Tag Archives: step children

Home Time Triggers

135lbs

I am one week away from going home. My goal was to be in the 120’s by then. It isn’t happening.

Going home is exciting and stressful all at the same time. Exciting because I get to see everyone, stressful because of finances and many other things. I will be gone for 5 weeks. I leave my boyfriend and children behind which will cause me anxiety. I go to be with my family which will also cause me anxiety. Nothing is as triggering as going back to the root of your eating disorder.

I love my family. I am overjoyed to see them. One of my oldest, bestest friends is getting married and I have the honour of being her bridesmaid. I am, of course, worried about being thin enough in my bridesmaid’s dress.

I am torn: torn by my boyfriend not being able to come with me and torn by my family who need me too. I drop out of one life and into another, worlds apart. It is emotionally overwhelming.

I cope by eating, or not eating. When I eat, I purge. By the time I leave next week, I will be beside myself. I will cry all the way there and on the way back, I will cry all the way here for different reasons.

I had firmly believed, that I would be going home engaged to my boyfriend. He told me he would give me a reason to come back and I thought that would be it. Part of me imagined he would surprise me by buying a last-minute ticket and coming with me, or just showing up back home. I know I am setting myself up for a massive heartache. There will be no engagement ring. There will be no surprise visit. When I get back from my trip in July and am bereft and lost and distressed, he is going away for a week with his kids. I will need him, but they will need him more. Some days I just have to accept that this is how it is.

The heart wants what it wants and right now I want to go home and never come back here. This is no fairytale. There is no happily-ever-after.

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Wedding Weekend

We went away for the weekend to a wedding for my boyfriend’s cousin. We had the children with us and all his family had traveled there. After a lot of drama involving the mother of his daughter (she thought that she should attend the wedding and I didn’t), we managed to go too.

Road trips are hard for people with eating disorders. There is no routine, there are few ‘safe’ foods and lots of triggers. I was already high on anxiety from the drama by the time we left. I anticipated someone in my boyfriend’s family would make a comment about the little girl’s mother or make one of their stupid pregnancy jokes in our direction. Before we even left, I was on guard and expecting it.

Nothing happened. Nobody said anything dumb. We had a great weekend. We stayed with friends and drank wine and took the kids swimming.

At the wedding I had my heart set on a slow dance with my boyfriend. It was all I wanted. The night went on and on with no chance of it happening as we chased the children around and spent time with his family. His daughter takes up all his time and attention. It is just the way it is. When she is around, his son and I barely get noticed. I had a feeling that I was setting myself up for disappointment by fixating on the one moment I really wanted: a slow dance in his arms.

I do it all the time by setting my heart on something: a romantic date, a weekend away together, him coming home with me to meet my family and of course, an engagement ring. I leave in a week. There is no chance now that I am going home with a ring on my finger.

As the night wore on, I ate more (pasta, potatoes, bread, lasagne – all good for anxiety relief) and drank more and eventually went to purge it all. When I came out of the washroom by boyfriend was standing there looking for me. He had been looking for me for some time.

“Where else would you expect to find me?” I replied in tipsy honesty.

“I should have guessed,” was his response.

Normal people would have been on the dance floor.

By the time he came to get me for the last dance of the evening, his daughter was half asleep on my lap. Her needs trump my needs. I wasn’t going to move a sleeping child so I could go dance. I went back to the hotel and cried in the bathtub instead.

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The Aftermath

We “kissed and made up” as the saying goes. I don’t feel like we effectively resolved anything. We are back to our normal which means that nothing will change, but everything has changed and it can’t go back.

He carries on as he did before. I find myself questioning everything. Why give up a weekend to spend at his son’s lacrosse tournament when this man isn’t sure of how he will feel about me in a year? I looked at the house last night – a disaster as always – and I told him that they needed to clean it up because I wouldn’t. Why am I picking up after kids that aren’t mine when their dad won’t make a commitment to me?

I am loath to invest time or money or effort now that I know there is no timeline. I am withdrawing, pulling back, being selfish. I sleep in and let him get the kids dressed and ready for school by himself. I don’t do their laundry or pack their lunches. I want him to remember single parenting. I want him to realize what he has done and what he has lost in me when I stop doing all I did.

