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The vicious circle

(9 Posts)
theredhen Fri 21-Sep-12 11:43:01

I am still going to Relate with DP and still finding it insighful, if hard work.

We spoke last time about the vicious circle that DP and I find ourselves in.

The more DP clings onto his kids, asks for extra time, does the ridiculous driving around, talks of them never leaving when they are adults etc, the more caged and guarded I become because I feel that I am never enough for him and he can't be content to accept a life with his kids but also without them at times too. His neediness turns me away and the more I turn away from him and distance myself, the more needy he gets because he feels he could lose me as well as his kids.

So he has a fear of being abandoned, I have a fear of not being "good enough" or acceptable enough, so I change my behaviour by being distant and not being "me". I don't stand up to his kids, I don't express my feelings strongly enough and "let things lie" for the sake of a quiet life. In the process I lose my sense of identity and my self esteem takes a beating and I no longer know who I am or what I stand for.

The more pushed out I feel, the more I want to run away and find a refuge, even if only in my own mind and not physically. I want to distance myself from him and his kids.

I think the counsellor knows how strongly I want to go back to my own house, although I have not mentioned it within counselling at all!

I suppose I just wanted to share this because I read so many times on here where step mums feel sidelined and pushed out, the more we try and "detach" the more removed we feel, but it causes conflict and upset if we try and be involved. Most of us don't like conflict so we learn to adapt our behaviour and lose ourselves in the process.

I think for some people (women in particular) it can be very easy to accomodate others needs and put them before our own needs, feeling selfish if we don't.

Aren't we always told to put the needs of the children first, think about the children, do what's best for the children? It's like we're conditioned to this by society.

We all need to stay true to ourselves and not be frightened to stand up for what we believe to be right even if that is difficult and painful for us and for those close to us.

Revelsarethebest Fri 21-Sep-12 12:19:55

How are is your relationship like with the children? How old are they?

Its hard being a step parent, accepting a partners children from a previous relationship is really hard!

brdgrl Fri 21-Sep-12 12:31:28

That's very true, redhen. I am quite lacking in confidence and have, in past relationships, failed to stand up for myself and what I needed.

Now, with DH (after a few years on my own sorting out my head and getting my bruised self-esteem into better shape), I am older and wiser - and I do speak up for what I need. But everytime I do, even when I know in my heart that I am only asking for what is fair and necessary, I still experience that fear of standing up for myself. And when it clashes with what the kids want, even when I know it is not what they need, or not what is best for the family unit as a whole, there is that extra element of fear. And we are supposed to always get it right, don't forget!

It has helped to have DD, I can stand up for what is right for her when I might not do it for myself. It is easier to do a hard thing for the sake of the kids than it is to do it for ourselves.

theredhen Fri 21-Sep-12 13:51:55

I was on my own for a few years and thought I had this confidence and self esteem thing all sorted out. smile

I've found it easier to stand up for DS than for myself and perhaps that is why I get soooo passionate and protective of him because really I am also fighting for myself.

So how comes I'm feeling like I've lost myself? How comes it's got so far, I don't even know what I want myself anymore? The counsellor put me on the spot about the type of person I am and what I like and want etc. and I just went blank. sad

I suppose the simple truth is I want DP but I don't want all the trauma that comes with him, because it comes as such a high prce to my self esteem. In actual fact if he were to chill out and relax about contact with the kids, that would go a long way, but he can't and the cycle continues.

Revels - DP has 4 kids, I have 1. Some live with us full time, some never visit and some have set contact times.

brdgrl Fri 21-Sep-12 14:15:30

So how comes I'm feeling like I've lost myself? How comes it's got so far, I don't even know what I want myself anymore? The counsellor put me on the spot about the type of person I am and what I like and want etc. and I just went blank.

Oh, redhen! I know that feeling! I have completely lost track of who I am and what I like since I moved in with DH and the DSCs. I gave up a lot to be with DH (long story, but main point is that we stay where we are despite unsuitability for me and DD because of his desire to keep the DSCs in their same school) and now I don't see family or friends. Between my work and DD and the house and the DSCs, I have no time to myself (I MN when I should really be working, though, which is bad of me!) - the DSCs and DH have social lives, and hobbies, and free time to read or watch telly or whatever - I do not. I have just recently asked DH to take DD for one day a month so that I can have an afternoon to myself - but that is it. The rest of the time, I am doing things for the family, or I am working (or trying to work, the step drama takes a toll on that too). Holidays have become a chore, as I am just the planner and organiser of things, trying to please the DSCs, and then when we get there, I end up looking after DD while the rest of them have fun. I actually have no friends here where we live - the couple I did have, have been lost because of some things that happened (I can't post about, but to do with my DH not me) or because of the DSCs behaviour. sad I feel like all I really have here is DD - especially when things aren't going so well and it becomes "us (DD and I) versus them (DH and DSCs)" - which happens too frequently.

