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How to stop the anger and inner turmoil

Seeker6417's picture

Hey everyone,

Last week, I posted a message on a board for marital issues. Since most of the issues I'm experiencing are related to SD. I naturally included her and her mannerisms (and my reaction to her) in the post.


I just about got crucified by almost everyone who responded. All they kept repeating was "that poor kid," "that poor girl," etc. when referring to SD. It made me so angry because most of these people have no idea what the step dynamic is like and they basically told me, in so many words, that my feelings don't matter because I'm an adult and I should be bending over backwards for SD. Some of them were single parents who remarried, so they based their "advice" on how THEY would feel if their SO didn't like their child.

If anything, it confirmed how little respect stepparents get in society. If a stepparent sacrifices everything, including their own happiness, to raise a stepkid, then society responds with " nice." But, if a stepparent is an actual human being with complex emotions who doesn't appreicate being taken advantage of, society responds by calling the stepparent a selfish asshole who should have known what they were getting into!

Also, because complete strangers felt more sorry for a stepkid who is completely unlikeable, it somehow made me resent her even more.

This morning, SD started middle school, and because I drive her to school (we only have one car and the school doesn't have a bus) I told my wife that we needed to leave by a certain time since the school is 15 minutes out of my way in the opposite direction. When my wife woke up SD this morning, SD said she wanted to leave at 7:30am instead of 10 minutes earlier. It's little things like that. It enrages me that SD gets to make those kinds of decisions. The entire morning isn't about HER. I still have to drive 45 minutes to work after I drop her off and maybe I don't want to be late for work everyday! It's like nobody event takes me into consideration. More and more, I just feel like I don't matter in my own home.

I'm just venting. Thanks for listening.

Step-girlfriend's picture

I assume you told them that you can't be late for work so you will leave at the time you said you would leave at yesterday? Because you are the adult and you get to make those kinds of decisions whether your wife and SD like it or not? And you have a job and cannot be late? Stand your ground! I would never...and I mean never, let a kid tell me they want to leave at a different time, thus making me late for work. And if my SO agreed with the kid, I would just go to work and let them figure it out for themselves. If you are going along with it, no offense, you are being a pushover...

As for the first part of your's easy for people who are not in this situation to say how we should feel about skids. It doesn't work that way, however, and not all skids are just great children. It's the hardest situation to be in!

Chevy92's picture

I agree! Work comes FAR before your SD wanting to be at school at a specific time, even if it was your own kid. Definitely stand your ground. If they can’t work it out, be in your car for the time you want to leave, give her fair warning, and if she’s not out there in time, she can find other means to get to school. Growing up, when my dad told me to be ready to go at a certain time, you knew to be ready or he would just be gone without you. She’ll have to learn the hard way maybe that the world doesn’t revolve around her schedule. But better to bite the situation in the ass now then have to deal with it when it’s worse, later.

Areyou's picture

I also have a middle school age SD and she is intolerable. I feel you. No judgment here. Take care and tell that girl and her mom to stop making you late for work. Just stand up to them.

SK3's picture

People who aren't in step/blended family situations just don't get it.  Some bio parents that are in it do, but not all.  Being a step parent is hard - you are expected to act like a parent, but you aren't the parent.  You're expected to make decisions, but you're not supposed to.  You're expected to love you Skids no matter what, but there is always an awkward-ness between you.  You're expected to put them first, but what about what you want?  According to other people what you want / how you feel doesn't matter - but if you were their bio parent, it would.  Step parents have completely differeent expectations surrounding their role - it's already a tough enough job without those expectations!

I completely agree that SD should NOT get a say as to when you need to leave so you are on time for your job.  You as the adult who needs to be somewhere should be the one making that decision.  And I agree with Step-girlfriend - leave one day and they'll figure out you are serious.

Best of luck to you!

Rainydaze777's picture

I felt super guilty for the way I felt because I couldn't seem to find any support other than this site.

You aren't alone.

Notup4it's picture

I have a middle school aged daughter as well, and ya they can be a pain... I think though that your anger is misdirected at her and should be towards Mom. Kids will naturally push for what they can get away with, and it sounds like Mom is just sitting back and letting it happen.  You don’t even have to get angry in this situation you can simply tell Mom- look taking her to school is making me late for work and I can’t be- either we leave by ‘such and such time’ or you are going to have to take her. My car is pulling out by this time and if she isn’t in the car I’m just going to have to leave without her.... end of story. That would be what my DH would do- I would never put him in that position though in the first place. 

So really it has nothing to do with your SD it is all to do with Mom. I think if you work on being more assertive (not mean, just assertion) and creating boundaries you are going to be much happier and more respected.

