Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Evil Stepmother Chronicles, Part I
The E.S.M. Chronicles will occur once a week and will tell of my trials and tribulations as an Evil Stepmother. Contrary to what you may believe, my life is not all ravens and poisoned apples, and I'd actually argue that I'm more of a Passive Aggressive Stepmother than an evil one, which is undoubtedly a result of my Minnesota-Nice upbringing. Because being an E.S.M. is not as easy as one would believe (unless you are, of course, evil, in which case I imagine it being as simple as snapping your fingers), I've decided to share my experiences with you, dear reader, and I hope you gain something from my stories- whether it be entertainment, understanding, or simply comfort in knowing that we all have struggles that make us feel isolated and alone.
Let's start at the beginning.
Once upon a time, I accidentally fell in love with an English gentleman named David. I was not planning to fall in love with anyone for many years and barely even believed in the concept of true love or, rather, didn't believe it would ever happen to me. But it did happen, and I turned my life upside down because of it.
You see, David is 29 years older than me. I know, I know, you totally just imagined Hugh Hefner drinking bourbon in bed with a handful of naked Playmates, but it's not like that. If I were a gold-digger, I'd have gone for the guy with the Bentley, but instead I fell for the warm-hearted Redcoat who, within a matter of months, became my best friend and biggest cheerleader (and I hope I'm doing a good job of returning the favor). When I met David, I was preparing to move from Boston, where I'd lived for four years, back to my home in Minnesota, where I was planning to live with my BFFs (my family) and sensibly live happily ever after. But things didn't go as planned and I chose instead to stay in Boston with David. The reaction from my family and friends was really painful at first; most of them thought I was making the biggest mistake of my life and strongly advocated for me to break things off with David, but instead I made the very difficult decision to stay with him and alienate people who I loved and who loved me, too. It was a dark and difficult time, but it was also a beautiful time, full of laughter and love.
Now, onto the E.S.M. part of the story: David has two sons. They are 21 and 24 years-old. I am 24 years-old. It's weird, right? They see me as a peer, and I see them as children. Back in Boston, David's sons would visit three or four times a year. Upon their arrival, our small apartment would explode in piles of dirty clothes, misplaced wet towels and abandoned pizza boxes. Suddenly the fridge was always empty, the television was always on and I'd be forced to work from the bedroom where I'd reenact that scene from The Grinch when he looks down on Whoville and complains, "All the noise, noise, Noise!!!" Those weeks were difficult. I didn't need them to like me (though I wanted them to), but I needed them to respect me and I wanted David to fight for me- for us- in the same way I fought for him with my family.
I've mended relationships with many of the people I initially hurt by choosing to stay with David, and I've been incredibly blessed to have so many amazing and supportive people in my life. When we decided to move to the UK, I knew the dynamics of our relationship would change, but I didn't realize how I'd react to certain behaviors, and how often I'd be guilty of comparing David's family to my own.
David and I only live with his youngest son, but we see the older one on a pretty regular basis, too. In fact, he was here this weekend- came home at 5:47 AM on Sunday with two friends and then passed out in the bathroom for an hour before hauling himself into the bedroom to sleep on a naked mattress with the other two gents. I know because I was woken by all the commotion and couldn't get back to sleep. I have friends who behave like this, too, and when they tell me stories of passing out in bathrooms or sleeping in weird places I roll my eyes and laugh. I'm a hypocrite because when David's sons behave like this, I have a panic attack that feels like cardiac arrest, lose my appetite for hours, and cry. Cry all the time. Mostly out of anger, but sometimes out of sadness. I didn't sign up for this, I tell myself, I don't know what to do! But I did sign up for it when I got married and now I need to work through it and find a solution.
In high school I had a teacher who said something that has always stuck with me- it was a simple question but one that I ask myself often, especially in these days of introspection and turmoil: Can you manage for what you value? Right now, I feel as if I cannot manage. It is not my place to manage our household, it is David's, and it is my job to support him. If I were to step in and say what I feel, I would immediately become The Evilest Stepmother Of Them All, and though I sometimes fantasize about that moment, I can't bring myself to wedge between David and his sons and make him choose between us. This means I must compromise some things that I value- my privacy, my voice, and my ideals of how certain situations should be dealt with. And then I must deal with the results of these compromises, which is feeling weak, angry, and isolated (and some bitchy behavior... which I need to rectify immediately). I feel like I've been trying really hard but haven't really gotten anywhere. I guess I need to try harder. Try better.
One day, I hope the four of us can sit together over a meal and truly enjoy spending time together. Maybe they'll have girlfriends or wives and children of their own, and together we can drink wine and laugh about these times. I want that to happen so badly, I really really do. The boys are good guys, I just don't know how to communicate with them and right now being an Evil Stepmother really super sucks.
I'll try not to be such a Debbie-Downer in this feature every week. And I'll also try not to be so scattered. I'm working through a lot of emotions right now and I don't know how to say things without sounding like a raging psycho, but I'll work on that. Promise! xxx
Okay, one more thing: Don't I look totally super ESM in that picture? I actually dressed as an Evil Stepmother for Halloween last year, and this outfit (which I wore to work on a regular work day, collar and all... true story) inspired that costume. Okay, donzo now. For realz.