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Originally thread posted on BB-(Her post and 19 replies)

By Ali


Why do you post here, what are you looking for?


I read practically everything.... I go through magazines and newspapers ripping out tear-sheets of ideas (and recipes) that resonate (or infuriate). Someone once instructed me to read at least 15 minutes a day "because you never know where the big idea will come from." I took that lesson to heart. You decide whether I stumbled on the big idea or the big blunder.....

Well on Saturday I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about infertility (I know you are thinking WSJ -- a business paper, but there really is great stuff in there about life... but I won't go too far out on that tangent). The article was about infertility -- it's something I've been through, so I went right to the piece. The author mentioned on-line support groups and it triggered a memory & the thought of a parallel to our Smoms.org situation.

First the memory; when I was going through what I went through, my doctor asked whether or not I went "on the boards" as he put it. He advised all his patients to keep the web bulletin boards in perspective as negative-mindsets & experience often proliferate.

What he said ALL those years ago, really also said something positive to me about Smoms.org. Smoms.org gave stepmothers a place to vent but more importantly a place to find creative solutions to move forward positively.

So please allow me to paraphrase from the article. I put things in quotes even though I am paraphrasing:
"There's a reason women flock on-line for solace. The trouble is every women's experience is subtly different, and the devil can be in the details. Beyond empathy on-line message boards and autobiographical books tend to offer few useful facts......On-line forums are a good start but if the conversation is contained amongst those already in hell, then....."

WHOSE GOING TO HELP POINT A DIRECTION OUT? (this LINE is my thought)
And this is where I am going to get back on my proverbial soapbox about what I believe Smoms.org is really about... Yes --- its empathy from people who really get what you are going through. It's so necessary because our moms, sisters, friends, strangers who haven't personally trudged in the stepmothers' journey can at times be unthinkably callous (like my sibling who once after complaining about her own kids said "you don't understand teenagers" (as if ones weren't living under my roof at the time?!?!). So empathy is important BUT MORE SO its about a path. And yes, it will be the rocky high-road much of the time but the personal growth can provide beautiful new views of what really matters to you.

So here I go in advocating everyone who is questioning Cathryn's motivations, please allow me to say -- being the best, happiest, most wonderful you is her guiding principle. To deal and heal versus get stuck in squeal. To offer some insight / and something to think about that might (or it might not) work for you. She's a Smom who did it all to be everything her DH and SS needed & tried every which way to work cooperatively with a BM who would rather she not. To go back to my rocky high road analogy. Cath has scrambled up the rocks like most of us. She's gotten bruised and she hasn't always gotten what she thought was best but she learned something about herself from the experience that is positive... and that what's she is hoping to share.

She is NOT saying "here's THE path! I have the only answers!" BUT rather "consider this pathway -- it might offer you some insights whenever you are ready for them to better handle & deal with your personal questions & concerns."

Have I muddled the issue or have I (hopefully) shed some old-Smom on the bulletin boards insights into what makes this place extra special, unique & worth your time, effort & thoughtfulness: the potential pathways to more positive personal thinking and experiencing....that and quite a few shared chuckles along the way.…

EVILSTEPMOTHER WROTE:
Personally - I started coming here because the women with whom I interacted at work were not always understanding, and sometimes were infuriating. Oddly - the MOST affirming of the women with whom I work is not a stepmom - she's a bio-mom whose older son has a stepmom. The most infurating was an adoptive mom. Go figure.

I have found here other women with whom I can gripe who will nod their heads and "know" what I mean. I also came here to - as my DH put it - try to figure out if I'm doing the best I can. By that I mean - when we get on and ask "this is driving me absolutely insane - am I out of line, or is this a real issue?"

I suspect, as Kbug pointed out in Cathryn's thread, that there are a whole host of us who just don't know Cathryn nor her background...yet. I joined the boards literally weeks after she left (for awhile). I have been very active on here, hopefully as a positive addition and not a negative one - but I don't know her or her stepmom background.

I'm sure that she's a wonderful woman with a lot of good stuff to offer - but as I mentioned in Crazy's thread - it's a lot like the military family reunions happening after daddy (or mommy) come back from a deployment - mommy and the older kids are excited that daddy's back - the younger kids don't know or don't remember him, so he needs to let them get to know him to gain their trust.

I've heard wonderful things about Cathryn. I've had a short PM conversation with her and she seems very nice and gracious. As time goes on, and we get to know her more, I'm sure things will even out - but right now, for me, I'm still trying to get to know who this person is who is back from the war.