As for the other forum, people are sensetive and have a lot of societal ideals that they love to make judgements about. Trust me, they have thoughts and feelings that go through their heads as well that are far from perfect.  The fact that you do take your step daughter to school is an action that says that you do love Mom and care about her... but you vocally expresses frustration in an atmosphere of people who are in intense situations themselves.  They might be the same people who do jack all for their kids but then go on and on about how perfect of a parent they are to anyone who will listen. 

What I have learnt from relationships along the way is to put down the boxing gloves and the internal upset as much as you can and always just try to stay level headed and be direct and influential in ways people cannot argue with. So in this case for example stay sweet and don’t complain (because really that is just a waste of your energy) and be kind but direct “I was late yesterday and I can’t be.... I have to leave by X at the very latest. If it’s too difficult for SD to be in the car by that time you are going to have to drive her or find someone who is able to take her at that time.”.  You might get some kickback at first because they aren’t used to it, but if you stick with it over time it will pay off. 

susanm's picture

You have to put your job in jeopardy - or at least add additional stress that you really don't need to your day if you don't have an "official start time" - so that a middle school aged child can dawdle?  Oh HELL no!  I can see being nice and giving kind reminders for a few days but after that it is "You see this house?  You see this food?  You see this car?  Guess where it comes from?  ME getting my ASS to work!  Be in the car by X time because it is LEAVING whether you are in it or not."  And then drive off at that time on the dot without a backward glance.  Unreal..... 

Harry's picture

If she is in the car, you take her to school.  If she not in the car you go to work, and have time for a cup of coffee 

Seeker6417's picture

Part of the issue is that my wife treats SD like she's made of glass. SD is already emotionally closed off and basically supresses everything, and my wife is afraid to be tough with her for fear that it will damage her psychologically.

My take is that she's creating (and has already created) a completely codepedent child who will grow up and latch on to abusive relationships because she won't know how to cope with a reality where the sun doesn't rise and set on her ass.

She barely knows how to do anything for herself aside from a few minor things; she doesn't really seem to be maturing (at least not to the level that I feel an almost-12 year old kid should); she's lazy and has to be told something several times before she'll actually do it.

Over the past year, I've felt particularly ignored. My wife is now around 5 months pregnant and it seems like her mood swings are turning her into a different person. She makes little remarks jokingly (behind every jest...) about my side of the family, when her side of the family (her parents and SD) are completely dysfunctional. I feel isolated from my side of the family. Everything in my life seems to be about doing things for my wife and SD. I have my own interests that keep me sane, but those glimmers of light aren't enough. I have no outlet, we live 5 hours away from my family, and I really see problems ahead if something doesn't change.

I know that time and circumstances always turn things in a different direction. I'm just hoping I can hold on that long.

Seeker6417's picture

As it happens, I was thinking about this very thing yesterday.

I can't think of a single area in the marriage where I'm fulfilled in any way. Emotionally = nope. Mentally = nope. Physically = not even close.

I drive SD to school every morning, then drive 45 minutes to work. I work a 9 hour day, drive 45 minutes home, walk through the door and cook dinner. Then, we usually eat and watch something on TV, and the rest of the evening is basically just wasting time until we go to bed. Once in bed, my wife immediately picks up her cell phone and starts playing games. I fall asleep. Next day, repeat.

My wife works part time. The only break I really get is when she works on Saturday, because her parents will take SD for the day and I'm free to have some time to myself, which usually translates to quietly walking around the bookstore for 1-2 hours with a coffee.

But the main problem is that she doesn't seem to care about anything that's important to me. I write, so if I've finished something and want her to read it, she always says "she will" but doesn't. When I've told her how unhappy I am living where we currently live, it doesn't matter because moving would require her and SD to leave their comfort zones (again, who cares how miserable I am). A few times, I've missed out on going places I really wanted to go because her anxiety prevented us from going. 

I try to be understanding because she does have anxiety and it can be crippling. I also have anxiety but I never had the luxury of someone doing things for me, so I was forced to work through my anxiety, which has ultimately made me a stronger person. And because she knows that I'm stronger, she expects me to deal with more, which is unfair. The one time my anxiety got to be too much, we were in a grocery store with really narrow aisles and entirely too many people in a confined space. I started getting panicky and told her I had to leave. She got mad at me.

So, I'm expected to concede to her anxiety, but not vice versa. 

If I had to take an educated guess, I would say she is in some kind of depression. But the only thing she really has to be depressed about is the fact that her career has gone nowhere and she feels inadequate because of it. Again, she would have more opportunities if we made the move I've suggested, but her fear won't let her do that, so she's basically her own enemy and I'm caught in the middle.

On top of that, her coddling of SD is making me sick. Last night, SD had a headache, and the only thing my wife didn't do was hire a violinist. She massaged SD's head, gave her an aspirin, asked her if she wanted a foot massage, etc.

She's almost 12. She had a headache. It's not lupus. Get a f'n grip.

