A Woman’s Choice

You probably think I am writing about abortion but that’s not what is on my mind today or is it?
I am writing about women choosing a man over their  child. Again, I am not talking about abortion though often it would have been a better choice. I have seen it, read it and heard it over and over again…a child tells their mother that her boyfriend or husband abused or molested them and you would expect her to become protective of her child and take action against the man, wouldn’t you? But what she does all too often is to go into denial or even turn against her child, calling them a liar.

Why? Because she is desperate to have a man. Why? Because family and society said she had to depend emotionally on a man or because she is as addicted to this guy as if he were a drug. So this child who believed his mother loved him or at least cared what happens to him, is dumped on other family members or into the foster care system. He’s thrown away like yesterday’s garbage.

That’s if the mother hasn’t joined in the fun. When she does, the child lives from day to day wishing someone would see him, really see his pain inside and out. If they tell, they will have no one or at least that is what they believe.

Would it have been better if they had not been born? That is what that child thinks they want…never to have been born.

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The Tears of a Woman ❣️

Although things are moving forward on behalf of women, there’s one thing that I hope changes for the generations of women to come and that is their right to express their feelings whatever they may be.

e75f70e61261afa370d84fcbf1da6be7After I exited my abusive marriage, I came to realize that I expressed my anger with tears, tears of frustration. When women verbally express their anger, they are most often called “bitches” or given some other negative label. It is acceptable for men to express their anger but not women. I believe it goes back to the generations of women who were expected to be “ladylike” and subservient. The “Catch 22” is that when we cry, our tears are labeled as self-pity. We cannot win!

Even now, strong women, or women who don’t conform to society’s expectations of femininity, are often considered to be lesbian. It is unfair to the lesbian population to be pigeonholed in such a way and unfair to women who are just being who they want to be.

It has been my experience that women supervisors were difficult to work under. They seemed to believe they had to prove that they were “just as good” as a man. They projected the image they perceived a man would project in the same position. However, their tendency was to over-compensate making it difficult to work under them. They seemed to have a need to show that they were boss and to believe that they couldn’t be friendly or have a sense of humor nor could they show compassion or have an affinity with their employees. It was as if they believed that if they showed any of said emotions, they would be seen as “typical women”. In my opinion, women are often valuable at their jobs because they have stamina, humility, compassion, and can multi-task like crazy.

Women who appear strong often are seen as being cold or a “bitch”. However, when they don’t come on strong, they are seen as “weak” or “a typical woman.” I believe that Hilary Clinton does well at being good at her job without sacrificing her womanhood. Yet, I hear negative comments from men that her voice is too strong or when she fights back. Why are those things even a factor? She tended to her e-mails from home, something a woman might do because we multi-task. We have a need to be at home with our family and take care of our family’s needs and to do our career job as well. It is seen as a weakness, yet I see it as strength. Did she do wrong? Maybe. If she made a mistake, slap her hand and move on because it was not done with an awareness that it was unacceptable. Have I come to believe in her ability to do the job as President of the United States because she is a woman? Nope, I was not in her corner when she ran previously because she was a woman and I mistakenly believed that, as a woman, she would be too emotional to do the job. What has changed? She has shown me that she can do the job, that she can be compassionate without being overly emotional. She has remained mature for the most part while other candidates have become defensive and have given in to pettiness and bickering.

Women are often seen as weak when they cry when it actually can help us to be stronger. Men most often are seen as strong because they don’t cry when it can actually make them less in command of their reactions. Crying is a relief valve for emotions and if that valve remains shut off, those emotions will build and blow at some point and in some way. When emotions have not been released at the point of impact, they will blow when they choose, not when you choose and they don’t choose the best or most appropriate time. When this happens, it is referred to as “coming out sideways”. We often don’t know or understand that the emotions are not a reaction to what is happening then but are a reaction to something we did not address in the past. If our emotions are addressed at the time of occurrence, we are better able to manage them appropriately because the negative emotion has not been building up over time.

