At our wits end w/BM. LoveHadley, this one's for you

sadstep-momOctober 6, 2009

First off, let me say, I am new to this forum but so relieved that I have found it, it has brought me some peace and comfort, and lovehadley, you are my hero. It seems that

I may be in a very similar situation as you. Second I would like to say that, WOW, it is so sad that so many children have to live the life of suffering all due to their parents and that so many parents are in similar situations.

I don't know how to define or fix our situation. My husband and I recently got married. I have no children of my own but now have 5 step-kids. We have two girls, 13 and 8 and triplet boys that are 5 years old. We have the perfect life and I couldnt ask for more EXCEPT we have this one little, nagging problem, my husband's ex-wife! Surprise Surprise!

I will try to keep this short. I have never done anything to the BM and have always done my best to love and take care of all 5 kids. I am a product of a divorced family and was always put in the middle of my parents disputes, so I know how it feels the be the kid in the middle. I truly believe that the parents are only hurting their children when they can not act appropriately toward one another, and I have strong convictions about not badmouthing the other parent, no matter what opinions I might have.

BM finds it necessary to continue to tell the children that my husband and I are bad people, drug addicts, alcoholics and other horrible, untrue things. She calls our home and leaves the nastiest of messages, I'm a whore, etc. She does that call 20 times in 5 minute type thing. Our voice mail if full with messages from her. I have text messages, emails and even the children tell us about all the horrible things she says about us. She tells the kids that their dad doesnÂt love them, only her new bf does. The list of nastiness goes on and on but I think you can get the point.

It is court ordered that all communication be via email. We try to do that but she refuses and always has a nasty rebuttal. She refuses because she thinks it's me sending the emails. Also, she refuses me (the step-mom) to be able to call the children. BM tells me and the children that I am nothing to them, never will be and that I don't know how to be a good mother because I don't have any children of my own.

We are at wits end. I don't know what to do. I am NOT the type of person to just roll over and allow someone to speak of me that way. This is not the worst's of the situation either. She is clinically bipolar and court ordered to take medication but does not. She has gotten remarried and divorced again but her divorce isn't even final and now has a new man living in her home. We never know what to expect from her at any given moment. Once when we pick up the kids, she got so mad, for reasons unknown, said, "give me my F*#@'ing kids", and yanked them all out of the truck. The kids of course in tears. Two minutes later she is calling us (as well as my husbands mother) telling us we better come back and pick up the kids, "if he was a any kind of man he would come back and pick them upÂ." Another thing BM does, she gets angry when dad doesn't call the kids ever other day to see how school was but when he does call she takes the phone from the kids and starts in on him. BM is just relentless. Again, this is just one example of the things she does.

My husband and I are at a loss. It doesn't matter what we do, give in to her or stand up to her, it's always the same thing. She is very manipulative and controlling. Before my husband and I got married she was used to being able to have her way with him, as far as calling him everyday, several times a day, just to talk about things that had nothing to do with the kids. Well, when we got together I quickly put a stop to that. He is scared of her. BM has had him arrested for domestic violence. Get this, she got mad, went outside with a 2X4 and beat the tar out of this truck and motorcycle, then called the police and said he was beating her!! He was arrested. She is capable of so many things and he is very scared of her and truth be told I am as well. I have pleaded and pleaded with him to take a stand and set some boundaries. This past weekend he finally stood up to her. Lovehadley, we have the same thing going on where the BM tries to get to us through the SD cell phone. BM will ask her to put her father on the phone, just to speak about nonsense. Well, anyway, this past weekend we had the kids and she tried to do the cell phone control trick and my husband stood up to her and refused to take her call. All she wanted to know is if they would borrow a swimsuit since she was coming to pick them up early to take them to the beach. That is nothing that the oldest daughter (13) couldn't have told us herself. Well, BM got sooo angry. She had the daughter on the phone crying. She told her that we all do drugs and that she was going to take us to court and have the daughter testify that we do drugs. The oldest daughter is clearly hurting from all of this. The boys have sever anger issuesÂI'm sure stemming from the anger their mother expresses toward their father and I.

There are many more "stories" to be told. I do keep record of EVERYTHING. It's just getting old. I just want to know what my husband and I can do to keep our sanity and our marriage. It is not fair that we have to live the life we live because of one unstable person. I hate that we have to talk about my husbands ex-wife every other day or we can't seem to get beyond all this nonsense. We have to worry about what she might do next. We worry about what she is telling the children.

Sorry I didn't keep it short, this was about as short as I can make it.

Help!!! Please!!!!

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I'm so sorry for what you're going through -- It must be exhausting!

1) Save the nasty messages. You may need them in a court battle some day.

