I never (EVER) thought I would say this but I have to thank my husband’s ex-wife for teaching me so many lessons. See, before I met my husband, the only step-relationship I ever dealt with was my step-mother. She was truly one of the most loving women I have ever met. Not only did she accept me as her daughter but so did her entire family. I was (and still am) truly blessed. And get this: my mom actually liked my step-mom! Can you believe it?
So, when I met my husband and, before we were even serious, he told me he had not only an ex-wife but a daughter, I was happy. I knew, through experience, that it did not have to be a horrible hate-filled relationship. It was going to be great, especially since I, like my step-mom, would finally have a daughter (without giving birth to her).
This is where the lessons come into play. It did not take long for those rose-colored glasses to be ripped right off my head. The derogatory comments began within a month of us dating and things just continued to escalate from there. 18 years (and a disconnected house phone) later, I am finally able to see what I learned.
I learned that no matter what is said or done, there are just some people who love misery. Not only do they love to be miserable but they thoroughly enjoy spreading it around like the plague. These people are cruel and heartless. As long as they are able to inflict pain on others, that is all that matters (even if it is their own child that gets hurt). They will lie, cheat, and steal to ensure that within their deluded mind, they are winning and I am not just talking about the ex now.
Through dealing on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis with the ex, I began to see that I have been surrounded by these types of people all my life. “Friends,” family friends, and even family fall into this type of antisocial personality disorder. It’s been truly illuminating and has helped me learn how to distance myself from almost all of these toxic people. It’s taken me a long time to do it but this is how I accomplished this:
I started slowly (well, with those I thought of as friends or family). I began with having things to do, so I was too busy and couldn’t meet. I spaced out the meetings over time, so I had time to mentally prepare myself for the deluge of negativity. If they refused to honor my wishes (respect me and my time), I stopped answering the phone or door. If this is someone I must have contact with, this is how I have kept the relationship: very distant. If, on the other hand, there is no reason I need to ever speak to them again: I’m done. One person I told exactly how I felt and told them I never wanted to speak to them again. The other (the ex) we just shut off our home phone. If she shows up, she is trespassing.
The sad part of that is my step-daughter has now taken our place and until she learns to stand up for herself and refuse to be a verbal punching bag, all we can do is be here when she needs some quiet sanity and a shoulder to cry (or lean) on. I hope this happens soon.