Women’s psyches have been held back because we have not been allowed to be who we are. Rather we have been seen as “the weaker sex”. Reading this post, one might think that I was supportive of the “Women’s Liberation Movement” of my time but I wasn’t. I enjoy being a woman with all its ups and downs. There is a courtesy and respect that I grew up with in the south as a woman . As a child and young adult, the lines in my home were clearly delineated. There was no expectation of me to fix the car, mow the grass or carry up the groceries nor was my father expected to iron his own clothes, fix his own meals or clean house. I’m not sure I would want to go back to that delineation but it was what I was accustomed to. When I ventured out into the world, it was confusing to me as times changed and men expected me to do what I considered men’s jobs. However, men would not “stoop” to do what they considered to be a woman’s job.

Men of today are much more sensitive and allow their emotions to surface and I think that is a good thing. I have experienced what happens when a man considers his emotions to be a sign of weakness. That fear of showing weakness can and often will become abuse directed mostly at women. I would like to believe that a world where women and men respect each others emotions will become a “thing”. Here’s hoping🍸

So You Think You’ve Escaped Alcoholism

2592So you think you’ve escaped alcoholism, not a chance. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to be effected by alcoholism.

Alcoholism affects everyone who comes in contact with an alcoholic. It could be a parent, a sibling, a relative, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, husband, wife, friend, child, or a co-worker. That is why Ala-non, is a support group for families and friends of alcoholics not just families of alcoholics. You may not have the disease but I can say that you have the ism’s  without ever having met you.

It is said that alcoholism is a family disease and I believe it with all my heart. I grew up in an alcoholic home. Why do I call it an alcoholic home? Does that mean that all my family members were alcoholics? No, our home revolved around my alcoholic mother because her actions or in-actions affected every one of us. Our emotional make-up developed around coping with her drinking and the effect it had on us. I like to see my mother as having alcoholism rather than as an alcoholic but it is my habit to use the term alcoholic which is unfortunately a label. She grew up in an alcoholic home just like I did.  I have the utmost love and strive to understand because but for the grace of God, go I. As alcoholism is said to be genetic, I could have followed in her footsteps. I am lucky, I don’t like the taste of alcohol and yet I am unlucky in that I don’t like not having control. Why is that unlucky? Because I have to fight the tendency to control everything around me to ensure that it doesn’t give me that feeling of not having control over my life and to avoid the helpless feelings I had growing up. I also believe it is a learned behavior, we do what we know and alcoholism is what we know.

That is why even though you think you have escaped the parent or ex, you are wrong. You were affected and I can prove it.

Do you have problems with authority figures?e75f70e61261afa370d84fcbf1da6be7

Do you have problems getting along with others?

Do you have control issues?

Is your relationship picker broken?

Are you hyper-vigilant?

Do you fight depression?

Do you lack confidence?

Are you an under or over achiever?

Are you a people-pleaser?

Are you a care taker?

Are you a fixer?

There are many other symptoms but I’m sure you get it and you know which one of these have developed in you.

In my work as a Crisis Call Counselor, I could pretty much bet that regardless of the crisis, the conversation would eventually reveal that the caller had been affected by alcoholism, either theirs or someone in their past or present life. I consider alcoholism an “emotional” disease because it can bring about anger, sadness, depression, resentment, etc. in the alcoholic or those affected by a person’s drinking. The reason persons affected by another person’s drinking are considered to be co-dependent is that while the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, the affected person is addicted to the alcoholic. I have had so many friends, boyfriends and a husband who were addicted to alcohol and in the beginning of the relationship, I didn’t know there was a problem. It’s like a magnet! I have friends in Ala-non who say it is because alcoholics are charismatic and exciting. Perhaps we see something in their personalities that we wish we had.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I’m not with him/her any more, so I don’t need Ala-non.” I have thought that myself but I always end up going back because my ism’s become overwhelming. This post is not meant to advertise or push Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics, yet it is what I know so I do highly recommend them. Just like the person with alcoholism, only you can decide that you need help and what support is best for you. I have been told, “When it hurts bad enough, you will get help.”

“Co-dependent No More” by Melody Beattie is a really good book for understanding the effects of alcoholism. I read this book like a person dying of thirst drinks water. It told me that I was not crazy and there was hope.

