Need advice - guilt keeping me from fully embracing stepkids
I'm a remarried dad with a 12 year old daughter from my first marriage who lives with her Mom; she's with us every Saturday. Her Mom and i divorced when she was 7. My second wife, a wonderful, patient woman, has two kids, a boy and a girl, 13 and 9. For the most part the kids get along pretty well, and there are no major issues there. The problem is me.
My wife recently pointed out to me -- in the kindest way possible -- that I exclude myself from family activities unless my biological daughter is with us. That my unspoken rule seems to be that we can't be a family until Saturday when she's with us. And it's true. I don't do anything individually with my stepkids. No going out and doing things together. And the reason is this: tremendous, tremendous guilt that I am in some way betraying my daughter.
I love these two kids. They're good kids, and in my heart they are like my own. We get along very well and they both look up to me, especially since their biological father is the classic abusive narcissist. Long, long story.
But despite how i feel about them, I have held myself back from getting close. From taking my stepson fishing, or to a football game together. Or going out with my stepdaughter. Or doing anything where it's just them, my wife and me. The only time I suggest we go somewhere and do something is when my daughter is with us, on Saturdays. So again, I am putting life on hold, only allowing us to be a family when she's there.
This isn't good for any number of reasons. It hurts me, it hurts my wife and although they don't show it I am sure it hurts them. They have to see that I only get involved when my daughter's around.
I have to do something about this, I have to stop it. Have to let to, forgive myself, whatever...but I have no idea where to start and am in desperate need of advice. If any of you have similar situations or have found ways to overcome, please tell me what worked for you or what's in the process of working. I'm sick to my stomach about this. Gratitude in advance for any wisdom gained you can share.
This post was edited by joenat on Sun, Sep 1, 13 at 16:05