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I'm scared this has been unintended emotional neglect.

lpindad's picture

I got married almost 13 years ago, and married into 4 kids (2b 2g).  I adopted two of them (the boys).  My wife and I have had three more (2g 1b).  I have been the only income since 2009.  I also don't seem to have a backbone with our finances, because my wife insists that she handle all of the money despite the fact that I earn it, and would likely handle it better.  I have been working for a furniture distribution center since 2012.  The hours have been all over the place and the job is beyond physically exhasting. In the same year, my wife began an opiode pill addiction.  It got bad for a while.  Never reached for heroin, but her the addiction got bad.  Our oldest got his girlfriend pregnant when he was 14 (2013).  This threw my wife's addiction in a spiral downhill.  I had never dealt with this level of chaos or these types of situations before.  The stress was overwhelming.  Her health was suffering.  When I wasn't in denial about her problem, I was pointing fingers at her because of what the addiction was doing to our family.  (I wasn't a good husband.)  When I wasn't at work, I was doing all of the chores at home and unsuccessfully trying to fit in any time with our kids. All the while facing the, now, teenagers, dealing with resentment over their absent fathers being thrown at me.  Our bill were not getting paid because the money was going to the pills and groceries.  I started speaking badly about my wife directly to the kids (I know how inappropriate that was.)  Three years ago, we moved into a new house.  I thought this could be a fresh start.  (We were facing eviction and had our utilities shut off at the previous house.)  The kids resent me for moving us into the house we are in now.  

Between not getting support from my wife in parenting my step kids, feeling emasculated, having my oldest three standing strong against me, I began giving my step kids (including the ones I adopted) space.  When they started to distance themselves, I thought that they were doing what lots of teens do.  I know that a lot of teens need a lot of space.  I used to push them to do well in everything.  They have always felt that encouragement to do well and coaching is too much pressure.  They haven't wanted any guidance from me for a long time.  Suddenly, It dawned on me that it had been months since I had even spoken with my youngest adopted son.  I don't know how that happened.  All I want to do now is hug him.  But he just wants to stay away from me.  He won't even look at me.  I just let go of my step kids altogether.  Why did I do that?

My head is swirling with grief and guilt.  I don't understand.  I disengaged with my step kids that I have parented for years.  I love them, but the love feels different than the love I have for my biological kids.  That's a bad thing, right?  I'm a bad dad, right?  My wife wants to leave me.  I can't bring myself to do anything.  I don't want to lose my family.  I don't know how to fix it either.  I feel so empty inside.  I feel disconnected from life.  I feel so broken.  We have all been through so much.  We've all done so much damage.  My oldest kids seem like the have bipolar disorder too.  The outbursts have been rediculous for years.  Nobody but me wants counselling.  Should I let my family go?  I don't want to.  I also don't know how to fix this by myself.  I've just let my oldest kids (step kids) slip away from me, and it seems like I don't even care about it.  I don't know how to address my feelings with that.  I also feel so hurt myself, and feel resentment towards my wife.  And she is the one begging me to fix this.  What should I do?

tog redux's picture

You seem to be very down on yourself and placing more blame on you than you deserve. Your wife doesn't work, takes your money, uses it for drugs and expects you to support all 7 kids. This family has lots of issues other than you disengaging from your stepkids. If they won't go to therapy, go for yourself and sort out what you have control over and what you don't.

weightedworld's picture

Whoa - I read that all the damage that has been done by all parties you have placed at your feet and your feet alone. That is not fair. I'm sorry you are feeling the way that you are, but you didn't get to where you are now by yourself.

You've gotten the brunt of the load over the years and far too much responsibility has been placed on your shoulders. 

I'm with tog - if no one else wants the counseling at least do it for yourself to help sort out the mess. You won't regret it. 

am i nuts's picture

Thank God it did not reach the heroin stage. That is the bottom. I agree, you have been trying to be perfect instead of good. There is no perfect.

You did not become addicted, you have performed above and beyong your duty. That family is lucky to have you. This is going to be uncomfortable, you are doing fine. Get help for yourself! Make yourself healthy, the kids will come around.  Believe me, you will need help getting your backpack off your shoulders. 

Remember you are doing fine. Get some help and make yourself healthy!


You are already tough as hell, now heal up!

You got it. God Bless

Rags's picture

Addicts destroy families. This is not on you.  Your wife is the one who has destroyed the family.  I agree with your sharing of your DW's addiction with all of the kids. They need to know, to have the facts, and the ability to protect themselves from their addict mother.  They need to know that she has cost the family their prior home.  

Go get counseling for yourself.  Get back into contact with all of your children, and let them know trhat you are there for them and are their dad.

Remaining married to your addict wife, is probably not a particularly good idea.  But only you can make that choice. The kids need to know the facts.

Good luck and take care of you.

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

As said above addiction is a family disease. If no one else will go. Start by going to counseling yourself. Get some support.

Also it sounds like you love your wife and your family. No one wants to do this, but your wife needs help. Your kids need help. Addiction is a powerful disease. I would call child services and file a report. 

As much as people hate the idea of child services. They are there to help families. They can help you get the support you need, and make your wife and kids go to treatment. 

Its what's best for your family. You can't cover up her addiction forever it's only going to get worse and cause more damage.