The weekend July 9th 2006 has been the worst of all. I have been even more anxious on the arrival of my stepdaughter. Things seem to be getting worse again. As normal, there was nothing from her. No hello, nothing, and so I decided to clear the air and ask her, yet again, what was the problem. “Why are you ignoring me again? Do you know how upset this is making me? I just don't understand what has gone wrong again.”
A few weeks ago she was fine. After making the decision that my husband was to stop her from coming all together, she changed and things were back to how they used to be. I had a happy six year old in my home and for a short while my home was relaxed and stress free. The tension had gone, even though I was still cautious. She had written me little notes saying what a nice time she was having and that she wished she could see more of us.
So now we are back to the silence. She looked at me and said nothing. No response, no reply.” I give up.” I sighed.
It caused a disagreement between my husband and I, because as usual, I wasn't doing a great deal to coax her out of herself. "What am I supposed to do?" I enquired, "Ask what she has been doing to get no reply? How long is that going to go on for?"
There is obviously still an issue for her so as I see it, I didn't want to make her any more uncomfortable by making her talk to me. I told my husband if she wants to ignore me then fine, I don't have to stay in and put up with it. I can go out!
Sunday is still as bad. My husband has spoken with his daughter but there is still no resolution. She tells him she doesn't know what to talk to me about. The tension between my husband and myself is still stressful and I am annoyed with him for not being firmer with his daughter. He calls her to our room. She responds to her daddy like there is no problem, so when he asks what is going on she says nothing. He asks her to tell me what she told him regarding not knowing what to talk to me about. She cries and looks at me with a blank expression. I look back and shrug. "So, what is the matter?" She looks at me and says, " I have nothing to say to you." There. How can I even start to solve this? So I leave the room. I tell my husband there is no resolution. I don't want him to loose his daughter so I will leave. I am tired of this and I cant do it any more.
So he makes his decision. His daughter will stop coming, end of subject. He cannot bear the thought of being without our daughter and me. But more so, his daughter was obviously unhappy about something, was stressed when she visited us, so he needed to take her out of this environment. What I have struggled to understand is, if she has been so unhappy here, why hasn't her mother said something? Why has she continued to send an obviously upset child somewhere she was not happy to go? Having to see his own daughter away from our home will not work for him. What do we tell the child we have together? Another set of problems? His daughter is either part of this family or not. He takes her home Sunday morning, not before taking her to the local park to let her know how much we all love her. We don't know what is making her unhappy so to save her any more upset perhaps it would be better for a short while for her to stay at mummy's all of the time.
When my husband came home he was devastated. Having to explain to his daughter that she won’t be coming anymore was the hardest thing he has ever had to do. He felt ashamed. She had told him how much she would miss him, my children and myself. She didn't understand. None of us understand.
I have tried to think if there was any other way, but the decision had been made. I feel totally responsible, perhaps if I had done this or maybe if I had done that, but nothing made an ounce of difference. I have called in health visitors and have even taken counselling. This whole predicament was down to me and I have exhausted myself trying to resolve it. The problem will now go away but it has left an enormous void. Can my husband ever come through this and can my marriage possibly survive?
Monday morning my husband has spoken little of the events of yesterday. Am I to be left wondering if he, somehow still holds me responsible? I called him at work and he sounded completely devastated. Panic set in. As a couple can we survive this? If I had known this was going to be as hard as it was, I would never allowed him to make the decision. But once a decision is made he never goes back on it and this one he did without consulting me. If I am honest, my husband, my marriage and our relationship are my priority. His daughter being left not seeing her daddy came a close second. I had to do something. I had to make things right again, even if it meant stepping to one side. My husband’s happiness is everything to me and I couldn't bear to see him so distraught.
So I did the silliest thing I could possibly think of. I bundled my youngest daughter in the car and set off to see my husbands ex wife, my stepdaughter’s mother.
I was surprisingly calm. I'm not big on confrontations at all and I was unsure of the reception through my head. Yes, we could sit down as adults and sort this mess out. Yes, my husbands ex wife would be happy to discuss where we went from here; after all we both wanted the same thing didn’t we. Her daughters happiness. I honestly thought I could persuade her to let me collect her daughter from school with an overnight bag, and we could pick daddy up from the station and see the look of complete elation on his face at having his little girl back in his life. How naive.
I pulled up outside her house and walked up the path. I knocked lightly on the glass. My husbands ex wife slowly came to the door. "Can you spare me five minutes of your time to sort this mess out?" I must say I wasn't really prepared for the reply. I stupidly thought she would put her daughters feelings over her own. Absolutely not! She looked at me with contempt and hatred.
"How dare you stand on my doorstep? I'm not going to talk to you. I suggest you go away." She closed the door in my face, leaving me stood on the path. I couldn't let this go and I wasn't leaving until this was sorted so I knocked again. She came back and opened the door. Again I was told.
"Go away you don't want my daughter."
At which point she again shut the door in my face. So I resorted to pleading to her through the glass.
"Please." I said, "This isn't down to me. I never stopped her from coming. I just want her to keep on seeing her daddy, that's all."
Again she opened the door so I continued.
