Monday, May 3, 2010
My Detachment Story
by Morgan Miles
For the last three years, she would cry and have anxiety when my husband picked her up. When I entered his life and her life, she was super excited to come and visit. She would hop happily from car to car. We never did anything real special, but I did the normal stuff I would do with my godchild and other children I had been around like the children’s museum, the mall, circus, etc.
When I think back to those times, five years ago, so much has changed. It turns out not every bio-mother is excited when a stepmom comes into the picture. It turns out that Parental Alienation Syndrome is alive and thriving in divorced families. And it turns out that I am not as perfect of a stepmom as I thought.
I swooped in on my angel wings; I was going to fix everything. My husband and his ex-wife would figure out that being friends would be so much better for their daughter. I would attend all the school meetings and doctor’s appointments because they would all want my opinion, because I am the stepmom. I would attend all the visitation pick-ups and drop-offs because my stepdaughter would want to see me. And most of all I would control the environment here at our house and help my husband raise his daughter while she was here for visitation. I would make everything better.
Does any of that sound familiar?
Unfortunately, my good intentions turned out to be the worst situation for my husband and his daughter. And eventually, everything I was doing that I thought would make things better, made it worse little by little until everything fell apart. I have had to reconstruct a relationship with my husband. I am still working on a relationship with my step-daughter. And I now have my own daughter to think about as well.
I had an attachment to my step-daughter and her mother that was completely irrational and unhealthy. I believed if I tried as hard as her biological mother, my step-daughter would love and respect me just the same. It was not until the bottom fell out of my relationships with the people I loved and I realized that you cannot reason with an irrational person, that none of my intentions were good.
I had to detach. I had to come to the realization that my detachment need are because of something I have thought about or done and not someone else. I had to find the inner strength to overcome my attachment to attain a better perspective on our step-life situation.
I have learned many painful lessons: My husband and my step-daughter do not need me. They had a great relationship before I came along and will continue to have one regardless of whether or not I am here. I am not my step-daughter’s mother, nor can I be a replacement for her mother. My step-daughter does not need another mother, she needs another friend. I cannot fix anything related to my husband’s previous marriage. It is just that, HIS previous marriage. And finally, there is nothing I can do or say to make my husband be a dad, or his ex-wife a mother. They chose to procreate, it was their decision to have a baby and get married, what on earth made me think this was my responsibility.
What have I gained from these realizations?
Peace. It does not sound like much, but it is everything. I could continue to have panic attacks over visitation, whether my house was clean enough, whether I had enough food, if my step-daughter was going to cry at the pick-up or drop-off. I could continue to compete with my husband’s ex-wife and buy better clothing for my family, continue to purchase newer and more expensive vehicles, show up to school meetings and court dates with more paperwork I had spent hours on just so I could hear a teacher, or a judge, or a doctor say, “You are not her mother.” And breakdown in the car time after time.
Instead, I found peace. I detached from the drama of an ex-wife, the discipline problems of a child that is not mine, planning activity after activity when it was not appreciated and most of all trying to be someone else’s mom. I am now at peace with myself.
I am not perfect, far from it. But I do love my family. I do love my life. I don’t need to be living someone else’s life; I need to be living my own. I have let life pass me by for the past 2 years, consumed with hate, hurt and betrayal. All of which, was my fault and I could have prevented by detaching myself.
There is no love loss between me and my step-daughter, in fact there is an ease of communication now. I am no longer the enemy, I am the friend. My husband, he doesn’t know all of what I have gone through, but he understands where I am with myself and he recognizes the peace between me and his daughter. My own daughter, she benefits from a mother who is no longer anxious, stressed and compulsive about her house, clothing and appearance.
Detachment is not about punishment. Detachment is not about a love loss between you and your husband or his kids. Detachment is personal. It is taking back control of your own life. Detachment is finding a way to make positive changes and impacts in your family and your own life.