General Question

kara_t's avatar

Why do I get stressed when my stepmom makes me do a 'mindfulness stress relief exercise'?

Asked by kara_t (139 points ) February 10th, 2012

First apologies for the long message, but here goes…My dad got married last year with this woman who is his former secretary and only 23 (so 19 yrs younger than him and 7 yrs older than me) and who in spite of being almost same age as me always bosses me around and lectures me like she would be some super-old and wise woman which she is clearly not.

Anyways, she is very much into fitness and eating healthy (which is fine) but also into yoga and reading all sorts of stupid motivational books such as ‘the power of now’ which she forced me to read even though I didn’t want to, would quiz me on it and heaven forbid I got any of the quizzes wrong…This book was written by a guy named Eckhart Tolle who seems to have made some really nice $$ by telling people not to care about material things :)

Now her latest interest is this so called ‘mindfulness stress relief cognitive therapy’ which is a fancy name for having to sit still in a position which should not be too comfortable (so that you don’t fall asleep) and stare at a fixed point while, and I quote, ‘focusing on the present moment, not judging any feelings you have as good or bad, not analysing the cause of your feelings and not trying to change these feelings in any way’ (and some more blah blah). The logic behind it is that not analysing anything is supposed to send raw body input to your right side of the brain which will adjust your body parameters so you are healthier, have lower stress hormones levels and are better able to withstand pain or other negative sensations such as feeling hungry (if you analyse the feelings it all supposedly goes to your left brain which is in charge of logical thought and less able to regulate body functions).

So what all this means to me is that now I have to wake up every morning at exactly 06:15am, immediately get off my bed, kneel on my heels japanese style near the bed with my palms flat on my knees and my eyes fixed on a dot on the wall and stay like that for the next 30 mins while having to repeat out loud ‘God is protecting me’ for the entire period and focus on the present moment as described above. Then the whole thing repeats for another 30 mins before going to bed.

For now the only ‘benefits’ I feel from this therapy which she’s been making me do for more than a week are that my legs hurt and go numb from the kneeling, my back hurts from the sitting still position, my head hurts from having to stare at the stupid point on the wall, and my stress level is increased by getting really mad at her for making me do this and at my dad for being so head over heels with her that everything she does is always right and perfect.

Do you think I’m completely ignorant or do you agree that this is a completely dumb and idiotic exercise which I suspect she makes me do as revenge for doing everything to try to convince my dad not to marry her?

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87 Answers

auhsojsa's avatar

To control another is to oppress. Although she may have good intentions she shouldn’t be able to force to do this.

lemming's avatar

I think she genuinely is trying to help you…and it’s nice that she cares about you, like she could be trying to push you out of the picture as I would imagine many step-parents do. But I’m a biast opinion because I read books like that and I practice mindfulness and yoga and I think she sounds pretty cool with all the great things she’s teaching you – and you seem to be learning a lot of it!

Maybe you should try having a word with her – say you appreciate that she’s trying to help you but she’s being a bit too full on with things you aren’t sure about. Don’t go against her though..I think it would be really good for you to do yoga and things like that, get in touch with the world as it is rather than…well you know.

If I were you I’d treat her like an annoying older sister who always thinks she knows what’s best for you – but you have to let her know that you also have to find your own way in life :)

LostInParadise's avatar

In defense of your stepmom, meditation has been around for a long time and is a part of most religions and is particularly important in Eastern religions like Buddhism. Recently there has been research that shows that there are benefits to it. From what I understand of Eckhart Tolle, he is just repackaging some pretty old ideas. The good thing is that you can practice meditation without buying into his whole philosophy. The important thing is to concentrate on the present moment.

However, forcing someone to meditate is definitely counter-productive. There is no need to kneel on your knees. There is also a second type of meditation that most people find easier, which is to close your eyes, observe your breathing and count breaths up to four and then repeat.

See if you can work out a deal where you can choose your style of meditation and time for meditating once per day to see if you find any benefit to it. I usually do the breath counting meditation in the morning sitting on a couch and have found it to be a good way to start the day.

GoldieAV16's avatar

Where is your dad in all this?? To me, it is appalling that he stands by and allows a woman who is not your mom to dictate to you. At 16, you are too old to have a new woman forced into your life. I can’t believe that your dad doesn’t recognize this, and come to your defense. ALL parenting decisions should be coming from HIM, not your step-mom.

I’d sit down and have a talk with your dad about it. Ask him to back you up on this. If he is reluctant, ask him if you can get some counseling together on the subject. Any therapist worth his or her weight will have your back in a heartbeat.

What does your mom have to say about all this, too? I’d be interested in that, even though it’s not particularly relevant. “His house, his rules,” and all that crap.

There is nothing wrong with what your step-mom would like to see you do. Reading and meditating are fine pursuits; it is the manner in which she is demanding it that is all wrong. Period.

JLeslie's avatar

Your stressed because you feel a loss of control. She is controlling your time and activity. I don’t think meditation is bad, I think it is good, but not when it is forced on you. Maybe tell her you appreciate the information about the stress releaving exercises, but prefer to do them after school, or a different method. Or, whatever might make you happier. Or, don’t do them at all. Who the hell does she think she is? Chutzpah.

lemming's avatar

Oh ya, and if you get stressed during mindfullness, your not doing it right. Like another jelly said, you don’t have to kneel. Tell her your going to sit cross legged anymore, and then just firstly focus on your breath, and then focus simultaneously on your perceptions -what you hear and feel etc. It’s really very good for you, and isn’t in slightest bit stressing as one of the main things about it is that you are kind to yourself, like when your mind wanders. Don’t worry about not doing it right just do your best.

