Invested so much love, time, energy & $$...seems it's never enough
A few Days ago, I received an email update from a SMOM i've been working with for a few weeks. Her update filled me in on more of her personal situation. It was clear, even at the beginning that this SMOM, like so many of us had given, given and given some more to help her SD and her DH make this family situation as happy and healthy as possible. It was also painfully clear that the Bio-mom in this situation is a "taker" exhibiting narcissistic tendencies. The bio-mom has been manipulating her ex and this kind hearted SMOM, using the sweet young SD for emotional and financial blackmail by threatening to destroy the relationship between the child and her dad and SMOM.
This SMOM has been generous, to the max. She's been patient, compassionate, wise and personally involved at so many levels and she's been doing it for years. Does any of this sound familiar to you all?
Since she's found SMOMS.org and has been supported by so many of us, she's made some new choices, acted on them and has found more and more of her power and well-being. She's also triggered the bio-mom's need to control and her last letter to me was asking for help in how to handle the latest threat the bio-mom was using to get more money for herself.
When I read her detailed account of what she had been going through, I felt such a wave of rage (and hatred too) at all the hostile bio-moms who've created so much pain and disruption in our lives. Then, something shifted and I was touched by just how hard so many of us SMOMS have worked to do the "right," loving thing for the man we love and his children. What is the answer when dealing with such hostile bio-moms? When we've given everything we've got and it still isn't enough-then what? How do we create joyful, happy, emotionally safe lives when there is a hostile bio-mom willing to have such negative impact on so many?
Well, the following is my reply to her letter and then her reply to me. She has posted the details of her situation on the general BB and I've decided to post our correspondence here in case what we've discussed and discovered about ourselves could help other sister SMOMS.
OK, with that lengthy introduction. Here's our exchange. She sent me her long letter explaining her detailed history of giving and her fears about the latest threat from the bio-mom. Then she asked me for my help. Even though we went back and forth I've just included her reply to my letter because she includes my letter and adds her comments to it. Are you still with me?
SMOM'S REACTION TO MY REPLY TO HER LETTER:
Cathryn...I just finished reading your email and I am in shock...that somehow you know me and can see into the depths of my soul!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I felt like I was reading a letter from my future self. Does that make sense? It was as if my future, healthy self was sending me a message to help me become HER. That may sound crazy but THAT IS WHAT THIS FEELS LIKE!!!!!!! I read and re-read your letter three times to really digest everything and I’m going to read it again but had to reply to you. I don’t know much about you but what I do know is that the LORD has sent me to you and I feel it in my soul that you were put on this earth to help people like me and you will be blessed beyond measure for your compassionate service!!!!!!
I can't imagine the energy it takes to run this site and then to take the time to write such a sincere, insightful and loving email to me just blows my mind. THANK YOU isn’t enough...I want to hug you and somehow let you feel my gratitude because my words aren’t expressing what I am feeling.
This IS MY TIME...I know that the reason I found your site is because I was preparing myself to finally take control of my life and GET OFF THE RIDE...the crazy roller coaster ride that ive been on my entire life. Every single word you wrote resonated with me so deeply that it shook me to the core. It’s like I’m a "damn"...and I had a little crack in me when I finally stood up to BM....and then when I found this site, the crack got bigger and then your first email to me turned that crack into a small hole and now this email has just busted that hole like a bulldozer.
Like a chain reaction...I can't stop now and I feel the floodgates opening and that dam is bursting. I’m a little afraid..okay I’m a lot afraid of how much emotions are going to come spewing out of that dam but I’m prepared to let it all out. I have my entire life ahead of me now. My husband will be home and we will finally be free of the burden of his legal troubles. I am finally ending this sick game between Bm and me. I am finally seeing everything so much more clearly and I can't believe I didn’t see it before. I’ve had a lot of people tell me similar things to what you said but I felt that they maybe were just saying those things because they love me. But to hear it from someone who KNOWS MY PAIN and has SURVIVED and THRIVED just opened my eyes WIDE!
There was so much in your letter that I want to respond to so I’m going to comment below after each paragraph you wrote in RED!
(IN THIS PART, THE SMOM COPIED MY REPLY AND SHARED HER FEELINGS ABOUT CERTAIN COMMENTS. SHE DID IT IN RED, BUT I CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE IT RED ON THE BB, SO I'M MAKING HER COMMENTS BOLD AND ADDING A NOTATION SO IT WILL BE EASIER TO DIFFERENTIATE HER COMMENTS FROM MINE.- WHEW! LET'S CONTINUE.)
CATHRYN'S REPLY PLUS COMMENTS FROM SMOM:
CATHRYN WRITES: My first priority is to help YOU in your life situation.
The first thing that comes to mind is the issue of addiction. Most people don't really understand the motivation behind addictions. People do things NOT to feel better but to NOT feel badly about whatever is bothering them. We do things, even when they hurt us because to us, we believe that whatever we choose will lessen the pain we are feeling now. Make sense?
