What About The Stepchildren?
So we're going to do really for the rest of the episode is read a couple of letters from step children Adult now but step children and try to look at the situation from their perspective. And we're going to have some incredible help in that a mission from the wonderful author Jane Alison. Who's GonNa join us a little bit later but for now let's Let's here this first letter. Great dear sugars. I'm a woman in my late twenties and recently became a stepchild. My parents divorced when I was nineteen after returning home from my first year of College I discovered my dad was having an affair and had front row seats to their implosion. Within the next few years he had developed. An addiction disowned me and my siblings and disappeared from my life. My mother was devastated and my siblings and I were left to pick up the pieces. Several years later she was dating. It moved fast like for meeting on line two married in under a year. He seems to be a kind man is good to my mom. She seems genuinely happy. Am thankful for that but I cannot stand him. He tries so hard with me and my siblings. It irritates me and then I feel childish for being near updated. Every conversation is about how much he loves my mom and cherishes her how he has this. Quote unconditional love for me and I'm like dude slowdown. Do you have any hobbies? What's your favorite color? It feels fake forced and frustrating when he talks have to resist the urge to make wretched noises. I think he has the best of intentions. But it's way too much even more than the emotional overstepping his very existence is the reminder to me of so many griefs in my life. My parents divorce my father's abandonment. The fact that my family will never be what it once was tried to talk to my mom about my fears and sadness and she responds one of two ways one ignoring my feelings and moving on or to crashing into guilt and tears about how. She's a terrible mother. Then I ended up comforting her and feeling guilt. Ridden for sharing. How I feel. I feel like I'm losing the only parent I have left. What do I do with this pain? My mom can't hear it. She doesn't want to hear it. She can't manage her on guilt. And then I'm left alone in my grief. I know it's not his fault but I had no choice in any of this and the place I once called home no longer exists. And he's there painting a fairytale when I have come from a nightmare and I don't buy and I can't stand it. Signed step whatever And you're right you're right. This is such a powerful self self-aware person and here's the deal. You didn't have a chance to grieve the loss of your family and your mom in her quest. For happiness instability in probably. She was quite unhappy for quite a number months. She got married and found somebody else. And you know. Your stepfather is painfully. Aware of your mom's passed and that she was betrayed and hurt. And so were you. And so. He's overdoing it and you also feel rightfully that your mom has abandoned you. It's not just your dad. Who Blew up the family? It's your mom not being able to deal with the fact that you're not over it and you need to you know feel more grief and feel you're not alone in it. She is E- even to a greater extent. Really then your stepfather. Who's in the situation but new to the situation? She's the person who's not at a moment. You really need her to being your mom and saying I get that this was painful for you and I needed find my own happiness but it happened so quickly. You didn't really have a chance to grieve. And it's interesting Cheryl she. You know this all happened when she was nineteen and in some ways as we know trauma kind of freezes the psyche and the heart in a particular face so to some extent step. Whatever even though. You're clearly so thoughtful and self aware you're kind of frozen in this teenage petulance of sank getaway. Powell get a job I WANNA WRETCH. You know even the way you talk about it now. I don't blame you for a second. You're absolutely right. Don't buy it. I can't stand and I was like hell. Yeah you don't but you do have to find a way to tell your mom you have to be my mom Yeah I think that stuff. Whatever I don't think that that you really need to process this with your mother and stepfather you know. I think the person you need to heal is yourself. Because you know you you say you're in your late twenties. The divorce was when you were nineteen so it sounds like you've gone the better part of a decade essentially having to adjust to this new way of being your your new family structure and it's full of sorrow and it's full of pain and anguish and and now you know that your mom has moved on and found happiness more quickly than you'd like with a man who doesn't behave exactly the way you prefer. It's brought all of that sorrow and loss front and center to you. The answer isn't that your mom says okay because it causes you pain that I married to this super sweet guy. I'm leave him and the answer isn't the super sweet guy. You know I mean I get it that you wouldn't want him to adjust his behavior. But I don't really think that that's the problem you know. I relate to this so much because W- longtime listeners of the show. My Mom died when I was twenty. Two my my stepfather. Who I loved like a father pretty quickly got involved with another woman and even though this scenario you know there wasn't an affair in a divorce and all that there was a death but suddenly there was another woman sleeping in my mother's bed. I don't know any other way to say it and it was very very very difficult. You know the fact of their relationship in so many ways brought up you know my profound loss and also the truth was that my family would never be the same again in fact it never was the same again here. We are twenty five years out from them and so I what I'm going to encourage you to think about whatever is you know. Your mom has remarried and she's happily remarried and the guy sounds like a pretty decent guy even though he's a bit insufferable But but but what? Let's roll the tape back but insufferable discussing you to suffer is is is just simply your sorrow and your and your rightist grief. You know you wanted your parents to stay married to each other. You wanted the life of your childhood to continue into your adulthood and hasn't and that is really painful but you do have to find a way to accept it. Well what you see. Very clearly in where the What's quite striking which gets left behind when all the focus is on the the step that is within the next few years my dad had developed. An addiction disowned me and my siblings and disappeared from my life. So you're furious but you got the wrong guy the wrong suspect and we know this is what happens with our anger when we when the source of it up and leaves than its. It doesn't disappear just has to get displaced under somebody else so there's your sweet slightly insufferable. I would not say he's insufferable. But you know here's this guy is trying too hard and I guess what I would say is that I agree. Show that that for you. Step whatever the work to be done is within yourself and it sounds like you're already have been doing. Some of that work in this letter is the product of having done some of that work. But it's important to be honest with your mom and with your stepfather in simply saying to them. I'm not really over what happened. Please stop pretending that I am or that. If you pretend you're over at or if you even are over it that you're going to transmit that to me because that is only making me feel neglected and left alone on the island of monstrous grievance anger and. I don't expect you to fix it but you need to be aware that you trigger it when you guilt trip me or you try too hard. Yeah I think that's good advice and I think one of the hardest things about becoming a stepchild or or you know. Seen suddenly senior parents love other people. Is You know it it really is the kind of the end of a dream and I remember feeling very clearly. I even said this to my stepfather. I'll never have another mother but you can have another wife well and so in some ways. I mean obviously I think we can never replace specific people but in in categorically we can. It is true that I never had another mother and it is true that he did have another wife. And I think stub whatever part of this anger. Your feeling towards your stepfather is that you see that that's happened that your mom really has moved on and she has a new marriage. But you don't have a new Dad and part of your anger about him saying things like I love your mother and I love you. Unconditionally is you. Don't WanNa New Dad Right. You're still wounded by your own. So you know. I think one of the beautiful things that could happen if we've still got this podcast and in a decade. I'm going to beg you to write to us because one of the things that could happen is that you do. He'll that Father Wound. And you do heal the wound of your family. Exploding that you could find that that this man who's married to your mom could be somebody that you love. And he's never going to be your dad but he might be somebody pretty important in your life down the road you know he might be the grandfather to your children that if you have kids you know he might be Become family But I think that you I have to heal your own wounds and stop focusing on him and how much he tells you. He loves you and start focusing on your own sorrow. We wish you luck price to us in ten years.