You could ‘stun her out of it’ by reading a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn..‘everywhere you go there you are’ haha, she’d be so confused. Then make her read it ;)

janbb's avatar

The answer is in the word “makes” in your question; the irony is apparent. (And pun inoted.)

PS You seem very literate and aware and shouldn’t have to take such abusive controlling behavior.

thorninmud's avatar

Imposing meditation on someone else is completely counterproductive. If she has gotten some benefit from her own practice, that’s great. But this kind of thing absolutely must be self-motivated. It simply can’t be driven by some outside authority.

I say this as a meditation teacher. It’s no wonder at all that this stresses you out. If anything, this will thoroughly turn you off to what could otherwise be a very helpful practice when you get to a point in your life where you feel inclined to do it.

On top of it, frankly, it sounds like she’s not giving you very good guidance.

Thank her for caring and wanting to share what’s been helpful for her, but let her know that it won’t work until you find your own motivation. Honestly, in my long experience, people your age are hardly ever inclined to do this kind of work.

smilingheart1's avatar

You are getting stressed because you resent the mandatory meditation. I agree that meditation is good but only if the desire comes from you. The means ought not to be dictated to you nor should the time of day. I think you have great self control to accept as much as you do from your mini mom. I agree with doing everything you can to help them see you are a person not a project.

Hain_roo's avatar

I don’t understand why you allow her to ‘make’ you do anything.

marinelife's avatar

She is your dad’s wife, but not your mother. You need to talk to your dad about how her making you do this stuff feels. Tell him that you resent her for it, and it’s getting in the way of you forming a positive relationship with her.

Suggest that the three of you go for family counseling (a counselor is very likely to take your side).

Can you talk to your mother about this?

Try not to hate meditation, which is a good thing, even though it is being forced on you, which is a bad thing.

wundayatta's avatar

Like others have said, this is usually known as “meditation.” It is a good thing, generally, but as @thorninmud said, only if engaged in voluntarily.

Why is your stepmom doing this? Well, let me give you a little background. Being a stepmom is one of the most thankless tasks there is. There’s a reason why the stepmom is always evil in the fairy tales. That’s because in real life, she is in a no-win situation.

She has married your father, and now she has to figure out how to relate to someone who is technically labeled as “daughter” even though she’s only seven years younger. She has no authority over you because she hasn’t earned any. She’s not going to earn it because she’s not your mom and you won’t let her. Besides which, she probably doesn’t even know she needs to earn it. She’s barely older than a kid herself. What is your father thinking? Never mind that.

If she was smart, she would have a respectful distance from you. She would not try to boss you around, but she would insist that you respect her and her things. You are going to be housemates and so you need to work out how to respect each other. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

In any case, she doesn’t know how to deal with you, so she has hit on this passive-aggressive way of having you share some activity with her that is good for you. Except she only just learned about it herself, so she’s really enthusiastic and doesn’t realize her enthusiasms will not be shared by all. Especially a step-daughter. She’s pretty clueless, isn’t she?

In any case, as “mom”/friend, she is telling you to do this, and is trying establish her authority over you. If she can’t do that, she wlll hate you (maybe already does) because she doesn’t know how to handle you or relate to you. You belong to some other woman and her husband and biology is urging her to force you out of the family situation so the coast will be clear for her own babies. Presumably she’s an adult human, so she can use her mind to overcome that, but given the step-mom myths, I don’t know how successful people are at overcoming biology. Some people can do it. Hope your stepmom can.

You’re in a tough situation. The first thing to do is to research. Next, talk to you stepmom about what you’ve learned and how you are not into this at this time. You can see how it can be beneficial, but it is not beneficial to you at this time. You’re not ready for it.

That’s probably true. Learning how to meditate is very difficult and you have to be very patient. I was in my 50s before I could begin to understand it. I think meditation is wonderful, although for me, I can’t do a sitting meditation. I dance. That works for me. I also make music, which also works.

When I was your step-mom’s age, I was traveling in Japan and did a meditation at a zen monastery. Like you, I thought my legs were going to kill me, and I didn’t get the point. Part of the problem, I think, is that people teach it really badly. They seem to think there’s nothing they can do to help you out, so they just tell you to do it. Sometimes they throw koans at you, which are nonsense questions, and they are tricks. They kind of do the opposite of what they should do. But that’s life. Mostly you learn something when you don’t think you’re learning anything. Sigh.

Good luck.

gailcalled's avatar

Talk to your dad. NO one has the right to force you to do something that can (might..is) physically injurious. Just say “No.” if he is unresponsive, talk to the guidance department at school.

Her behavior is abusive.

There is also the issue of her not being a certified and trained yoga or meditation instructor.

For now the only ‘benefits’ I feel from this therapy which she’s been making me do for more than a week are that my legs hurt and go numb from the kneeling, my back hurts from the sitting still position, my head hurts from having to stare at the stupid point on the wall, and my stress level is increased by getting really mad at her for making me do this and at my dad for being so head over heels with her that everything she does is always right and perfect.

jca's avatar

When you say she forces you, what do you mean, exactly? Does she wake you up? Is she in the room when you do it?

