Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms wrote in, Cathryn replied​.
Cathryn's Mailbox
2 Youngsters I can't control.

3 yr old SS crying all the time!

A bio-mom worried about new stepmom in her daughter's life- can we help?

About ready to throw in the towel!

About to become a step parent and am terrified!

Bio mom badmouthing me to my stepson & he repeats to me & my kids.

Bio-mom back & I'm hurt by her impact-what can I do?

Bio-mom doesn't want me present at any of my skids school events.

Bio-mom is online stalking & has issues w/ pictures of skids.

Bio-mom physically assaulted me & telling skids it was the other way around?

Bio-mom used me, I drew a line, she’s angry--now what?

BM doesn't want her kids, then does-what's going on?

Clarifying Mission Statement for SMOMS-revised

Dealing w/ bio-mom who doesn't want to get along with me?

Dealing w/ Deceased Bio Mom's Extended Family

Dealing with SD at my young age

DH finds out he has a daughter-I feel terrible

DH sets no Boundaries for SD20-what to do?

DH w/3 bio-kids not trying to bond w/ my 2 bio kids.

Do I love my ss? I don't know.

Does the BB help or hurt with issues?

Don't know where I went wrong

Ever Feel Like Leaving?

FDH feels guilty about leaving BM & allows her to excessively call/text/email him.

Feeling like invisible parent to stepson- help!

Feeling like the enemy in my own house: Teen SD

Feeling resentment towards my SS & can't connect

From BB- A Ritual for you & your beloved

From BB: Self-awareness can hurt...why is that?

Help w/situation that dad, biomom & skid all agree on but I don’t feel is best

Holiday traditions? Some ideas from sister SMOMS

How can I find the right balance & Boundaries?

How can I handle my SD8 who loves negative attention?

How do I cope w/DH's need for perfect family when I'm more realistic about it?

How do I deal with a lying SD, her bio-mom & the ex-step mom?

How do I deal with all the hurt and anger?

How do I help her understand that chores and rules don't mean that I don’t love her?

How do I stop SD from lying to me, DH, BM, and BM's boyfriend?

How to accept bio-mom's "bad" choices?

How to deal w/ unkind skids, ex-wife, MIL costing me my relationship?

how to deal w/SD choosing bio-mom for school play?

How to handle bio-mom who keeps asking for more $$$?

How to handle it when skids away Christmas Day?

How to help ss, when BM encourages him to lie?

How to help when bio-mom returns

How to let go of the single life I thought I saw going to live versus being SMOM?

How to make transition easier for skids?

how to step back in after stepping out?

Husband still feels guilty, his kids in their 30’s

I am frustrated with my skids 99% of the!

I feel jealous of DH's ex & unheard by DH-Help!

I feel left out & sort of invisible w/ grown SD’s

I really love my FDH, but really wish his daughter didn't exist?

I want a better relationship w/ teen stepson

I want a Closer relationship w/ stepdaughter

I want my bed back

I would like to know how to change my attitude towards my new inherited family

I'm at the end of my tether... Stepchildren don't seem to like me.

If you're in the mood for SMOMS Pep Talk-read this!

Invested so much love, time, energy & $$...seems it's never enough

It's too much work- I need help from DH & Family!

Jealous of sister-in-law & Skids-what can I do?

Just jealous or maybe time to leave?

Local support stepmom groups???

My DH doesn't understand why my feelings are hurt

My husband stays at his mothers when he has his daughter for the night.

Need better coping skills to do so…

No matter what I do, bio-mom still hostile. I feel hopeless & scared

Not a step mom yet but need some guidance

Open for your Questions in March 2015

Right now, I HATE being a Stepmom!!!

Self-Pity-it's an emotional numbing,energy draining tactic

Someone to talk to when things come up or whenever?

SS5 keeps throwing his BM in my face! Help!

Struggling w/ a jealous stepdaughter

Stubborn DH and sexually active teenage SS

teenage step daughter & car...Ugh!

the problem is my partner...why is he fighting my efforts?

Transitions and Coparenting Struggles

Trouble coping w/BF's newborn & ex.

Venting Guidelines- A Requested approach

What are reasonable expectations?

What are these letters?

What boundaries do I need to set with husband and sd?

What can we do about the rage! I "Lost it" last night. Help!

What to do about disrespectful 20 yr/old SS

What to do when Bio mom starts turning step daughter against me?

what to do when step child stops saying I love you?

When bio-mom sends stuff from life w/your DH?

When BM causes drama, how to prevent that impacting my relationship w/ the skids?

When to call it quits? What to do?

When winning more important to bio-mom than getting along

Why do things Skid's say bother me so & what to do?-Updated!

Why does it bother me that my skids don't recognize how much their father does for th

Why does my ss's rudeness bother me so?

Why does my stepson Idolize his bio-mom????

Why don't I matter in the family?

Why so jealous? What about irrational fears?

How to deal w/ unkind skids, ex-wife, MIL costing me my relationship?