People addicted to alcohol and/or drugs will to try to convince others that it is your fault, don’t take it on. Think 3 C’s – You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of, alcoholism in you or someone else is not your fault but it is your responsibility. If you are afraid of the alcoholic becoming angry because you are seeking help, 12 step support groups are anonymous as is therapy. If you go to a meeting or see a therapist and you are not comfortable with the environment or personalities, try another meeting or therapist. There are many meetings and therapists available. If you are in a remote area, I understand that there are meetings online. Just do an Internet search of Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics. There are two daily readers, One Day at a Time in Ala-non and Courage to Change that are utilized by Ala-Non. I find ODAT (nickname) useful when you are in a relationship with an alcoholic and Courage to Change is a good all-around book. I mostly use Courage to Change and it seems to be a favorite among recovering Ala-Non’s. Before using these books, it would be helpful to do some research on alcoholism. People active in Ala-Non attend open AA meetings to learn what the person with alcoholism experiences.

I have tortured my mother all my life by trying to get answers or justifications.

Whatever you decide to do, know that you are not alone. Everything you have experienced, someone else has experienced. It helps to talk with other people who are experiencing the same thing or who have been there and survived.

There is always hope.

 

Childhood Sexual Abuse – Part One

I binge watched Dr. Phil last night and there were two shows about false accusations. One was a stepdaughter who is lies compulsively and  accused her stepfather of molesting her and one was a woman who accused her child’s father of physical and sexual abuse. How someone can fabricate something so serious and that will adversely affect a person’s life for the rest of their life, is beyond me.

As a survivor, I wish that those women could understand what an insult it is to those of us who truly experienced sexual abuse. My innocence was stolen from me. I never remember not knowing about sex. Imagine that as a 4 or 5 year old or perhaps younger, I knew that my parents had sex and what it entailed. I knew because I had an older boy orchestrate   intercourse between me and my brother when we were approximately 5 and 6. That is a secret I never thought I would write about. But my hope is that it will free me from the shame and anger. About the same time, a girl who went to our church was babysitting my brother and I and she molested me and him, though separately. And then there was my grandfather… I have blocked the details of all but the encounter involving my brother and remember only up to the actual acts. I did tell my mother about all but my grandfather but we have both blocked out the details of those conversations.

Back then, no one talked about it and no legal action was taken which is why so many women and men are coming forward later in life. I believe it was as rampant then as it is now, it was just kept quiet. Alcoholism can be a contributing factor. I heard a saying once, “Scratch and alcoholic and you will find a pedophile.” I am certainly not saying that all alcoholics are pedophiles just that they often go hand in hand.  Which is the contributing factor?  Do pedophiles become alcoholics or do alcoholics become pedophiles?

I have to wonder how someone can see a child as an object rather than an innocent human being. How can a man or woman see their own child as an object to fulfill their deviant desires? How can they believe that because it is their child, they are a possession to be used for pleasure? Then there are those parents who prostitute their children for drug money. Although sometimes it seems that suspicion has gotten out of hand, thank God that abuse is coming to light. Although the internet has encouraged blatant child objectification, it is also exposing the perpetrators.

More and more school teachers are being arrested for child molestation. I have a theory on that issue. Teachers are most often hired straight out of college so they are about 21 or 22 years old. The senior students can be as old as 20 so there isn’t that much age difference, hence the attraction. That, of course, doesn’t excuse the teacher or the student crossing the line but I don’t believe that young teachers should be hired to teach high school. Now when it comes to the older teachers and the garbage they are orchestrating, I am still shocked when it comes to light. Though even when I was in high school there were rumors about gay teachers and students, true or false.

