A woman on Stepchicks was asking if it's possible to come out on the other side. I felt very compelled (with my really good stepmom mood this week) to respond to her and wanted to share with others.
I have been in your shoes and want you to know you are NOT alone!
It CAN happen...to come out on the other side. I am proof of this. At least today/this week/this month. I am not going to sugar coat it. It's is hard shit! It has taken every bit of strength and patience I've ever had to get to this point so far.
A little bit of background if you haven't read my blog before...
I was 29 when I met my man...I'm almost 32 now. I had been living alone for 7 years. Dating, traveling, moving, changing jobs, and loving my life. But I still felt alone. I was missing something. I was missing a real love...a love from someone other than friends and family. I kept hoping and wishing I would meet this amazing man some day. After kissing MANY frogs (no, I'm not a whore...I just kept thinking no one was good enough)...I met my FH. He had every single thing I ever wanted in a man. He's sweet, sensitive, sexy, hard worker, does laundry and cooking, likes to travel, isn't jealous, is a good dresser, thinks I'm the most amazing person he's ever met, is super supportive of every crazy ass idea I ever have, and has a heart bigger than anyone I've ever known. He also came with an ex-bitch and 2 kids. At first, I will admit...I thought, "I love kids, kids like me, and this is no big deal." I got warned by a friend who was married to a man with a kid, "do you know what you are getting yourself into...this is hard stuff, and you are in for a rocky road." I thought, "yeah...ok..."
Let's skip forward to me meeting the kids.
OMG, it was hell! This is not an exaggeration. I never had anxiety over anything before. I would suddenly get the shakes on the way to see him and the kids. Not to mention if I had to see the BM. I almost pulled my car over to puke on many occasions on my way to joint events where I would have to see her. I am a strong, independent woman. I'm in sales. I can make anyone like me and sell anything to anyone (almost...if that was totally true I'd be rich). I couldn't understand this situation. I have stood up in front of hundreds of people to train them or give a presentation, and this horrible bitch of a woman could make me want to turn around and run away. Why??? Well, it's because I knew I was being judged about something so major. Because can a woman like me with no kids and no experience with kids treat her kids good enough? I HATE being judged. I hate not feeling good enough. THAT is where she has made me question my abilities. She is everything I'm not (rude, selfish, thoughtless, old, mean, gold digger, etc.) and she thinks I'm just this little goodie goodie sorority girl. Which is NOT true either. I have worked for everything I've ever had, never went to college so sorority girl idea out the window. I am badass and stand up to anyone and everyone if I am passionate about something. I am a runner, and work with non-profits when I have a chance. To me, I'd been living a very well rounded life waiting for the man of my dreams (sick I know, but kind of how I saw it).
The BM told the kids the worst stuff about me. That I was the reason for the divorce (I wasn't), and that I didn't really like them and only acted like I did so their dad would like me. She would act as if they would die if left alone with me (still does), and has been meaner than ever to FH since I've come into the picture. She actually was getting a little better until he proposed to me. This is called JEALOUSY.
The second she realized that our relationship was for real...she freaked. She has been a major thorn in my side ever since.
Here's how the whole thing shakes out though. I treat the kids with respect. I ask them for the same in return. I told my FH (even when he was just my BF) that I expect him to stand up for me, and never let the kids disrespect me. I set down my own expectations as fast as I could. I told him that I will always love him, support him, and support his kids, but I will not be treated like a second class citizen in my own home. For me, if a relationship doesn't enhance my life...why be in it. I have been through hell. I have felt sad, depressed, like I've lost my own identity. I've lost closeness with friends, and I've been judged and put down by more people than I can count because I've chosen to be with a man with kids. I spent a long time feeling this need to prove everyone wrong...that I can be a stepmom...I can handle what they all think I can't handle. There is nothing I love more than a challenge...this is just how I am. So...I have fought it. I have read a million books, blogs, joined this site, and kept pushing on.
I am a stepkid. My parents split when I was about 12ish. I feel like I can relate to the kids. This has helped me A LOT! When I am getting so mad about the BM or the kids acting the way they are, I have to summon up old memories of how I felt at that age. I tried to bury a lot of it, and so it takes some work to really remember, and then I can really remember how much it sucked. I use those memories and feelings to help my FH and myself deal with all of this.
