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Working on Resentment issues- 1 of 5 case studies.
#1
This is 1 of 5 working sessions about resentment. This one and the other 5 are in the article section about Stepmoms & Self-empowerment.

Learning how to use the feelings of Resentment as a alert, an emotional call to action (instead of as a futile state of mind) is a skill and you can learn this skill if you're willing!

The women who worked with me on this on the member's board have given me permission to share their work but I removed their names. The intention of sharing this is to show you samples of what can be learned, gained, healed and changes when we embrace our feelings of resentment as clues to greater happiness.


CASE STUDY #1: SMOM#1 WRITES TO CATHRYN:

Hi Cathryn!

I'm new to this site and I just want to take the opportunity to say, THANK YOU, as a new stepmom, for providing an outlet to know that I AM NOT ALONE. Sometimes it's so easy to feel like I have to be the only one who has ever felt this way about my family dynamic ... oh my gosh, to see women on here who are feeling the same things, it's been really something.

Your resentment post really hit home for me. Like I said in my introductory post, I am one of the very lucky smoms out there! BM and I have worked really hard to have a very civil, sometimes even kind relationship. She and FDH are good friends and excellent co-parents, she accepts our relationship, respects the boundaries of our home, and in turn we welcome her in it very often (she even babysat for us last weekend, in our home, while we went out to dinner!) Sometimes we even do things as one big unit -- go to the park or go out to dinner. I think it's incredibly healthy for my SD4 to see all of us together, getting along. She has a pretty clear understanding that she's allowed to love all of us in different ways. No problems with "choose me or her" here. I am so blessed!

Despite how lucky I KNOW I am, I do still feel a lot of resentment (which makes me feel like such a bad person). BM has zero close family -- her mom and siblings live out of state, she doesn't speak with her dad. They don't get together for holidays or birthdays. Because of this, during the time when BM and FDH were together, she became very close with his large family. They sort of "adopted" her, even before SD was in the picture. So of course, even though they are no longer together, she is still invited to all family parties and holidays, still hangs out with his family, still receives cards and gifts on her birthday ... and sometimes it makes my stomach turn. I come from an EXTREMELY tight-knit, large, supportive family, and they have accepted my FDH as one of them. Which it makes it even harder to accept that his side doesn't look at me the same way. I feel like as long as BM is around all the time, his family will continue to see them (FDH, BM, SD) as the "family unit," and I am just sort of standing on the side.

I understand that by accepting and choosing this life, I have also made a commitment to a relationship with BM for the rest of my life as well. I am OK with that, like I've said, we both work really hard to make sure it's as good as it can be. But I do still feel the burn of resentment that I can't just have my family to myself. That I'll never be seen as the primary woman in the equation. That I can't plan a vacation to Disneyland or a week at the beach without considering how we will include BM. Which makes me feel HORRIBLE, because we have a relationship that most smoms on here would kill for! She's NOT a crazy psycho-woman, she doesn't sabotage my relationship with SD -- if she did that stuff, at least I would feel justified in feeling resentment. But instead I just feel like a bad person.

Aaaand I'm rambling. I guess my question to you would be this: How do you come to grips with the resentment of having to share your family, no matter what the situation with BM is? How do you get over the fact that some people don't consider you a "real" mom or a "real" part of the family? I don't want to feel resentment on holidays, I want to be able to embrace the fact that we are able to include everyone and feel love and joy for my SD that she doesn't need to choose. But I do feel like I need to get over this hump of resentment to do that.

Thank you again for all of your help and advice on all topics of smom-ing!!

CATHRYN REPLIES TO SMOM#1:

Dear SMOM#1,

I’m so happy that you’re no longer feeling alone since you found SMOMS. There’s really no way to quantify the healing power of being with others who understand us. Your letter was very articulate (and I don’t think you rambled at all.) I’ve got some notes for you based on your post. Let’s get started:

You’re right! You are lucky to have a kind bio-mom. Many of us sigh at that possibility. However, I do not think you’re a bad person because you are feeling resentment about her place and impact in your life. It makes you human, not bad or wrong. Since the resentment is trying to get your attention, let’s not judge it, let’s see if we can figure out what it’s trying to tell you, OK? OK!