Something of which I became aware when I worked at a police department was that many women will sacrifice their children for the sake of having a man in their lives. Sexual abuse by a boyfriend or husband would be reported and the mother would take the word of the man over her child. Why? Because they were desperate, as many women are, to have a man in their lives. I believe they knew the child was telling the truth but didn’t want to give up the man. Throughout history, we women have been pressured by society, especially our mothers, to get married and have children. It was an embarrassment to our parents if we weren’t  married by a certain age. Being that there were more women than men, there was a scramble to find and hold onto a guy, any guy. Or was/is it hormones driving the desperation? I don’t know but I have seen situations where we women couldn’t see the forest for the trees as evidenced by my last post. The atrocities in the news about the abuse of children by stepfathers and boyfriends make me wonder when we women will wake up. Not to leave the men out of this topic, there are men who look the other way as well, however, statistics show more sexual abuse by men than women.

I want to encourage all survivors of childhood sexual abuse to realize that it wasn’t our fault, we were not objects and to have been used as such was the product of a sick mind. Maybe it felt good and maybe that’s why we block memories perhaps out of some sense of guilt. However, we were children who didn’t understand that it was just a sensation, one we couldn’t control. There was a gained awareness of our body’s sexual reaction to stimuli and that may have added the guilt feelings. We may have even began to seek out stimuli or become promiscuous to duplicate that feeling. We didn’t understand that we were exposed to these sensations before we were equipped with the emotional maturity and knowledge for making responsible decisions regarding our actions.

Though this post started out in disgust for false accusations of sexual abuse, I would like to make the following suggestions based on personal experience and what I have observed. I do not hold myself out as an authority, these are just suggestions:

  • Parents listen to your children when they tell you of inappropriateness.
  • We are not equipped to judge the truth because we are most often guided by our emotions where our children are concerned so get your child counseling by professionals who can get to the truth and they will take action or advise you where to go from there.Be advised that they are bound by law to report their findings to law enforcement if evidence of impropriety is discovered.
  • Watch your children for signs but don’t interrogate, have calm conversations so that your child feels comfortable and non-threatened talking to you.
  • Support them no matter what! You don’t have to approve of what they do and they should know that but they need to know that they have someone in their corner unconditionally.
  • Be honest with them about your feelings, let them know that you are angry about what happened to them but don’t show bitterness.
  • Tell them that the two of you will get through this together, step by step.
  • Don’t rush the process.

Your child’s ability to heal will depend upon your reaction.

Dramatic Exits – A True Story Part Three and Final

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      So the drinking binges at Margaret and Doug’s house continued and my sister and I continued to resent them. Once, I wanted to send mom a rose with a note on my birthday but I was living in the city at that time and it was going to cost too much to have it delivered. I called Margaret and asked her if she would pick it up and give it to mom and she said she would be glad to. I called in the order and Margaret picked it up and called mom over to her house. She even took a picture of mom as she cried when she saw the rose and read the card. She wrote me a note about mom’s reaction and I have kept and cherish that note. I loved Margaret so much and wished I could wake her up to reality but I, like so many others, stayed out of it. At that time in my life, I would never have crossed that line because it would have been highly inappropriate. I don’t know that I could prevent myself from approaching Margaret today. My parents loved Margaret and they had been through so much together and I believe that my m0ther’s secret about her father wouldn’t allow her to judge . Is that that why she stood by Margaret and by association, Doug?

     Mom and Gayle went by Margaret and Doug’s for drinks one evening and after they left, things got really dicey. I am not sure of all the details but Doug was drunk and there was an argument between Doug and Margaret’s oldest adopted son, Terry, in their front yard. Doug went into the house and got a gun and it was taken away from him by whom, I don’t recall.  Doug went back into the house and got another gun and pointed it at Terry. Margaret moved in front of Terry and Doug shot the gun hitting Margaret and killing her. He got another shot off and hit Terry whether it was before or after he shot Margaret, I don’t know. Terry lived and when he recovered, he left town and would not respond to his family’s attempts to locate him. Doug went to jail and after serving his sentence was released. Sadly the house went to him as Margaret’s husband, not her children. How ironic that was.

     It hurts to this day to think about the loss to Margaret’s biological children, her adopted children, her immediate family…my family, me… When I returned home after my divorce, my mom and I joined a church that was across the street from the house where Maggie died. After a while, I got used to seeing it and it began to blend into the background but Margaret will forever live in my heart. The thing is, as humans we all make mistakes, some more serious than others. Margaret was a victim of the heart, the heart wants what it wants and she was too vulnerable to see where her choices were taking her and to realize that she was taking everyone who loved her along on her tragic journey.