I am still hurt; wounded by words that cannot be retracted. The damage done is immense. It pervades every conversation. I have to keep reminding him that things are not what I thought they were. It’s as if he doesn’t even register the shift.

“Do you want to go look at a new car this weekend?” He asks.

“No. I think there is no point now. Perhaps when our situation is more stable. I will reassess in a few months and then think about it,” is my response. I have said quite frankly, that I made the decision to go look at a new car prior to our discussion when I believed that we were in a more secure position than what we are.

I went to see the ED counsellor and doctor for a check up as part of the program I am in. He asked about it at coffee.

“Am I supposed to be coming to some of these with you?” He seems stunned that I have been to several appointments that he does not know about because I didn’t bother telling him.

“Yes you are supposed to take part in a few things, but I told my case manager that I’ve had new information since the time I brought you with and that things have changed. I told her not to plan on you being part of this anymore,” I am as blunt as I can be. This is not a part of myself I am going to share with someone who is vague about our future. He looks hurt. He says “oh” and I leave it at that.

He brings up the long weekend. We were supposed to go away for our romantic holiday together which I canceled the morning after our fight. He hasn’t asked about it or referenced it since. It’s like he is immune to how disappointed I was after I had been looking forward to it so much. He hasn’t even acknowledged that I canceled it and how devastated I am about it. He is nonchalant.

“What do you want to do for the long weekend? Do you want to make any plans?” He asks, like nothing happened and he didn’t ruin a perfectly good weekend for nothing.

“What I wanted to do went down in flames,” I respond calmly. “I no longer care what happens this weekend.”

Another, “oh…ok”.

He doesn’t get it. Why would he?

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Expectations 

  

The moment I was so sure was not going to happen, happened. My boyfriend left to collect the kids from their moms and didn’t even ask me if I wanted to go with. Before he came home he mesaaged me to meet him in the kitchen in about ten minutes. That’s when I knew something was up.

I had gone to nap earlier in the afternoon, so distressed that I had not been acknowledged on Mothers Day. He came to bed to cuddle me and I told him that after the week we had, I needed him to talk to me. I told him I was still reeling from the hurt and felt an emotional disconnect between us. So he talked and I cried and 3 hours later we were still lying there in each other’s arms. I felt like that conversation went a long way to closing the chasm between us. Still he didn’t say one word about Mother’s Day. 

I resigned myself to the fact that it was not going to happen because I am not officially their step mom. 

Cue two hours later: he come home with the children, flowers, a card and cheesecake. The children hugged me and kissed me and I dissolved into tears. His son asks why I was crying and I tried to tell them they were happy tears. He threw his arms around me. They sat on me lap and helped me unwrap the flowers. The writing in my card read “you feel like my mom”.  

We had a family dinner and ate our cheesecake (which I haven’t purged). My boyfriend told me that he had been working on the surprise for a while. I told him that I had been waiting all day for some acknowledgement and had given up. He told me he was just waiting for the children because at the end of the day I will be their step mom and they needed to be there. Then he said, “I’m much better when there are no expectations”. 

I’ve been told before that my expectations are too high. That they are too high for myself and for others. I felt awful. I wished he had just hinted this morning at something coming later in the day, to allay my fear that on a day that celebrates mothers, I would not be acknowledged as one by the man who’s children I love. 

I still feel bad, guilty for expecting it. It is true that expectation is the root of all heartache. Perhaps I need to stop expecting anything. 

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Mother’s Day For Non-Mothers

Today is my first official “unofficial” mother’s day. I say “unofficial” because my partner and I are not married so technically I am not a step mother. I say official because in the last 10 months it has been full on mothering for me to his two kids.

I have not been acknowledged either way by him today. The kids are with their mothers, obviously, even though it is our weekend with them. I realize I will face a life time of not sharing this day with them. My partner kissed me goodbye this morning when he left to go watch his son’s lacrosse game. He said, “if you speak to your mom tell her happy mother’s day from me.” He has never met my mother, but he thought to acknowledge her. He didn’t say anything to me. I didn’t get any expression of thanks or acknowledgement for the mothering I do to his kids.

I don’t know what I was expecting really. Last weekend some friends were over having dinner with us and my girlfriend said, “now you get to celebrate mother’s day”. I looked at my boyfriend and I said, “I don’t think he knew that.” My girlfriend ignored my comment and said, “no, you’re a mom now. You celebrate mother’s day.”