I feel for you because I had a stepfather who married my mom when I was 15, so I had many years just me and my mom, and then all of a sudden when I’m a teenager, this guy comes along to rule the roost. My mom is passive, so she let him make all the rules and be the boss, and it was very stressful. I left home at age 18 to go live with my grandfather, and then my stepfather and I started getting along better. He never forced me to meditate, though! He needed to meditate a little, maybe that would have calmed him down.

Please provide some insight as to how she forces you to meditate and if she wakes you up and accompanies you. I am curious for some details.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hm. I wonder if she feels threatened. Can you talk to your dad?
I have a feeling she won’t be around long…..

Rock2's avatar

Who says you have to do anything?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@kara_t Is your dad totally infatuated with her and he blows off your efforts to stop this?

Buttonstc's avatar

All of the advice given above is excellent.

I’m going to add one more recommendation which may sound a little odd at first but there’s a pretty clever and solid basis to it.

Have you ever heard the expression “you have to fight fire with fire” ?

There is a book called “The Relaxation Response” written by Herbert Benson.

He is an MD and graduate of Harvard Medical back in the day.

The book is absent all the mumbo-jumbo and weird ass uncomfortable positions. How on earth does physical discomfort promote meditation? Her methods stink, obviously.

This book has been around long enough so that it has a great track record and proven effectiveness. There is no logical way she can argue that HER method is superior over one with proven efficacy.

Just tell her that you’ve found your own method which works better than being contorted into stressful physical positions.

Let her try to argue against an authority like Benson if she dares. Shell have a really difficult time justifying her position and you’re free to relax as you please. Your body. Your life.

His method is simplicity itself and you may even find it enjoyable and relaxing because you are choosing it rather than being made to do it.

Even if you later decide it’s not for you after you’re old enough to leave home, it can keep her off your back in the meantime.

Neither your Dad nor anyone else can compel you to do it her way rather than Bensons. And you’re demonstrating maturity on your part by being creative enough to find your own method.

That’s what I mean by “fighting fire with fire.”

You can get it on Amazon for cheap due to its age and it’s a pretty easy read. Take a look at it and then decide if it’s doable for you.

I’ve used this book and technique and it’s really simple. You just lie in bed or sit in a comfy chair and go through some really easy steps which make a lot of sense. It ain’t rocket science and it really is relaxing and refreshing and no one observing you (such as her) can possibly know what’s happening in your mind so you can even daydream if you wish with no one the wiser.

Anyhow, that’s just one suggestion among much good advice you’ve gotten here from everybody.

I wish the best for you. You deserve some happiness and autonomy in this stressful time in your life. Divorce and remarriage is always toughest on the kids who had no say in the matter. You need some stress relief, even if it’s not specifically what I recommend. Find some fire of your own.

Judi's avatar

You sound very smart for a 16 year old, and frankly, I admire you for cooperating and complying as well as you have. When I try to put my 16 year old self in your position I see fireworks!
Blended families are always hard. You seem like a joy child. I hope you discover a way to find your voice and express your opinion in a way where you are heard.
Where is your mother in this situation? Have you had ant counseling? It sounds like you could benefit. I know that when I put myself in your situation, the strongest feeling is resentment towards dad for not standing up for you. A counselor would help you navigate those feelings and communicate with him.

jca's avatar

Where is the OP with some more details?

thorninmud's avatar

Along the lines of what @Buttonstc recommended, you could legitimately make this case to your stepmom:

The primary purpose of mindfulness meditation is not to relax you, but to help you see more clearly. In fact, it helps you relax by helping you to see what’s causing your anxieties, so that you can deal with those causes. If what you become aware of while you’re doing mindfulness meditation is that you don’t want to have this pushed onto you, that this is not a healthy thing for you at this time, and that this is a cause of your anxiety, then that’s what needs dealing with.

She can hardly make you do a mindfulness exercise and then reject the insight that emerges from that exercise just because it doesn’t suit her.

kara_t's avatar

Wow!! Thank you all very much for all the answers. I never imagined I’ll get this many answers being a first timer here. I’ll be online in a little bit and will go through the posts and do my best to answer the questions in some of them.

JLeslie's avatar

@kara_t Welcome to fluther!

kara_t's avatar

@LostInParadise I also think that there is no need to kneel for the meditation and I’ve told her but she insists on it saying that it’s supposed to keep me from becoming too relaxed or falling asleep and that the discomfort will help me accept and no longer fear ‘the negative’ (she uses all these terms from the books she reads) which in turn will make me better cope with pain and adverse situations and be a stronger person in the future. Also she says that the idea is not to be comfortable and feel good during the exercise but in the hours after and in the long term. So she insists on the kneeling, on not being too close to the bed or furniture so I cannot rest my back against anything and I’m not allowed to kneel on the carper which covers part of my room but on the other side where we have hardwood floor (which sucks especially since I have yoga shorts on so no cushion…)

kara_t's avatar

@JLeslie Thanks so much for the welcome message! Great to be here.

