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- a big whinge, really.

(12 Posts)
brdgrl Sat 15-Oct-11 16:17:13

this probably belongs in 'relationships' rather than here, but it is partly about stepparenting and i can't face putting it anywhere else.

i am very depressed. i keep telling DH but he doesn't really get it (i think he doesn't know how to deal with it and we are too busy to cope anyway). I am terribly homesick (my family all live overseas). I am having a difficult time at work. and the home situation is always tough - a baby and 2 teenage SCs - things on that front are lots better than they used to be, but even so, just the base level of effort and stress is pretty high (as I probably don't need to tell anyone here!)

I had a CPN coming to see me at the house for a year after DD was born, but she had to stop when the baby turned one. She told me, when she left, that all I really needed was someone to talk to. That sounds possibly true to me. But there is no one. Since getting married, all my friendships seem to have disappeared or turned a bit flat. I don't really have a social life any more.

DH and I were seeing a counsellor for a long time but have stopped (she sort of said that she thought she had done all she could).

There are some things that have happened since DH and I got together. He thinks I should be over them, but I can't really get there. He hasn't always been very honest about money issues, whihc he has owned up to, but which really hasn't been fully addressed, either.

Another thing is that some of his family don't accept me or DD; they don't think he should have remarried, I guess (I don't think it is about disliking me so much as about a weird cult of worship surrounding First Wife). At our wedding rehearsal dinner, DH's dad told me that DH would cheat on me eventually. At our wedding, DH's dad gave a speech, one half of which was about First Wife, and which never mentioned me at all. I haven't been able to really move past it, even though I don't know exactly what DH could have done really, it wasn't HIM that gave the speech! DH's dad and wife never acknowledge our DD at all, either, despite sending presents to the older kids.

DH has just been asked to help organise and speak at a public event in First Wife's memory, and I think I am bothered about that too.

Christmas is coming up, and our first wedding anniversary, and I feel lousy. I feel like my whole life has slipped from my grasp. I don't enjoy myself, and I feel like it is beginning to affect the way I act with DD.

Hassled Sat 15-Oct-11 16:29:32

You've had a tough time, you really have.

How long were you together before you married? Why did the friendships slip away after you married - was that due to you moving?

I doubt you'll be able to change the mindset of his family - it's a shame, and maybe things will mellow in the future, but sometimes it's easier to cope with unfair shit if you know it's beyond your control and can put it in the category of "things I will leave well alone because there's nothing I can do". Don't keep dwelling on it, don't try to tackle it. Just dismiss it as unimportant - you don't really need their acceptance.

And then I think you'll find you're less bothered about the First Wife - she was obviously a huge part of your DH's life, and I think it's to his credit that he's doing the public event; it doesn't mean you're less important, it just means she was important.

And then - work instead on yourself. What practical things can you do to meet more people? Clubs, sports, hobbies? What about toddler groups etc with your DD? Do you work? If not, would that help?

brdgrl Sat 15-Oct-11 22:00:06

thanks, hassled.
we've been together for four years, have a DD who is 16 months, moved in together a year ago, got married last january. (i realize it is not the traditional route, but it was all intentional and partly down to issues around his kids.)

the friendships started to suffer after we all moved in together. We moved into a new area, for reasons that, again, were to do with the kids, and it is very suburban. I don't drive and there isn't much nearby. I do go into town almost every day on the bus, and take DD to the library, the pool, the park...but it is not like where I used to live, where the neighbours were friendly and would stand around in the street and talk to you. Our next door neighbour now is a miserable cow who doesn't even say hello if we see each other in the garden. The neighbourhood is a lot wealthier - we are not - DH jokes that we are like the Beverly Hillbillies - so I feel pretty isolated and a bit looked-down-on. The house is great and perfect for us, on the inside, and we got a wondeful deal on the rent and a fantastic landlord - but the location sucks.

i work part-time and from home at the moment, and look after DD. DH looks after her at scheduled times so that I can work, but his own work schedule has changed too, so those times have become fewer. I am behind with my work, constantly, and any 'free' time that I get, I should be catching up! (like right now!)

I can't really have friends round to the house like I used to - DSD doesn't give us any privacy, so I can't relax or even talk openly. My best friend came to stay last winter and ended up checking into a hotel because she just couldn't take DSD any more (seriously). There was also an incident that I can't really post about - but my DH had an argument with someone on the edges of our social circle, and it ended up having a lot of repercussions - one of which was that, out of loyalty to DH, I stopped hanging out with some people.

I am very dependent on DH, which I hate. I was single and independent for a long time. But now I am reliant on him for everything, especially financially. When we argue, there is literally nothing I can do - I have nowhere to go and no one to speak to.

brdgrl Sat 15-Oct-11 22:03:50

sorry, i realise that i sound very negative and like i have an answer for every suggestion. blush i don't mean to - i do appreciate the suggestions. i just find it hard to do anything about the way things are, especially while trying to work and look after DD at the same time.

chelen Sun 16-Oct-11 13:58:36

Hi, I'm sorry you're feeling this way, I'm sending you a hug (if that isn't too personal, if it is then amend it to a pat on the back!)