JULES WROTE:
Ali,

Spot on. I've been at this for 8 years. 2011 has been the WORST for my journey as a stepmom. Without the support here, I'd be lost.

But the biggest thing for me is to find a way out of the hell - problem solving, boundary creating, reframing, and venting, but with the intention of letting go, not getting other people to 'affirm' how right I am.

So yep, your post is spot on for me. Thanks!

STEP-AND-BIO-SON WROTE:
I come here because only other step moms REALLY get it.

JEZZ143 WROTE:
I came here to communicate with other women that understand the feelings and to know that I am not alone. I came here for insight and tips as to deal with these feelings in a positive way. So far so good. Thank you ladies!

ANAHATA WROTE;
Ali, your post brings up some great ideas. I think it's so important to have someone help us all to keep the "goal" in mind.
There are a million places to get information (about what to expect in court, what should be paid for CS, what to say to skid when he/ she is upset, etc etc). There are also a million places to vent. If we lose the goal here it can easily become toxic, venting and information sharing.

I think that I rarely need the "answer." There are a million places to get information, but I've found only one to get this kind of support. I have close friends, I read a lot, and I'm actually even a therapist as a profession (I've done extensive work with families and children). I certainly have all the information I will ever need. I also have a lot of support in my life (friends, a therapist, etc) Yet, I never had a group of women who "get it" until I found this site.

I've always worked for personal growth and self awareness. But, after I joined smoms I grew almost magically grew leaps and bounds. It feels good to know that I am not alone with some of the feelings I have. And it's so helpful to read another smom's story, to give advice/ support and then say to myself... "wait, wait, if I can tell her that-- maybe the same is true for me!"

TRIXIE WROTE:
I would also echo that the understanding and support I have received here has been excellent. It also makes me feel better to share my experience as a smom to my young SD because we did a lot of things that worked well for her and us in the beginning, and I can pass on those things to others. Through empowering support and sharing information, I have been able to find a compromise that works best for me with my stepfamily situation.

Personally, I think that in a website like this it's very important to walk a fine line between proposing possible solutions and some very few people who post thinking they have all the answers for everyone and if you just did it the way they think it should be done, everything would be fine. I think all of our situations and personalities are far too complex for a "one size fits all" solution that works in one person's mind/situation but would be a disaster for another smom. I think that as long as replies are posted suggesting possible solutions (as opposed to "this is what you should do", or "why would you do it that way?"), that is respectful.

Things look much different when you have young bios, are working, and are facing paying CS for the next 15 years than they do if your skids are grown and out of the house. The reason that this forum works for me is that most of the women are "in the trenches" trying to do the right thing by skids/DHs/bios, and currently struggling with real feelings, issues, and heartache. And it is a beautiful thing that we support each other and encourage each other and pray for each other during court and other custody issues. I have seen some ladies go through some terribly awful times on here, and I realize I could be next for that. However, it is great to have a place that my perspective, thoughts and feelings are understood and I am supported by such a great group of ladies.

BUNNY WROTE:
I came here because I was looking for advice, comfort, empathy--and I found all of that plus a great sense of BELONGING!! bunny

ALL THINGS NEW WROTE:
Good post Ali. The balance between releasing the anger, hurt feelings etc, while still looking for positive solutions is blurry -- especially in the middle of anger, hurt feelings etc. I have read other posts, in times of neutral feelings, and thought, hey, that sounds like a viable option, or good idea. So, maybe I should consciously comment on those posts as well.
Thanks again.

CATHRYN BOND DOYLE WROTE:
Hi Ali, Wow, thanks for the post. So glad you read the WSJ Saturday! Thanks for helping make the distinction so clear.

"All things new", I think you make a good point as well. If we are feeling upset about getting advice, it is probably a clue to turn up the self-care, the gentle self-talk and the release of feelings a bit more. At our meetings we always let the SMOM talking, keep talking until she naturally stopped, took a deep breath and said, "OK, now what'll I do?" (Or something like that.) It was a natural shift that is different for everyone and every situation. When we used to have the phone conference calls it was evident then for everyone listening as well. Maybe we should start those up again. Hmmm? Good comment, thanks for stirring the thoughts up. That's also another nice feature of the BB, being able to go back and re-read. That is one advantage over face to face meetings. :-)

KBUG WROTE:
My original reasons for posting here no longer apply to me now. That reason was to make sure I wasn't off my rocker in belief that the skids were rude, disrespectful and that my expectations of behavior that they should be capable of wasn't off base. Well, I'm past that now. I've vented some, okay a lot, especially about YSS because he's the one that has done the most sadistic, cruel, and purely vindictive things to all of us (sibs, DH, me, and BM).