     Alcohol was a contributing factor to the tragedy that became Margaret’s life. When I am asked why I don’t drink alcohol, my answer is that alcohol has caused so much pain in my life. I was born lucky in that I hate the taste of alcohol and while it played a big part in my single life, it has no place in my life today. We have friends and family who drink alcohol and attend events where it is served, however, we don’t keep or offer alcohol in our home. My sister and I were hopeful that our mother would stop drinking or at least cut down after Margaret died but for her it just wasn’t that simple.

*I have changed the names of those involved in this story even though it was a very long time ago. There are lessons to be learned from this story so if it helps one person to see the truth in themselves, it will have been worth the telling. I leave it up to the reader as to what they take away from the reading of it.

 

Dramatic Exits – A True Story Part Two

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     Margaret got her new house and though it didn’t seem much larger than the old one, I’m sure getting away from the memories of the old house was a relief.

     I wish I could say that life improved for Maggie but while she might have thought she was on a good path, she made a very large mistake. She became desperate to prove that she was desirable to men. She started dressing provocatively and going out with one man after another. She finally settled on a merchant marine.  I found him to be creepy and couldn’t understand why my parents would have anything to do with him. My mother’s explanation was that they put up with Doug for Maggie’s sake but I think they just didn’t want to see what a useless creep he really was. Maggie’s biological children were adults and had their own families by then but her five adopted children were still at home. Margaret married Doug and he moved into the house with her and her adopted children.

     There was a lot of heavy drinking in that house and my mother and Gayle got into a habit of going by there after work to “have a drink”. Maggie and Doug lived in the same town where my mother worked. We had moved to another town a short distance away and had to drive to their town or another one for groceries etc. My mother would often go to the “grocery store” after work and then go to their house and drink. It was very frustrating for my sister and I because we would have to track mom down if we needed permission to do anything. We felt lonely and abandoned waiting for her to come home and when she got home, she was usually drunk.

     Reading my stories would make it easy to put my family and family friends into a “white trash” category but they weren’t. The fallacy of this kind of dysfunction is that it doesn’t happen to decent people. Not true. If you follow my blog, my hope is that you will see that dysfunctional families often don’t know that they are becoming dysfunctional or are dysfunctional because their lifestyle is no different from those in their social circle. It’s kind of like, “If its o.k for them, its o.k. for us.”

     Eventually, one of the Maggie’s adopted girls told her school officials that Doug had been molesting her. The other girls were questioned and at least one other, maybe two admitted that he had molested them as well. When she was notified, Maggie called the children liars and Children’s Protective Services split the children between her biological son and daughter. This is a woman who I loved and spent so much time with, who was as much a part of my life as my own parents. How could she do this to her kids? How could she choose that asshole over her kids? Why couldn’t she see who he was or why didn’t she want to see what he was? It hurt.

     When I worked for a police department, I saw first hand that women will betray their children so often to hold on to a man. I don’t need to tell you that though, do I? Constantly we read or hear in the news about the boyfriend or the stepfather physically or sexually abusing the children or even worse, killing them. Yes, I know that women do it also but it is different. Men don’t have the same desperation to have a woman be a part of their life as women have a desperation to have a man in their life, its ingrained into women. Our mothers push and prod to get us married and have children and if we want more, if it isn’t a priority, then there is something wrong with us. Yes, we are progressing but not entirely. There are those who do not have parents encouraging and supporting their need to become individuals before they become a wives and mother. Those women can easily fall into the get married, have kids and struggle mentality, after all, that is what we are supposed to do. Some religious zealots believe it is our sole purpose based on bible teachings.

     Every year on Christmas Eve, my parents had a big party for family and friends. That year, my brother, sister, sister-in-law and I could not believe that my parents allowed Margaret to bring Doug to the party. He tried to talk to me but I excused myself and walked away. The next day I asked my parents why they invited him and told them how I felt when he was around. I will never forget my dad saying, “He would never do anything to my daughters.” Hello Dad, is anyone in there? He would molest Margaret’s children but not yours? Was my dad that naive or did he just feel guilty for exposing me to Doug in the first place? Needless to say, I felt angry that my feelings were dismissed so easily. My dad did not know that I had ever been molested because my mother never told him.