I understand that you now feel dependent on DH, you've lost friends, you've lost independence. I can really empathise with this feeling. You had no children four years ago, now you have two teenagers and a young child to care for. That is huge. Anyone who compares it to a regular bio family is talking out of their arse - the speed with which we go from no kids to two, or three, or more is a big thing.

I am rather confused about the cult surrounding first wife. That is a major thing to contend with. I imagine I would feel a lot of complex feelings in that situation - and I would have found the speech at the wedding very hard.

The good news is that you're not officially crazy (or your CPN would not have been happy to sign you off) but from what you say (and what your CPN said) you definately need to a) get someone to talk to and b) find some way to get back some independence and social life. I hear all your reasons for not doing this (money. time, loyalty to DH etc) but I think that it has to be done. You need to put yourself first somehow.

I have had a very different baptism of fire myself (marriage/become stepmum, first baby of own very ill) and the only time I started to emerge from my own miserable stretch was when I found a great private cllr and moved heaven and earth to start socialising - not with my son, just proper adult social stuff.

I really hope things improve for you, I know from previous posts that you miss your family but could you at least talk to one of them about this, on the phone or skype?

Take care and the only way is up xxxx

MJlovesscareypants Sun 16-Oct-11 16:18:11

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lateatwork Sun 16-Oct-11 21:09:42

sounds like you have been having a tough time.

i can relate to a lot of your post. my MIL ignores DD and pours affection on DSS. When DD was small, I moved countries to be closer to DSS. I didnt speak the language and knew no one. It was incredibly isolating. The only thing that kept me sane was chancing on an english speaking website and I met people through that. But it was tough. Really tough. I was reliant on DP too as I couldnt drive or do anything as the language was a huge issue- from totally idependant to totally dependant - I felt awful.

What worked- I made a huge effort to find other english speaking adults. I went to every playgroup I could find in our area. I hung out at cafes and parks in the vague hope of meeting other parents with small children (that didnt work.. I think I just looked weird!). I tried to isolate our bedroom as a DSS free zone... ie it was my sanctuary when DSS was around.

but... all my suggestions are based on not having to juggle work too... hats off to you for juggling this all.

theredhen Mon 17-Oct-11 13:57:43

brdgrl, I'm sorry to read you're having a tough time and finding things difficult. Although from reading your post, I'm not surprised you're finding things hard going.

You must feel totally overwhelmed by DH and his family and the memory of the ex wife.

I am speaking as a child who lost a parent at a young age and the worst thing for me was people putting that parent on some sort of shrine / pedestal throughout my childhood. What I really wanted to do was to get on with my life but to also hear about the negatives too. I wanted a picture of a "real person" and not this "perfect person" that everyone went on about. DH's family keep on harping on about how wonderful first wife was, will not help those children and their sense of identity. Realistic honest conversation when it is asked for or when things crop up is what is needed.

You sound like you feel you are losing your identity and with it, your self esteem. Can you try to get out and do more things for "you"? Toddler groups etc. Keep an eye out for local events? Maybe some volunteering as time goes on? Can you do a course and put little one in a creche? Go to the gym or an exercise class? I really believe you need this for yourself. Forget what everyone else wants or "needs" because if you're miserable and unhappy, you help no-one.

eslteacher Mon 17-Oct-11 18:33:13

I'm so sorry you feel like this brdgrl - but really it sounds like you have a hell of a lot to cope with. I can definitely identify with some of your issues, but on a much smaller scale, and they already make me feel pretty bad at times - so for you, with everything so much bigger, I can completely understand why you feel like this.

The spectre of First Wife must just be very complicated and difficult to deal with for all involved. It's so sad that your DH's parents are fixated on her to the extent that they don't acknowledge your DD, who is just as much their flesh and blood as their other grandchildren. I can only suggest that things might well change over time, as your status as your DH's wife becomes more and more normalised (after all, you haven't yet been married a year and the marital status probably counts for a lot with that generation). Maybe also they will connect more with your DD as she gets older, develops her own personality etc? It's much easier to ignore a baby than a Small Person.

I'm also living overseas - came through choice thinking I'd stay a year, then met DP and fell in love. Because of his DS, as long as I am with DP I am necessarily tied to this country, and this particular town. It's very hard to accept at times, and I totally understand where you are coming from when you say you feel totally reliant on your DP as the centre of your world - I feel the same, which is very strange for me as I have never felt like that before. I have made some superficial friendships here, but I miss my close, strong, familiar friendships back home very badly at times. I also feel a disconnect with the suburban town where we live. I have to say that it massively helped me learning to drive (or rather re-learning, since I had my license but hadn't used it since I passed my test over 10 years ago) and buying a cheap-o car. Living in the suburbs without a car totally sucks, and having it has opened up a new world of freedom to me. Is it any way possible for you to take lessons and get a license/cheap car? It's expensive, but so liberating. Maybe intensive lessons could work out for you?