However, I'm at the point where I fundamentally understand how it all connects and that it ain't changing. I'm at "peace" with that but I still get frustrated. I have to admit, I'm not sure there is much more "mission" for me to do. OSS, MSS and I are fine, lots we can do to further develop the relationships, but we are "fine" as it stands and they are both adults living their lives. YSS well, the best thing that will happen there is that he'll drop off the face of the earth and I'll never have to hear his name spoken again. DH has the *hope* that something will change in YSS and things can change....but unless something cataclysmic happens there he feels more or less the same way I do. Once YSS is 18, well, we don't expect to hear from BM except the major events....and even that is iffy because OSS and MSS don't want anything to do with her, and YSS doesn't want anything to do with either DH or BM.

The reason I'm still here is because I've had some VERY unique experiences with my skids that most of y'all haven't dealt with. I've done things that I NEVER expected to have to do with my skids, things that most here fortunately (hopefully) won't have to do, but in case you do, if I'm here, then maybe I can give some guidance. Kbug

EVILSTEPMOTHER replied to KBug:
Yes, Kbug - your presence here certainly can help with SMOMs that have a SERIOUS case of the TurdBoy. Oy.

CATHRYN BOND DOYLE replied to KBug:
Kbug, while I am not aware of your situation (yet) I am so glad you are choosing to stay and to help. As time passes, there are waves of those who need and those who can give back. You staying is giving back and that is so critical for our success as a group. We used to call the SMOMS who feel the were in a good place and touched base to help, "Veteran's." Sounds like you have been through a lot and the value of your experience is priceless to the SMOM in need. Everyone here makes a difference as I said in my new mission statement. Thanks for sticking around. Cathryn

KBUG WROTE:
EvilStepMother Wrote:
Yes, Kbug - your presence here certainly can help with SMOMs that have a SERIOUS case of the TurdBoy. Oy.

When does he turn 18?

KBUG REPLIED
Too long? Umm...End of April so, around 8 or 9 months.
Kbug

ALI WROTE:
there was a time I actually used to count weeks for some of those type of problems...

Ahhhhhhh TurdBoy....

May we also revisit the umbrellie drinks too???

MANDILU84 WROTE:
I come here for many reasons. Selfishly, typing out what is going on with me goes along way to getting it out and relieving stress. When I leave something here, I know that the people who are 'hearing' my frustrations have been in my position or one similar and they won't judge me. Even if I make a mistake, I'll be encouraged to do better and not criticized for messing up in the first place. Second, I've picked up some great parenting skills from the wise women of these boards. Just recently, the idea Breakfast for Dinner has revolutionized the way I think about mealtimes! It took a lot of pressure off to hear that GOOD moms who love their kids and put their needs first sometimes meet those needs by breaking out the cereal and milk. Bouncing certain behaviors off of the other women here is one (of many) tools that I use to see if my SD's particular behavior or change in attitude is a normal stage of development or something more. Mostly, I come here to encourage and be encouraged and to know that I'm not alone and it does get better! I feel blessed ot have this site!

SMOM-FROM-INDIANA WROTE:
In reply to Bunny's post...Ditto!

ROSLUVSPR78 WROTE:
I originally posted here out of sheer desperation- I had tried every other avenue I could think of to make our stepfamily dynamic work, and yet I felt like I was moving backwards. What a huge relief to find women who were not only supportive and knew where I was coming from, but who also gave me successful solutions. I thought someone needed to pinch me, because I must've been dreaming! Like Cathryn, I was still in "save our family" mode, and wanted to try and make it work with BM.

Now, I post here because (also similar to Cathryn) I've had that "save our family" dream shattered in recent months. Actually, it was more like reality finally slapped me upside the head after all of these years! My goal now is to find support as I grieve the "loss" of what could have been, and move forward knowing that I did the best I could with a hostile and mentally unstable BM. I also hope that along the way, I can help other SMOMS in their journeys, just like I've been helped over the past few years.

MISS KITTY WROTE:
I started posting here because I didn't know where to turn to and I was blessed to find this amazing group of ladies. Its been a life saver having a group of women that I can talk to who get it and understand where I'm coming from. And not only do these amazing ladies get it but they're able to give me guidance and productive advice on how to deal with what life throws at me in my stepmother role. Its helped me so much to be able to come here and vent my frustrations or find solutions to my problems or even have someone show me a different perspective to a situation. I know I have a long way to go and a lot to still learn but I've already learned so much from this group and I hope to be able to pass on that knowledge and be able to help others like I've been helped.