2) Since the court has ordered all communication to be through email, Dad should email Mom reminding her of the court order and asking her to stop leaving nasty phone messages (that the kids could pick up and hear) and to communicate with him through email. Copy his lawyer on that email.

3) In email, Dad should remind her about the court-ordered medication and state that he believes, based on her erratic behavior, she's not taking her medication. (Is there any provision for enforcement or drug-testing?) Again, CC the lawyer.

4) Never fight with a crazy person because you simply can't win.

Is there any way Dad could convince Mom to go to 'family counselling?' I know they're not a family anymore, but Dad and crazy Mom need to be able to work together to some degree for the good of the children, and family therapy may help them do this. Or failing that, help Mom blow off steam other than in front of the kids, and perhaps get some counsel on how damaging it is for her to spew poison out to the little ones. BUT - My real reason for suggesting it is to involve a neutral, court-respected third party in the 'fight'. Someone who can be called upon to write a report or give testimony when the time comes. (And it sounds like it will.)

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 2:39PM
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Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I have been reading many posts here and have found it very helpful, just knowing I'm not alone here...and having someplace to vent other than with family. It's quite embarrassing, it's like we are in a Jerry Springer episode.

Dad has reminded BM of all the court orders. Even scared a copy of them and sent them via email. She just doesn't care!

She will not consider any counseling. She does not think there is anything wrong and you can not convince a crazy person that there is. I do not think there is anything enforcing the medication. If I can recall correctly, "mother must take prescription as prescribed by doctor". She don't go to the doctor. It's really sad and so very frustrating for me and dad that she can not see what she is doing is damaging to the children, she only points fingers at us, that we are the ones doing the damage. She truly believes that she is the best mom! I also want to have the children in counseling but she will have none of that. She took the triplets out of Pre-K, and started them a week late in Kindergarten this year.

We do have a third party, sort of. My husbands mom has been involved in this for years. BM has also harassed grandma, she too has nasty messages. This past weekend when BM came to pick up the kids, we called grandma (who only lives down the road) to come over incase we needed a whiteness. For years BM has told grandma that she was a horrible mother, she did a crappy job of raising her sons and that her son (my husband) is a POS. Aside from grandma, there are plenty of other people that can be used for a testimony.

Let me just say this, BM's own family doesn't have anything to do with her. They have disowned her, that says a lot about this woman's character. She is not happy until everyone around her is miserable. Back when my husband and BM where still married, BM tried to kill herself, was backer acted and the system still would not give father custody.

Ya know, we really feel that there is nothing more we can do as far as she is concerned, she is a lost cause. We just hope for the best and show the children what a normal, happy home is when they are with us.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 3:30PM
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You have to show some people where your boundaries are. If I were you, I'd be getting a restraining order pronto. And looking into telephone harassment charges. You wouldn't let anyone else do this to you? Why Mom?

As well, the children need to be shown this is not normal. There maybe nothing you can physically do right now, but they need to see that normal people do not act this way to others and normal people do not take this treatment laying down.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 3:36PM
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"Never fight with a crazy person"

Amen to that!

The day will come when this mother lands in jail or re-hab, & these children will need a roof over their heads.

Just as women's shelters advise battered women, you need to make preparations, & when the opportunity presents itself, act.

Consult an attorney;
if money is tight, call your local bar association & ask if they have a lawyer referral service or call your city or county or a battered women's shelter & ask for the name of 1 or 2 who do pro bono (free) or low-cost work on this kind of problem.

Record conversations including telephone & cell phone conversations & videotape every encounter-

You know how much more powerful it is when you see a policeman's dashboard cam than when you hear "testimony"?

You need to use that edge.

Get an excellent security system for your home, your vehicles, & your persons (there used to be a really loud alarm that you could attach to your belt; when you pulled the cord, it sounded like an air raid siren).

If it's possible for hubs to take a job in another city & keep his physical address from his ex, that's what he needs to do.

Crazy people can kill you.

I'm holding all seven of you in my thoughts & in my heart, & I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 6:09PM
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I would talk to a professional about how this is affecting the children. Social Service agencies have counselors too, or can refer you to one who may have some advice. Being around this woman is harming the children every single day. Mental illness is hereditary from both a geneological and sociological perspective.

I would get a restraining order as well. I would make sure the police know you are afraid of her. Notify the Judge that the court orders have been violated.

Some states have "Alienation of Affection" laws regarding children. Getting custody would not solve your problem, and would not be easy, but she is on her way to proving herself unfit, and it may be what's best for the kids if this is as serious as it seems to me.