Hi Cathryn,

I am new to the BB, so please excuse that I don’t know all of the “lingo”.  I have also tried to post to the BB, but am not yet able to do so.  I have had one of the most upsetting days of my life and found this forum and thought writing this could be an outlet and a source for advice.

I am not married to my boyfriend though we have been living together now for over 2 years.  I have no children and he is 15 years older with 3 children from his previous marriage.  The kids are Boy-13 and Girls 16 and 21.  We met very shortly after he left his home and marriage and at the time he left home only his youngest son was still in the house.  For us now, the kids’ biological mother is not really the problem as she was abusive and neglected both my boyfriend and the children.  

Knowing that, I’ve done everything in my power to be as loving and kind to the children as possible.  When I met by BF he was living with his mother who had recently moved to the area.  Once we became serious, he moved out of there and we found a place together.  He has sole custody of the children, though the youngest two are in boarding school and come home about once a month and the oldest is in University and is home about 3 times a year.

In the beginning their biological mom was crazy and I endured her spreading incredibly cruel rumors about me in the small town we live in (and where I had just moved) to her showing up screaming at my doorstep and throwing a brick through my car window (which her kids and ex were in at the time).  Through all of this, I tried to remain a positive and reassuring force in the family and did all I could to be patient and understanding.  

His mother is also quite the character and one day loves me and the next will barely call my name and refers to me as “You”.  She does this to the kids as well, but her mood changes are not as drastic with them as they are away at school and do not see her often.  Lately, I am “You” and the kids are fantastic. She has also had issues with my BF and is constantly telling him how little he does for her, when he is an amazing son despite the abuse she can heap on people.
It seems like I am trapped in a vicious circle and I am on the edge of losing a man that I absolutely adore because of it.   As for the relationship between us, everything are perfect.  It is the outside factors that are killing us….

So, what got me here today…  Well, Christmas!  My mother and grandmother (both of whom I am exceptionally close to) came to visit us this year.  This is special because we live overseas and it was a special trip for them.  We live in a fairly small apartment and his mother has a large house with lots of empty bedrooms.  She offered that my family stay with her and that the kids stay there as well.  In one of her moments of fit, she had the youngest  (boy-13) in tears, so we at the last minute decided that he would stay with us in the apartment and the girls and my family would stay at her house.   

For the first 2 weeks the kids arrived, all was great.  We got along well and everyone was excited about the holidays. In the past we have had problems with the kids mood towards me turning from warm, cold to openly hostile and we hope we had a breakthrough.   I spent an amazing amount of time and energy seeing that everyone got the gifts they wanted and making sure that all were generally happy.

During this time however his mother was on many occasions so openly rude and hostile to me, my mother and grandmother (in front of the children) that it brought me to tears.  Including one time at the dinner table in front of all that she called me fat in an incredibly obvious though roundabout way.

After Christmas (of course once they have all of their gifts), the girls attitude changed completely.  They would barely speak to me or my family and spent most of their time at the grandmother’s sulking.   I am also convinced she was poisoning them against me and my family.  Once my family left, the kids came back to stay with us and again the girls barely spoke to me.  

The 16 year old girl was the worse and refused to eat dinners with us and was openly hostile to me.  This attitude slowly spread to all of the children until they were all barely speaking to me.  The 16 year old was so openly hostile that I asked her father to speak to her about it.   Last night he took her out to have a talk with her and she told him that they all hated me and that she was just no longer able to pretend. When asked why she hated me she said she did not know, but mentioned that she did not like my clothes and the way I talked!  After this discussion, my boyfriend came home and said that he loved me and that our relationship was perfect, but that he could not see his children hurting and that after 2 years he’d had hoped it would get better.   He essentially broke up with me.  

This is the man whom I have a business with and am building a home with and he is so blind to his children’s manipulations that he broke up with me on the basis of “we don’t like her hair and the way she talks.”

To put it mildly I was and am devastated.  We spoke today and have agreed to think things over, but I don’t like this feeling of being made to be the problem when I am not.  I also desperately don’t want to lose this amazing relationship, as I was also married before and really understand what a good thing we have.   I also feel like these issues with his mother and the children are affecting us moving forward.   

He is hesitant to get married or have children and I very much want children of my own someday. I am 30 years old and don’t want to waste more time if it is an uphill battle.

Any advice is appreciated, for even writing this has helped me feel a bit better.

What do you think? L


Dear L,

Your situation is so sad. Here you have given and done and tried and efforted and loved all these people AND now you are being rejected because of the pressure caused by the antics of these wounded people. I’d like to start out by just acknowledging all the goodness and love you’ve given out and all the pain and anger you must be feeling.

With that said, what can I offer you now?
There are lots of emotional dynamics going on here. I’m going to give you the best I can in these 30 minutes but I want to start out by saying it will not solve the issues. (Wish I had the magic wand to end all the suffering stepmoms experience.)