Seeker6417's picture

It's great that your situation turned around and that you and your husband were able to work through it. But what I read in your post that makes the situation different is one thing: accountability. You understood that your anxiety was burdening to others around you, and instead of wallowing in self-pity, decided to confront it head-on. Good for you, that's excellent! That's the component that my wife is missing: accountability.

While I'm sure she realizes that her anxiety/dependency causes problems and inconvenience, she goes the other way. She feels guilty, which makes her recede into herself even further, and then she gets angry that she feels that way, especially when she feels (perception is reality) powerless to change it. She can change it, but she doesn't think she can.

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right." - Henry Ford

Seeker6417's picture

My wife only has one sibling, a brother, who has disassociated himself from everyone (he did so after marrying so we suspect his wife is the culprit). My wife's parents are enablers; her father's overcoddling of SD is most of the problem. Because he does everything for SD short of wiping her ass (he might do that too if she let him), it puts my wife in the position of always being the bad guy whenever she sets rules. So, to avoid being the bad guy, she ends up not setting those rules, which in turn is actually having the same effect as her father's overcoddling.

Underneath it all, my wife is afraid of SD growing up and resenting her or choosing to distance herself. It's a circular problem: my wife's lack of discipline (or fear of discipling) is creating a world where consequences don't exist - paired with grandpa treating SD like she fell out of a unicorn's ass onto a bed of golden straw. As a result, SD's behavior will naturally worsen or become even more withdrawn when my child is born and she sees that her half-sister has a mother and a father...because she's used to being the only child and spoiled. She won't be number one anymore, nor should she receive the same level of attention as an infant. 

My wife will notice SD sinking within herself, and that will frustrate/depress her too, because she can't really punish SD for that.

Notup4it's picture

It’s a transition time with the new baby on the way. I don’t think you need to jump to divorce quite yet though. 

I think you need to check through your work if there is a therapy program they offer so you can figure out how to feel comfortable setting boundaries and putting your needs as a priority as well.

I think that is what sounds like the REAL issue is. And don’t feel bad about it, I think that either boundary setting (or on the flip side unrealistic expectations) are the root cause of 99% of relationship problems. I USED to have huge issues setting true boundaries, and also being assertive. So often I would get taken advantage of, and then feel like crap because of people taking advantage. Then I would snap and leave.... once it had already gone way too far.  You can fix this, you just need to work on getting comfortable navigating boundaries. I used to equate saying no and setting boundaries with not being nice.... but now have figured out how to set them in ways where I still look nice but can get more of what I need as well.

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

Since when do kids get to decide when to get up and leave? If my Skids had the choice they'd sleep in until 8 and wouldn't bother going to school at all. FUnny thing, there's this magic thing called parenting that society often forgets. It's the parents responsibility to get the kid up and then push them out the door on time. it's not the kid's call.

I swear society is going soft... The kid isn't the adult and has ZERO authority. Life isn't about bending over backwards for a kid. Parenting is about making sure the kid gets what they need, but also that they're pushed to follow rules and actually do something. But life shouldn't EVER revolve around a child's wants.

They're the tenant, the adults are the dictators. (not even landlords, the adults should have final say, not up for vote or debate.)

Your DW and you need to discuss boundaries and rules or the "poor kid" is going be a selfish and self absorbed adult that can't keep a job and never launches.

susanm's picture

Maybe this is a stupid question but why do you live 45 minutes from your job when you are the breadwinner?  Your wife only works part-time and you do not mention a father that your skid goes to on a regular basis.  You refer to her not wanting to move because of anxiety but, as you prove yourself, anxiety can be dealt with if you want to.  Maybe this is my military kid talking but the family lives where the breadwinner works or at least as close as possible to make their life convenient.  Maybe "if momma a'int happy nobody is happy" but if the breadwinner isn't happy and decides to bail then nobody eats, KWIM?  I am not saying that the person who brings in the money calls ALL the shots - obviously not - but I don't see why they would have an hour and a half commute every day cutting into their quality of life unless there is a very good reason.

Seeker6417's picture

Well, I was originally working closer to home, but I got a better job. It meant a longer commute, but I was more than willing to take that because my previous job was miserable. Still, I don't want to move closer to my job because I don't want to move into another house in this state. When we move, it's gonna be closer to my family.

Side note: The house we live in is not mine. It's in my wife's name and her father's name. It was that way before we met. I moved in with her when we got married because I was living in an apartment. The mortgage is much lower than we would've gotten if we'd purchased a new house together, and since the bulk of the income comes from my paycheck, I wanted to keep monthly bills as low as possible.

susanm's picture

Makes sense.  If it works for you then it works for you.  Hopefully your wife will decide to show some appreciation.  But you say that the house is not yours.  You may want to check with an attorney in your state.  Since you are the one paying the mortgage, you very well may be gaining property rights every month that you are not even aware of..