I know we get the kids back some time this evening. Part of me wonders if it will cross my boyfriend’s mind to do anything. Flowers? A card? I don’t know, does Hallmark make “step mother” mother’s day cards for women who aren’t officially step mothers? Part of me feels like if he does do anything it will only be because my girlfriend brought it up last weekend and said he had to. I feel caught in the middle. I do not get to not mother the children because there is no ring on my finger. I can’t refuse to change dirty diapers or hold sick children or feed them or take care of them or bath them or dress them or play with them or love them because there is no ring on my finger. I have to mother them regardless. And I choose to mother them because I want to. Who can not look at a child and love them? Who can not want to take care of a child even if it is not biologically theirs? It is not possible to look at them and not feel a bond to them after all this time. Every day that I am with this man, I make a conscious decision to love him and his children. It has not been easy. This week in particular has been the hardest one to continue to make that choice in the light of no forthcoming committment from him.

So this post is for the unofficial mothers. The ones who have made a choice to love other women’s children. The ones who are not recognized or acknowledged or appreciated for what they do. The ones that are reviled and hated by the biological moms instead of thanked. The ones who sacrifice themselves for children that will never call them “mum”. The ones who do everything that a mother does, which in my opinion makes you a mother. It seems the more I delve into step motherhood that the more obvious it is that people only acknowledge you as part of the mum club if you have been impregnated and pushed a child out of your vagina. I know biology is the least of what makes a mother a mother.

***

I got up, alone, skyped my mother in Africa. I poured my coffee and left for church. I had wanted my boyfriend to come to church with me today, but he chose to go to his son’s 5th lacrosse game this week. It seems fitting that he spent part of mother’s day with the mother of his son whom he is still officially married to.

I came home from church wondering if there would be anything. There was nothing. No flowers, no card, no present. The house is a mess, kids stuff everywhere, my boyfriend was sleeping upstairs. He asked how church was. He asked if I had spoken to my mother. He didn’t say a word about doing something special today or ask what I might like to do. I know I am waiting for some token acknowledgement that won’t happen or will be meaningless by the time it happens hours from now and is a fleeting moment he did out of obligation. He has had a whole day to look at me and say the words I long to hear “thank you for mothering my children”.

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Same Shit, Different Guy

I heard the same shit tonight that made me end my last relationship.

I had a ‘check-in’ conversation with my boyfriend at bed time to make sure that we were on the same page (of the same book). I told him we never actually talk about time lines and plans for our future. I said that if we don’t put the wheels in motion nothing will ever happen. I told him we are nearly at a year and we never actually discuss our future unless it is vague. I made the mistake of asking him how he felt about our situation and what he was thinking so that we could see if our timelines and plans would mesh.

How the tune has changed from “I can’t wait for you to be my wife” and ” I want to spend the rest of my life with you” to this: “I don’t have a timeline”, “well I might want to marry you in two years, but I don’t know how I will feel then…what if something goes wrong?” and “what if I need 6 more months, what if I’m not ready?”

Let’s just say that no matter how he tried to explain himself, I got the message loud and clear. Now that he has a live in maid who pays rent and a step mommy for his kids, he suddenly isn’t that interested in how fast he can make me his wife. Like the saying goes: why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

I reminded him that he has already had his children and therefore isn’t even concerned about the window of opportunity for us to have more. I reminded him I will be 33 in four months and I am not willing to pass up my time to have children while he decides if he wants to be with me or not. I reminded him that I am the one who has made a massive commitment to him by moving in with him and taking on his kids and all the (never-ending) shit that goes along with his situation. I reminded him that I cook and clean and do laundry and take care of him and the kids. My finances are now supporting him and his kids. I asked what more he could possibly want out of a girlfriend. I didn’t say what I was thinking: that he has nothing much to offer – other than being a nice guy. He has no money, no boundaries and a baggage carousel that is giving me motion sickness. I reminded him that he told me in the beginning that he was unlike any guy I had ever dated before, that he was different.

