I’ve been in this relationship for 10 years and have a SD14.
Wow, it seems like this list changes every six months or so, because while DH and I have maintained a steady family dynamic, BM has not. (That’s another story/soap opera altogether!)
For right now, these are the three things I would do differently (and they echo many of the things already said):
1. Before BM, whenever I would meet toxic, narcissistic people like her, I would immediately do the smart thing and write them out of my life and then RUN in the opposite direction! I didn’t have that choice with BM, so I went against my usual instincts and did a couple of things wrong in the process: I fought back (that kept the drama going), and then I tried to negotiate (she mistook my kindness for weakness and stabbed me in the back several times). The single best thing I have done when dealing with BM is to become invisible 99.9% of the time. At first, that felt like giving up. Now I recognize it for what it really is: self-preservation. On the rare occasion that I do interact with BM, I do one of two things: I am cordial if she is cordial in return, and I stand up for myself if she feels the need to “attack.” I make it a point to never lose my cool, especially since her “attacks” tend to happen when SD is in close proximity. What I show SD is that I am willing
to be nice, but there is a line that cannot be crossed, and when it is, I will stand up for myself with my dignity and class intact.
2. I wish that I would have found this website, and support like it, much sooner. In the beginning, I felt that as a strong, confident woman, I could navigate this crazy situation on my own. WRONG! This dynamic is so unpredictable, and so unique to us SMOMS, that there is no earthly way to deal with it alone. SMOMS with hostile BMs are on a very precarious tightrope, trying to walk the fine line of being supportive and still staying true to themselves. It is so easy to lose your balance and “fall” from that tightrope, and with that fall comes feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, anger, sadness, fear, and oftentimes the feeling that we are seriously losing our minds! Without the support of people who truly understand our situation, we become lost and all of our relationships suffer as a consequence.
3. I’m still working on this one: I wish to find a way to get BM out of my head space. For me, that is the final frontier! I’ve become so accustomed to musing about this woman and her antics that it is almost like breathing. Now, I have to undo ten years of this way of thinking, and that is proving to be very difficult, especially since it isn’t like BM is choosing to remove herself from our radar. I’ve accepted that BM will not change, I’ve accepted that SD is now old enough to stand on her own two feet when it comes to BM (with our support, if SD needs it), but it is still a knee-jerk reaction to have this woman at the back of my mind. If I hadn’t allowed her there in the first place, she wouldn’t be fully moved in by now. Evicting her will be my biggest challenge yet, and I am definitely up for that challenge, but if you can avoid getting to this point– do it! Make memories of your own, continue to do whatever it is that makes you happy (be it hobbies, mani/pedis,
exercise/sports, nature activities, etc.), and in general make your life about YOU, your family, and do whatever it takes to push BM out of your mind. If you can make that a habit now, it will be a lot easier in the long run!