Friday, 6 July 2007

Fantasy and Grief.

A dear friend who studies therapy suggests that I may actually be grieving. Not the loss of a loved one, but the loss of my dream and on entering this relationship imagined everything would be perfect, with well balanced children, an understanding loving husband and an ex wife who would have no involvement in our life whatsoever, if you get the picture.

When I realised that my life isn't like that and it never will be, it has been a bitter pill to swallow. Even a flagon of whiskey wont get that little sucker to dislodge itself from my throat. I don't think anyone has the perfect blended family, certainly the one I imagined ours would be. It is always going to be an unrealistic dream when dealing with an ex wife with an apparent personality disorder! Perhaps I am also grieving the loss of parenting my own son and parenting my stepdaughter. My son deciding to stay with my family and school friends and my husbands ex wife, deciding that she really doesn't want me to have any involvement in parenting her child so in turn has manipulated a situation that has become impossible for myself and my step daughter to have any kind of relationship.

I must have denied the signs that were staring me in the face from the start. My husbands ex wife inviting him for tea, playing happy families and taking shopping trips together to clothe their daughter, even if she needed him to pay the bill! Asking him to lift a bag into her car because she was pregnant and she thought the bag looked heavy, playing her venerable damsel in distress card, the little touches on his arm. Perhaps it was apparent from the start his ex had not completely emotionally detached from my husband, but that's what being in love did, it made me blind and completely ga ga. I just accepted and never questioned what had gone on between them, in fact I felt quite sorry for her.

My husband and I love each other enough to suffer all of these aggravations because we both feel they make us stronger as a couple. We emerge from one tug-of-war fracas ready for the next torrent of hostile behaviour from the ex wife camp, even though at the time, it leaves us completely defeated with absolutely no glimmer of hope feeling distraught, drained and questioning our future.

At the same time we moved into our new home, my husband seized the opportunity for a career change. Due to the behaviour of our respective ex spouses both my husband and myself decided against offering either of them, especially my husband's ex, a direct telephone number. They both have mobile numbers should an emergency arise and the mobiles have proved to be far more reliable than our home telephone number as either of us are instantaneously contactable. While at work, my husband's ex called him to ask if everything was ok as she heard he'd lost his job. If he was out of work, why was he taking her call from his new office? He asked how she managed to obtain his number and she told him he had given it to her. We both know this is untrue.

About a year later my husband's ex called our home. I was enraged, felt totally violated and for a time was completely inconsolable. How stupid for me to react in such a way but it is essential for me to be able to answer my telephone without wondering if she is going to be on the other end. I really have no desires to speak to the woman, but she proved that under no circumstances is she going to respect our privacy. This woman can invite herself into my home at any given time and there is nothing I can do to prevent her. She is determined to let us know that however we try to keep our lives separate from hers, she can and most certainly will enter it if and whenever she pleases, not once stopping to consider our feelings. Perhaps we should be flattered in thinking she needs to be so involved in controlling our lives, but after four years of trying to get her to accept our relationship and to refrain from domineering the weekends my husband has his own daughter, it still leaves me tired and subjugated. There is nothing I can do to change this, so I find myself having to accept it is me that has to change by not focusing on the problem, his ex wife or her child, but try and find a solution.

I know I have the strength to bounce back, I always do and I accept I may never have a great relationship with my stepdaughter as her loyalties lie with her mother, naturally, but can I find it in myself to be civil to her? Yes I can. I can search deep within myself and try to understand how manipulated she has become and respond to her accordingly. I understand my husband finds this hard but he knows I will never be spiteful or take my resentful feelings out on his daughter, so I take myself out for a while and that gives me some much needed breathing space.

Every so often I don't want to be nice to my stepdaughter. I don't want to French plait her hair because mummy cant do them, I don't want to cook her favourite roast potatoes or Yorkshire puddings because they are light and fluffy so if i refrain from doing these diminutive things, she is unable to go back to her mummy's and sing my praises. So perhaps this may change her mothers opinion of me but then again, in her mothers eyes, I can't do right for doing wrong.