You say your skid’s bio-mom has such a good relationship with your FDH and his family that she is included in family events and that this is making your feel badly. I’m wondering this, “What does FDH need to do differently for you to feel better about this?” Are you feeling like the only way you can feel good is if she is gone? If so, this is resentment talking. Are you holding an expectation that there’s not space for BOTH of you in your FDH’s family? This could be an adolescent belief, not bad or wrong, just anytime that we feel “either/or” it’s an indication that we’re not coming from our wise adult self. It’s noteworthy so we can look deeper. From what you’ve said, everyone in FDH’s family has been very kind and good to you. If there’s a part of you feeling that they need to be mean to kind bio-mom to prove to you that they’re accepting you, this is a human feeling AND a clue you’re tapping into your adolescent self. Did you ever feel this way as a teen? What past hurt is her presence poking at?

(Check out my relationship article, “Testing and Proving Love” in case anything here helps clarify your feelings.)

Her relationship with your FDH’s family is, as you say, so healthy yet it’s hurtful for you. What about her being there, makes you upset? (I’m not doubting, just asking for more clarity.) You say her connection with your FDH’s family makes you feel like you are an outsider, I’m wondering if you ever felt like an outsider before? I’m wondering what more your FHD can so to make you feel better? Is there some part of you who is feeling jealous of their relationship? Understandable, yet it is torturing you at a time when there is so much to be joyful about. Can you figure out what’s going on?

Think about it. They have an intimate past and a friendly present. They have chosen to NOT be intimate/lovers and spouses. They agree is was a good choice. You two have the intimate present and future together. I’m wondering if what you’re feeling isn’t resentment but a bit of fear and insecurity? I sure could understand that. What can you do to boost your sense of confidence about your intimate connection with FDH? (See relationship article, “Nurturing ourselves” for a story about this.)

You say your family is tight knit and close and that they have embraced your FDH. You say you’re afraid you will never be accepted as the family unit or a real member of FDH’s family yet they seem to be people good people? What would you like them to do that they’re not doing now? Can you talk to your FDH about it so he can help you diffuse your fears or support you in new ways? Are you feeling judged by them? Could it be that you all just don’t share a future yet so, right now, their past is getting more attention than your future? What is it that you’re not getting from them? What fear or hurt is draining your energy and possibly diluting the good things that appear to be there for you?

You say you feel like a bad person for being jealous. Please stop doing that. WIth all the other things you’re feeling, it’s only causing more pain for you. When we judge (ourselves or others), it just freezes our feelings and it always hurts. Could you bring more compassion to yourself (especially to the teen you used to be)?

What are some ways you and yours FDH can plan some things that are just for the 2 of you? To reassure the part of you feeling upset about a situation that can’t change (her presence)?

1. Can you ask kind bio-mom to watch SD, so you 2 can do something as a couple?
2. Can you create a date night or special occasions where you and FDH do things that he never did with kind bio-mom?
3. Can you and FDH invest to time together doing things that craft your unique future so you can see how ready and eager FDH is to hold and keep YOU in a special place in his heart?
4. Can you come up with some new routine and rituals for you, FDH and FSD to do as a new family unit? Kids love rituals (see smommentary with all kind of ideas.).
5. What creative things can you do, in the future, to reinforce the future for you when the past seems too big?

At the end of your post you ask about how to accept that some people aren’t going to accept you as a real mom? or a real part of the family? Could it be that you’re catastrophizing about the future? Right now you are not a bio-mom, real mom, right? But if you choose that path, do you believe that they won’t honor you and your child(ren)?

Do you need to put more of your attention on your life, your future activities? Do you believe that his family will be happy for you and share your joy in the future? Could you look at kind bio-mom like a future sister-in-law? (I know it’s different but just offering some new choices to try on in your mind.) She shares a history with your FDH but they are not intimate. She is not a threat to you, but a woman who shares a past (and a child) with your FDH (which she can’t change) and who seems to want to be part of your FDH’s extended family. How does that feel?

I’m not sure what’s stabbing at your heart, but I feel pretty certain it’s some fear or past hurt that’s trying to inject itself into your present situation. Does anything come to mind after reading and thinking about this?

Please be very kind, patient and gentle with yourself as you think about these questions and possibilities, Cathryn

Copyright 2012 Cathryn Bond Doyle
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Working on Resentment issues- 1 of 5 case studies. - by Cathryn Bond Doyle - 06-26-2014, 10:44 AM

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