kara_t's avatar

@GoldieAV16 She is really good at manipulating my dad into thinking she’s right and I’m wrong and so far I haven’t been able to change that (doing my best though…).

kara_t's avatar

@lemming I think she read that book. I remember seeing the author’s name before on something she was reading. About sitting crossed-legged rather than kneeling on my heels, I doubt she’ll let me do it but if she would probably it would be the full lotus position rather than the half lotus (she already had me stay like that in the past for another type of meditation before getting into the mindfulness thing) and that’s pretty uncomfortable as well so not sure if I’d accomplish much. But as I say I don’t think she’ll let me do it because I did try to talk to her about it and was threatened that if I continue to complain I’ll get to do it with one wooden pencil under each knee :)

kara_t's avatar

@janbb I agree, I shouldn’t have to take it from her but she was very good into turning my father against me and among other things I’ve been threatened that if I don’t cooperate and do what she tells me I’ll get sent to a school for troubled teens abroad and I’ve read about that school online and trust me, you don’t want to be there.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@kara_t I practice mindfullness with my small son. If done properly, it doesn’t matter how you sit, ot if you even sit at all.

It sounds to me from your details as if this is an exercise of your step mom’s control.

The tips above are all wonderful.

Like others have said, you need to openly communicate your concerns about this practice with your dad. Meditation should feel calm and relaxing. What you are being forced to do sounds horrific to me.

kara_t's avatar

@SpatzieLover She did show me the book she took this from and indeed there it was said that the purpose of the exercise is not to be calm and relaxed during it but after and that if during it your leg would hurt you should just acknowledge the pain in a neutral way but without changing your leg’s position because that would be trying to change things and then the left side of the brain would kick in.

kara_t's avatar

@jca Yes she wakes me up and she is in the room most of the time (or if she’s not she would tiptoe in and show up unexpectedly at random times). She is quite manipulating so I think all this is in fact payback for me trying to talk my father out of marrying her and for implying she is dumb for reading these kind of books in front of several of her friends at a dinner party about a month ago.

Judi's avatar

You never answered where your mom is?

JLeslie's avatar

@kara_t Wow, you write so well for your age. You sound very bright and thoughtful. Thing is, she is just 23, so I am thinking she thinks she has life all figured out. I know indirectly that kind of accuses young people of thinking they know it all, and indeed you are young too, so I hope you don’t take it the wrong way, but she seems to be exercising her ability to influence and manipulate. Not nice.

I think talk to both your dad and step mom at the same time, all three of you, and at least try to get some sort of compromise. Or, maybe you need an advocate of some sort. Can you ask to see a counselor, and they can help explain to your dad how this is extreme, and he might build resentment in you towards him?

kara_t's avatar

@judi I never knew my mom (long story I’d rather not go into).

kara_t's avatar

@Dutchess_III She will be around for 5 years until she gets her passport (she is from the Philippines and was initially an exchange student and then on a temporary work visa). But my dad doesn’t see this. It’s true he’s been single for a really long time so now all this made him loose his head (she’s very pretty).

kara_t's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes. Couldn’t say it better myself.

kara_t's avatar

@JLeslie Thanks. Doing my best :) About counseling, I know my dad and don’t think a counsellor would work. He owns a trucking company and is a pretty tough guy on the road a lot so frankly he doesn’t understand or care about this mindfulness and yoga stuff…he refers to it as ‘that yoga sh** :) So very hard to explain to him what the issue is…

JLeslie's avatar

@kara_t Well, if he thinks the yoga stuff is crap, seems he might be willing to support your feelings of it not being your gig either. What grade are you in? Are you almost out of the house anyway?

kara_t's avatar

@Judi “You sound very smart for a 16 year old”—> thanks, you are very kind.

“frankly, I admire you for cooperating and complying as well as you have.”—> To be honest I’m cooperating because I have no choice. As I said I have been threatened with being sent abroad at a school for troubled teens in Africa where I think my meditation will seem like a walk in the park. Also she would sometimes hit me (not very hard so no bruises or anything like that but usually she would either pinch my cheek pretty hard which is apparently a common filipino punishment or make me keep my palm out and hit me with this little plastic ruler which doesn’t hurt that much but I still hate it because it’s humiliating). So at the beginning when she moved in and asked me to keep my palm out to be hit I just said I won’t do it (we’re about the same size so it’s not like she could physically force me) but then she called my little brother and threatened to hit him instead so eventually I gave up and let her hit me. I know I could go to child protection but since as I say her ‘methods’ are not that painful and don’t leave marks or anything I’d rather not go through all the trouble with child protection (I think being in a shelter will be a hundred times worse).