     Margaret’s daughters missed her and and it being Christmas…they told Children’s Protective Services that they lied so they could go back home. One of the daughters was in my computer class at the community college and she told me that they didn’t lie, they just wanted to go home. I didn’t ask any questions, I just let her talk as she told me what they went through with Doug. By then Margaret was dead.

Continued Part Three

 

 

Dramatic Exits – A True Story Part One

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     The phone rang sometime in the middle of the night. Our parents came to our bedroom and told us that Nate had shot himself and they were going to the hospital. Neither my sister nor I had any reaction whatsoever, we were neither sad nor surprised.

     After our parents left for the hospital, we talked about our lack of surprise and emotion being because there was always some kind of drama associated with Nate and Margaret. Maggie and Nate were my parent’s best friends. My sister and I were very close to Maggie and loved her as we would a favorite aunt.  Nate doted on my sister and I thought she was attached to him but she confided that the older she got, the less comfortable she felt around him. I, too, had grown less and less fond of him as I got old enough to be wary of the behaviors of adults. Still, Nate and Maggie always treated us like we were their own children. They had two of their own close to my brother’s and my ages and our families were very close. It was always as if they belonged in our extended family and we in theirs. We visited with Maggie’s parents and younger siblings in rural east Texas where they lived in a small house with an outhouse. Everyone called her mother “Big Mama”, even though she was small, most likely because she “ruled the roost”. Big Mama and Maggie  were both freckle-faced with reddish hair, had wonderful laughs and were very loving. Every morning, Big Mama would cook up a big breakfast with bacon, eggs, homemade biscuits and cold fresh milk. When we were in east Texas, we would also visit Nate’s mother who was a tall stoic woman but the visits were confined to an hour or two.

     Nate was possessive and controlling not only of his wife and children but of my mother as well which always made me feel uncomfortable. At times when they were all drinking, most often with another couple in their group, there would be arguments started by Nate or Joe, our previous next door neighbor. Nate would act as my mother’s protector even from my father always making me feel unstable. Joe also interfered in my parent’s marriage, always kept tabs on my mother and I can recall him playing tattle tale to my dad. All of this chaos disturbed me especially as I have always been hyper-vigilant, feeling a need to know everything going on around me in order to stay safe.

     My dad was raised in the Church of Christ and his family were devout members. My mother joined the faith when she married my dad. It was attractive to her as her father was an alcoholic and Church of Christ did not allow drinking or much of anything else. Things for me went to “hell in a hand-basket when my parents met Nate and Maggie and Joe and Gayle. My parents started drinking and there were too many late nights with our parents getting drunk, flirting and getting loud and obnoxious. I was uncomfortable with the couples dancing with each others’ wives and husbands. There were times when the men would want to dance with me which really made me uncomfortable.  I look back now and realize that even as an adult, I was uncomfortable with older men possibly related to my grandfather’s sexual abuse. The parents would sometimes put the kids to bed at whatever house we gathered and often left us over night. Sometimes my parents would put my brother, sister and I in the car as they were getting ready to leave and left us there for what seemed to us like hours most likely thinking we would fall asleep. I always imagined that terrible things happened in the house while we were in the car and they were in the house because their behavior frightened me. I didn’t like it at all. I was hyper-vigilant as a child and still am in adulthood. I got through a lot of my life by using daydreaming as an escape.

     Maggie’s brother and sister-in-law were killed in an automobile accident and they had five surviving children. Nate talked Maggie into adopting the five kids. Mom says it was to tie Maggie down to the house because he was jealous of her job working as a dental assistant. Their house was too small for their two children (a boy and a girl) and the addition of  three girls and two boys but there wasn’t enough money to buy a larger house. They argued about how overtaxed they were quite often and one night it got really heated. Nate told Maggie that he would take care of things seeing that she had a bigger house. He went into the garage and shot himself in the head leaving her to raise seven kids alone.