Hope I helped, I feel for you deeply. Please let us know
and hang in there!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 12:58PM
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What is your goal? A custody change, or just to have some peace in your household? If it is a change in custody I would recommend having your lawyer propose a Psychiatric and Custody Evaluation. It's not cheap- but it's definitely thorough and more valuable in court than any relative or friend's testimony (although if your DH has any relationship with BM's family members who have given up on her, their testimony might carry some weight). We are going through a custody battle now for similar reasons and were nervous to rely on a psychiatric evaluation but it came out very much on point. I would also recommend having the court order the kids in counseling if BM won't agree- clearly these little guys are struggling with issues they should be able to work through with a neutral third party (just make sure they see someone who comes highly recommended- there are a lot of quacks out there!)

If you are simply wanting to restore peace in your household and not wanting to deal with the expense and severe stress of going back to court- remember you will never be able to control her, only how you and DH respond. Remain positive especially in front of the kids (it sounds like you do a great job of this). Continue to pick your battles and do yourself the favor of not engaging in power struggles. Communicate only via email unless it is an emergency. If she calls do not answer, send her an email later and she will have no choice but to respond if she would like to speak with you. Finally, when I first came on here about a year ago I read some very helpful advice (can't remember who wrote it!) : reserve your bedroom for you and DH only- no discussion of BM or custody issues allowed in that room! If you have to get up and leave to discuss, do it! BM should not enter your bedroom (even in conversation!)

Also coming on here to vent or just read others posts really helps. Realize you are not alone and the children are lucky to have some sanity in the home of you and DH.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 2:11PM
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I have to ditto Sweeby's #4... "4) Never fight with a crazy person because you simply can't win. "

The way I've heard this is: "Don't fight with pigs. You'll both get dirty, and the pig will enjoy it."

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 4:00PM
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Stepmomof4 and newwife58, thank you both so much. I can't tell you how much this forum has already helped me personally. I sucks that BM can put a strain on my marriage. We are newly married as well. I just worry if I can strong enough to keep fighting the fight.

Our goal is simply peace in our home. Newwife58, I love the advice of keeping it out of the bedroom. Just last night the hubby and I were in our room talking about what to do next with BM. I announced it was 9:31, the discussion is over till tomorrow.

I really do believe the children need counseling. When BM was backer acted, dad tried to get custody to no avail. We live in Florida, if that helps give anyone some insight. Family Law's are outdated.

Let me share an email BM sent. By the way, she completely abuses any form of communication. In the past 4 days we have received 17 emails!!! AND It is really hard to not respond to them. Is that our best approach? To just ignore them? We so badly want to just tell her off, ya know? Stick up for our self.

*BM is speaking of me here of course* "It just seems there is something off with her. She seems to have an issue with everything. Its just wierd. Its immature. I know because before u were with her we had decent and civil communication. Now however god forbid I wanna tell u anything at all about the kids. Its an issue.. She seems to feel threatend by my kids or the fact that u were married before. She feels the need to control and manipulate any contact with the kids. Its just wierd and sad. But that's ur choice and I'm glad u r happy. My kids will hav to deal with the fact that u no longer hav any interest in them or their day to day lives."

Second email from BM : "(dads name here), U can also tell ur wife to stop writing all in my kids school adjendas. That's for PARENTS to sign. Not someone who sees them 2x a month. And plays absolutely no role in their lives or schooling. She is in no way their parent. I am. I guess it makes her feel important to sign their school things. LoLOLOLOLOL!! Pullleeaaase!"

Let me just say, BM is still married to husband #2 but now has a new man living in her home for about 2 months, or so. This new guy also signs the children's school papers.but that's okay with her?!?! Is it so bad that I, their SM, wrote a note in SD's workbook, "have a great week at school. Love dad and (my name)" Or that I wrote a note in her book to help her remember how to spell a word correctly??

She is completely off base here. I don't know if this is part of her disorder or what. Have you ever had to deal with someone that no matter what you say, how you say it, they JUST don't get it? Thing is, not that long ago her and I were able to work well together. Before this, BM would tell me that she couldn't have picked a better SM for her children, that she is comfortable in her position, they could call me mom if they wanted, etc. She only sung my praises before, saying things have only improved since I have been around. BUT she couldn't control herself, called me an ugly, fat whore one too many times, I put her in her place and stopped all contact. Before this, BM would tell me that she couldn't have picked a better SM for her children, that she is comfortable in her position, they could call me mom if they wanted, etc. She only sung my praises before, saying things have only improved since I have been around.

It seems to me that BM really WANTS to believe that my hubby is only restricting her because I am making him. Saying they used to be civil is a joke. They have never been civil. There was just too much destruction in their marriage, too much hurt. I don't believe they will ever be able to peacefully co parent.

