I am so grateful for the wonderful future that God has secured for my family, especially for my Mom, a woman who has more than earned her happy ending. God has blessed us with a newfound love that will ensure our happiness and give us the tools we need to heal from the sadder eras of our past. It’s thanks to God’s patient encouragement and constant presence by my side that I can now fully confront my own trauma from those darker years.
(Dear reader, let me be upfront and honest about my intent with this blog post: this is a full-on rant about my ongoing contempt and underlying trauma resulting from my ex-stepdad who utterly failed to be the Godly father-figure/husband he promised us he’d be. This post is going to have a lot of anger in it that I don’t typically include in my writing; that, and this is one of the longer posts I’ve written, at easily 1500 words.)
My Ex-stepdad, the Manipulator
My ex-stepdad was a monster who, while never physically harming anybody in my family, emotionally and mentally mistreated us, and refused to ever own up to what he did, even after he finally left us. I honestly thought that I’d be free of the taint of his disgusting memory when we were rid of him in 2015, but I was wrong. God helped me see that I’ve been denying how much his negativity has continued to affect me in the present era.
Allow me to briefly summarize in bullet points what JM was like:
- Passive-aggressive to the 10th degree
- Demonized anybody who stood up to him, especially his first ex-wife
- Refused to admit his own wrongdoings when it concerned any of us
- Demanded us to respect him as the “man of the house”
- Frequently tried to engage in screaming matches with my Mom
- An EXTREMELY poor choice on his part because my Mom didn’t give a @$#! and always shouted back
- Would employ ridiculous “disciplinary” tactics against us kids
- Key example #1: when my sister apparently didn’t properly take care of yard work one day, he put a wheelbarrow full of dirt in her room
- Key example #2: Once put dozens of taped paper slips next to “dissatisfactory” spots around the house to “explain” why he wouldn’t go out of his way to treat us
To be fair, JM wasn’t an inhuman demon trying to constantly torment us; he had his good moments, but in my memories, those good moments are few and far between. While he did try at times to be kind, nobody in my family remembers him as a good father figure. And why would we?
Listed below are some of the most poisonous memories I have of him; if I tried to list them all, this blog post would never end.
I still remember the first time I heard him try to corner my Mom into a screaming match. It was late at night during my junior year of high school, and I was on the house computer, seated near the garage. I can’t remember the context of what they were arguing about, but it descended into him shouting at her, and her back, my Mom refusing to back down, something that frustrated JM to no end. The horror and shock of it all led to me breaking down sobbing at the computer, leaving my high school best friend stunned as I told her about it soon afterward.
JM tried and tried to win more of these screaming matches against Mom, but he failed. It was his utmost mistake to mess with her, an Aries woman with a famous stubborn streak who can’t be cowed by anybody.
He tried to single me and my two younger sisters out through immature means during the 4 years that we dealt with him. JM despised my silent, introverted contempt for him, and so, when I came home from my first semester at college, during the first night, he revealed to me and the rest of us that he had bought a book of conversation starters, stating that it was “unacceptable” that I didn’t talk much at all during dinner.
Looking back, why the ever living heck would I have wanted to talk to him during family dinners? He had the audacity to try to shame me, and while it hurt back then, now, I sneer at the memory. I have no shame in being the introvert that I am, and I owed that man no petty small talk.
Me and my sisters did our best to deal with him and maintain the status quo through various coping mechanisms. Mine was trying to please JM by attacking chores with a bizarre fervor. While it did work, I eventually gave up because I was wearing myself down for no good reason. JM was displeased. And now, I have to make sure that I don’t beat myself up for repeating that needless behavior towards chores.
Something else that continues to weigh on my memories of him is the length JM would go to punish us for apparently messing up, using methods that sometimes including callously lying about the situation. Once, when me and my sisters left to go to our Dad’s and stepmom’s place for the weekend, we accidentally left the garage door open, which I’ll admit was a bad slip-up. But JM went to ridiculous lengths to get back at us.
I still remember sitting down with my sisters, Dad and stepmom at a diner near their home, when we three siblings got a group text from JM going on and on that because we had left the garage door open, “everything” had been stolen, including my stepbrother’s trombone. All three of us went into a panic over what he had said, and I still remember my Dad and stepmom Colleen being disturbed at what JM was doing to us.
We later found out that nothing had been stolen; JM had only spun that lie to get back at us for our mistake. Worse, he never made any attempt to apologize. It seems he had fully intended to freak us out.
Because of all of this and so much more, I will never regret asking God to divorce him from my Mom and our family. In June 2015, after hearing him try once again to win a shouting match with my Mom, I sat in my room and angrily begged God to end it once and for all. JM was clearly not a positive influence in our lives, and I wanted him gone ASAP. A few months later, JM ended up leaving us after refusing to work with my Mom to solve their marital issues.
Worse yet, JM to this day has never owned up to anything he put us through, especially what he put our Mom through. In a card he had his best friend deliver us, JM wrote that he and Mom “couldn’t work through their issues”; this was a blatant lie. He refused to work with her when she went to so many lengths to help him, and it was him who demanded a divorce.
The ugly truth is that I ended up hating this man for putting my family through the wringer and never acknowledging the damage he left behind. I’ve had to accept that no matter how much time passes, JM might never confront himself and own up to what he did to us. As for myself, I’m still working to fully forgive him, and it isn’t easy to say the least.
The Love-filled Future
I will overcome the nasty memories he left behind, and if I have to go to counseling to get that done, so be it. I’m not afraid, just discomforted with the realization that even though he finally left our family 3 years ago, the damage is still there. I know that I’m not weak for admitting that I need help with moving past this bad era in our lives, but I wish I had admitted this sooner.
And I know I need to remember that our family is now whole, thanks to Mom’s new husband Jamie, who is 1000x the man JM is. Jamie found out the full story about what JM put us through, and has been a steadfast father and friend, helping each of us to heal and move on. I’m beyond grateful to have him in my life, and to have his family with us too. Jamie’s family is a group of unconditionally loving individuals who welcomed us all with open arms; when I met his siblings and their spouses, it was like I had gained multiple big brothers/sisters at once, and I’m lucky to have them in my life.
Yes, the past was bad, but the promise of the future is comforting. I know that I’m not alone in my healing process, and eventually, I’ll be fully free of JM’s taint on my memories. I have so many loving people by my side, and they are the ones worth remembering, not him. His malice will inevitably fade away, and the love in my life will endure forever.