Do you mind me asking if you are in the UK or overseas? Can't quite work out which way round things are from your post. Either way, if you speak another language at all, I can recommend as a great way to connect with new people, even if just for random, interesting chats over coffee rather than lasting friendship. That website really helped me pad out lonely afternoons and evenings when I first arrived in this country. It's pretty international, and involves hooking up one person who want to practice a second language to meet up with a native speaker of that language, who in turn wants to practice the native language of the first person. It's great.

Is there any way you could, or would want to, change to a job that involves working somewhere other than home? Having a routine of going somewhere and seeing people and spending time out of the house regularly could do you good. Without having my job, and my colleagues and clients, I think I would be totally miserable here. The thought of staying in the house all day waiting for DP to get home... ::shudder:: Though obviously that isn't really what you are doing if you are working, so maybe you are already getting the purpose and interaction you need from what you are already doing (albeit from home)?

I always think your posts on this forum generally sound so strong and optimistic, and I have been impressed by the way you have dealt with your very difficult DSD and really turned the situation around and got things functioning much more on your own terms. Keep hold of that - I know it must be a struggle maintaining it day in day out, but you have already achieved so much, think how much more you can achieve in a comparable amount of time in the future! Go you!

brdgrl Mon 17-Oct-11 20:52:27

Thank you all, so much! I really appreciate the support! (and hugs.) It has helped enormously to read these replies, and also to hear that some of you have been through some of the same things. smile I'm going to make a plan for myself and turn this around...

You have each pointed out that I need to get out more and mentioned toddler groups. I did try a couple but gave up pretty quickly because I felt awkward and shy. We go to a swim class at the moment, but I admit that I prefer it to the more unstructured play groups because you are doing something the whole time and it is easy to get through it without really talking to any one! So, I will make a new effort. Setting myself a goal over the next couple of weeks, to go to a play group or two and actually speak to a few people.

lateatwork i do a lot of hanging out in cafes and parks and looking weird. I have had a couple of nice conversations that way but couldn't get stalker-y enough to ask for a phone number or anything, so just kept hoping that we'd run into that person again, which of course doesn't happen!

riverboat, i am in the UK. i don't want to say where as it might 'out' me (although if anyone who knows me read this they'd probably already know it was me anyway!). i am from the states originally. i used to be pretty good about staying in touch with friends/family there, but have been finding it harder and harder, especially with the time difference - by the time most people there get home from work, it is late here. DD and I are going back for Christmas, though, and I've decided to make quite a long trip of it. It is not ideal to be away from DH and DSCs for so long and miss the holidays with them, but I think I need the time with my family.

i am also going to get my driving license! i have been driving for twenty years at home, and as you probably know, i now have to start over with a provisional license and take all the tests, etc...i also have to send in my passport to get the provisional license, which is the biggest reason I haven't done it already, because between visa applications and DD's citizenship process, etc, the passport has been on the go most of the past two years! But you are right - it is too crummy not having it. we won't be able to afford a car at present, but at least i could borrow DH's now and again.

The First Wife thing has been hard right from the start, I really thought for a while at the beginning of the relationship that I just wasn't goingto be able to deal with it, but over time it seemed to fade. Now, when things are going badly on other fronts, it gets under my skin more - not surprisingly, when I am feeling good about myself, it is a lot easier not to feel inferior. I know it is good for the SCs to hear about her and have her remembered. Sometimes it gets to be a bit much, but mostly it comes from outside - DH's family or people in the community (rather than from DH himself). I do sometimes feel like you say, redhen, that there is a bit of a shrine mentality, and then I feel bad for minding. This newest event - I know I shouldn't be bothered. I just worry that it is going to have a knock-on effect at home, or even just that the actual planning/event is going to add, indirectly, to my workload and lack of time with DH, which I will resent!

You sound like you feel you are losing your identity and with it, your self esteem.
Yep, that's it exactly. I know it happens to all new mothers to a degree, and I've put myself in this life which complicates it even more, so I am just going to have to fight hard to turn it around.

I am writing my dissertation at the moment, so after that is done, I will be job-hunting and probably having to take on other work while I hope to get something in my field. I quite like being able to be at home with DD, but obviously it is also making me crazy - so maybe something outside of home wouldn't be a bad thing. Even volunteering or a course, like redhen suggests, would be a start. I don't know how we'd fit it in until the dissertation is done, but I was thinking tonight that I might start with one "me day" a month, even - we could afford childcare one day a month, if it were a necessity, and I guess maybe it is!

Sorry this is so long! Wanted to reply properly as you've all given such good advice. Thanks for all the kind words. You guys are great.

MJlovesscareypants Mon 17-Oct-11 21:11:50

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MJlovesscareypants Mon 17-Oct-11 21:12:51

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