I digress. Sorry this has been so long. I am new here and felt that I needed to give a bit of a back-story.

***My main objective, as quickly as we can, figure out how to set boundaries and enforce BM to comply.

What is the best approach here? How do we stop BM from telling the children that we are drug addicts, alcoholics, or that we don't love them or that I'm not their parent?? Her opinions are her own, that's fine but BM can not be allowed to continue to tell the children these things.

Like I said, you CAN'T tell her anything. We have tried everything and now feel that we must resort to legal action. That is why I am here..

Thank you all!!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 3:26PM
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Whatever this BM accuses you or DH of applies to herself. Whatever she says about you or DH; it's about herself.
She's projecting onto you. Just consider her accusations a key to her own mind.

She's the one that feels threatened, she's the one that needs to control and manipulate. Think about it..

I'm in the same boat as you, and we've had a hard time going through it, but I have to say that I'm getting better at finding new ways of dealing.

My advise to you is to focus on your own life and not on BM's. She's looking for a fight, don't indulge her. If you're going to take legal action it's going to be a loss for all parties involved because what is going to be the outcome? Will custody arrangements change? Probably not. Will she stop bashing you when it's court ordered? Probably not. Will she continue and pressure the skids to keep secrets about what goes on at her place? Probably. Will they feel resentment towards you for attacking their mom? Very likely. Will the skids experience high levels of stress? Definately. It's not worth it.

I knw you want to put BM in her place, and that is sooo understandable, but this is the thing: it's not going to happen. The best thing you can do is move past that. You can't stop BM from saying nasty things about you, but you can respond to the skids in a good way when they relay the message to you.

This is what we used to do when the skids would say :"Mom says that you want to take over as a mum, mom says you're a liar and you're only after the money" etc etc.

I used to reply something like: Hmm, it's ashame that your mum is worried about what I'm like because she doesn't really know me that well. She wants to know that you're in good hands. just like we want you to be in good hands when you're with her. We don't know her new boyfriend either, and it's not always easy. But you DO know me so I'm happy that you DO know what we are like because you can judge that for yourself".

You cannot influence the BM, or sort her out, but you can influence what goes on in your own home and how you respond to the skids. Much more effective and far less stressful. Take your power back and do your own thing.
Good luck

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 11:39PM
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These types of situations frustrate the heck out of me partially because of my own situation.

Ima, Love, myself and now Sadstep (just the ones that came to mind; I'm sure there are others) are all mopping up the messes of our husbands who allowed the BM to rule both homes before the marriage. So then we come into the picture and the BMs (in our particular cases) don't have control anymore and they turn!

For 5 years, BM was cool with just about whatever. Mostly because DH wouldn't commit to me so she knew she was still in charge. She would tell SD and DH what SD could wear, eat, watch on TV, places she could go, you name it. And they obeyed as though she was the boss. I had no say-so because I had my own place and DH wouldn't commit.

But when DH finally did commit, all hell broke loose. She knew she no longer had control over him and his house. BM actually tried talking SD into trying to get DH to want another baby. Her motive? BM figures that if DH gets a new family (like she did with him), he will focus on that family and I will force him to give SD up (like she did with his son).

So, even though, we end up being the target of criticism, there's not a damn thing we can do about a damn bit of it. We just get to sit back and take it because our husbands caused this problem by being passive and allowing them to have control in the first place.

Does anyone else see anything weird about letting someone whom you divorced have all the control? I can't believe my DH would let BM run everything after she cheated on him (taking SD to a park to meet a man), sold "their" vehicle and bought one in her name only, moved out and into a different man's house (current husband), moved back into the house kicking DH out, had papers drawn up so that she has Sole Managing Conservatorship, got married 9 months after divorce was final, and got pregnant (on purpose) 9 months after that. All before he even knew me. So why did he trust her?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 11:39AM
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Yabber, very good points. I have really tried to focus my (our) energy on our own life, not BM's and stop feeding the fire. The less we "give" back to her bs the less bs we receive. It's just not easy to ignore the abuse, ya know? Coming home and being called a whore on your answering machine can really get you going.

Ashley1979, also very helpful points. I am so with you on the frustrations the hubby's prior marriage brings to his new one. I think that's what gets to me most. I would get so angry that he wasn't standing up for me or for himself. Now he sees the light. BM had him so worried that dad found it easier to just give in to BM. When he doesn't take her crap BM gets so mad, blows a lid and makes threats and accusations. Seems like our hubbys have similar stories. It really makes you wonder what the hell DH was thinking, is he really that weak or was BM really that manipulative? Crazy! I tell ya, I just hope for strength.

Thank you everyone, this has truly been helpful!!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 3:55PM
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