The insincere hug my stepdaughter offers, purely for daddy's benefit I'm sure, also gives false hope, but I cannot reciprocate it as I don't trust her and I refuse to allow her back into my affections, merely for her to tear them apart again. She is becoming increasingly good at that. It just gives her father false hope that after a seemingly present weekend, maybe next week it will be just as nice, but then again, maybe it won't. Even a silly thing like her toothbrush, still wet from use, placed in its holder in the bathroom offends me. For me it is an evident reminder that my stepdaughter has been here, hasn't been very nice, and will be back next week to it all over again.

It immediately seems so unfair that the one-sided and volatile relationship I came from and finding my perfect partner has been replaced with a relationship full of emotional twaddle from my stepdaughter and her mother. I am great with children and I think I'm okay as a person. I don't have any issues with myself apart from my inability to cope with emotional situations especially those I don't deserve. What I find so hard to accept is appears to be my problem but how can this be? What have I done to deserve this and a husband who expects me to deal with and solve? I have never asked for any of it. I know my stepdaughter will be unable to maintain her pleasant charade since she has a mother who will not allow her too, and this is my fault?

Having to take responsibility for my fantasy not transpiring is easier said than done. I certainly did not expect interference from an ex wife who seemingly cannot cope with her own insecurities and I never intended and still do not intend to replace her as a mother.
My responsibilities lie with my husband and I try to care for his daughter in that way only. He is her parent and she already has a mother. I am not trying to be anything other than a caring person and a friend.

I have never experienced problems with children and my daughter’s friends think I'm great. My mum is the proprietor of her own nursery school for toddlers aged three to school age so volunteering my services has never brought to my attention any problems regarding children. Working with an Autistic child who regularly swore at me and repeatedly kicked me in the shins actually resulted in acquiring a huge soft spot for him. I was employed to look after him in the playground making sure he didn't get into any trouble with the other children as they didn't understand his condition so to them he was a boy who lashed out when he was made fun of or ridiculed. Their playground entertainment was to antagonise this child and provoke a reaction from him so I was there to keep him from harms way. We grew quite a bond when he eventually accepted I was on his side.

So where does this leave me? I have given up so much, my son, friends and family to enter a new relationship and having nothing in return but grief, upset and constant aggravation. Why am I expected to endure this cause of stress from an ex wife who truly is insignificant? I am sure my husband wonders why on earth I continue to waste precious brain cells on a woman whom he certainly doesn't care to pass the time of day with. She is the mother of his daughter and that is it. He will play his bogus role and be civil to her for the sake of his daughter when in fact, if she disappeared from the face of the earth, it wouldn't be a day too soon. But she won’t go away so why even wish it!

I'm sure my husbands ex wife will never admit she is herself, grieving the loss of her marriage. My husband has confronted her over this very issue simply to be told, ' don't flatter yourself', but there seems to be an obvious problem otherwise why does she behave the way she does? Couples who divorce, both the person to end the relationship as I was and the person who has been left, actually go through the same stage of grief after someone has died when they mourn the death of their relationship.

1. Denial- Denying a divorce is imminent or denying the emotionl pain involved.

2.Anger- Whether this is confusion or apparent self incompetence because one didn't really want to end the relationship. Betrayal or accepting the 'ever after' has ended or even wondering how one will cope with the responsability of the children or insecurity over their financial future.

3.Depression- The overwhelming sadness that the relationship has ended and discovering the ex partner has moved on.

4.Acceptance- Comming to terms with the divorce and being able to move forward.
Personally I have never grieved over the loss of my previous marriage. I have grieved the loss of my son, and my unrealistic fantasy of a perfect happy life, but that's all. I do feel however, my husbands ex wife has not reached her acceptance stage quite yet. My husband has been able to reach his and move on with his life much quicker than his ex wife, eventhough she ended the marriage it is perfectly normal to catapult from one stage to another with each emotion she has to experience. But unless she can admit and accept what has happened, it seems my life will continue on it's unstable quest for peace and happiness, so I suppose suggesting therapy would go down like a lead balloon.