| | Sophie's Choice II-The Stepfamily from Hell Saga
I have always been a decisive person, but then with most decisions I have been faced with in my life, was usually pretty clear even if not easy. Not so this time. This situation is sort of baffling and my instincts aren't coming through for me like they always have.
I brought 3 teen/tween girls into a 2nd marriage with a man who lived alone with his little dog for years. He was married but his wife left him high and dry --I'm guessing his social ineptitude had a lot to do with that.
I got married at 21 the first time and had been on my own for 6 years when I met current husband. I didn't mind being alone as long as I knew it wasn't permanent. Still, I wasn't seeking out anyone because I knew that it would just be too complicated to blend someone in with me and my girls.
But ..this guy pursued me, was smooth as could be and I fell for him. I couldn't believe that he actually was wasn't afraid to date a woman with 3 kids.
All and he was a decent guy--responsible, owned a home, educated, job etc.
So what is the problem right?
Without boring anyone to death with the interim details, I got pregnant, had a son and we all moved in together..one big happy family. NOT.
My husband immediately developed dislike(?) for my youngest daughter. She was 9 and hadn't adjusted well to losing the spotlight first to baby brother and then to husband. She has always been a difficult kid and at times it is hard for me to like her so I wasn't so unrealistic as to think he would be an adoring, doting stepdaddy. Well, it's five years later and they have spoken about 5 times.
Initially, we tried everything..we had family game night and they were partners...I insisted that they greet each other when one walked into the room, etc. Nothing worked. She continued to act out on her insecurities with the new situation and he couldn't seem to recognize that she was a kid and her behavior was pretty normal even if it was annoying as heck. He took it personally as if she was a 40 year old peer trying to compete with him. When she walks into the room, no matter what he is doing, his whole demeanor changes. He will stop talking and withdraw into his shell as if some dangerous predator had invaded his space. His body becomes rigid and his face expressionless. He does not participate in any conversation or fun with the rest of the family.
Then, if my daughter goes to far and does something that pushes him over the edge when he is like that, he will lose his temper and become extremely angry, loud and intimidating. It happens very seldom, because she stays away from him now, but when it does happen, it is not pretty.
But part of the problem is also how it affects me. I grew up in an environment where drunken violence was the norm for many years. I have a sixth sense for when trouble is brewing in a person and when it is, I go instinctively into hypervigilance mode. Therapist says it is PTSD from a history of trauma and instability. It is an instinctive reaction, I cannot reason with it. So, my senses are all on high alert and I am standing guard over my daughter basically to make sure she doesn't rouse the sleeping tiger. If she does something I consider to be risky..say, chew with her mouth open or take too long in the shower, I scold her much harder than would otherwise be necessary. I am just so pumped on adrenaline and fear of him yelling at her that I cannot seem to reign myself in when I am doing this and I always feel terrible after even though I do believe I am protecting her in my way. She is really difficult to be around as adolescents often are so she is often getting yelled at by me for some thing or another.
But the worst of it is that her stepfather has never talked to her or shown her that he has any interest in her whatsoever. Her own father has been a disappointment. Meanwhile, my husband adores our son (his biological) and everything he does with him is loving and gentle and patient. I have actually seen my daughter look at them in one of these moments and wince. This is extremely painful for her. For me. For everyone involved.
This has been the only real source of trouble in our marriage. We are wholly compatible in every other way. But even when we are getting along well, I always have in the back of my mind that resentment and bitterness for how he has treated my daughter. I love him and hate him at the same time and I didn't think that was possible. I know it isn't healthy because I have felt less emotionally stable as each year has gone by.
I have insisted we get counseling and he goes with me but does not follow any suggestions from the counselor. It seems he some bizarre block that keeps him from being able to relate to my daughter. He swears he does not hate her or even dislike her but he says he can't figure out how to connect with her.
Hello? He could start by saying "Hi" ! It's one freaking word.
The last straw came a couple of weeks ago. He was afraid my daughter would surely use all the hot water during her bath because she was running it for a ridiculous amount of time. He didn't want our son to have to take a cold bath so he banged on the door and shouted at her to "not use all the hot water" She said she wouldn't and a minute later she came up the stairs in a towel with her head still lathered in shampoo. He had turned off the water. While I was in the kitchen talking to her about it, he came runninng up the stairs just screaming at me, her anyone else within hearing range..He ranted, raved and waved his arms all about wildly. I asked him to turn the water on until she could rinse her hair and he responded by running downstairs after her to her room and screaming that she could have 2 minutes and he would be timing it. He has never followed her or been in her personal space so it terrified her to have him run down to her room after her.
IAn enormous fight ensued, I left that night and came back the next day.
My daughter has been becomeing increasingly depressed and anxious about our living arrangements. She says that she is afraid of my husband and will not leave her room if he is there and I am not. Moreover, she is furious with me whenever I talk to him nicely or go somewhere with him-as she takes it as a betrayal. I became distraught also so I arranged for counseling for both us. During that time, most of the counselors encouraged me not to leave if possible. Others have insisted that leaving is the only way to save my daughter and myself from the loony bin.
My son is 5 and may be mildly affected by Autism/Aspergers. My husband also suspected to be on the spectrum which might explain a lot of his behavior. I know that if I separate from his father my son will be torn apart. He is oversensitive and requires strict routine and sameness..(an Asperger trait) so a move like this would be devastating. But to not move could harm my daughter more.
So, I have been changing my mind on a daily basis because I feel like somehow we should be able to work this out. But for 5 years this has not panned out.
I am just not sure how I would manage a separation. I love being with my husband and it just feels so awful to have to split from someone I actually love but also enjoy when it is just us.
I simply do not know where to go and the ambivalence feels like it is strangling me.
I would love to hear from anyone who has a similar story about a step-family situation and your partner not getting on with your child/ren.