The One-Upper

Does this situation sound AT ALL familiar?

You’re getting ready to go to your kids birthday party. You’ve agonized for at least 30 minutes on what tee shirt to wear that doesn’t have stains on it when it dawns on you… your significant others ex is going to be there. She is the mother of the child, after all.

In a bit of anxiety fueled panic, you strip down to your skeebies, dig through your closet for that kick ass summer dress you NEVER wear because that involves shaving your legs and armpits, you do and re-do your eyeliner to make it ABSOLUTELY PERFECT (because lets face it, ladies… one eye will ALWAYS look better than the other) and we get in a debate with ourselves on if lipstick is too obvious for a child’s birthday party and if you should stick with a subtle gloss or if you should go balls in and rock that Rose Pink!

You get to the birthday party and you realize that SOMEHOW this evil demon woman has found time to put together a birthday party AND she looks just as fierce. You panic a little until you realize she is doing the EXACT same thing, checking you up and down, re-applying her horrible shade of lipstick (thank GOD you went with the gloss) and you pat yourself on the back. She wouldn’t be so panicked if you didn’t look like the fierce goddess you are!

I’ve been there and according to a poll I took in the Facebook group, most of you have, too! It SEEMS petty even to us, but lets face it… women have it engrained in our brains that we have to be prettier, skinnier, younger, curvier in all the right places, with bigger and better hair than the ex. You want to PROVE that your wonderful spouse has traded far up and dangling yourself as the bait is the easiest way to do this. We don’t just do this with our significant others ex, we do this with our own ex’s as well. “Look what you’re missing” is the best validation that you’ve won!

Men do it, too! They want to show their ex that the new love of his life is prettier, smarter, more fun than the ex (at least my husband does). It is a source of pride and validation. Men and women alike want to “win” the break up. If the birth mother in your situation is ANYTHING like mine, she often likes to throw in a jab or two talking about how much better off she is than I am. She makes more money, or she is more intelligent, she is more witty or funny… I have learned that these things are often a queue of what she is insecure about. She brags about money because she doesn’t have stability, she brags about her IQ because she feels stupid in her decisions, she talks about how funny and witty she is because that is something that I have channeled and don’t hold back. She wants to make my successes feel like failures so I will feel like the failure she is. We all do it and we all have our insecurities.

I use to be completely insecure about my ability to cook. I use to brag about my chef skills to her (knowing she NEVER cooked) because I needed the confidence boost in it. I decided to actually improve my cooking skills and now I don’t brag about it at all! I’ve done the same with my career and my over all self worth. I’ve learned to actually improve those skills and once I do, I am no longer NEEDING to one-up.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still get the ol’ adda girl every time I look prettier, skinnier, or more put together than she does. It has definitely become less severe over time. You eventually just get used to it. For me, I can pin-point it to one specific moment.

BM was coming to pick up her son last year after a weekend visit and I was dressed to go to the gym. Yoga pants, no make up, sports bra, tank top, running shoes, and my hair was a curly mess held back by a headband. She showed up about an hour and a half early and I didn’t have the chance to get out the door to avoid her like I was planning. She was wearing her customary maxi skirt, scarf, and fitted tee shirt that she wears when she needs the confidence boost. When she came into our house to yell at us for the newest drama she bestowed upon herself, I caught her doing the whole looking me up and down thing that women do when we are judging and comparing.

I realized in that moment that my worst was intimidating enough to make her feel insecure at her best. I had been going to the gym for about 6 months at that time and my body was super toned. I was no longer the gangly thing I used to be. She had hip surgery and couldn’t go to the gym, drugs and alcohol had made her skin grey, eyes sunk in, and hair a frizzy, dried mess. She was insecure about her beer belly and her over all aging while I, 13 years younger, managed to look effortlessly hot and didn’t even know it. I stopped the competition.

For a while she continued the “one up” but I no longer competed. I didn’t need to. Now, I have a decent career and she can’t keep a job held down. I have custody of her son and he is doing phenomenal in our structured and consistent home where as in her house, he was out of control to the point this “I am better than everyone” psycho actually dropped him off on our doorstep so she could run away to California with prospective husband number four only to break up a month and a half later and she moved back to her home state.

Without even trying, I am far surpassing her and THAT is all the validation I need. That doesn’t mean I wont continue showing up in a killer outfit for that extra confidence boost, I just know now that I don’t NEED to. Just like a five year old showing you the poo-poo they did all by themselves, you eventually learn to grow up and accept that awesome shit is just a part of life. Yeah, we still brag to our husbands about it, but it all gets flushed down the commode and keeping it as a symbol of pride is just kind of gross.

All of you are beautiful, strong, and capable. Remember that!

Laughs and Love,

Step Mommy Dearest!

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