Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Mar 25, 2014.
I feel "stuck". I was just talking about it. I'm tired of being the main barrier that doesn't allow my stepdaughter to destroy our lives. I really want t just get out of the way so my husband can freely enable her for the rest of his and her life while I get on with mine. If I was financially secure I would just leave so they could do what they both obviously want- which is to carry out the cycle of codependency and feed off each other's sicknesses.
If that is what you want to do,and from all accounts,that may be the most reasonable and healthy choice for you, then you have to find a way or create a way. You should be able to receive alimony and child support for your son and split the assets if there were a divorce or even if it is simply a separation, your husband should be responsible for at least a portion of your finances.
The problem with staying stuck is enough options have just not either been discovered or sought out. If you want to remove yourself from this situation, downsize, get another PT job, find out what your financial picture looks like as a single woman and make the changes necessary. Or you can look down the road and see pretty much how it will look since you've lived it before and no one around you is willing to change.
Change is always a risk, but staying stuck is a soul killer. Sometimes the very things we need to do are the scariest. I've made those kinds of choices too, it's the deciding part that is so difficult, once you decide, well, then you're in that adventure and it becomes exciting as well as a little scary because you faced your fears and you moved out of feeling stuck onto a whole new landscape.
I am the easy scapegoat to blame because even though her mother damaged her terribly and father encouraged the worst behaviors out of guilt, I broke the cycle so therefore *I* don't allow them endless chances to "fix" the problem so the easy thing to do is blame me that she isn't "fixed". Every way my husband talks to me about her is an endless subliminal pressure letting me know that he can't do what he REALLY would do because I stand in the way. He lets me hold the entire weight of protecting our home and well being all by myself. If she dies- it is ENTIRELY my fault, no one else's, because I am the ONLY one saying she can't live here. Because he refuses to see the need to keep the home safe and harmonious- because he would gladly allow the chaos, drama, and consequences into this house- ALL of the guilt for not having it lands right on me and I'm carrying the weight by myself and I feel resentful. I have a hard time feeling respect for my husband for many years now. I lash out and I become very angry and I have mood swings.
To elaborate- I really feel as if my husband has more than just a parent/child issue. He did the SAME for the ex wife so I can't buy that its just a parent/child issue. He rescued the mother repeatedly, even after the divorce. One example- the mother went out to a bar, got drunk, went home and had sex with some guy all night. At 6am Easter morning, our phone rang. She wanted HIM to get out of bed and go pick her up to bring her back to her parents so that when daughter woke up, she would be home. Daughter had slept over grandparents to be with mom- so that's how mom spent the time with daughter- by going out all night and getting drunk. We lived across the street from the grandparents at the time. To my shock and amazement, my husband got up. I began to disagree with him driving to pick her up- but he argued back that he just wanted what was best for his daughter so he went and picked up the mother and brought her back to the house so that we could all keep up the charade that mommy was a good mommy. I had so many red flags that I ignored. I had no children then. It was so easy to end it and leave, yet I didn't. And I went on to witness the same types of scenarios with the mother and daughter all these years. Mother died about 7 years ago- organ failure from substance abuse.
As the years ticked on, I realized that when my husband began dating me I was A LOT younger- I was 21, he was 32. I think he assumed I would also be needy and he could feel good about himself by having to rescue me again and again, but what happened was I never needed it. I wound up disgusted by the drama and chaos that was typical of his ex and daughter, wound up starting a business and paying bills, and didn't need a hero. Which didn't work for my husband because due to his poor self esteem, he looks to feel better about himself by having someone who "NEEDS" him desperately. I need him, but in a MATURE, ADULT way and not in a childish, helpless way. (also, the fact that he chose a woman so much younger makes me think he wanted to feel superior, mentally. Why pick someone so much younger if you didn't want to play "daddy"? When I was young I didn't see it that way- but by the time I hit my 30's- it dawned on me.)
He HATES when I say this but believe me I have had a long time to observe and think, and read- I am very convinced of this and all the denial he can do does not convince me otherwise. We had a little old lady next door for many years- she was like a grandma to our son. We both helped her but my husband REALLY loved helping. He would mow her lawn, plant flowers, fix whatever, shovel- (and I helped her, too but my husband was the one she preferred) and I used to laugh and say that if Helen was 40 years younger she would steal him right out from under me. But I could SEE how good he felt about HIMSELF for taking care of a helpless old lady. That is sweet and all but when it becomes part of sickness in other aspects of his life, its not that sweet.
Concerned, your honesty in posting as you have illuminates for me my husband's position. He has gone ahead and moved us, has pushed the kids out, has told them no, has at least limited the amount we spend on them unless the child is already doing well, in spite of me. It is only recently that I have become healthy enough to see that, far from hurting the kids, he is the one who truly helped, by making them take responsibility for themselves, by believing they could.
