Friday, 6 July 2007

Cinderella Syndrome.

I now question if I have become the evil stepmother the myth perceives? I suspect the attitude of my husband's ex wife's is yes, I most certainly have. On reflection of my experiences, I wonder if I have in fact, over compensated in my role and in an effort to gain acceptance from my stepdaughter, the actual achievement was aggravating her mother.

Did I try too hard to be the perfect stepmother in the beginning and did I have over ambitious expectations? I realise what I should have done is to have not become obsessed with how her mother was affecting our lives, but at that time, was far to involved emotionally so it would have been impossible to have detached from the situation. When you are able to observe from a distance, you can interpret and perceive it with an entirely different perspective.
One thing I can be entirely sure of is I have never tried or intended to replace my stepdaughters mother as I am fulfilled with my own mothering duties, but if I am honest, I did want to be better than she is and that was unfair. I know this happened because I needed my stepdaughter to like me and it was important for the success of my family unit. Perhaps subconsciously, it became a competition between us and unknowingly, we were drawn into a game that perhaps began with the ex wife's need to control our weekends, and my absolute non tolerance of it because I expected this blended family to work normally.

I suspect I appeared as a puppeteer for my husband and the influence I was having where decision making and arrangements were concerned, but his ex wife forgot, this was no longer an arrangement between she and her ex husband, suddenly he has a new family that needs to be considered too. It was her choice not to consider us. What she needed to remember is, it was her that caused her family to split not me, but it is me and my family who have suffered. I filled her role as her ex husbands new wife and now understand that it is not necessarily me as a person who she has targeted, but anyone my husband chose to be with. The relationship with my stepdaughter has been devised on a loss of her family and I am here because my stepdaughters life dramatically changed.

Being part of a stepfamily needs an understanding so in order to make the family work, there needs to be communication from everyone involved. This becomes increasingly difficult to navigate especially when one member seems to be constantly working against the other. Should being a great stepparent, allow a stepchild's mother to constantly be in control? Does being a great stepmother require you to become a conformist in order to make the stepfamily unit work, to have absolutely no input in your new family but instead happily succumb to the demands of a stepchild's mother? Why, when taking this role should we instantly but silently labelled as wicked, even before a relationship with our stepchildren has been created?

The whole time my stepdaughter spent her weekend with us, it was never brought to our attention by her mother that there was a major problem concerning my stepdaughter's attitude towards me apart from the visible evidence in her behaviour while at our home.

Both myself and my husband live with the torment each day of living without our respective children. But because it was us alone who made those choices, does this mean we are not allowed to suffer, be sad, and grieve the loss of our children?
If I am totally honest I do feel ashamed that I didn't do more, but what more could I have done? My stepdaughter and I had a great relationship at first and although I cannot prove anything, her mother's actions caused our relationship breakdown.

My stepdaughter quite rightly is loyal to her mum, and I wouldn't expect any different, but she was never encouraged to have a relationship with me, something I have done with my own children. My husbands ex wife told me to my face that I would never have anything to do with her child. How can that not happen when I am married to her dad? The school nurses has told me that there is nothing we can do until she deals with what ever issues she carries. I believe that even though she had an affair and my husband took her back 3 times, she just wasn't ready for him to move on. She wasn't sure if being apart from him was what she really wanted then when I came on the scene, decision taken away from her.

I don't blame her for that my husband is a fantastic husband and an equally fantastic dad. I am a lucky lady.
My problem is that when I started posting and asking for help, I couldn't act on the advise that was being given to me. What I was hoping for was for someone to say " what a horrid child, yes what you are doing is right." But responses were from people who weren't "living" my situation. I was so wrapped up in my own emotions, trying to understand why I was failing, what I was doing wrong, that I simply didn't have time to take into account how my stepdaughter must be feeling or what she was carrying around in her head.

I just couldn't act on any advice. I could understand it the days she wasn't here and my home was calm and normal, but by the time the weekend came and I was thrown back into the chaos, the good advice went out the window and I was consumed with my own feelings again. No room for reasoning.

I have been judged for leaving my son. How could I leave him especially with a violent father. He was never violent towards my children, just towards me. And His actions were through loosing control over me. He lashed out through not knowing what to do, desperation. All i will say is that my reasons for giving my son the choice to stay and leaving him were much greater than being able to stay. They were pretty bad. My son was at an age where he could make his own choice anyway. I miss him every day, and when you don't have a child share your life, that whole left behind is endless. You can say i would never leave a child how could you, but when you are faced with a situation that doesn't really give you a choice.... well. I have to live with that every day.

So I should have been more compassionate with my stepdaughter, more understanding, but to not be able to parent my son and then for her mother to take away my ability to involve my stepdaughter in our everyday life as best we could, left me with another loss. The loss of my son and that of my stepdaughter. So I failed twice. Once as a mother for leaving my son, and once as a Stepmother for not being able to handle a situation.

I have been told I was a mans woman. Well I suppose I am because I am desperate for my situation not to happen to someone else, but who am I to throw my opinions into the works? I have the experience of an ex wife who was set out to exclude my husband from his daughters life so I know for a fact that there is one woman out there who doesn't have the interests of her child at heart, even if she thinks she does.

I am a Mother myself and I can say hand on heart that I have learned a great deal from my stepdaughters mother and how to allow my daughter to have a relationship with her dad. regardless of how I feel about him. That includes me constantly having to defend and make excuses for him when he lets her down. That's my job because I love her and don't want to see her hurt. I don't want her growing up thinking daddy couldn't be bothered,even if this is the case.

As a step mum I'm not a bad person, my only failing was coming into a relationship with my own problems and emotions and then having to deal with another load I didn't know how too. I remember a time when a step mum in a group forum had an issue (if i remember rightly) where her own daughter was being abused by her stepdaughter. Why should she have had to accept this to happen. What choices were left to her? Pity for the stepchild or protection of her own child?

Being a step mum is a hard job and not always appreciated by ex wives Sometimes its just nice to be given a break. So conclusions will be drawn, opinions will be voiced, but the one final comment I will holler when part of a stepfamily is... welcome to the madhouse!


Online support for stepfamilies

Disengaging essay.

The top 5 reasons why second marriages fail.
Larry Bilotta.

The Divorce grieving process An overview.

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