October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today is a grey, rainy day. I’m overtired (stayed up way too late to be getting up at 5:15). I’m relatively directionless at work. There’s some unresolved drama surrounding the skids trip for Turkey Day. But I don’t feel chaotic or out of control or heavy with dread like I would normally feel. I might almost go so far as to say I feel buoyant inside.

As I’ve been walking this road of self-acceptance, it has become increasingly clear to me that how I feel about myself is equal parts generative and responsive. That is, I am responsible for feelings about myself, but those feelings are also a reaction to the things, people, feelings around me. I can’t control what other people put out there in the world but I can control what I invite to my doorstep.

It’s been a slow process, coming to this realization. I create(d) a lot of opportunity for unhealthy obstacles in my life. How can I expect to feel confident about who I am if I surround myself with things that make me feel bad about myself? I don’t mean that I shouldn’t seek out challenges, but I shouldn’t be spending my day looking at websites that makes me feel inadequate or like less of a person (looking at you, Pinterest). I shouldn’t be inviting commentary from others when I’m obviously not feeling receptive to “advice” (seriously, comments on facebook are never helpful, usable advice). I shouldn’t be staying in friendships out of obligation, rather than out of any feeling of, I don’t know, friendliness.

Over the last 6 months, not only have been working on generating positive feelings about myself and seeking out things that bring me joy, but I have also been slowly identifying and eliminating all these things that are sources of negativity for me. It hasn’t been easy. Some, like Pinterest, were simpler (bookmark–deleted!). But others, like that college friend whose life and beliefs have grown to become in complete opposition with mine…that one was much harder. It’s funny though, for as much as I agonized over the decisions, finally making the choice was like casting off a lead weight. All these things were pushing me to the ground,  holding me there and forcing me to believe that I was not good enough. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I just wasn’t enough. Letting go of everything gave me some room to let all these good things in.

I’ve written about confusing personal growth with changing myself to meet others’ expectations. Part of learning the difference is deciding to eliminate the things and people in my life that only promote the latter.  If I always have a million things always in my ear bringing me down, then when these bad things come along, it’s easy to start listening to those voices. By choosing to be comfortable with who I am, it’s like I’m filling all these balloons with good things, and I’m held up in the air no matter what other shit is going on.

You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.




October 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Some days I feel combative, ready to suit up, to go to battle for my husband and the kids. Bring it on! I want to see her crumble.

Other days, most days really, I just want to slip by unnoticed. I want to go about this (step)parenthood thing without confrontation, without trouble, without such a goddamn fight all of the time. I just want my husband to be able to send her a simple email without having to hold our collective breaths for the inevitable irate response.

I wish it were simpler. I wish it were quieter. I wish that it wouldn’t take an arbitrator to resolve nearly every freaking issue.

It’s easy to push all the blame on her. If only she’d be cooperative! And you know, for the most part, she is to blame. But we have a choice each time, to fight it, to get mad about it, or not. Obviously to choose not to fight means to give up in a lot of instances.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just stop fighting it.

I know they deserve every ounce of fight we have in us. I just wonder how much we have left.


Venting: An imaginary letter to his ex-wife

October 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

So, please. Explain it to me.

You did everything you could to take those kids away from him. Worked as hard as you could to drive a wedge in between him and them, poisoning their thoughts, exploiting the law and his financial limits, completely breaking his spirit, outright lying and saying things just because you could, and yet you still think you have the right in any of this to play the victim or act like you deserve the upper hand.

Explain to me how a wife decides that being married is optional and only something to put yourself into if you don’t have a boyfriend or a means to pay for your fake tan. Explain to me how a wife can be the victim in a situation when she is actively fucking men in bars, brings a threesome to her marital bed, hides STDs from her husband, claims “rape” when she feels bad about cheating on her husband, and so many other sins it makes me sick. Explain to me how you could turn that into something HE had to apologize to YOU for. How are you the one that was treated wrong in any of this? What makes it right for you to act like he owes you a SINGLE THING? How did those actions add up to “he’s a bad father” or “he mistreated me” for you? How did you equate that in your brain into trying to destroy him so that you could feel better about the fairy tale life you were deluding yourself to believe you had found? All it sounds like to me is that you have been a manipulative, emotionally abusive waste of a human being.

Tell me how you figure in your tiny, warped brain that you running across the country to avoid all of this coming back full-circle on you means that you are justified in forcing him to pay hundreds of extra dollars every time you’ll even deign to allow him to see his kids? How that makes it right in your mind that you can cut him off from talking to them, seeing their faces online, having any sort of connection at all? How do you still think you have anything to be mad about, or to be victimized over, or to be pious about? You fucking got your way, you stupid bitch. Why can’t you just leave it at that and move on?

