My first wife and I were college sweethearts. In 2008, she began behaving strangely, and her memory began to fail. She was diagnosed with vascular dementia. She was a devoted wife, a terrific Mom, my Best Friend, everyone loved her, Mommy to our furbabies, a Registered Nurse, a Certified Case Manager, and my Hero. Even though I had only primitive knowledge about caregiving, my love for her held me together through 6 years of helping her fight the fight. Three weeks before she died, I entered an emotional state that I can only describe as numbness. When she passed peacefully, on Thanksgiving Day, 2014, I was holding her hand, and happy that her struggle was over, and that she had gone Home. My struggle, however, had just begun. Nobody, I repeat, nobody had extended a hand to help us. We got prayed over, got many hugs, and verbal expressions of sympathy, but no one actually came to our home, or offered to. I am very sad about that, but angry at no one. We were a couple in all things, but now, who am I, a solitary pining soul? A year and a half of settling paperwork, having an estate sale, and moving twice followed. Our son, an only child, did nothing to help, or even call me during that time. I chalked that up to his grieving. I met a widow of 13 years during this time, and we fell into each others' arms, getting married in April, 2016. She soon was stricken by congestive heart failure, and died in July, 2019. Her two adult children, who were convinced I was a golddigger, treated me coldly during our marriage, and evicted me from her house the day after the funeral. Not satisfied with this, the daughter pursued me for almost 2 years, trying to wreck my reputation and relationships with my family and friends via phone calls and social media. I was in the throes of PTSD by that time, although I was not formally diagnosed until October, 2020. Her claims of Alzheimer's onset, lying, cheating, and being a generalized sorry person were believed by many. I had not received or taken even 1 cent from her Mom.
My son convinced me to leave my hometown and move in with his family in Wisconsin. I was hoping that I could find a peaceful, loving place to heal and begin building a life. I was, however, not the same Pop that my son remembered. I began to release my grief, but that only concerned him so much that he contacted my stepdaughter, who gleefully filled him and his wife up with her POV. They tried to restrict my every activity, keeping me from making friends, and using COVID to forbid me from leaving their house. I, however, got a job as a Pharmacy Technician. They did not even see the incongruity between the claims of my mental incapacity and my performance at my job, where I received a raise for outstanding service after 90 days. His wife told me things would be better if I would co-sign a mortgage loan for a new home where I would have a basement apartment. Based on advice from my attorney, I told her I could/would not do it. She began that very day to ally with my stepdaughter in a gaslighting campaign. This gradually took such a toll on me, physically, emotionally. and mentally, that my PCP and a psychologist formally diagnosed me as having severe PTSD, and even prescribed that I should move away within the next 90 days, which is why I'm back in Georgia, living with some very dear friends in a Christian household. I thank God for them.
Have others gone through ordeals such as mine? I am out of focus mentally and have no ambition, yet realize it to the point of frustration. I am not on the usual Zoloft, etc., meds. I am down to 143 pounds, have lost most of my teeth, and suffer occasional dizzy spells. I have taken up my brushes, and very happy that my art painting abilities have survived. I will feature my paintings at an art show later this month. I have also started a small fishing tackle sales company. All of this is good, but my focus and drive leave a lot to be desired.
So, please help me with advice and insight. Thank you!
Other people often have no idea about how to help, and are afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. Or even of being ‘sucked in’ to something they think they can’t cope with. You say that ‘We got prayed over, got many hugs, and verbal expressions of sympathy, but no one actually came to our home, or offered to’. You can see that people did really care, but not in the way that you wanted. Remember the caring, and try to forget your sadness that it wasn’t what you needed.
My own experience is that adult children in general don’t react well to a re-marriage. They are suspicious about finances, don’t want to see you as a replacement for the deceased parent, are not too happy to see their own parent finding new happiness in a new life – you name it, it’s in there. The only adult children who welcome the new relationship are often because they think that it’s a burden off them – you will pick it up instead.
My own tale of woe is a daughter who I managed to bring up as an image-obsessed snob (heaven knows how that happened). She didn’t think that DH2 met the standard she thought I should have managed, in spite of his brains, education, achievements and finances. His accent wasn’t good enough (he maintained it deliberately for work relationship reasons). She treated him and his skills as if he were a lower class tradesman (and not how I treat a tradesman anyway), and he eventually rebelled.
Make the rest of your life good for YOU, not dependent on people who don’t meet your own standards of decent behavior. Lots of love, Margaret
I am truly sorry for the way that you have been mistreated.
There is nothing worse than being falsely accused when you are innocent.
You sound caring and intelligent. I am glad that you aren’t holding anger in your heart against anyone.
Please know though that it is perfectly normal to be angry about what took place.
People say not to judge others. Well, I feel that it is appropriate to judge their actions. There is a difference.
I love that you took up painting again. Congratulations on your exhibition. I find all forms of art to be healing.
Continue to focus on yourself.
Addicts have adopted the serenity prayer but it is truly a prayer for anyone at anytime in their lives.
I don’t have an addiction but I pray the serenity prayer because I love what it says.
Change what you can. Accept what you can’t. Easier said than done at times but this has brought me peace.
Every family has it’s issues. Mine included. I don’t try to change anything that I can’t. Every single time that I have tried in the past, it bit me in the a**!
So, I no longer waste my time trying to change what I can’t.
I suppose that I have learned to have tolerance in most cases.
Don’t be a pushover but let unimportant things go by the wayside.
I would like to say that I admire the devotion you showed for your wives.
I also love your independent spirit that you have now.
Sometimes, it is good to spend time with ourselves, alone with no distractions. Take time for yourself.
Did you see that movie years ago, Mr. Holland’s Opus?