The only thing that has worked for me is to be me. I had to just stop giving a rat's ass about BM. I have tried to be nice to her...it did nothing. I have given her space...it didn't help. I never stood up for myself with the kids about the horrible stuff BM said about me...it made me feel like crap. I was tired ALL the time, my FH said my hair seemed thinner, got huge pimples, lack of sex drive and I stopped doing all the things I loved...like running, going out with friends as much, and instead stressing all the time about money, custody, time, driving, schedules, court, what BM was going to pull this week, etc. It was starting to drive me into the ground.
So, here is my advice. You literally can't worry about her. I told my FH that if I tell her she has great shoes...she's a bitch, if I ignore her...she's a bitch, if I tell her she's a bitch...she's a bitch. Really...she's a bitch all the time every time. She is just a miserable unhappy person in general. If you are dealing with a BM like this...you will NEVER make her happy. My FH said he spent 13 years trying to make this woman happy and it didn't work. He bought her a house, cars, let her be a stay at home mom, bought her horses, whatever she wanted...and she was still a miserable old hag. Some people are just like that. So, I have this new found freedom to feel like I just don't care what she says or does. I'm a good person, I'm good to the kids, and good to my FH. That's all that matters. SHE WILL NEVER LIKE YOU OR BE HAPPY. You aren't her, and she HATES that. Yeah, well if you were her, your BF/FH/DH would not be with you.
The BM gets $2K a month from my FH (if this makes me mad...it makes my FH 1000% more mad because he's the one working hard for it and divorced her). She has 3 degrees and is working on a 4th because she'd rather go to school than get a real job and work hard to provide for her kids. She's a loser, she has a loser BF, and she cares more about herself than her kids. She is everything I am not, and I'm thankful for that. I wouldn't want to be the kind of mom she is, and I bring something different to the kid's life. I am confident in who I am and what I can do for them. The world will not fall apart if I screw up. I am not a druggie or alcoholic (although I do love my drinks now and then), and I am not a low life who lives off of others. I am good to the kids. I spend time with them, I get to know who they are individually, and I tell them I love them and will always support them.
I am still trying to let a lot of things go. I just recently (like in the past 2-3 weeks) feel like I'm really on the other side. My stepkids really do love me. Even if they don't use the word love...I can see things in their actions. You will never get rid of the BM. Not ever...unless you want to be on Dateline NBC which isn't really an option. Instead, don't listen to this "kill her with kindness crap". If you have a nightmare BM...stand up to her, stand up for yourself with the kids, tell them you love them and want the best for them, do your best, and keep on pushing. Lower your expectations. Expect NOTHING...you'll be surprised by any act of kindness. Do what you are comfortable with doing and know you may never get thanked by the kids. Your DH will appreciate it...and if he doesn't...leave him...he doesn't deserve you. The money going to the BM won't last forever. It will eventually end. Live within YOUR means, and try to be happy with your DH. The kids will be in a great place by seeing a happy/healthy relationship instead of the B.S. they have seen with their parents and are likely to see in their BM's house.
The feeling never really goes away. It will lessen if you are confident in yourself and find your own peace with who you are and know you could just tell her to f off if she tries to cut you down. Be cordial with her around the kids, but don't even bother with her otherwise. She's not worth it. DH obviously realized she's not worth it...he's not with her. Don't let her continue to ruin his life and now your life because she's a biotch.
Hang in there girl. It really can get better. If you read my blog you'll see some things where even last summer SD12 wouldn't use my deodorant...now she's wanting to borrow my clothes. Kids will see if you love them/like them and come around. The BM's won't and it's likely that the more the kids like you...the more she'll hate you.
Think of what BM has given you by being such a nightmare. For me, she's made me realize that I will be an amazing mother..I was never sure if I would be or not. I've found my inner patience when I had none. I have a great fiance who loves me like no one else ever has. I have a "home" that when I come home to it there is life and laughter and crying and sometimes yelling, but it's our life together. Think of all your positive things, and if you have to write them down and repeat them all the time...do it. It will really help :)