I don’t know if I would ever like you as a person in real life. But I do know that I can never excuse the way that you treat him and everyone else around you. Someday you will feel loss and you will know what it feels like to be used.

And I hope it crushes you.

Recommitting to my role as a stepmom

October 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of stepmom I want to be now that my s-kids are getting older–one is officially old enough to be considered a full fledged preteen all of a sudden–and the dynamic of their time with us has changed so drastically.

It has been somewhat easier with my s-son. I know that what he needs in his life is an ally. He’s got enough parents trying to work out their own problems (his mom using him as a pawn, keeping him completely enmeshed with her since day 1; his stepdad who calls him his son one day, then doesn’t even acknowledge him the next, depending on how much he’s fighting with his mom; his dad who is continually forced to try and rebuild bridges that his mom keeps burning down). He doesn’t need me coming in and trying to be another parent..he needs someone to be bigger/stronger/wiser/kind and just look out for him. He puts up a lot of walls, but when it’s just him and me, I feel like we have built something great and I am the only adult he can trust 100%. I also know that when he starts to realize the truth about his sexual identity, his and my relationship will be a safe haven for him. It has been SO. MUCH. WORK. to get to this point with him, but I knew from the beginning what he needed from me and I have done everything I can possibly do in order give it to him.

With my stepdaughter, however, I find I am at loss lately. I don’t know what happened–did I spend too much time trying to build bridges with her brother, did I say something wrong to her, did her mom poison her–but she went from wanting to do everything with me (makeup, shopping, cooking dinner), to hanging up the phone the minute she hears I want to say hi. I don’t know what she needs from me, but the status quo is clearly not it. I worry that her and I will struggle in our relationship throughout her adolescence if I don’t figure this out. Some of the struggle is probably inevitable, but I do know that there are things I can change to not create extra struggle. I want her to yell at me for normal teenage things, like telling her to wipe off some of her make-up or saying she can’t hang out at the mall. I don’t want her to yell at me for thinking I’m being a bitch of a stepmom who doesn’t get along with her mom.

Both of my s-kids are growing and changing so fast and so much in their life is pure chaos. I know that they need me to be consistent. So I am making some promises to myself and to them now.

I promise…

  • to never put you in a situation where you feel you have to choose between being loyal to me or loyal to your mom. I am second and your relationship with her is important.
  • to answer you honestly when you ask questions about your parents’ relationship(s), but to not disparage either of them in doing so. You need to know reality, but not in such a way that it devastates you and causes you grief or anger.
  • to not initiate choices (clothing, movies, etc.) that directly contradict your mom’s rules, even if I disagree with her rules. If you want to explore boundaries in a safe place, I will help you, but I will not encourage you to rebel just because you can or because it suits my own agenda.
  • to never let you see me be angry with or at your mom. All that will do is make you be angry with me.
  • to tell you every time I am proud of you, every time I happy to hear from you or see you, and every time you hurt my feelings by not making good choices.
  • to not let you walk all over me. That will just make me resent you in my life.
  • to not forget just how hard it is for you to be a child growing up in this situation.

I am.

October 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been listening to the song Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis nonstop since the official video was released last week. It’s a song supporting gay marriage, but the more I listen to it, the more I feel like there’s something beyond that, something universal to the message in the hook.

i can’t change, even if i tried, even if i wanted to

I’ve been turning it over and over in my head, letting the idea resonate. There is something fundamental about the human experience in those words. It’s about that moment when you draw your line and stop listening to other’s ideas of how you should be and just realize it. This is who I am.

That moment has been a long time coming for me. Somewhere along the way I became so focused on the things that I could be for other people that I forgot that it was okay to be something for myself, to be me. I don’t know if I lost who I was or if I’ve just never been real about who I am. I don’t know if I ever realized until now that there is a difference between being open to personal growth and trying to change the very essence of who I am to meet others’ expectations.

There are things about myself that I have worked so hard to change, but that I don’t think ever will change. Things that I shouldn’t change, because they define who I am.

I think for some people, this is never a question. And it’s not self-doubt or insecurity that makes the difference, I don’t think. I think there are some people who just know themselves, and then there are some of us who have to do some searching first. The answers are found in the same place though. They never went anywhere, it’s just a question of whether we have been attuned to hear our inner voice or to something external.

I am done listening to everyone else tell me who they think I am. I just want to be me, unequivocally. I am emotional, I am an overthinker, I am a tiny bit lazy and I have horribly inconsistent taste in music. Is that good or bad? You know, maybe that doesn’t matter so much anymore.

Where Am I?

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