Sadly, he has proved he is just like the rest of them, but under worse circumstances. So I guess “different” was the right word. I am more mad at myself than I am at him.¬† After all I was the one who swore blind that I wouldn’t date a North American (EVER AGAIN) or a non-Christian and neither would I move in with anyone until there was a ring on my finger. So now I am mad at myself for doing what I said I wouldn’t which means I have learned nothing from the preceding heartaches. I am mad at myself for believing that he would be different from any other guy. How dumb am I? I guess to answer my own question, I am a fat anorexic so I am obviously not going to be a MENSA candidate any time soon. I am mad at myself for trusting him when he told me he wanted me to be his wife and that he couldn’t wait. I am mad at myself for taking him literally when he said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I am mad for at myself for imagining that a proposal was coming at any moment: christmas, valentines, mother’s day, the long weekend when we go away, a trip home to surprise me when I am with my family…

More so I am mad at myself for repeating the things I do that get me nowhere: loving too much, giving too much, trusting too much. He knew when he met me that my plan was to leave the country and return home to my family so he said he would give me a reason to stay. He knew when he started dating me that i had no intention of waiting around for an engagement, that if we weren’t serious, I wasn’t interested. I was very upfront with him when I said I wanted my own children (even though he didn’t want any more). i said frankly that I didn’t plan on waiting the obligatory 3 years that seem to be standard before a guy “shits or gets off the pot”. I mean this guy is 40 years old. You either know or you don’t. Waiting 3 years to ask someone to marry you is the kind of nonsense you do in your twenties….when no one cares¬† about timelines. The last guy I dated for 3 years (who promised me an engagement ring when we moved in together) said the same things to me that my boyfriend said tonight: he had no timeline, he was not ready, he was not sure what might happen or how he might feel in the future.

They are all the same in the end. All of them.

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Someday…

   
This is a conversation with my boyfriend saying he will buy gifts for my brothers so that they like him “if I’m going to ask for your hand in marriage someday.”

If…

Someday…

I have been waiting for a proposal since Christmas. I know what these men are like. Someday will never come. This one keeps telling me he is different to any man I have dated before. I am yet to believe him. He is yet to prove it. 

I put my cards on the table when we started dating. I told him I wouldn’t wait around indefinitely. I told him I wanted a marriage and children.  I assumed all the risk and made a huge commitment moving in with him 4 months ago. Now he says “if” and “someday”. 

 I have already given him everything he could ask for: I have taken on his 2 children from 2 different mothers and all the ensuing baggage that comes with. I have tolerated the intolerable for him. It has been nothing but stress since the beginning of our relationship. I have given up a simple happy life for drama and complications because he has no boundaries and hasn’t sorted out the mess he made of his life. 

I have foregone dates, romance, quality time and swapped them for mothering, cleaning, cooking and never ending laundry. I have given up sleep ins and freedom for waking up early to dress kids and make school lunches. I have lost evenings of frivolity and fun to homework, bath time and bed time. I have taken on the financial burden of his children, spending money on them now instead of myself. I have given up a life I dreamed of in Africa with my family to make a family with a man who says “if” and “someday”. 

I must not be worth more.  

I only have myself to blame for giving him everything up front. 

I have put up with things many others would have walked away from because he told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He used to say, “I can’t wait for you to be my wife”. He never says it anymore. Instead he tells me there is a hole in his favourite underpants while we lie in bed and I am thinking of a wedding and children. 

And I know he thinks he is being a good guy buying gifts for my brothers. He would never understand how that statement could do so much damage. How triggering it is for someone with anxiety and an eating disorder. He will never know that I already have a date in mind which I will not wait past. 

“If” that “someday” takes much longer, I will be long gone.  

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Unlovable

We go to the wedding today. I wear 2 different outfits: one to the ceremony and one to the reception. I don’t eat all day so that I might look vaguely acceptable (to myself or perhaps some passers by). My boyfriend doesn’t look at me, or notice me, or comment on my apprearance. Given the horrible things he said a few days ago when I was trying on dresses for this event, maybe it is a blessing – you know the kind they say come in “disguise”.