Continued Part Two

Step-mother-ing Part Two

2hearts     When we got engaged, Danny and I felt strongly that the wedding should be formal, in a church, and have the kids included in the ceremony. We wanted them to understand that this marriage and joining of family was a serious commitment for all of us. It was a beautiful wedding on Valentine’s Day in red and white and the reception was in a historical community center with a DJ and fajita buffet. Danny wore socks that his ex had given him and boxers that I bought him, complete with hearts, and I wore red shoes. I have never been jealous of his ex with regard to their relationship so though I shook my head at his lack of concern, the socks represented his observance of Valentine’s Day. Our son, the best man, gave a toast saying that he was glad I was in his dad’s life because it made him in a better mood. He was 17 at the time.

13778409-graduate-girl-cartoon     I set an example by getting an Associates Degree, having a home free of alcohol, attending church and maintaining a good work ethic. If that was all they needed, it would have been easy, but I couldn’t control the world outside our home or what had come before my appearance on the scene. To add to the challenges, I had no clue as to how to be a good mother or even a mother. I thought that my commitment to their well being would be enough. Our son went through some serious problems but has his own family now and is a devoted husband and father with a good work ethic. Our youngest daughter graduated from college with3363355-graduation-diploma-shallow-depth-of-field a high GPA and is a good wife and mother of 2 twin toddlers of 2 years old, a 4 month old baby and a teenage step-daughter. She handles it well because she is organized and keeps everyone on a schedule. Our oldest daughter is going through a difficult time but is working to repair the damage done to her life by choices she has made. Problems the other two children went through were obvious but not with this child. She was quiet and shy and the other two were getting most of the 6501912-portrait-of-sad-lonely-girl-with-umbrella-outdoorsattention with their acting out and getting into trouble. As an adult, she is struggling to come to terms with feelings she has repressed all these years. Though I have always tried to be there for her, it was not enough and that makes me sad. Could I have done better? In some ways yes, however, I wasn’t the problem. As a result, damage has been done by her actions and she doesn’t seem to understand that you can’t just say “I’m sorry” and make it all go away. When trust has been lost, hard work has to be done to gain it back. She is on the right track and has a lot of support.

      I have always reminded myself that the children were in Danny’s life before me but I still struggle with my need to be #1 in his life. I have never asked him to betray his children for my sake but his sense of fairness seems skewed to me.  What piper2_17245_smhappened to the words “forsaking all others” spoken in our marriage vows? Of course, I don’t ask him to forsake his children or anyone else, my point is that as an adult and his wife, I should be his partner not treated as one of his children. That being said, he is an awesome husband, father and grandfather. His grandchildren follow him around like he’s the pied piper and each child feels special in his eyes. The problem, as I see it, is the children tattling to their dad about any disagreement they have with me. I have told them he is not my “daddy” so they need to talk things out with me when we don’t agree. When they have come to him, Danny has felt the need to mediate which sets up a resentment, at least on my part. I have always left the door of communication open which works in theory but not always in reality. I do understand that he is afraid of losing their love and I am afraid of losing his. My solution to the problem is to step back from my involvement with the kids, letting Danny and their mother take the reins without my interference. This solution has been great for me because I have more peace in my life.

22673131-child-with-gift-box-near-white-christmas-tree-isolated     One of the nice things about the grandchildren is that there is no step, I am just their NeNe. They are beautiful kids with outgoing personalities and each one is unique. I’m not exactly the fun grandma, I’m the gifting grandma. I love to shop for gifts that that will suit each child hoping to convey that I have paid attention to their individuality. I want to believe that my gift is in gifting. Sometimes I fail but often I am right on the mark. I will not let myself believe that I bought their parents or am buying them because its a personal delight for me. Its sorta like problem-solving and I love problem-solving (as you can tell if you have read my posts).

     Danny and I finally have our house to ourselves and are enjoying it immensely. We are working to prepare ourselves for moving to the mountains where we will only have each other, communication being the key. This has been Danny’s dream for at least half of his life and has become mine. Our families are not happy about it but we need and deserve this. We are happy in our relationship and looking forward to our adventure.