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ah, geez. Man @kara_t…you’re handling this with AMAZING maturity. You sound like the most mature one out of the three of you. My heart goes out to you.
Hang in there, honey. It’ll get better.
And we’re here if you want to hang around!

kara_t's avatar

@JLeslie I’m a sophomore so still 2.5 yrs to go. What I’m trying to say with yoga sh** is that he doesn’t really understand it or the reason why for me is a big problem. And my stepmommy has made sure to explain to him how beneficial this will be to me so he doesn’t see her making me do it as a problem. Since she’s been here she has managed to manipulate things so that his impression is that I’m just being stubborn and don’t want to get along with his new wife so it’s all my fault as far as he is concerned. It’s true that I’ve done some silly things myself (maybe less mature on that) such as ‘accidentally’ tripping and droping a cake on her new dress at a social family event, changed the code to our house alarm so she couldn’t get in for the entire day, embarrassed her with sarcastic comments pretty much everytime she has her friends over. I got smacked and yelled at everytime after but to be honest it was always worth it…

Dutchess_III's avatar

YOU DID WHAT???!!!! That’s great!! BAD GIRL! Go kneel in a corner for 45 minutes! cracking up over here!!

kara_t's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yep, the one with the cake was hilarious…it was a really expensive dress too. And then afterwards I was acting like oh my god I’m so sorry, how could I be so clumsy but she knew very well I wasn’t sorry one bit. So to be honest I think the yoga meditation thing is really a punishment in disguise to avoid the raising of any paternal protection feelings in my dad (I guess if she positioned it as I’ll make her kneel for an hour every morning and evening as punishment he may find that abnormal but if it is positioned as yoga meditation it’s a whole different ball game…quite clever of her and hard for me to prove to dad that it’s really punishment I have to agree).

kara_t's avatar

@Dutchess_III I just remembered another one, basically I know all her personal details including credit card and bank account data so when she was on a work trip (she still works for my father’s company) I reported all her credit cards stolen and got them blocked just on the day when she was supposed to check out of her hotel and she didn’t have any cash, initially the hotel tought she was the person who stole the cards and wanted to call the police, it was hilarious :)) Maybe that was a bit over the top I know but it was still worth it to see her eyes almost popping up of her sockets from fury when she got home :)

So I guess it’s really a will power game between us, me making her feel as unwelcomed as possible through all these pranks and her using the power she temporarily has over me to take revenge…I guess we’ll see who cracks first…

JLeslie's avatar

Well, as long as you behave in a vengeful way you lose your power. It isn’t funny in my opinion. Those things are creative, I’ll give you that. Maybe apologize to her and your father, and say you genuinely care about peace in the house and see now how you made her life difficult. That if you put yourself in her place, you understand how she must have felt, and promise not to purposely embarass or harass her anymore. Clear the air. You both are involved in a power struggle with each other. As long as you are each fighting for the power, for the control, the relationship will be difficult.

kara_t's avatar

@JLeslie I’ll never apologize to her. She’s a liar who charmed my father to settle her immigration status and make a good life here I’m sure of it. So why apologize when I’m right? She should apologize if you ask me. When I did the credit card thing she was really mad and she ordered me to apologize and I said no I won’t and then she made me hold my palms out and said that she will hit them until I do so I said go ahead. And after about 2 hours of her yelling at me and periodically smacking my palms with her little plastic ruler eventually she hit too hard once and the ruler broke on my palm and then I just smiled and I said, ‘are you done now?’. And she just gave me this killer look and stormed out of the room. I took it as 1–0 for me. So I really hope I can be tough, never apologize and continue to make her life as unplesant as possible until she finally packs her bags and gets out of our house.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@kara_t Your Dad was probably lonely and your stepmom has his heart right now. You’ve got two choices. Call a truce and live in peace for a bit or continue your battle of wills with her. Stepparents can be a bitch. I was lucky. I got a great stepdad, but I never fought him coming into my mother’s life. She needed someone. I was glad she found him. Take a long look at your dad. Don’t even consider her for a sec. Is he happier with her than he was before? No other consideration than that. Is he happier than he was before?

kara_t's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes he is, but that’s just because he doesn’t see who she really is. She is very different when he’s around.

tinyfaery's avatar

This turned into a whole other topic, so I’m just going to answer the original question.

This is the time to start that teenage rebellion. Just say no!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@kara_t This is a really bad situation and you’re a big part of the problem. Sorry, just how I see it. If you want to discuss it further I will, but that’s my take.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@kara_t If you want to go to PM that’s ok too.

kara_t's avatar

Thanks all again for this discussion. Have to go now as my evening meditation time has arrived and she’s already yelling for me (normally I don’t have to do it on weekend nights but I’m grounded for two weeks after the last confrontation with her so now I have to do it everyday). So another 30 mins of staring at that damn point on the wall dumbly repeating ‘God is protecting me’ over and over :) wish me luck and I’ll catch up tomorrow.

wildpotato's avatar

This constitutes abuse in my book. It is unacceptable that she does things like physically harm you, humiliate you, threaten your little brother, yell at you for hours, or force you to maintain uncomfortable positions for extended periods against your will.

Whatever you do, do not get sent to a troubled teen center. Those places can kill.

I would suggest investing in one of those hide-a-cameras you can get in teddy bears and other stuff. You could pull a Hillary Adams on her.

Buttonstc's avatar

Excellent idea.

jca's avatar

This sounds like war. You did some things that are pretty fucked up. She’s making you miserable now. There has to be some kind of truce because you are being made miserable now.

longtresses's avatar

.. what a terrible way to introduce someone to meditation…

Meditation will do you much good, but probably not in the way your stepmom pushed it on you. However, since you’ll be doing this for a while, or until you can get your way out of it, why not make use of the time? Think of it as a mental exercise, like learning to focus, to collect yourself. You will be forced to go through the mantra daily anyway and if you’re not doing it for your stepmom at least do it for yourself.