Sorry - not to hijack or moan on about myself - but it does seem to me that in your case, you have so many demands on your energies and time (much more than me), it must be nigh on impossible to have the sort of time and space to be just yourself. No wonder you are feeling a bit lost.

theredhen Fri 21-Sep-12 17:01:26

Brdgrl, I know just what you mean about work suffering but I often feel its the only place I get any breathing space.

Trying to do something at home for myself leads to ridicule and contempt from step kids at worst, constant interruptions at best. So I guess that's why I avoid it but exactly the reason why I shouldn't! I'm teaching everyone my needs aren't important within the home.

You know it's all very well a counsellor (a male one at that) telling me to be myself etc, but when exactly do I get time to do that?!

brdgrl Fri 21-Sep-12 23:19:59

Trying to do something at home for myself leads to ridicule and contempt from step kids at worst, constant interruptions at best. So I guess that's why I avoid it but exactly the reason why I shouldn't! I'm teaching everyone my needs aren't important within the home.

So true! I am sure there are mums in non-step families who feel a bit of this too, but I also think it is easier for them to solve it if they want to. As a stepmum, setting boundaries, or putting yourself first for a few hours, or freely expressing yourself in the safe acceptance of your own home and family - well, for some of us, those things can't be taken as givens.

I think you should make a pledge to yourself - October is coming - make that the month you do something regularly on a schedule, whether it is every night or one night a week, whatever - just for yourself, as ridiculous as you please. Interruptions will be ignored. Ridicule will be ignored (or even encouraged - maybe go for something really silly and let them see you laugh at yourself.

Back before I was with DH, I took bellydance lessons (tribal, footstomping stuff, not the sexy kind). It was the most outlandish, unlike me thing I coudl come up with - I am not body confident, I have no coordination, I am not very fit, and I hate 'team' sports and classes (in tribal, you dance alongside other women). I wasn't very good, obviously - but I loved it. I can imagine the DSCs if I did it now...

taxiforme Sat 22-Sep-12 07:12:09

I can only empathise and thank you RH for sharing this insightful post.

I really connect with the not feeling "good enough" thing. I constantly feel like that.

I dont have my own child and have had 6 MC in the past (a long time ago before meeting DH) and not feeling "good enough" is hard wired into me now. I will always feel second best to the mother of DH's children (and don't she know it..) which is a bitter pill I am trying not to swallow.

Being a step mum has been great at times and has in a very bitter sweet way brought kids into my life but I often feel that I am still not "good enough" - this time reinforced by the same behaviour as your DP RH.

My DH can SAY all the time about how great I am and how the kids love me ect ect. But at the same time what he DOES is completely surrenders himself to his kids (they are older teens). Sometimes I think he is actually scared of them. Of upsetting them, anyway.

I remember posting a while back about some silly incident where I was not invited to a family thing and feeling like a little island all on my own. I have nobody. Like you BR I gave up my house to live in a village where DPs kids go to school and am now miles from my friends and family.

Yes, poor me/us - but I/we married a man with kids. More conflict as I am now guilt tripping - how many posts do we read saying just that..... "you married a man with kids..suck it up.." ? We end up like you say, sacrificing our self esteem.

Sorry, this is turning into a pity party with no solutions, I have none. But I keep telling myself "always be the picture, never the frame.." to try and capture what is the essence of ME. I can only say that you are not alone. I hope that the counselling is bringing you some answers. How does your DP feel about the insights?

theredhen Mon 24-Sep-12 13:58:53

I think women in general can be too self sacrificing. sad

I've had two incidents in the last week that I haven't really noticed before just how ridiculously accomodating I am.

I wanted DP to be part of spending some time with my family on two seperate occassions and wanted to make plans. He said that we would have to have the time when he hasn't got his kids (bearing in mind DSD lives with us 24/7 now, which he conveniently forgets) because he has so much running around to do and it's all so hectic etc.

And do you know what, I have always gone with that and arranged things not around his kids and what I have been teaching him and the kids is that what I want is nowhere near as important as the kids going to youth club or seeing their mates or their boyfriends etc.

When I explained this, he seemed perplexed that his kids should be put out by my family (who I should point out, I have very few of and hardly ever see)!

I have been guilty of only arranging things at the last minute, in case his kids want something or will "spoil" things by having DP running around after them and ignoring my family. I've come to realise I'm embarrassed by DP ridiculous behaviour and pandering to his kids and ashamed that he is showing my family how irrelevant he sees them in my life. angry

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