Stuck in the middle again - vent

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by daralex, Jan 19, 2008.

  1. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    I am twice divorced (with very good reason) and am now with a great guy. We are together for almost 3 years. He is patient, helpful, hard worker, attentive, he cooks, he cleans - everything they're supposed to be. Just one problem - he's never had kids and he is now dealing with my 13 yr old difficult child. He's tried his best to be kind and patient with her, but she just keeps pressing buttons and pushing him to the point that he is growing further away from her. I have come to have an abundance of patience (not easy!!!!) It is something he is just learning in life as far as difficult child's go.And I guess because this is not his bio child it makes it that much harder for us to be a "unit".

    We went for 2 weeks with no problems ( longest stretch in a while!) and last night she tried to be sneaky again and I had to get in the car and go track her down (she's now grounded for the rest of the weekend as she violated our behavioral contract on 3 levels)

    My problem is his frustration with the situation which again leaves me right in the middle. He is justified in how he feels, but at times (like last night) it comes between us. I AM TIRED OF BEING IN THE MIDDLE!!! Can't we all just get along! I want the best for my difficult child, but I would like a little happiness in this world just for me too. It just seems no matter what that I feel caught between the two of them and end up walking around on eggshells. I am so tired of feeling tired. I don't always want to have to be the strong one for everyone. I am in charge of appeasing him and trying to "fix" her.

    I get all the psychology behind both of their feelings - sometimes I just get tired of being everyone else's therapist. Thanks for letting me vent. He just left for work and I am headed for a tall glass of wine and a pint of ice cream!!!
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Dara, I'm not entirely clear on what happened last night. How did your SO express his frustration? Is he directly responsible for her discipline? Just trying to clarify so we can respond appropriately.
  3. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    I am the only one responsible for her discipline as she is uncomfotable having him discipline because he's not "dad". Her bio dad died of a drug overdose when she was 7 (we left him when she was 10 months old as he was using me for a punching bag) and step father raped her at age 8 - She has man issues to say the least! My SO said that he doesn't know if he can stop himself from wanting to blow up at her one day and that thought scares the ^%%&^% out of me. I cannot allow her to be yelled at or scared by another adult male - it would be detrimental to her. So I am in a position of trying to keep things calm in the house because I don't want her behavior to set him off. He has never once even raised his voice to me in 3 years. He is very calm by nature - but as I said, difficult child always knows how to push buttons to try to engage him. If it were up to difficult child I would not have a man in my life at all (yes, I certainly understand why!). I was alone for almost 3 years before I started this relationship (no dating at all) and was VERY careful about choosing another partner as I'm obviously not very gifted in that area. He really is a good guy. If i thought otherwise I would have shoved him out the door. I know he would never hurt her, he gets frustrated to the point of wanting to yell very loudly at her (he's never raised his voice to her either)It makes for a lot of tension and I am just soooo stuck in the middle.
  4. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Ice cream and wine ? WOW you are on a bender! :smile: :cold:

    Good luck!
  5. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    You're stuck between a rock & a hard place. And having said that, your difficult child will have to learn to deal with anger of any kind, from anyone. Even an adult male. Especially an adult male.

    I'd rather see her "learn" to handle issues of anger with an adult male caregiver who cares about your difficult child rather than a stranger or some other man that just loses for some reason or another.

    kt had been abused in bio home - can't/won't go into details, however, it's taken her almost 7 years to accept my husband as "papa" "daddy". kt almost dictated the type of relationship she was going to have with husband; that had to stop. For husband's sake & mostly for kt's.

    We have spent years in therapy teaching kt that she is a survivor; that she can & will have to deal with anger from males in her life; from daddy to brother to teachers to boyfriends. And that the men who love her, while they may express their anger - are not going to hurt her again. That includes words.

    husband now yells at kt when he is frustrated - kt yells right back (wrongfully in most cases, but she is going to stand up for herself). Neither is afraid to express their feelings.

    What I'm rambling about to say is that your difficult child is going to have to learn to deal with anger, with frustration, etc, especially from men. The men in this world won't know or aren't going to stop to take into consideration your GsFGs abuses in the past. In most cases, the abuse is a non issue.

    I'd start teaching your difficult child about being a survivor. How strong she is & to appropriately express her feelings. If she has feelings of anger in regard to abuse she must express those feelings in a safe loving environment. She must also learn to express those feelings of anger at the right people. Your nor your SO hurt your difficult child. Hand her a pillow that is for those feelings & let her yell or beat the heck out of it.

    Just some thoughts for you - this is an extremely hard situation for you, your difficult child & your SO to be in. Your daughter needs to feel loved & protected by you. Your SO is apparently a big part of your life. I don't think you have to choose between the 2 of them unless SO is abusive in any way.

