People tend to describe me as kind, fun, driven, adventurous, helpful, creative, confident, hard-working, and loyal. My sister calls me the “goodwill ambassador” because I am always trying to make friends, keep the peace, and find balance. Sure, I have negative traits as well. I am overly anxious, I’m a strong believer in fairness and standing up for what I believe is right; I can be insensitive/cold at times, and I tend to hyper focus and over analyze the minutiae of everyday life.
I entered into a relationship with my husband, assuming his ex-wife would see the positive traits in me, as others do. I messaged her early on trying to be a “goodwill ambassador” and give her a glimpse of who I am. She seemed receptive and open to getting to know the true me. But as time went on, I realized she wasn’t truly interested in getting to know me. Instead she created her own idea of who I am, using every interaction and twisting it into her own version of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde.
In her mind, I was the cause for the conflict. She actually told me, “We never had issues like this, until you came along.” That was a surprise because after all, they were divorced.
The stress of my husband’s ex-wife was something we dealt with as a couple from the very beginning. Many times she contacted my husband attacking me and questioning me through him. I wasn’t used to this type of attack on my character. I actually believed if she just got to know me, she would see the truth. My husband believed she would see the truth as well.
I engaged in multiple communications with her, attempting to give her some perspective. I tried to explain myself to her so that she could see my point of view. But that only fueled the fire. My perspective wasn’t something she was interested in. Her failed marriage and the pain of seeing her ex-husband happily married, would not allow her to see the real me.
Finally realizing I’m wasting my energy, I stopped trying. I can’t force someone to take the time to get to know me and to see the real me. It’s not my problem to change the image my husband’s ex has created, and it’s not my job to teach her who I really am.
What’s my advice to others in this situation?
Continue being yourself. It’s hard not to defend when your character is being attacked, but it is wasted energy. Cutting contact with my husband’s ex has been the best thing for me and for our relationship. The only contact we have is in regards to the schedule, and pick ups and drop offs. We only communicate via text.
Setting boundaries has helped immensely. My husband decided to set a boundary by telling his ex, if you speak negatively about my wife, I will be hanging up the phone. He will not tolerate any further character assassinations and he has made that clear. The less you engage, the better.
Don’t waste precious time and energy trying to convince people to see the real you. People can come up with their own version of who you are, but it’s important to always stay true to your identity and continue being your authentic self.
Nicole DiLorenzo is an educator, mentor, wife, and stepmom of two girls. Her passion of teaching has spilled into the stepfamily dynamic, wanting to help others navigate their role. She runs a blog which helps her therapeutically deal with the many blessings and challenges within the stepfamily dynamic. She enjoys yoga, dog walks, riding motorcycles, vacations, and living a balanced life. Visit www.stepmomwarrior.wordpress.com for more information.