UPDATE

I have been reassured, since this original post, that my sister’s family and my mother are happy for me but jealous that I will be living in ski country. lol

Yep, that's he and me in our rover driving through the San Juan Mountains.
Yep, that’s he and me in our rover driving through the San Juan Mountains.

Step-mother-ing – Part One

 

Wicked Stepmother Stigma

    When I took the position as Stepmother, I realized with the position comes stigma. When the word “stepmother” is uttered many people envision “the wicked stepmother”. It doesn’t help that there are always stories in the news about a stepfather or a stepmother or boyfriend or girlfriend of the parent abusing kids, physically and/or sexually. I was told over and over again by my counselor and anyone else who felt it necessary, that I would always be only their stepmother, never their mother. I was offended by these warnings because I never had any intention of trying to take their mother’s place. What I wanted was for us to be a family and for the children to have my love and support. I wanted to help them have the best life possible with Danny and I, giving them a stable, comfortable home base.   

Explanations could be dicey.

    I do, however, refer to our three children as “my” or “our” children because I never wanted them to feel any different. Also, I did not want them to feel they had to make explanations about their parents which could be dicey for them. Even before Danny and I were married, we became a family. Since Danny had custody, I  believe it was because they needed me to fill the void left by their mother’s inability to be in their lives daily. This was evidenced by their behavior once we all decided that it was o.k. for me to sleep in their dad’s room. That move forward did away with the usual arguments over which of the two girls I would sleep with when we spent the weekends together.  A calmness came over the household like this was what they were more accustomed to. It was like having a mother figure rather than Dad’s girlfriend.

 

Day by Day, Month by Month, Year by Year
Day by Day, Month by Month, Year by Year

   While being a stepmother has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done, it has also been the most difficult. If you are considering taking it on, be aware that it is a serious commitment. Just loving each other is not enough because I promise you that love will be challenged on a regular basis. When you are a bio-mother, you grow with your children day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year but as a step-mother, you are already in the year by year. Your husband has already developed a relationship with his children as has their mother, and you are just getting started.

 

 IMG_0153    When Danny and I met, we were both coming out of marriages with chemically dependent spouses. Bad timing, you bet, but we got into couple counseling right away because we knew about baggage. When the children and their therapist decided it was time for me to meet them, we had dinner at a restaurant. I was nervous but brought pictures of my cats hoping it would be a good conversation starter and it was. The dinner went well and when we returned to their house, they introduced me to their cat.

 

counseling-20126462

     I was asked to join them in family counseling which included their mother. Family counseling went well because we were all on our best behavior but out in the real world, not so much. I did my best though there were problems with their mother. Out of respect for the children and their mother, I will not go into detail. Yet, we were able to come to an understanding about my role in her children’s lives and we still have our moments, but only in the background. As a stepmother, I highly recommend setting aside one’s feelings about the person and respecting her position as the children’s mother. I call the kids’ mother my ex-wife  in-law because there will always be family ties between us. Danny cautioned me early on that, as the children’s mother, she would be in our lives for the rest of our lives. I learned acceptance from her family who encouraged me to be comfortable in their presence, acknowledging my place in Danny and their grand-children’s lives. We often have family events together so that the kids don’t have to do double duty. It depends from event to event, year to year, on how well we are all getting along. We are a blended family made up of high strung individuals and all it takes is one person to say the wrong thing and the shit storm starts. Don’t get me wrong, there is never a free-for-all, again, it is all in the background but drama is always the motivator.

12358046-vector-illustration-of-justice-scales     The hardest thing for me to handle has always been having joined a family already in session. It hasn’t been easy for Danny having to balance his loyalty and attention between his children and his wife and even now after 20 years, it remains a struggle. We didn’t have that alone time that newlyweds need to adjust to living with one another. One would think that having had so much counseling and having dated for three years, we would have had it all down but though we spent most weekends together as a family, I never moved in until we were married.

 

12418478-coraz-n-roto-con-el-rbol-blanco-y-dos-p-jarosContinued in Step-mother-ing Part Two