    Good luck & keep us updated.
  6. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    I really never looked at it that way - I always thought I was supposed to keep sheltering her until she got better. She refuses to talk about the abuse or feelings related to it. I think I felt so guilty for waht happened to her that it was always easier to handle her with kid gloves which made me feel better, but am guessing may not be what is actually best for her. I guess I will just have to see how this plays out. Just trying to hang on to my sanity! Thanks for the reply!
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I am once divorced and share a house with DF. My son was harmed also. I did everything to shelter him from the world, and when I met DF - and he was floored by the behavior of difficult child - and tried to correct him, I would always jump in and defend my son. I would continue to do this for years until it was brought to my attention in therapy that while I am Mom and I felt that when my son was kidnapped by bio dad and harmed - I couldn't be there to protect him and the fact that difficult child would say things when very angry like "You didn't protect me you weren't there." it made me dig my heels in all the more - and vow to not let ANYONE 'mistreat' him. This included teachers, ministers, doctors - you name it. He was DAMAGED couldn't anyone SEE that?

    The sad thing is the more I did what I did - the less and less life lessons he got. The less life lessons he got - the worse his behavior became until I finally had it one day and said "WHat is WRONG with this kid and the doctor said - YOU. " Hard pill to swallow - but he was right. I kept on doing what felt right - instead of what was right.

    We're past the point in our lives (me and my son) where we had the talk about how I did the best I could to protect him and that there are people in the world that are sick - and even though it was my x that did these horrible things - I had to let him go live - and possibly be hurt again. It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. (My vise was Chocolate Almond and Tequila) and somehow we got through it.

    I will never forget what was done - but I had to find a way to forgive. I couldn't more forward in life till I did. And to this day I couldn't tell you for certain what I would do if I was confronted by my x - but I'm working on it.

    Sadly - the world has to get to know your kid so it can teach her valuable lessons and help shape her life - and it has to do that with minimal protection from you. This includes your husband. I don't think he would say things to hurt her - but she has got to understand that you and him are the PARENTS and you are UNITED. And a word to the wise - when you DO make this adjustment in your house - plan on about 6 months of total uprising from your daughter - she's not going to like it -and resist the urge to engage her in a word battle like "YOu love him more than me, you care about him more, I don't count, you never take my side, You hate me, I hate you both." It's just anger leaving the body of a child who is no longer getting her way.

  8. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    Thank you SOOO much! You hit the nail on the head. Everything you said is exactly how I feel - doesn't anyone get it - she's been damaged. It always feels like no one else understands why she is the way she is. I will absolutely heed your advice, and yes, I have already started to hear those little sweet nothings out of her mouth (we moved here for him and not me, you don't care, it was your fault as to why this happened to me) and they hurt like daggers. It's a relief to know someone else has come out on the other side of this, I hope our experience is succesful as well. I had tears in my eyes reading your response - it so hit the nail on the head. I am afraid to ever come in contact with the ex as I really am afraid of what I might do - but that has to be my skeleton and not hers (logically I know this but I cry every time I think about it) Thanks for pointing me on the right path - it was so very helpful!!!!! - it gave me some hope!
  9. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I know it can be so hard, i vented myself today for about a page and a half. i agree though if he cares about her than she should learn how to handle his upsetment from what she's doing to either him or both of you by pushing buttons. flip side is he too has to get where's she's been, the struggles shes' had and respect that. it seems to me and who knows if i have an ounce of sanity left myself that you aren't in the middle you are just a bystander to the formation of their relationship.

    maybe the three of you could try doing something together, a family sort of thing that would assist in their relationship somewhat. he sounds like a wonderful man and she sounds like a wonderful girl. you have all the ingredients it just takes time. how long have they functioned together in same home?

    wine and ice cream is good. iv'e so wanted to drink lately but wind up eating instead....soo not good.
  10. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    There is one thing I wanted to remind you in this situation. Your SO is the adult in this situation....while he doesn't have to stand by & accept verbal abuse or unacceptable choices by your difficult child he is the one who has to prove to you & to your difficult child that he is safe. He will control himself even if it means taking an adult timeout by leaving the room or the house for 15 minutes to an hour.

    That's what I have to do...moreover, husband has to do it on a more regular basis. kt is convinced that husband will hurt her & instead of waiting anxiously for that hurt will push every button she can - just to get it over with. Very common in kids who have been traumatized.

    Take care of yourself, dara. This isn't an easy road...your difficult child has a great deal of healing to do. You have as well.:angel:
  11. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    Hi Linda and thanks!
    i guess this is part of my current difficulty. If he does not have to stand by and have her be mean to him how is he supposed to express his anger in the house. I have never heard him yell in 3 years, but it is often very difficult in the heat of the moment to take a time out . I'm still learning to do this (time outs) and I've been with her for all 13 years.

