What have you gotten from it???
Some things that were said on another thread have gotten me thinking...
"But it seems that all anyone here wants are like-minded people who live mirror-image lives with the same cast of characters who all experience the same issues over and over again with no real desire to change things or make it better. It seems that all you want is to wallow in the negativity and have more people come and join the gripe-fest so that you can commiserate and feel that common bond. But do you want things to get better? If so, you have to have some balance - without balance, without hearing the "other" side, nothing can change or get better because you're stuck in your negativity. And you're stuck there because everyone else around you is in the same situation and has nothing new to say or experience to offer."
and this, rather offensive blanket statement, really deserves no response.
However, it got me thinking about what I have gotten from this forum.. which only proves the invalidity of the statement above. So this thread is to share what you have gotten from this forum... how has it made a difference in your life?
Here's my story:
I have been posting here since November 2007. In March 2007, on my SD's 7th birthday, her mother and father began a heated custody battle. It ended on August 7th, 2007 with the court ordering their 50/50 arrangement continue. Less than a month later on September 6th, BM informed us that she had moved the previous week (while SD was with us on DH's week) and that SD will live with us. She wanted us to tell SD the news. DH made her tell SD herself. SD was obviously devastated... needed counseling and still having some issues because BM, probably out of guilt, continues to tell SD that we took her away from BM and won't let her live there.
Long time posters have heard this story many times.. and the reason I reiterate it here is so everyone can understand that by November 2007, I had been dealing with SD's daily crying, she was acting out in school & getting lots of trouble, I was taking her to counseling and doing everything I could to help her deal with it. I had her call her mom everyday after school, but her mom would not answer the phone or call her back. If she got through, her mom would tell her she's busy and will call her back but then never called. (later she would tell SD she called but we didn't answer our phone or let her talk) and I would have SD write BM letters and mail them for her. By the time I googled, looking for stepfamily help and found this site, I was in tears a lot of the time. I was frustrated, angry at BM, and beginning to feel depressed all around. I had just celebrated my first wedding anniversary and this was not what I expected to be going through... BM seemed like a loving involved mom. I was shocked she could up and leave her daughter. She left her older daughter (SD's half sister) with grandma when she ran off to her new life with her BF.
Since being at GW, I have seen BM progressively treat SD worse and worse. From canceling weekends to spend time with her BF's kids and play super stepmom to them... to ruining her last two birthdays, leaving SD in tears both times. With each new heartbreak SD has to deal with, it is hard not to suffer right along with her. No child should have to go through what she has and is going through.
However in the two years that I have been the custodial stepmom, my relationship with SD has gotten better in some regard but more distant. SD knows that I am someone she can count on and yet, her mom places the blame for everything squarely on my shoulders. In court papers, BM said "Ima is the driving force" when DH asked for child support. That is her attitude... if it weren't for me, there would be no problems. She talks to SD about the court case. She thinks because of my work, I have Judges in my pocket... at least that is what she says to SD. So, it is a frustrating uphill battle because she is very vocal about blaming me. SD lives with me and sees the real me and then her mom tells her different and she's conflicted. That has put a strain on our relationship. (It has also strained my relationship with her since her mom took her to the mediator and she said a lot of nasty lies about me and DH in there... then again to her counselor and to our faces) While I know why she did it... I understand and feel bad for her, I believe everyone has to take personal responsibility for what they do... including kids. She has not shown a bit, that she feels bad for lying about us. She came out of the counselor, after telling him how we are so mean to her, and asked DH if he will take her to the amusement park the next day. So, I do vent here about my frustration over her behavior... and I get support or new insight. (Some people want to make excuses for everything a person does... they have this disorder or that syndrome... but even people with disorders and syndromes can take responsibility for what they do and get help to live in society and get along)
Since I began posting, I have been able to see different perspectives. I have learned that I am not the only one going through this... there are other mothers that leave their kids, don't see their kids, and make a new family without including their first kids. As sexist as it may sound, I knew fathers do that... but as a mom, I could never imagine another mom doing that. How naive I was. I have taken from this forum, constructive criticism that has helped me accept that BM is never going to be who I think she should be (as a mother) and that's okay. That my role in SD's life is not to save her and fix everything because that is impossible and I will only end up angry and frustrated.
Whether being a part of GW is responsible for helping me come to terms with my situation and how I now deal with it... I don't know if I would have gotten this far on my own, or if I would have thrown my hands up in frustration and left my DH. Now, I just shake my head when BM does something and nothing shocks me much anymore. It makes me sad when she lets SD down... sad for SD AND for BM. But I no longer race to my computer to write about her new low... I no longer get angry all the time.
So I have to disagree with miss sprinkles. I have gotten a lot from this forum and the various people here. There is a benefit to commiserating with others that are going through what I am. JNM gives me hope that maybe someday my SD and I can have a closer relationship. As she gets older, I see her eyes opening to her mom's lies and constant disappointment. Still, I worry that she will choose the path her mom is on... and I would be sad if that happens. Her mom is not a happy person, has never worked, has always lived with someone taking care of her, chooses a man over her kids, and cannot be alone... but cannot hold onto a man. We want so much more for SD than that.