Emotional abuse, rage, pain and defensive survival strategies are passed down from generation to generation. As children, we absorb and build a strategy from our limited base of knowledge to deal with the pain and rage of the reality we are forced to live in. Your BF forced to live with an abuse mom, not a coincidence he chose an abusive wife and his children are all products of their mom, dad and grandparents. Your love for your BF, and your skills and willingness to do hwatever you can, suggests that you grew up in an environment where whatever was going on, you survived by trying, trying and more trying to get people to be kind, pay attention to you or to not be neglectful or cruel. I don’t know that, I only know what you wrote, but this is just what I’ve learned from my studies, my life and other stepmom situations.

My point, is that there is very little you can do to change all the people is your situation. For whatever reason you are surrounded by people who believe is is alright to be hurtful and unkind to the people around them who are trying to care for them. From what you have so articulately described, there is a LOT of misplaced anger going around that gang of yours.

When those of us who survived on trying and doing for others get around these “users and takers” there is a natural magnetism that draws us together at first. e need to be needed, they need to get from others. Over time, as you are experiencing, the balance of giving and taking go waaaaay out of balance and we begin to feel resentful (healthy clue that we are over-giving) and the takers often do whatever they an to “up” their tactics to get us back to doing for them. This is a vicious, painful enraging cycle that I know all too well and I believe you may understand at a deep level.

Check out the Book by Dr. Alice Miller, called, “The Drama of the Gifted Child>” She has written many books, I’ve been studying her work for about 10 months, devouring her insights and if this is what I’m suspecting is true for you, you will know it after just a few pages of this small but powerful book.

As for your situation in this moment.
A week has passed since I first got your letter (sorry for the delay.)
You are in a situation where your life is entangled with the man you love and that makes it harder for you to get some space to reflect and reconnnect with what YOU want.

From what you say in your letter, it sounds to me like you to have a great love AND that loving each other is not enough of a foundation for a lifetime together. I don’t mean this to sound harsh. I’m imagining that you’ve thought this. Your desire for a child, your tenderness and open-heartedness, your willingness to grow self-reflect are all things that sound like they are NOT going to be honored in your present situation.

I’m not a therapist but I can say from my studies that your husband could benefit so so much from getting some counseling. The pain he’s experienced as a child, as a husband and now as a father is NOT something that goes away by indulging the one abusing him. At some level, he knows that, at another level he’s probably pushed down the pain and fear so deep that his wall feels too thick to dissolve with your love. It’s ironic but often truly loving someone, as I imagine he loves you, opens a wounded heart and just like an arm or foot that’s fallen asleep and is numb, when it first wakes up, the “Pins and needles” phase of waking up hurts-but only for a short while.

When it is our arm or foot, we grit out teeth and endure the pain because we TRUST that it will go away and that our arm or foot will be OK and work well. However, when our hearts have fallen asleep (due to numbing pain) and then have a chance to wake up, the first “Pins and needles” pain strikes and it is often so scary and so painful that people pay a tremendous emotional price to put their hearts back to sleep! It is a very common and very sad survival strategy. Most people do this because they do not believe they have a choice. THEY DO HAVE A CHOICE but it takes courage and a willingness to see and feel the truth of their experiences. It’s very sad (and scary for us) when those we love are not willing to do the emotional work in order to heal so they can be healthy and share our love and life. I understand this pain and feel for you deeply.

Now back to you...for whatever reasons, there are some beliefs in your psyche that are telling you that you have to endure or try (and try) in order to get others to connect with (love) you. I had the same one and have been working very consciously to create a new belief. You can do the same. Have you read my articles about “Overfunctioning” or “Boundaries for Nice people”? Have you read my recent story, at the top of Cathryn’s mailbox, that I wrote about how we can learn from our pain? Check them out when you want to.

Here’s the link to it:

Before I finish up I just want to assure you that you do not deserve to be treated like’ve done nothing to deserve it but be your loving kind self. Again, sadly, wounded people often lash out at the sensitive loving people in their lives. Why? Because at an unconscious level it distracts them from their own pain when they inflict pain on others. It makes them feel falsely powerful when what they really feel is incredibly powerless. It is a learned defense strategy, like the ones I mentioned at the beginning which are passed down from parent to child.

If you do decide not to go forward with this relationship, please read my article about relationships ending so you can give yourself, lots and lots of support. If you are now on the BB, I believe you will get lots of support for making a very difficult decision-if that’s what is best for you and your future.

You deserve a happy future, no matter what you past.
We can only do so much for others.
Please let me know if you want clarity on anything here or just want to reply as I will be happy to continue this dialogue.
This is a critical time in your life.
I hope you will choose to do the work, to trust that any “emotional pins and needles” are temporary and lead to freedom and true well being.
In the giant jig saw puzzle of life, we are each a unique piece that has a place in this world.
Be yourself!
Trust yourself!
Know that under all of our fears, angers and pains there are wounds to heal so we can become fully conscious, joyful, open-hearted, loving human beings.
I hope this helps you.
I know this is an important choice point in your life.
I wish you and your BF lots of courage and healing, together or apart. No one (not you and not him) should live with the torture he’s having to endure as a father.

Thinking of you, Cathryn
Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055