If kneeling is painful you should ask to sit in a more comfortable posture. Pain can be treated as a meditation object as it helps build patience along with sensitivity earned from observing pain, but it’s not your thing and it seems to be making you more restless and angry so it’s pointless..

As for the family drama, perceived manipulation and all, I don’t want to get into it, but I don’t believe for a second that when your dad married this woman, he wanted everybody to be miserable. You are his child so you will always be with him no matter what.

** Also, just FYI, in many Asian countries, physical punishment is very common. Don’t believe what online reports say. If the stepmom grew up in Philippines then spanking wouldn’t seem like abuse to her; it doesn’t take on the seriousness the way it does in America. She may be unaware that in America—I don’t know what American parents do—parents send their kids to the room or rid privileges? I’m not approving her form of punishment, just trying to maybe explain where she’s coming from..

mattbrowne's avatar

More than 95% of the self-help stuff out there is a sham. The investigative journalist Steve Salerno calls this the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (SHAM).

Ironically @kara_t you picked a technique that belongs to the few interventions for which the effectiveness has been proven scientifically. See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness-based_stress_reduction

with all the links to scientific studies. Or use this link

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=mindfulness-based+stress+reduction

to find more than 7000 scholarly articles.

So what your stepmom does is very good stuff. Being mindful helps keep us healthy.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@mattbrowne Go back and study the thread. This isn’t meditation, this is warfare.

jca's avatar

@mattbrowne: Read before you speak!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@kara_t My warfare answer knocked a quote loose in my mind. “No one who has started a war has ended up winning the war”. Think about that a bit and PM me if you’ve got any questions on that. Think about it a little.

jca's avatar

@kara_t: What you are now involved in is a power struggle. You get her, she gets you, you get her, etc. She has no right to do the things to you that she is doing, but she is probably going to continue, one, because it’s revenge and two, because she’s from a culture where it’s ok and three, because your dad is letting her (she has a little power because she can influence him, as his younger wife! trust me). Your goal now is to try to make living there as peaceful as possible for yourself. I would try to enlist the help of someone else, perhaps a therapist at school, which you can use the services of without your dad’s permission or hopefully, without his insurance. If you enlist the help of someone else, like a therapist, hopefully they can break the power struggle that is going on between you two, and enable you all to continue to coexist in the same house until you are able to go away to college or whatever. This is a situation which I think you will not win, so you need Plan B. Plan B is some type of compromise, and no more bullshit and tricks from your end to make things worse and make her feel justified in her bullshit.

mattbrowne's avatar

Sorry, guys. The details section was too long for me. I read the question which contains “mindfulness stress relief exercise”.

MBSR offers mindfulness stress relief exercises.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@mattbrowne The real story came out in the answers. That’s why our answers look way off topic.

longtresses's avatar

@mattbrowne Actually I appreciate the reference to SHAM book. It’s something I would add to my reading list.

mattbrowne's avatar

On Fluther there’s often the trade-off between missing important questions (when reading long details sections plus all 40 previous answers) and participating in all important questions (while perhaps overlooking critical information). In this case the term mindfulness did fool me.

The SHAM book is really worth reading. But we should not conclude that all self-help is bad and ineffective.

JLeslie's avatar

@kara_t Just because you apologize for your actions does not mean she was right all along, she sounds like she does have some apologizing to do. But, right now I am only talking about you, how you conduct yourself, how you will be able to say going forward, “since the day I realized my behavior was bad and apologized, I have never purposely done anything to embarras or harm my dad or his wife.” You even get the free pass of being a teenager at the time.

But, I am getting the feeling you are not American? Where do you live? Cultural differences do matter usually. When I apologized to my SIL for an argument we had, that she started, she was a witch that day, and unfortunetely I got very defensive, she decided I obviously was the horrible one, because I apologized, I admitted I was wrong, and in her world there is always someone right and someone wrong, never that both might have done something wrong. If you live in a culture like that, where both people cannot say to each other I’m sorry, I want things to be better, then I empathasize with why you might not want to.and, of course there are Americans who function this way also, I am just stereotyping based on my experience.

wundayatta's avatar

She’s Filipino? What nationality are you?

Like I said, this is a classic evil step-mom situation. It sounds like you fit a pattern. Typically, the daughter, particularly a teenage daughter, sees the new step-mom as trying to steal her parents from her. The step-mom has already stolen the mother away (unless she passed away). Now she is stealing the father, and the daughter fights hard to try to keep her father.

Unfortunately, you can’t win. Your father belongs to your step-mother. He is somewhat helpless and clueless as to how to keep the peace between you. He’ll tell you nice things, but she is the one who shares his bed and she has access to him that you don’t.

You are, naturally, as angry as you have ever been in your life, and that is what is motivating your behavior towards your step-mom. Ironically, meditation might actually help you understand this and it might bring you to a place where you might let go of your anger at both your father and step-mother, and probably mother as well. So you are right to resist it if you want to hold onto your anger.

Right now, your anger is what is keeping you going. If you let go of it, you will break down and cry and will feel lost and have no idea who you are in the world. Believe it or not, this would be a good thing, but you’re hanging onto your anger because that is all you know right now. It gives you a lot of strength. Or so it seems. And perhaps you are right. I don’t know if it would be safe to break down in your house.