I starve and I primp and I preen. I paint my face and curl my eyelashes and spritz and tease and my legs are tanned and my collar bones are glittered. I brush and comb and fuss and tuck and pin and change and inspect and criticize and adjust and ruefully accept the outcome. We arrive at the ceremony and he says a blanket “you guys looks snazzy” to all 3 of us. Snazzy…the epitomy of compliments. The truth is he only has eyes for his daughter. When she is around, his son and I cease to exist.  I get compliments from his friends at the wedding. Complete strangers talk to me in the washroom telling me they like my dress or hair. One woman hugs me and uses the word “gorgeous”. My boyfriend barely acknowledges me. He is disconnected, preoccupied and I am just the maid who had fed and cleaned and dressed and delivered his children to him while he has been drinking with his friends. 

He takes his daughter “for a walk” which is code for calling her mother. I sit at a table for ten fat, repulsive and alone, staring  into my appetizer, looking for love. After the briefest pretense I walk away from the table and in my high heels and lace and pearls and curls, I toss back up the disappointment. There is not enough wine to soothe my discontented soul. 

His daughter is sick and whiny. She takes up all our attention. There is no time for “us”. There is no hand holding. There is no smiling into each other’s eyes. There is no dancing at this wedding. I hold her and she fidgets, unhappy. He holds her. She cries for cupcakes. No matter what we do, she is fractious. We are home by 10:09pm on a Saturday night. I wanted to slow dance in his arms and dream of our wedding which we both know (but won’t acknowledge) will never happen. The kind of things you do when you are only 9 months into a relationship. I wanted the overflow of love and happiness from this union to flood out hearts. But there are children to take care of  and his stomach is upset by the Indian food (which I hear about in graphic, unromantic detail), so we go home. I pour myself wine in the kitchen, take out the flower from my hair while my boyfriend puts his daughter to bed. His woefully neglected son comes to me in the kitchen and tells me that he feels like we don’t love him. I wrap my arms around him knowing exactly what that feels like and hating myself for not being able to stop him from feeling it too. 

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Trying On Dresses

After the tragedy of trying on dresses for my boyfriend the other night, I decided to try on some dresses alone today. I need one (or two) for the wedding we are going to tomorrow. I put on my favourite BCBG dress that I had altered from a size 8 to a size 2 when I was pretty sick a few years ago. (That is ED sick in case you were wondering.) It zipped. It fit. Angels might as well have sung the Hallelujah chorus for me. I am certainly nowhere near as thin as I got 2 years ago, but I am well on my way.

At my CT scan today the nurse told me that it was easy to redo my dosage because I was “so tiny”. It went a long way to healing the devastation of my boyfriend asking me how “it was even possible” for me to fit in my friend’s dresses, because she has “a much smaller frame” than me. I got the “skinny bitch” out of my coworker as he rapped my hip bones and told me I had no ass this week. (We are dancers so there is nothing weird about observing each others’ bodies.) I got a “you have my dream body” from a pretty svelte girl at a party last night.

My boyfriend, the kids and I ate dinner on the back deck tonight. I made salad and baked pasta. I had 3 helpings of pasta and probably would have had more, but everyone got up and went inside. My stomach hurt as I cleaned up dinner. As per usual, my boyfriend was upstairs bathing his little girl and talking to her mother on the phone. It is the part of the night where I get to clean up dinner and the kitchen (aka the shitty chores), instead of bonding with a child that I desperately need to bond with. After a while I heard him calling for me from upstairs (I’m guessing they were done with her mother and it was ok for me to exist again as someone other than the maid). I ignored him, tossed back my wine and went to throw up dinner. I plan on looking even thinner in that dress tomorrow.

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Post Purge Hangover

Bulimia hangover.

I wake up feeling like I have been run over. I look awful: eyes puffy with dark circles, fat face, dull skin. My stomach is empty, burning full of bile and nothing else. My throat feels like I swallowed glass. I am exhausted, dehydrated, migrainey. I am empty.

I hate the morning after a purge. I love the feeling that stays with me long after the hangover. The numbness and calm; the anxiety ebbing away.

Everything is beautiful this morning: my boyfriend and the children (even at 6am), our life together…all the chaos that upsets me doesn’t seem to matter. The lack of control is negated because I have found control elsewhere. I stroll into the day calorie free, armed only with coffee and I know I can do this. I can starve even though my anxiety will spike in a couple of hours. I can curb it later with wine and if I have to eat, I can purge that too. All is right in my world, if not well. All is as it should be: familiar and comforting, soothing to my tormented soul. My demons are placated.

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