It was a fantastic movie. There was a line in there that touched my heart.
He was a music teacher. His student was having difficulty playing her instrument.
She was going to quit music. He took her music sheet from her because he said that she knew it.
She was nervous without her sheet music and kept messing up.
Then he asked her what did she like about herself when she looked in the mirror.
She replied that it was her hair. She had gorgeous red hair!
He asked her why she liked her hair best and she said because her father said it reminded him of the sunset.
He told her to, “Play the Sunset!” At that point she plays the clarinet beautifully.
Paint the sunset! You have a lot of love in your heart to share with others!
Take care, my friend. I wish you well.
Our local group has met, with appropriate measures, throughout the pandemic.
I read with interest your post. I have come to the realization that when grief hits as you have been through, you have to depend on no one. It sounds as though you’re an enterprising person and are now going forward. I have gone through and am still going through somewhat similar circumstances. I married my college love, have three wonderful sons and grown grandchildren .At the age of 60 my husband died of a rare disease. Before I was emotionally ready,I remarried. My husband has advanced Alzheimer’s. But before placing him in a facility I cared for him which took a toll on my health, mental health, self esteem as he was, through no fault of his own, verbally abusive and difficult.
I have kept my home which I am thankful for but have bought a condo near one of my sons and several of my grandchildren. I don’t regret this purchase but I expected more together time which is unrealistic. I have decided while I’m at my condo I will have to develop new and different interests.
The first suggestion is to put these charlatans out of your mind! I've not dealt with the garbage you've had to deal with (son and stepdaughter), at least not at that level. It can be hard to put all that aside and let it go, but it is for the best. My most recent dealings is with 2 brothers regarding our mother, her care and managing assets. There was a lot of frustration and anger built up in me, for various reasons - lack of physical and emotional support, accusations, even physical abuse by one. At some point I started an email to each brother, to address all the issues. I would set it aside, come back to edit and update it, but in the end decided not to send them. They sit to this day in my draft folder. I realized that it was cathartic in a way, allowing me to get all that I felt and had to say out, but I also realized sending these emails would not make the situation any better. It had the potential to make matters worse.
Letting go of the anger was key to moving on. Does it still flare up? Yes, but not very often. Once all the paperwork is done, I hope it to be gone for good!
So, my decision was just to carry on, doing my best to care for/advocate for my mother (she was in MC) and manage her assets/bills. She passed in December. There was no contact with the abusive brother for over 2.5 years, until mom had the first stroke. Since then, contact with both has only been about distributing what was left in the trust fund. It was mainly through email and kept to a bare minimum. There are still issues to finish off everything (taxes for 2020, residual taxes for 2021), but my decision for when all the dust settles is to cut ties completely. I do NOT need their abuse and do NOT need to be associated with them. I see nothing in either that would be an asset in my remaining life. It was bad enough what they did to me, but to pretty much abandon mom is inexcusable! The sooner, the better, I will become an only child.
So, if you can focus on things that YOU enjoy, like your painting, that is where your energy should be directed. Take care of YOU and forget them. If need be, document it all and get it out of your system, like I did.
IF their harassment continues, I would start with a letter from an attorney requesting cease and desist. That should include intent to get restraining orders should they not heed this request. It will be difficult for sure to cut ties with your own son, but given he had no interest in you and provided no support in your times of need, it shouldn't be considered a big loss. Not knowing him or you, it is possible that DIL is the driving force behind his behavior, but it is still inexcusable. Thankfully you had a wise attorney who advised against the silly "plan" and recommended you head for the hills! Thankfully you listened!!! For them to be listening to a non-relative (stepdaughter), who clearly has issues, and all her bologna is also inexcusable. She is not the expert, just an instigator.
The sooner you can put all that behind you, the better. You can retain your fond memories of the life you had with wife #1 and the brief, but presumably happy life with wife #2. The rest should be tossed out with the trash. Enjoy your new home and friends. Focus on the things you do love! Get out in the fresh air. Get some healthy exercise (walking is good, just start slow and work your way up.) Eat healthy (if you're not eating enough, evidenced by weight loss, this can lead to light-headedness too.) You might want to get a physical, including blood and urine tests, to ensure everything is balanced. Ensure you are well hydrated (water is best, but perhaps a Gatorade now and then, to replenish your system.)
All the best to you, moving forward and upward!
The situation with your second wife's family sounds enough to give any soul no matter how strong PTSD and I hope that moving to be with friends will give you a good base to begin to re-build your confidence in yourself and your life.
This is only a very personal view based on what you have told us, but "I" think that now you are in a more supportive environment, seeing a grief counsellor to help you work through things could be highly beneficial (It cannot do any harm). It may be that the local church has links to a qualified person or can point you in the right direction, but it sounds as though you need to go back to the start of when your first wife was ill and find a way through to where you are now. Were I religious I would pray for you to find a way, but I am not so I can only send you virtual hugs and support and hope you are able to find someone to help you start a journey back to strength and confidence. xx
Now it's time for you to take care of you. Please make sure that you're seeing a Dr for not only your PTSD, but the dizzy spells as well, and a dentist for your teeth. And don't be rushing into another relationship with a woman, until you have taken the time to properly heal from the losses of both your wives, as no woman wants a man who's bringing all that excess baggage along with him. Some therapy would be helpful for you as well. Wishing you the best.
You need time to heal.
You need time to get your self back. You will NEVER be who or what you were before. (you can't be, whenever a life touches you in any way good or bad you are forever changed, you decide how that change effects you)
I do hope you are talking to someone. A therapist that can help you.
Keep doing what makes you happy. Ignore those that spread lies. Speak your truth when you have to.
It is time to take care of YOU