SMOM ADDS HER COMMENTS: I never thought of it that way but it is so true. When I eat...I dont feel good, I just avoid feeling pain. This makes so much sense that its crazy!
Have you considered the possibility that you are addicted to helping others? I know I have been recovering that this "mechanical addiction" myself for a few years now. I also would consider myself a recovering "approvaholic." Over my life time, I've done things for others in an attempt to assuage a deep pain that I wasn't worth anything unless I DID do something for another. That's just me and yet I see some similarities in us as you share more of your history with your hubby and his ex and SD.
SMOM ADDS HER COMMENTS: I'm totally an approvaholic and a helpaholic. I was so extremely overweight my entire life that I thought that no one would like me for the normal reasons (being cute, popular, etc) so I had to find a way to get people to be my friends other ways, ie giving them gifts and doing special things for them. I did that to everyone in my life and some took and took and never worried about it. But there were a few angels in my life who wouldnt take certain things from me an dI never undrestood until much later that them not taking my gifts, etc was them truly loving me. I still to this day and am still trying to learn what "appropriate" giving is!
Can you feel that the Text from the Bio-mom stirred the part of you who believes that she is responsible for fixing all this? Can you feel that you are wanting to act out/take action in an attempt to numb/dull/eliminate the pain you are anticipating in the future? She is pushing that raw button in you-just to manipulate you so she can have whatever she wants. As you are reading about narcissism, you see that she is not concerned AT ALL about how she impacts you. IT is a hard thing to let in, given how deeply you feel things and have compassion for the feelings of others. This is to trait that hooks us to narcissists. We feel better about ourselves when we make others feel better (falsely believing they will love/like/connect with us more) and they love to have people please them because that's all that matters to them. It is a sort of hand and glove match that attracts people to each other. Usually totally unconsciously. But we are waking up. You are waking up! You seem to have one foot in each state of awareness now. It is a choice point for you. Are you going to heal your wounds and brutal conditioning, inflicted upon you from others (and now this woman) OR are you going to give in to the short term false belief that doing what she wants is going to make you feel better and avoid more problems? SHe is sort of emotionally blackmailing you a little bit at a time.
SMOMS ADDS HER COMMENTS: YES!!!!!!!!!!! That is exactly what she is doing and yes there is a part of me that thinks that she cares for me and if I were to pour my heart out to her, that she would see where I was coming from and feel bad for what she did and everything would be ok. But I tried that and it backfired so badly because SHE DOESNT CARE. Unless she is getting what she wants she could give a crap wether I lived or died!!!!! I let her deep into my life and she knows all my pains and sorrows and at the time she was sympathetic, but I see now it was just her getting amunition against me. My DH warned me to not trust her or tell her anything too personal but I argued with him and said NO she is my FRIEND she woudl NEVER use any of this against me. im sick to my stomach thinking of the things she knows about me I totally feel blackmailed...thats a perfect word for it. Im going to HEAL MY WOUNDS...im not going to settle for a temproary bandaid fix. Im going to work on myself so that this never happens again wiht ANYONE!
Because of the growth you've been experiencing, her old ways haven't worked now and so she's having to pull out the big guns to get what she wants and to feel like she controls the world. (A narcissists daily reality fantasy).
SMOMS ADDS HER COMMENTS: Im pretty sure she hasn't pulled out all the guns yet...I know more is coming and I need to prepare for that.
Please consider this a chance for you to be pushed so close to the edge that you take the steps to heal the raw emotions that have been pushed up tot he surface by her actions and threats. You have invested a lot with these 3 people. You have been surrounded by addiction, compassionate with others perhaps because of your own inner experience with it. YOU have been very generous! You have done many, many things for the folks in this story. The list goes waaaaaay beyond your literal or even general responsibility. In the past, When I took too much responsibility in situations, I did it joyfully and willingly because what I got in return was to connect with others. However, in the process I've been used, manipulated and treated like a door mat countless times, always shattered and heartbroken when I was no longer needed and then tossed away or treated so badly, even I couldn't endure or rationalize this relationship.
SMOM ADDS HER COMMENTS: This is exactly why I have taken too much responsibility. I felt that this was my only value to them or the world. And yes my addiction to food and to pleasing people is definitely what made me compassionate and an enabler! IF you are comfortable, i would love to hear your story one day. You sound like you were where I have been, maybe worse off, and have come back so strong that I just would love to understand a nd now your battles. Do you talk about that on your site at all where I could read it?
Dear sister SMOM, I want something better for you. I want you to learn from all that has happened and to take all your good and generous energy and resources and HELP YOURSELF!!! I want you to learn from this. I want you to be gentle and kind towards yourself and help that young child, young teen inside you step out of the role she was placed in when you were growing up. Love and stand up for the child, teen and young woman who you used to be! There's so much value you. There's so many false beliefs you were programmed to believe. NOT YOUR FAULT AT ALL!!!! You were a sweet little girl just trying to survive, be safe, get attention, anyway you could. Whatever your earlier experiences, you can be that wise strong kind woman and come to your own rescue! You will be changing your life for ever in a wondrous way!!!