But, if you don’t, it will go on like this until you can move out of the house. Your life will be filled with anger and vitriol and you will be consumed with these games you are playing. You will turn yourself into a harridan. Much of the rest of your life will be focused on this injustice you are living through. You will constantly be seeking to try to fix it, and you won’t be able to because it isn’t fixable. Things could even get out of hand and you might do something that will get you thrown into jail. Or sent to Africa.

This is the kind of experience that leads people to drugs. It is very painful for you. You’ll find one drug or another that makes you feel better. Eventually you’ll get caught. Then you’ll get sent to Africa.

I’ll tell you this, but it won’t make a difference. To deal with situations like this, it is best to let go of one’s anger. It is best to let go of pride. It is best to accept that you have lost the battle. If you can do this, then it is possible that you may get what you want in the long run.

Presumably, what you want is a better relationship with your father. You are his daughter. You are the one who will care for him when he gets old. His new wife, even if she is young, is still older than you are. You’re never going to get her to trust you, even if you wanted to. But I think you may want to think about the long term.

Your behavior now is playing with fire. You could lose your freedom as well as your father and step-mom, and any other relations you have if you get sent to Africa. You live in a punitive culture and you fight the only way you know how. Sometimes, however, it is better to survive to fight another day than to fight these battles tooth and nail. She’ll win. Your father is on her side. He is letting her handle you. You can’t get him back this way. You can only get kicked out.

Good luck.

jca's avatar

I see @kara_t has not been on here since she first responded to the questions, so I am guessing she abandoned this thread. Maybe we did not give her the answers she sought?

wundayatta's avatar

@jca I think she might come back. If her stepmom is as she says, she’s probably been forbidden to come here. Especially if she got caught or didn’t cover her tracks.

jca's avatar

@wundayatta: What she really needs to realize is that the step mom has the power, ultimately. It may not be fair, and it may not be right, but it’s the way it is. She should stop the games and “get with the program.” I wish her all the best and hope she updates us as to how things are going (or how she likes Africa!).

kara_t's avatar

Hi all. Sorry for lack of follow up on this for a while but I had the unfortunate idea to show her this thread as an argument that her forcing me to kneel on my heels for the meditation is stupid and as a result I’ve been banned to use this site, my meditation time has been increased to 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening (from 30 mins before) and on the day I showed the thread to her she actually made me do the meditation with one wooden pencil under each knee (as she previously threatened she’ll do if I keep complaining about the kneeling – apparently she used to have to do this herself at school in the phillippines where she is from as a punishment so I think this should prove beyond any doubt that this is not about meditation for her but about payback for me trying to block their marriage).
So i needed to stay away from fluther for a while but now i see she pretty much forgot about it so i hope to be able to come here more often.

kara_t's avatar

@JLeslie, @wundayatta We live in Singapore but my dad is filipino (samebas his new wife) and my mom was from Spain.

kara_t's avatar

@wildpotato i had no idea teddybears come with hidden cameras these days :)
But my brother did take a short movie with his cell phone while she was pinching my cheek really hard last week for forgetting my key and waking her up from her afternoon nap to open the door – i actually had my keys but knew she was asleep and couldn’t resist the temptation to ring the door bell and ruin that for her :)
I don’t know if you can paste videos on this site but maybe ill take a screencap from it and paste it as my profile pic. But as i said before l’m not really willing to go the child protection way for several reasons so not much i can use this video for (except making unusual profile pics on q&a sites :)

Buttonstc's avatar

I think the main question you should ask yourself (and you owe don’t owe any of us an answer) is : Do I want to be right or do i want to be at peace?

From what you just wrote about waking her up unnecessarily just for spite when you actually had the key indicates to me that you basically, on some level, enjoy prolonging this warfare between the two of you regardless of how much you complain about it. And you’re actually proud about it.

You might benefit by doing a little Googling and historical study of the term ” Pyrrhic Victory” if you don’t understand how that applies to your little doorbell-ringing stunt, then nothing that I nor anyone else can say will have much effect.

Yes, she’s being a jackass about a lot of things. But so are you.

But is this bringing you any real happiness or peace? There are better alternatives if you want different results and many people in this thread have given you excellent suggestions. But if your little Pyrrhic victories are enough for you, any further attempts will fall on closed ears.

It depends upon what you want so you really do need to do some soul-searching and ask yourself : Do I want to be right at all costs or do i want happiness and peace?

Its your decision.

wundayatta's avatar

Did she read this again?

My suggestion is that you can your old identity and come back as someone new if you want to be here again. Also, don’t ever remind your stepmom about it again. But it does seem that you want to make her life hell and you also want to make sure she knows you are trying and succeeding. I guess it’s no good to make her lose her sleep if she doesn’t know you did it on purpose.

jca's avatar

It seems to me as if the OP is enjoying the battle, by prolonging it.

kara_t's avatar

@wundayatta No, I don’t think she read it again. She didn’t say anything about me being here since when I initially showed it so I think she forgot about it. Of course I could change my username but the whole idea of her forbidding me to see websites she doesn’t approve of is just ridiculous. I mean, as I said in the initial question, she’s 23 and I’m 16 so it’s not like she’s exactly at the age of infinite wisdom and knows what’s good and what’s bad for me. Plus having to do the mindful meditation that day with pencils under my knees as a punishment for it (which btw hurts REALLY BAD) is cruel and childish of her and I certainly wouldn’t have done it if she wouldn’t blackmail me with punishing my little brother if I refuse and manipulating my dad against me.

