June of 2012 was the first time my former husband threatened my life. Things were out of control and falling apart more rapidly than I could have ever predicted. I was the target of extreme mood swings, name calling, incessant phone calls, emails, texts, emotional instability and accusations. I was being manipulated, lied to, lied about and pitted against in my own home. But I didn’t understand dysfunction, emotional abuse, gas-lighting, personality disorders or the like. At the time I just wondered what was wrong with me. How had I come to deserve this? I believed him when he said it was all my fault. I believed him when he said I was worthless. So what could I do to fix me and save my marriage?
As I scrambled to find my bearings back in June 2012 and understand what was happening, I started this blog and community. Since then The Childless Stepmom has grown to a community of thousands. I tried to document my journey through the years as truthfully as possible, showing how valuable personal growth was. How much my life had changed since getting some serious therapy. How different things were when I was able to forgive and understand my role. How I’d set my heart and mind appropriately regarding marriage, raising children, and dealing with biological mothers who I was then forever attached to.
Years later, we are now divorced. A child I raised as my own for 6 years has been entirely ripped out of my life. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Every attempt at reasonable conversation, or even the permission to send a birthday card, has been ignored. My former husband was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, though I see plenty of narcissistic traits, among other things. My codependency issues were throwing gasoline on that fire for years. When I started to face the mirror, get myself emotionally stable, and assert appropriate boundaries, my former husband retaliated. And he retaliated with the only weapon he had against me; the child who called me Mom.
My passion about informing others and breaking the cycle of dysfunction has only grown stronger. “The childless stepmom” name has only become more fitting. Once upon a time I was a stepmom, and a hell of a good one. As it stands now, I am childless entirely.
The other day I calculated that I have about $10,000 worth of talk therapy behind me. Whoa. Needless to say, my therapist and I are pretty tight. She taught me more than I could ever put into words and even comes to me from time to time for resources for her other clients because I have become so passionate about growth and I want to help others. There is no greater compliment, truly. After 6 years of relationship and emotional intelligence training, plenty of books, groups, mentors, and wise counselors, you can see why I’m so passionate about living a joyful and healthy life.
When I start to get sour about all that I lost in that marriage, I think of all that I gained. I am a different person now. I attempt to live full of humility and grace, sharing wisdom where it’s requested and love and truth and light. These days I facilitate classes on relationships at my church, and mentor those who come to me looking for guidance. Having spent so much time in a cage, being able to speak freely on these topics is liberating.
I feel it’s valuable to share this with you because you deserve to know the character of the woman behind these posts. This is who I am.
I am someone who now understands the biological mom (“bio-mom” or “BM”) perspective. It may be a difficult pill to swallow, but I now understand far more about BM than I ever did. And truthfully, she wasn’t entirely wrong. Plenty dysfunctional, but not entirely wrong. She warned me that he wouldn’t be faithful. She warned me that he wouldn’t be emotionally stable. She warned me that what had been done to a slew of women before me, would also be done to me. She was right. He was engaged to his next victim within months of our split, a woman who has no idea what she is about to walk into. I have a special place in my heart for the “former woman”, as the person who is now looked at as the “crazy ex” who just wants to spoil things. I assure you, that is not always the case with these women.
On the other hand, I now am a target of extreme alienation and invalidation. I am a survivor. I have loved and falsely believed I was loved by, someone who has been considered an emotional child, devoid of any empathy, unable to truly love at all. Someone who slung false allegations around like he was blowing bubbles. Someone who was described as merely “a kid running with scissors.” But those scissors were strong enough to impale my heart, and trash my relationship with my boy. Someone who seemed to always slip out from under any accountability and leave the innocent looking insane. Yes. I’ve seen that too. So when I hear that someone in your life may exhibit these qualities, and that you truly believe that they are “crazy” – honestly, I do understand.
I have been lied about; my character assassinated.
I had a “partner” who was anything but – parenting with him was like pushing against a freight train.
I had a mother in law who once thought I was the greatest thing on the planet, only to turn on me, all the while knowing I was being hurt unfairly. She soon wrote me off and showered all that old adoration for me onto his new partner.
I have seen blended family marriages thrive, and I have seen them fail. I could tell you the differences in these relationships with ease.
I have been in a marriage with someone who swore to the whole world he was trying his hardest, and I was the reason he was forced to react with such hatred. He was faithful, honest and genuine, he claimed. Later, I caught him in attempts to pick up numerous women while we were still married, using the phone that I paid for. He even tried to pick up one of my very best friends (also a bridesmaid in our wedding) on a dating website. There was no limit to how he played me for a fool and stripped me of everything I had.
Every day that passes, I lose time with my former stepson, who was the light of my entire life. My family and friends feel this surge like an earthquake, tearing all of our hearts. But he must keep his lie alive, so he blocked me from all communication – so he can claim that I don’t try to reach out, yet threatening me if I do. It’s all a mind-game. One that I thankfully unhooked from, but those hooks leave very deep scars.
As a God trusting woman, I have set my faith in Him to provide, and to be just. But no matter your spiritual affiliation, the fact remains that you cannot put evil out into the world and have it never return to you. One day, the truth will surface, as it always does.
I write this today to share with you that I’ve decided to continue with the blog, and with sharing my story. I have been told I have helped many and I believe the bravest thing we can do is to share our story. Too many people are walking this planet without relationship skills, they are tattering marriages, tattering children and are living in complete misery. I will keep exuding light where I believe I can. I just wanted to be sure I was clear about why I post what I post. You may see me posting about personality disorders, about co-parenting, about accountability, faith, and most of all goodness. The world needs more goodness. I am also open to any suggestions about what you’d like me to write about. Any questions you may have, I will do my best to answer them from my own experience.
I am not a licensed therapist. I have no shortage of experience and training, however. I have had several years of relationship centered therapy, DivorceCare Recovery, Codependency Recovery and a slew of other training including conflict resolution and boundary establishment. I spent years of my life and thousands of dollars in court over custody battles. I am a survivor of an extremely emotionally abusive marriage. I am in close community with hundreds of others who have been brave enough to share their stories with me and helped me glean wisdom off of them. I also humbly ask you for your wisdom, the purpose of life is to live it with others and learn from others. That is why I will always keep the group open to all members of a blended family. It’s even open to those who only have experience with a loved one being in a blended family, because all experience is truly valuable.
While some of this may sound like the musings of a bitter ex wife, I have actually never been more hopeful. I genuinely forgive those who wrecked me out of ignorance and I believe with every piece of me truly that we reap what we sow. My heart will remain open to a reconciliation one day should their hearts turn, but for now I send them off in peace. I have done the difficult work and it was well worth it. I intend to keep telling my story. I intend to be as genuine as I can, while also being fair, honest, and respectful of all other parties. But, no more hiding. I lived in a cage for years and if I can help another person avoid that trap, I will. I now enjoy thriving, exceptional, healthy and functional relationships, and my heart is so joyful. I’d like to share it with you.