"Who had told you I didn't want your daughter? It has nothing to do with not wanting her Of course I want her."
What I wanted most of all was my fantasy and my stepdaughter was always part of that. For my husband, his daughter and my own children to be able to live a happy, uncomplicated life together.
"Was it my step daughter that had said I didn't want her?" I questioned. "Or was it someone else? She's told me things that you have supposedly said too. She didn't have to talk to me if she didn't want to."
The reply came.
"Yes that's right. I have told her she doesn't have to speak to you or anyone that makes her uncomfortable. So what?"
I was flabbergasted. No wonder we were having such problems. Every time she visited us, she wasn't allowed to talk to me. Each I had asked her what the problem was and she said she didn't know, she was telling the truth. Each time I asked her if she disliked me and she said no, she was telling the truth. Each time she was asked why she was ignoring me and she said she had nothing to say, she was telling the truth. She had nothing to say because if she had spoken to me then she was being disloyal to her mummy. I cannot believe the pressure this little girl had been under for such a long time, let alone the effect it has had on me, based on a comment made by her mother because she possibly felt that I gave her daughter more attention than she did herself. Perhaps she felt she couldn't compete with how I am as a mother. I wasn't caring for her daughter to score points or make it into some competition as to who was the better mother. There were no special favours or treats. We did nothing together that I wouldn't have done with my own children. But after a comment like that, for a moment, I certainly felt like a better mother than she was. I could never have made my child do something because of my own issues or to get back at my ex husband.
I told my husbands ex wife that I had tried everything in my power to find out what the problem was. I had even telephoned my step daughters school. At this point she stared angrily at me and asked. " What right do you have to contact my daughters school? How dare you. You have nothing to do with my daughter!"
I responded. "How can I have nothing to do with her? I am married to her daddy!"
" I don't care, go away." And once again she shut the door. I watched her walk up the stairs through the glass and as a last resort called through the letterbox.
"Please," I begged, " I am willing to sacrifice my marriage so your daughter can have a relationship with her daddy." There was no response. Instead she continued to climb the stairs. I stood on the step for a few seconds, still hoping that she may come back and talk, resolve this for her daughter’s sake. But no. So I turned around and holding back my tears, walked up the path, got into my car and drove away. I was astounded this woman was not even prepared to talk about what had happened. An overwhelming feeling of failure gripped me. I have failed as a stepmother and failed as a support for my husband.
The feeling of complete despair suddenly changed to a feeling of resolution, as I now knew for sure that the problem was not mine. There would have been little I could have done to forge any relationship between my stepdaughter and myself. His ex wife would never allow it. I believe she would have acted in the same way towards anyone my husband formed a relationship with so I should not take her actions personally.
When I arrived home, I contacted my husband and told him what I had done. The desperation in his voice instantly told me I had done the wrong thing. Any possibility of reconciling with his daughter was now gone. I had destroyed any chance of that. Little wifey going off to fight his battles again. That's not how it was. I explained the reason I had subjected myself to complete humiliation on her doorstep. I had done it for him and his daughter and after explaining everything his ex wife had said to me, he started to listen and seemed less agitated.
He came home from work early to talk, and slowly realised that yes, it was down to his ex wife that this situation had happened and we both agreed that there would be nothing I could ever have done to continue and have a relationship with his daughter. Even though he had told his daughter she was to stop coming and how desperately sad it had made him, he suddenly felt a little easier with his decision. He could see it wasn’t my fault and I think we were both relieved. His ex wife had called him a coward; she was good at name-calling. After his birthday weekend and the fuss he made about arranging a party on his birthday weekend she had called him a big baby. He didn’t regard himself as a coward at all. He felt by taking his daughter out of a situation that was making her so uncomfortable, he was actually doing the best thing for her .
It is not the best for my husband to be without his daughter, but if his ex wife cannot be adult enough to accept he has moved on, has a new wife who shares an interest with his daughter, then there is no hope. The most important thing is that he has not made a choice. By this I mean he has not chosen me over his daughter. She knows she can call him any time, if she is allowed too obviously, and we will always be here for her, but until she can make choices for herself and not be influenced by her mother, it would be best for her to remain stable and nearly completely happy, rather than have her distressed and troubled in a situation she can not understand. I respect my husband completely for his decision. He feels he is doing the best for his child. He is putting her first, something her mother should take a lesson from.
Myself, I came away from his ex wife’s house feeling a better person than she will ever be. I would sacrifice anything for my husband’s happiness and do anything for him and his daughter for them to have had a relationship. Clearly something his ex wife has no intention of doing.
It’s going to take a while to come to terms with my stepdaughter not sharing our lives. This is not how it was supposed to be. We were supposed to be one big happy family, but a bitter ex wife, with insecurities regarding her own motherhood, or the need to control, has taken our lives on a different path, and I don’t believe we shall be hearing the last of it. What I need to do now is focus on my relationship with my husband and help us both to help each other come through this. I need to get my mind out of the rut it has fallen into by validating the many fears that I have and focus on the rewards, my three wonderful children, my beautiful home and my Husband. The most attentive, supportive, wonderfully sexy man I have ever known.