We all lie to ourselves about something. Do we tell ourselves that we are happier than we are? Do we try to convince ourselves that our partner is faithful when we know he’s not? Do we try to find value in that which is meaningless in the effort to cover up our true feelings? Probably.
I’ve been lying to myself for too long. I value honesty and demand it from my friends and family members but I can’t seem to reciprocate with myself. Why do I do this? I suppose it depends on what the lie is.
Lately, I’ve been having anger issues and I tell myself that it’s because I have put up with anger and stress and anxiety for too long. I suffer from depression and have for most of my life. There’s nothing I can do other than to try to live with it and by trying to live with it, I try not to “sweat the small stuff.” But by ignoring or not acknowledging the “small stuff,” I end up letting the frustration and negative feelings build up until I explode. That’s is what is happening now.
I can no longer control my feelings. I can go from zero to bitch in less than a second without any ability to slow it. The most minor things set me off. When I am “triggered,” life around me goes hazy and all I see is red. I’ve never been like this before now but I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to have my family members afraid to talk to me for fear of a nuclear meltdown.
So what is the cause? I imagine it’s mainly centered around my step-daughter, who just recently turned 16. There’s quite a back story involved there, but allow me to briefly touch on it.
My husband and I were awarded custodial custody, which means that the child lives with us, of “J” and her sister, “S” when they were 4 and 7, respectively. The reason? Their mother (and my husband’s ex wife) went to jail for embezzling nearly $30,000 from her place of employment. She went to Las Vegas twice, she bought a motorcycle, and spent tons of money on herself. When we gained custody, we were allowed to go to their house, where he was let in by his former mother-in-law, for 15 minutes for the girls to collect as many of their clothes and belongings as they could in the allotted time, and leave with them in garbage bags. I was forced to stand outside in the cold. When we got back to our home and began to go through their belongings, the clothes that they did bring with them were stained and covered in marker or pen, were too small, and had images and sayings on them that were entirely inappropriate for children of any age. I only include this detail because years later, she lied to them and told them that the reason she “stole” the money (she refuses to use the word steal or stole) was to take care of them. That’s a horrible lie, but then again, she is a pathological liar.
So the girls were ripped out of their familiar environment AFTER having gone through their parents ugly (thanks to their mother) divorce, which was caused by their mother’s infidelity. They had to switch to a new school. They had to leave whatever friends they had behind them and make new ones. I fully acknowledge how difficult it must have been for them and we did everything we could to make it easier on them. But it wasn’t easy for us either.
We went from a family of three, consisting of my husband, me, and my then 2-year-old daughter, “K,” to a family of five. That’s a big adjustment, not only for the number of people in the house sharing one bathroom, but to the amount of groceries, and the dynamic of the relationships in the house. My husband and I went from hosting them every other weekend to full time parents of three children overnight. It was overwhelming, to say the least.
Over time we adjusted and did everything we could to make all three girls happy. The oldest, S, is intelligent and self-sufficient. She’s one of those firstborn children who had to grow up too soon to take care of a younger sibling because their mother was more concerned with herself than her own children. So when they came to live with us, S was bossy, overbearing, and worried about things, like money and the cost of things, that no child should every be worried about. On the other hand, J, the younger sister, was quiet, reserved, and was used to being cared for 100% of the time. S was the leader, J was the follower. My daughter, K, a quiet, intelligent, sweet and highly imaginative girl who was happy playing by herself with her toys had to adjust not only to no longer being the only child in the house, but having to play with “sisters” she didn’t really know. Because our attention was so focused on the two who had their lives upended, she didn’t get the attention she needed at that age.
Fast forward a few years. S remained the same: strong, attentive to others’ needs, intelligent. She was the captain of her color guard squad for two years in high school and is now a freshman attending a university with plans to become a nurse. She is going to make a career of taking care of other people. K is 13, still imaginative and intelligent, but she is also fun, quirky and nerdy. She plays softball, and despite being one of the better players on her team, doesn’t believe she’s as good as we and her coaches tell her. She’s humble, almost to a fault. She does what she can not to draw attention to herself or stand out.
Also unchanging is J, whose concerns center around herself. She is very intelligent, gets very high marks in school, plays softball, and does well in the public eye. Her teachers and coaches all think very highly of her and when we explain that we have troubles with her at home, they can’t fathom it. So what troubles do we have? She’s lazy and just like her mother, whom she continues to idolize, lies and steals.
She has stolen multiple times. It began when she was approximately 9 or 10. She stole several priceless and irreplaceable items from me: a gold necklace and pendant my grandfather gave me in middle school before he died, a name stamp and ink pot from China that my mother’s cousin brought me back from China when I was a teenager, my Graduation ring from Air Force Basic Training. She has stolen silly trinkets from a souvenir store at the beach. She has stolen money directly from my husband’s wallet the same week we were at the beach. Most recently, in October, she stole a $100+ bottle of Chanel perfume of mine simply because my husband told her that the (cheap) perfume that she had been wearing didn’t smell nice and to find something else to wear. She translated this to “You stink; find other perfume.”
She has been caught, spoken to, yelled at, and punished so many times I have lost track, yet every time she gets caught and is punished, she gets upset. She plays the victim. Despite being told that every time she is punished it’s because of something SHE has done and to avoid being punished all she needs to do is behave, do what we ask (chores, don’t lie or steal), and life will be a lot happier, she still breaks the rules. When we punish her, we are the bad guys. More specifically, I am the wicket stepmother. Sadly my husband has enabled this by refusing to punish her, thus making me the one to do so. I don’t know what do to anymore, so I’m at my wit’s end.
I’m not happy and I need to stop lying to myself, telling myself that it will get better. We’ve had J in our house for 12 years and nothing has improved. I’m out of patience and I just don’t know what to do anymore.