    Jennifer wrote before for the three of us to do something together - there is an occasional movie on TV that she will sit and watch with us, but she has basically cut herself off from allowing a relationship with him. She wants to know why he doesn't engage in converstaion with her more often even though she seems to make it abundantly clear that she is keeping a distance from him. It's hard for him especially since he has no experience with kids. The funny thing is he has made many of the suggestions that all of you had, but when he does I get defensive. I guess it's easier to head advice from moms who are going through the same thing as I believe you know how I feel and I always think he doesn't. Thank you for the reply - greatly appreciate all the advice - I need it!!!!!
  12. Star*

    Star* call 911


    My son was abused by my x. He really did things to both of us that are so awful - I wondered if I would ever be happy, I never knew what happy was AND I LARGELY did NOT trust anyone. Especially men. The women in my x's family were just as bad, enabling, abusive verbally and physically - so I guess you could say it took me a long time to trust ANYONE. I can tell you this about trust. When your kids are born they 'depend' on you. As they get older they get to know us better, and need us, and we hope trust us. But just because they are our children DOES NOT MEAN they will EVER trust us. We hope that we live by example, and we HOPE that they see that - and follow us, and trust us. But when you live with a damaged kid - they don't trust themselves, and just because you are Mom or Dad or step dad or step mom - does NOT give you the right to believe they will ever trust you. Know what I mean?? Trust is earned. When a child gets damaged - it takes a lifetime of living right, doing and meaning what you say, setting rules and consequences and following through with those consequences - and then, maybe.....they'll see that you aren't going anywhere and can be trusted. Giving birth or adopting doesn't come with built in trust. It can be gained back - in therapy, in life - but it takes years. What the subconscious brain won't let us do - the conscious brain longs for - and when they fight - you get kids who act out, misbehave, rage - and they don't have a clue why. I didn't either - I was still trying to be able to walk without leaves blowing behind me and thinking a sniper was going to take me out. It took me living in peace nearly 9 years before I accepted peace as a way of life - always waiting for the other shoe to drop. ANd I'm an adult - I had life experiences, therapy, coping skills, a good childhood - I had all that going for me and it STILL took 9 years to sleep with both eyes closed.

    My son was 5.5 when I took him and left. He was very angry. He was angry we left. In my state at that moment I thought "Is this kid nuts? We're free at last." and it was like someone pulled a little sweater string on his brain and our lives began to unravel. I didn't know about the abuse right away. I was in counseling and was urged to bring him for his own counselor. So I did. I wanted us to get better quick and be done with all this mess. On the second visit - the counselor told me she suspected molesting. I left the office - I think I threw the papers at her and she picked them up and handed them to another person to take them out to me. OH I was LIVID. BECAUSE- the entire time I had been abused - and for as many times as I nearly died or left ICU or came home - I ALWAYS protected my kid from ANYONE. Beat up on me - yell at me, make me feel like crud - but you aren't going to do it to my son.

    And until a few years ago - it's how I approached all people regarding my son. IRREGARDLESS of his mouth, his behavior, he hit one man with a baseball bat, he kicked people all the time - he got a pool cue somewhere and cracked it across the knees of another man and I DARED them to cross me. And they didn't. And my son would walk off at age 6, 7 with a smile on his face.

    When I met DF- difficult child didn't meet him for around a year or more. We were friends - and hadn't really dated "out" anywhere as a couple - but I took my time getting to know him. And I took an even longer time to let him get to know my son. When he did - it was like 2 bulls in a field. OMG it was AWFUL - as long as he was "uncle" so and so - fine. But the first time he took Mom out for a date - the love was over and Mr. Cool because Mr. YOU ARE NOT VERY COOL AT ALL I HATE YOU ANYWAYS." (lol) But - eventually due to permanent disability and a death in the family - DF moved in, and shared our home. At age 10 - Dude asked him if he could call him Dad- but WHAT an uphill battle. And all the while I thought DF was this man of iron to not speak back to a child - what I didn't know is that he could NOT STAND my kid. Mouthy, arrogant, spoiled, child - he loved him - but couldn't stand him and never told me and certainly didn't say anything to my son. Until.....

    Until one day I think difficult child was around 9. He had known Dude 2 or so years. And Dude was having a meltdown of titanic proportions. He threw something at me and called me a name and before I knew what was going on - Mr. Cool became Some freakish knight in shining armor and let Dude have it with BOTH BARRELS....and not about pent up stuff- JUST about what was going on at the moment, HOW he LOVES his Mother, and how he IS NOT going ANYWHERE so he may as well knock the junk OFF - as he said "I'm here to stay - I love you MOm and you can be as ill behaved of a young man as you like - it's only going to cause YOU to be removed from this home because I'm not going to allow you to mistreat your Mother any more." And with that he said "I AM THROUGH" shut Dudes door - pulled me into the den and told me that if I went in that room and babied him - after the way he treated me - He was leaving. He had suffered enough - but NOT because of the yelling and arguing or the throwing or breaking or pooping pants or broken stuff - but because he loved me so much he would NOT stand by and watch a child hurt me like his father did. END of story.

