I thought it might be useful to see where I used to be and where I am now. It has taken a lot of personal growth and maturity to get to this point, but am happier then ever.
I was married to my ex in August when I was 20. (yes very young) Our divorce was final mid-to-late December the year I was 26. We had been separated for about 7 months when the divorce became final.
Like every situation, there are 2 sides to the story. In every divorce there are 2 sides, to different sets of feelings and arguements about what happened, and who did what wrong. In the end, though, I'm sure we both had hurt feelings, frustration, and sadness.
My relationship with my children's step mom was not that great in the beginning. There were many obstacles that needed to be overcome in order to make it work. I had many things to deal with in order to even start to allow myself to try.
It was not that I "instantly" hated her. I did not know her. How could I make that assumption. My feelings were almost ones of indifference. The root of the problem (I have finally figured out!) was that there were feelings of resentment toward her due to the way my ex treated her.
Part of what I felt in the marriage and after, was abdonement. Not where he would leave for days on end or anything, but rather that he was constantly at work. It seemed to me that he did not want to make time for me or that I was not important enough. (again, this was my perception of how things were) These feelings were magnified when I saw that he had started taking off days of work to be with her and the kids.
It left even worse thoughts of "why was I not good enough to do this for" etc... I don't believe that I disliked her or tried to be mean on purpose, or out of the simple fact that she did anything wrong, but rather she took my place. She was getting what I had so longed for. She had the relationship that I should have had.
I then had the fear that my ex would want to take the kids away so that they could be one big happy family. (without me) Because why would I need to be in the picture, I'd been replaced. This brought out the very basic instinct to hold onto my kids tighter then I had ever done before. It made me look into actions, see if there was "hidden" motives or meaning behind things done.
It sounds terrible to say. Worse, that I had to admit this to myself. But nonetheless, the truth. It is difficult to put those thoughts/fears aside. To try to trust after trust has been broken. To pick up the pieces and move on.
Little by little, piece by piece, sometimes one step forward and two steps back I started to mend. I tried to move forward, not looking back on what had happened, the things that were not going to change no matter how big of a fight I put up. I tried to imagine what it is like for her, being the "other" woman. The "step-mom".
When I finally stopped to look at things I could not hate her. She was just trying to live her life as well. Trying to fit into an ackward situation where there was more history and most of all children. Things constantly changing and trying to fit into an unrealistic role with expectations that continued to change as well. TOUGH to do. So I tried to stop. To understand the root of my feelings and try to get to know her.
Little by little, we have cautiously defined boundaries and different roles. She has never illuded to the fact that she was anything other then the kids' step-mom and that I was their mom. It was comforting to know that we were making steps towards having a better relationship. One where communication and hard work would make for a better situation for everyone.
I know that there were many rough spots getting to where we are. And sure there will be some to come, but I think that we have gotten to the point where we know that each is doing the very best they can for the kids. Sure there are things that we could pick apart. Things that we could use to make the other one look crazy or seem unfit as a bio or step mom, but that bridge as been crossed. Those days are over. Instead the days of long conversations not just about the kids but about "us" happen. Our thoughts, our feelings. Our likes and dislikes. And, yes, even a pilates class or two:)