Helping our children beyond the time they are newly learning how to navigate the world keeps them dependent little kids, inside. Instead of looking and learning who and how they are and where they need to change for themselves, they are stuck (and we are stuck, too) in some weird place where our grown kids are looking to us for approval instead of themselves. They keep making really bad choices because we have protected them from their choices in the past. We keep stepping in for them because they need us to. Somehow, we never see that what we are teaching them through our rescuing is that it is what WE think of a thing that matters, not what the thing is. They learn to see everything through that filter. By helping fix everything for them, we teach them that what matters is not so much what they do, but what we think of what they do.
If the story is sad enough, we give them a reward. (Money.) If we stop giving them money, they feel so angry at us because we are changing the rules of the game and they don't know how to play it any other way.
I am seeing in my own family that I need to stop weakening my own children by "helping."
Or by excusing inappropriate behavior of any kind.
There are those who say there is a certain amount of glory in it for us, if we keep our children dependent. We never have to let go of that "mother" or "father" identity and get on with our own lives.
I am thinking about that.
It might be true, but I am still thinking. I do think that sort of glorified martyr-parent thing is what happens. It seems very complex to me, because it is hard to see ourselves, hard to see our motivations. I think that is what happens, but I don't think we chose it to be this way. I don't think we intended it to be this way because there are families with difficult child and normal children. So, it makes sense that there is something special, something different, about difficult child kids.
It would break my heart to think I created our situation on purpose.
What I do see is that, over the years, sickness and resentment have taken root where love and pride and acceptance were meant to grow.
So I am heading for the love and pride and acceptance part with all my heart.
In my own defense, I will say that I had a wild child. I tried to corral her, tried to protect her from herself. She was very young when this all started. Our family dynamic came to center on her. It still does, to a large extent.
What would have happened, if I had just let her go?
Certainly, nothing worse than what happened to all of us because we tried to help her be like us when she never was one bit like us.
It is an interesting thing, to think about things this way.
I really do believe my kids are strong and smart enough to live their own lives like everyone else. The part I have trouble with is how much I am supposed to help them. That is where guilt enters the picture, and a more worthless emotion I have yet to find.
so, no more guilt. No more shame about what happened, about who the kids are.
I have to let go of all that.
I have to let go of that mothering role, whatever reward it brought me, for their sakes and for mine.
Will your husband read here on the site? I would never have been able to see beyond what someone needed from me, had I never been a part of what happens for us, here on the site. I am that person baking cookies and planting flowers and etc.
My husband resents it, too.
I am glad you are here with us.
I did show this site to him but whether he will come back on his own, I don't know.
husband comes from a large family where he is the oldest of 8. All eight got married, had kids, and for the most part, its been a reasonably healthy, tight knit family that has many gatherings throughout the year and see each other often. That's how it can be for parents and family when all goes reasonably well. And difficult child was part of all that, but it didn't rub off I guess.
These children who rebuke a normal way of life (for whatever reason) and somehow become convinced they are entitled to throw tantrums and demand all their needs without making efforts on their own, except to beg others and throw fits, push parents to an unnatural place. In a natural place, your child can grow up, go through steps to become independent, and finally one day BE independent and able to interact with the family as one of the grown adults. This is a person who might bring their partner or family to holidays or weekend gatherings themselves, and become a giver as as well as a receiver. There develops a back and forth- healthy adult children begin to reciprocate in life. There is no reason for a mother to force herself to detach from a normal, healthy son or daughter who may by that time even produce grandkids, who any parent would want to embrace, love, and maybe babysit once in a while, or even every day because they are retired and on their own desire to help out if their adult daughter goes back to work.
It is the abnormal forcing of the parent to remain forever in the role of caretaker, while the adult child NEVER graduates to a point where they join in and begin giving as well as receiving, where the problem comes in. I was able to observe and document from young age on that she wanted to take but never give. It seemed a prominent part of her nature even then, a as a young child. I saw it when I would make special plans with her and bend over backwards to create nice memories that I hoped would help her bond with me. She enjoyed those times with me fully but as soon as I would say "Ok, its time to clean up your mess" or "Ok its time to do your homework"- it did not matter how many special memories we shared- she would flip like a lightswitch and revert right back to her smug, antisocial personality mood and treat me like she despised me. Or, if we were getting along just fine and then "Daddy" came home- I was instantly pushed into the role of "opponent" and she would create a drama and pin us all against each other so she could "win" her father and make me "lose" the game she created.
And there was only so much of that I could take. For years I tried to tell myself: "She's only a child, don't take it personally" but after being treated that way chronically, I got sick of making excuses for her and sick of stifling the pain I felt from the way she treated me- and sick of my naive, manipulated husband who couldn't see through it (I've got 400 pages of journal where I talk indepthly about the dynamic and dramas she would create) well, my survival instinct kicked in and I told myself it was ok to not like her. I didn't have to pretend I liked her anymore. I gave myself that relief- the relief of taking off the pressure as a failure because I was the stepmother and oh well, I guess I failed- just like everyone watching me was waiting for that to happen. I would still be polite to her but I wasn't going to fake it for my husband who would "accuse" me of not liking her. I said, "Well, if she treated YOU like that, would you like her?" I was supposed to be superhuman and LOVE this girl like mad when she was cruel, very cruel to me.
Anyway I feel like I am rambling now...
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