    With that little episode - Dude turned up the heat. He was hell bent and glory bound to break us up. That went on for a year - and we put him in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) like we told him. When he came out of the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) - he asked DF to be his Dad. And while Dude is Dude - the business of not wanting to spend time with us - and not wanting to have a thing to do with Dad - stopped.

    I also got all of us into family therapy - and after about 8 months - DF joined us. It was like we all had exhaled air that was pent up for SO long. I wasn't sure if DF would go or not. He was from a family that LARGELY kept their business and feelings buried. And after being a biker/bachelor for over 23 years - I knew that he loved us - but never forced him to go. I just kept getting better, and seemed to be learning HOW to communicate with Dude better - and it peeked his curiosity what this man (psychiatric) was like and of course every time we headed out the door I would say "You're welcome to come if you like you're part of the family too." and finally one night he got dressed and said "I'll drive you I don't like the look of those clouds." ( I looked outside and not a grey cloud in the sky) But we figured out in those sessions: That it's okay to be angry with each other, but we had to learn healthy ways to express anger. It's okay to have DF correct Dude -he wasn't trying to hurt him - he loved him and wanted the best for me and his son. That no one is perfect - and that our son IS damaged, and WILL take extra effort and digging deep to figuring out HOW to deal with this all - And to know that there may NOT be an end in sight BUT that it's okay to have a life of our own as we grow older and NOT feel guilty about it.

    My son told me about the abuse when he was 6 - and then it was like he shut up and turned off forever. You're new here so I won't bother to tell you all the interventions tried but they are endless - and nothing wasn't tried....NOT A THING. To put tools in Dudes way to facilitate his chances at a decent life. Now at 17 - he doesn't drink, never smoked, won't do drugs - but HAS looked up his dysfunctional biodad family on his own. And it just took my heart and for a moment - stomped it. Then I realized that he's his own person. IF he wants to confront his biodad - whatever. It's his life. And now I am going to go live mine.

    If I had it to do over again - I suppose I could have trusted my DF (fiance) a little sooner - but I too was damaged. So I couldn't. But I do love him - and wanted to be the best person, Fiance and MOm I could be - so I took and kept myself in therapy. I don't doubt that there are days ahead when I could use a session or two more - but for now I'm learning how to live life, and enjoy the time I have left on this earth that has been a GIFT -

    Find a therapist - for your daughter and family that has dealt with child abuse specifically. A lot of what is sticking you in the middle will be resolved so shortly you'll be amazed you didn't do it sooner. And your relationship with your daughter and your H will get better too...and YOU will figure out that YOU as a person deserve the best there is - and if that is allowing your H to discipline your daughter and YOU stand behind what he says ? GO for it. These children are NOT for the weak - to understand that and realize this is a life-long commitment to help your daughter have a good life and you have a good life and H have a good life - is worth going to counseling even if he won't right away.

    Many hugs -
  13. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    i write this to you as tears are streamimg down my face (for the second time today!) I used to remove my license plates with a butter knife when I got to work so the ex wouldn't find me at work after we left. A miracle happened and he droppped dead of an overdosewhen difficult child was 7 and it was like I got my freedom back. I did allow contact with the bio family this last summer and she saw for herself that was not a healthy place to be. Thank you for word of encouragement to live a piece of my life for myself - it does make me feel very guilty, but if I don't I feel angry inside. My difficult child also shut the door on communication of the abuse after the trial this past October three years after the abuse was reported(she never talked about it from day1 anyway) But refuses to talk to anyone about including me. I am so sorry for the experience you had - you are indeed a warrior and incredibly strong woman. You give me hope and I am so very thankful for that!!! I really can't thank you enough!!
  14. ML

    ML Guest

    Daralex, first of all welcome!

    I feel this way too. I have read this entire thread with great interest. The wisdom of these women is amazing

    I have a 9 year old difficult child. I have been married to his stepfather since he was 4. I immediately got the "you love him more than you love me". Yes, at 4 years old he was already expressing this. I can understand where he was coming from I guess. Having been through a divorce and feeling shaky from that, he had to deal with a new dynamic. Looking back on it now, I probably shouldn't have remarried so quickly. Now, 5 years later the resentment is still there. husband thinks difficult child is the way he is because I am too lenient and let him get away with too much. difficult child just thinks husband is mean. They're both right and they're wrong. So they look at me to take a side and frankly I want to tell them both to leave me out of it.

    I imagine that the stepfamily dynamics are hard even in the most *normal* of families. Having our difficult children just makes magnifies everything.