected her and her dad. It makes him so happy when I'm a great step parent, but I can't seem to have enough energy for it, which upsets him, though he knows I have mental illness and occasionally physical issues (back aches, etc) that drain my energy, so he doesn't really bring it up unless we're arguing about something vaguely related. 

Some theories:

She's the age I was when my sexual abuse started as a kid, and since some stuff has cropped up about that within the past year my mental illness has gotten worse; my BF has withdrawn which makes me withdraw which makes him withdraw more and makes me feel drained; I desperately need to recharge; I love her so much that I resent her mom (who is a terrible person but is getting better with time and her current boyfriend) for having her because I will never have a claim to her, I will never have a right to love her, and I will never have a right to discipline or teach her the way I think a kid should be. 

She really is a great kid, so funny and smart and sweet, I just cannot seem to find my love energy for her and I worry it's going to mess her and my relationship up forever. 

ExcellenceToolkit's picture

This seems to be around the time when stepparents start to resent their stepkids. I also started resenting my stepdaughter after two years. For me it was because she did something cruel to me and I feel I can't forgive her. I started withdrawing from her since that day. It's hard to change my feelings for her now. I have tried but I just can't start liking her again. I've accepted that that is how our relationship will be. Maybe I'm time things will change but right now I'm happy being distant from her.

ldvilen's picture

I think your #1 theory should be BF:  “. . . really messes with me when we have her without warning, which happens a lot since my BF doesn't seem to understand that I like some warning. Something that kind of kickstarted this weird semi-resentment was the almost two weeks where I had spent months planning a staycation, etc.  My BF knew about my plans, but didn't tell me we were going to have his kid for nearly all of it. I wound up spending most of it depressed, helping them clean her room and house, and was too upset to do pretty much anything on my list.”

About 9 times out of 10, resentment from SM toward SK or from SK toward SM is due to either (and usually both) BM or bio-dad.  Unfortunately, what so often happens with SMs is that they think either they did something horribly wrong or the SK did.  In this case, your BF is not backing you up, clearly, and instead of confronting him about this and working something else out, you are shifting the blame or associating his child with your negative feelings.

Don’t make the mistake a lot of SMs go on to make, and that is sucking it all up for your DH or SO, letting the resentment build, and next thing you know, no one is getting along and finger-pointing comes your way from all sides because you make the easiest scapegoat.  You have very legit. complaints, of course; it is just that you are taking too much on for a GF.  This is your SO’s child, and he not only needs to parent that child, but make sure that you are what you are supposed to be to him—a GF vs. a free-babysitter/ servant for him and his child.

If I were you, I’d have a long talk with BF and start taking a lot of stuff off of “my list,” which I suspect has you pretty much doing it all for this girl.  BF needs to be a parent and you need to be a GF.

NotSoStepStepmom's picture

It's too easy not to have any feelings of resentment at first. You see this cute, sweet little girl who belongs to the man that you are in love with, and your level of determination to make sure that she likes you is extremely high. Then time goes on and you realize that it's not all sunshine and rainbows.

For me, it took years of dealing with the drama from useless BM, psycho grandma, and my DH's alcoholic mother... plus SD growing up to become a self-centered, attention seeking airhead who reminds me so much of her BM it's terrifying... for me to develop resentment and regret. I do love her and I take excellent care of her, but not having a biological tie to her makes it a lot harder for me to tolerate how annoying she is. Unfortunately, we have her full time and useless BM lives out of state.

The older your SD gets, the less patience you will have... teen girls are a nightmare. Just thank your lucky stars that you don't have her all the time. Oh, and don't feel guilty for how you feel... it's totally normal. I hope you find a way to work through your feelings. It sounds like you really care about the kid, and I'm sure you'll figure it all out.

SteppedOut's picture

First of all, it's extremely rude and disrespectful of him to not tell you when his daughter is going to be there. Particularly when you take time off work and have multiple things planned. 

Additionally, "it makes him so happy when I'm a great step-parent". But you are not a step-parent. You are dad's girlfriend. And what does that mean "being great"? Doing the parenting for him so he can relax? 

Why on earth were you helping them clean her room? How many people does it take to clean one bedroom? Was it that nasty? Again, rude he would even ask (or assume) given you took time off to recharge. 

As for her attitude and messiness... how old is she? Is her dad checking her attitude and making her pick up her mess? Or are you supposed to "just deal with" the attitude because "that's how kids are"? Are you having to clean up after his kid?

 

Rags's picture

"I will never have a claim to her."  Wrong. You will be her step mother. She will be your step daughter.  The operative part of these roles are PARENT and DAUGHTER.  Be her mom.  The one she has when she is in your home. 

"I will never have a right to love her."  And ... wrong. You can love whoever you choose to love.   If you choose to love your SD you have every right to do so. So do it.

"I will never have a right to discipline or teach her the way I think a kid should be"   And... wrong again.  You can parent, discipline and teach any child in your home as you wish to parent, discipline and teach.   You are your SO's equity life partner and as equity life partners you can parent children in your home as you see fit.  Regardless of kid biology.

The true question, IMHO, is ... do  you want this relationship enough to put yourself through the mental and emotional anguish that comes with it?

It sounds to me that you have mental and emotional heath conditions that require dedicated focus to address and that you need to maintain an environment of emotional calm to give yourself the focus and commitment that you must apply to be okay.

Take care of you.