SMOMS ADDS HER COMMENTS: I became very emotional reading this...because as a child, I had to be a pleaser to my mother to get love and approval. I went through most of my life feeling like the dirt on most peoples shoes. Back then and even now, I always wanted a "hero" to swoop in and save me. Who would defend me and stand up for me to the bullys and people who hurt me. Thats what made me fall in love with my DH. If anyone looked at me cross eyed, he wouldnt stand for it. But there are also times that I felt like if he didnt get mad enough or really tell someone off for hurting my feelings (like bm), that it was because he didnt love me or care about me enough. But it isnt that...he could have beat up every person who ever hurt me and it would not have been enough because I didnt need him to be my hero...I NEED TO BE MY HERO!!!!!!!!! I can do for myself all those things that I wanted others to do for me. And until I can stand up for myself and take care of ME... I’ll never truly be free from this pain and burden.
Briefly, as far as the relationship between your DH and his Daughter...it is their responsibility to handle it. He has a lot of time to plan his actions with his daughter. The power the bio-mom is holding over you is "throwing a future" that you have worked so hard to avoid. As you believe it, it makes you feel as if it is going to happen-therefore the fear and pain is triggered and you want to act to stop the bad future. But as Eckhart Tolle says, in his tremendous book, "The Power of Now," all you can ever do anything about is NOW. Right NOW. Be magnificent for yourself right now! Trust in the Divine Plan as far as the relationship goes with your SD and DH. The Bio-mom is going to use this "bad future" threat over and over again, endlessly if she knows it gets you to act in accordance with her wishes. PLEASE think about this and use it as an opportunity to "step off the game board of your past."
SMOM ADDS HER COMMENTS: I cannot change the past or control the future..all I can do is affect the present...that saying just popped into my head and its something I have heard before but never LISTENED. BM has always done this "bad future' threat the entire time and I never saw it. I was so afraid of being to blame for SD's lot in life that I catastrophized every little thing and was giving in to all of BM's threats. I need to trust in God to take care of SD. Something I actually started a few days ago was praying and asking Heavenly Father to help SD and her brothers remember the good times they spent with me and know in their hearts that I love them. I need to let this go. DH needs to decide his path with SD and BM needs to decide the same thing. And I have my own path to walk.
You have the talent, the love, the kindness, the insight and now you need to have the compassionate determination to help yourself and learn from this so you can trust yourself in the future and never let this happen to you again. If you don't get it this time, it will happen again and you will have another chance to stand up for yourself and do the work to help. But why not now? Why not today? You deserve to be free of these wounds and false beliefs so you can no longer be tempted or tortured by others who delight in taking advantage of our good natures.
SMOM ADDS HER COMMENTS: I don’t think I could survive another time!!!!!!!!!! Before I got this letter, I was seriously thinking about how I could approach BM to make this all better. A part of me was SCREAMING to run in the other direction, but the addiction was tempting me with the "perfect blended family" dream. This letter yanked me right back to reality and I NEED TO DO THIS NOW. I have a rare opprotunity to re-shape my life as a SMOM. SD is young, DH is supportive and I can now work on having a healthy life for myself and with my SD. Most people don't figure this out until way too late but I dont think its too late for me. I think I caught it just in the knick of time!!!!!!!!!
PLEASE PLEASE LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO GET HELP FOR YOURSELF RIGHT NOW! Your SD and DH have made it this far. They are better because of your presence in their lives. NOW it is your turn to help them again. How? By taking care of yourself. By breaking out of the old patterns! By modeling good boundaries and powerful self-care and appropriate responsibility. All the time KNOWING that you are good enough without ever having to do another thing for another human being-other than being your loving, kind, wise, smart, joyful self!!!!!
SMOM ADDS HER COMMENTS: This last sentence struck me to the core and its because that is what I have been searching for...to know that I am good enough. And I have lost myself trying to find it in other people and I need to find it in ME!!!!!!! I will find it in me and I will break out of old bad habits and get the help I NEED. ITs not selfish or wrong to take care of yourself and thats something I havent done in a long time. I started to when I set that first boundary up with BM and it was only through the support of th eLord and my DH that I didnt crumble and give in when she lashed out that first time and it is with hteir help and YOURS that I will never crumble again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I hope this is helpful. I read your letter late last night and thought about you as I was dreaming and imagining our conversation. I hope this is helpful to you. I will pray that all the the women on the site are kind and non-judgmental in their replies. There's a lot going on right now. You have some choices to consider and some decisions to make-either now or later. Trust yourself in a new way. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!
SMOM ADDS HER COMMENTS: I’m going to post my post on the general board...and I’m hoping they will be kind too. But I feel like my honesty and vulnerability in that letter will touch at least one of those women and hopefully they will see that they need to get off the ride too. THANK YOU. I don’t even know what else to say. But you have helped me to see ME...and I’m forever grateful for that! Love, Mibi
Thinking of you. Your Sister SMOM, Cathryn