Wed 17 Mar 2010
Okay, I have to admit it. I am proud of my progress on this challenge. For the most part, I’ve been keeping it in check. The accountability and the journaling are huge parts of my success.
But today the words flew. They flew out of my mouth faster than my brain could keep up. But this time, I believe my words were meant to be heard. These are the words of my heart. The words that have been burning inside of me for a long time. They are the words that so longed to be spoken and heard. Tonight was the night they poured out of me into a vessel that was on the brink of exploding – my stepdaughter. Believe it or not, she didn’t sink upon hearing them.
You see my SD was having the “tantrum of the decade” I referred to on Twitter. She had been in an agitated and combative stage since she stepped foot off the bus coming home from school. She was arguing with her sibs over silly things and pounding me with absurd accusations.
I could write down every exchange between her and me and between her and all five of her siblings because she got into it with each one. But I won’t because who wants to read a 5,000 word blog? I will say it was just one of those days where she was “relentlessly combative.” A day when I could have said the sky was blue and she would have argued with her dying breath it was aqua.
Needless to say, I was feeling the heat beneath my collar but I was not engaging. Found myself in different rooms than she was in but then I hit a crossroad. Long story short, I gave her a punishment for some inexcusable harsh words she was using on her sister. She refused it. So I asked her another time. This time she stomped her foot, said no and started in on her sister again. Well, I had to make a decision. I had asked her to do something that she was refusing yet I knew she was in a mood and didn’t want to engage her. Remember one of my mottos “you can’t fight crazy.” Well she was being “crazy.” But I knew I had to stand my ground.
“Serenity now, serenity now” was the chant in my head. Oh Seinfeld, how I call on your wisdom and wit during these times. I decided to give her additional punishment. This time I told her to go up to her room and write 20 times “My behavior is mean when I tease my sister. I will ask her to forgive me.” She actually went upstairs. I breathed a sigh of relief.
When an hour had past and she hadn’t come down, I went up to check on her. She was hiding in her room and hadn’t written one sentence. When I asked her why she replied, “because I don’t want to do it and you can’t make me. This is harsh. You are harsh. I’ll stay up here forever.” Deep breathes… count 1,2,3 . I replied “I can make you and I will make you. You need to finish what I asked you to do and then you may come down to finish your homework.” She started yelling at me but I was out of her room and down the stairs with my fingers plugging my ears. I did not want to engage.
I made dinner and called the kids down to eat (my hubby was travelling and not home yet). She came stomping into the kitchen complaining about her punishment and how I’m so harsh. While we were eating, she preceded to pull apart all of her food and eat in a very inappropriate manner. I tried not to notice or get upset but it was difficult. I could see she was doing this for my “benefit.”
It’s our custom that everyone remains at the dinner table until the last person is done eating and either I or my husband excuses the table. But tonight I made an exception. When I saw she was done eating, I told her she could be excused to go back upstairs and complete her sentences.
She started screaming and I mean screaming at me. I tried to ignore it and kept redirecting her to her room. The other kids were getting very agitated with her nonsense and were becoming protective of me. She refused to move her body and go upstairs all the while screaming at me about how I hate her and how I want her to leave. It was truly unbelievable.
I choose to tell my SD “go up to your room now or I will drive you to school tomorrow, march into the principal’s office with you and have a long talk about what we are all going to do about your behavior.”
At this point my SD had slid halfway down the stairs and just started screaming and pounding her fists: “You hate me. You don’t love me. You never loved me. You want to go live somewhere else. You love everyone else but me. I’m a nobody. I know you hate me. I just know it.”
I’m walking away as she is saying these things but then something made me turn around, march half-way up the stairs so I’m at her level and I fired these off at her:
“Stop saying these things to me. Do you know you aren’t talking to me right now; you are talking to your mother. I am not your mother. Stop taking your anger out about your mom on me. I did not leave you. I did not move two time-zones away from you. I did not go to Las Vegas instead of visiting you. I am not your mom! I am your stepmom! Stop treating me like I’ve done those things to you. I didn’t do them.
I am here each and every day for you. I take care of you. I cook for you. I make sure your field trip slips are signed, I help you with school projects. I love you. Don’t you ever, ever say that I don’t love you. Because you have NO IDEA what is in my heart.
You have every right to be angry at what your mom did. You have every right to be hurt and sad but don’t you dare transfer that anger on to me. I do not deserve it and I’m not going to stand here and listen to you accuse me of something that isn’t true. I do care about you. If you can’t stop saying these things then you need to march up to your room and shut the door because I’m not going to listen to this crap anymore!”
I said it very sternly but never yelled or screamed at her. I couldn’t believe I said those things. She never said a word, just seemed to be looking at me and staring intently at my face. When I finished, I walked away, afraid of her retort.
My SD followed me into my office and said “I’m sorry” and she sobbed and sobbed. She said “my mom would kill me if I told her how I really feel. “ Then she got close to my face and said “can I just ask you one thing?” “Sure,” I responded. “May I have a hug?” she asked. I grabbed her and hugged her and held her and cried with her.
After we were done crying, I told her how I was never angry or mad at her but that I could no longer listen to her scream at me that I don’t love her. She seemed to understand. I told her to go take a warm bubble bath to relax and we would talk more when she was finished. We did.
I needed to say those words and I think she needed to hear them. For the past three years, she has been transferring all of her hurt, confusion, pain onto me and it’s very hard to take. While I know in my head that it could be any woman in my shoes and they would still be getting the same treatment, it’s still hard to hear and experience. I know it’s not me personally but in the flesh, it sure is hard not to hurt from it.
I have to admit. I do feel much better. Let’s see how tomorrow goes. One of my many lessons learned is not to have expectations.