kara_t's avatar

@jca I don’t enjoy the battle one bit, I would be so happy if she would go away and I would get my old life back but at the same time until my dad realizes who she really is I don’t want to give up and just start dumbly following all her ridiculous rules either.

gailcalled's avatar

@kara_t: How would you say your technique has worked so far?

kara_t's avatar

@gailcalled No I did not succeed kicking her out if that’s what you mean, but at the same time she is certainly quite stressed out by some of the things I’ve done to her so her life in our house is not as pleasant as she would have hoped for. Mine isn’t so pleasant either having to meditate and do all sorts of stupid punishments and get smacked but since I manage to stress her out quite a bit I would say the strategy is partly working. Also, I don’t really have any other ideas for a better strategy (just submitting to her wishes and getting along as many people here suggested is not an option for me…she needs to go and my dad will realise it eventually).

gailcalled's avatar

You are delusional if you think that in a battle between your dad’s beloved and sexy and amorous new wife and you that you have a prayer of winning.

Let’s see.

She’s unhappy.
You’re unhappy.
Your brother is possibly unhappy.
Your father adores his new wife.

wilma's avatar

@gailcalled is right, she’s not going anywhere.
They are probably counting the days until you go off to college, or get your own place or are otherwise out of their picture.
I would suggest that you stop the game playing and try to get a long for your sake and for your little brother.

JLeslie's avatar

I see it like this, two things are most likely true, she is not leaving, and she is abusive by most standards here in America. Physical punishments don’t sit well by many here in flutherland in general. We have had many Q’s where the mother is asking what punishment they can give their child, like standing on one foot for hours, similar to what you have mentioned. The jelly is almost always from some part of Asia, either currently living there, or that is their family heritage. Not to say only Asians do such things, only to say this type of corporal punishment seems rather accepted and expected in parts of Asia.

Your best chance for calm is to, I hate to say it, be fairly submissive and go under the radar until you can get out. They will be waiting for the day you finally leave, and you can be waiting for the day you finally leave. Seriously, this is how parents think when. Kid is creating difficulties. They love their children, wish things were different and everyone was getting along, but if not, the child will eventually be leaving whether everyone is happy in the house or not, because every child eventually leaves to lead their own life.

Why would it make sense for your dad to dump his wife when she is the person he plans on sharing rest of his life with? Daily life. You are leaving him no matter what. Think about it. It is not about choosing her over you, it is about him deciding if he wants to be married or not. He does. He obviously like this woman, he likes having a sex partner is probably part of it, men like to be catered to in general, I assume she cooks for him, and does some other household needs. You are almost out of the picture already. Why do something to make him happy you are leaving when you do leave?

I agree it sounds like you have shitty situation, but us agreeing with that does not change your situation.

wilma's avatar

@JLeslie said what I was trying to say, but she explained it better.
I am a parent, yes that is how we think. We sometimes wish things were going better with our kids, but when they get to be your age, we figure it’s just a matter of time and you will be on your way.

I’m not saying that I think your step-mother is doing the right thing with her punishments. I just think she has the advantage over you and she will outlast you in this situation.

wundayatta's avatar

The only time the natural daughter wins against the step-mom is if the fairy god mother shows up, and even then you never get to go back to your old life. You only get to run away with a prince.

In the modern era, perhaps the “prince” is college. But I would not be surprised if the evil step-mom gets in the way of that, too. If she becomes vindictive (and so far, I do not think she is really being very vindictive—she is just trying to raise you and teach you manners), she could cut you off from everything your father provides.

I understand why you feel the way you feel. I can see how angry you are and how cheated you feel. I think your feelings are perfectly valid.

However I don’t really see what your strategy is going to get you other than more pain and anger and destruction. You will not be successful at kicking your step mom out. Your father will not come to his senses about her. Most likely, she will get you kicked out, and cause a rift between you and your father. I don’t know what happens to homeless young women in Singapore, but from what I have heard about that nation, I don’t think I would want to know what happens. I know the laws are very strict there.

Your stepmom sounds horrible. Hateful. Your situation sounds horrible. But I don’t think you are taking the right strategy. I understand your anger burns brightly and how horrible it would be for you to try to be nice to her, but really, I think you have a better chance of achieving your goal of getting rid of her by being nice than you do by fighting her tooth and nail. As long as you fight, your father will take her side. If you are nice to her, he may start to see how awful she is, because she will continue to be mean to you. Eventually, he might see that. He’ll never see it if you fight back.

jca's avatar

When I said you are “enjoying the battle” I meant in reference to your doing things like waking her up when it was not totally necessary, just to be spiteful. @wundayatta is correct: You are not going to win this war in this manner. The stepmom has access to your dad that you don’t have – in bed, which can be very effective for her. Since this method you have been using is not working, try a different strategy. @wundayatta‘s suggestion of being nice is a good one. Even if you are insincere, and are being nice “through your teeth,” just try it and see how it goes. Sometimes, in a situation like you describe, the best way to get along will be only when you grow up and move out, and then hopefully time will heal all wounds and you guys may get along. For now, unfortunately, you may have to try being more cooperative.

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