Be careful what you wish for.

September 4, 2013 § 1 Comment

If I could go back to my newly stepmommed self (step-girlfriend really, if you’re keeping score), I would tell myself to be careful what I wish for.

If I could say one thing to every stepmom who thinks that her stepkids’ mom is the worst, most alienating piece of shit for sending the crappy, too small clothes or being a control freak about phone calls, I would say be careful what you wish for.

If I could go back to every time I just felt that I KNEW what was going on with shewhomustnotbenamed but needed proof….well, yeah.

I have been trying to explain for years to family and friends who don’t understand how we don’t have full custody that there is a world of difference between a crappy mom and an unfit mom. For years I truly believed that what we’ve been dealing with this whole time is just a crappy mom who was keeping her crazy, unfitness in check just enough to be passable in society.

We’re getting a taste of what unfit mom looks like.

Now that full custody is within our grasp, is possible, maybe even likely, oh it hurts, so much. How could I have ever wanted that shewhomustnotbenamed would start showing to the world just how messed up I knew she was? Did I not realize what that meant?

Soon, I may have to explain to my stepkids how their mom is still a good person even though she is in jail. I might have to take them states away from their half-siblings. I might have to actually have to put in the work to untangle the mess she has made out of their lives and their psyches. I will actually have to dismantle everything they know in their lives. Good God, do you know how hard that will be?

I don’t mean to belittle any stepmom out there who is trying hard, but I am asking you to search your heart. Can you be working harder? Can you find a middle ground, learn to look the other way, fight with your husband’s ex a little less? Decide that maybe part of the problem is what you’re contributing and that you’re choosing to see only the bad parts?

Because if your stepkids’ mom reaches her breaking point, no matter whose fault it may be, no matter whether it was inevitable or not, to see your stepkids’ hearts breaking? To see their world fall apart? Nothing is worth that. I’m here to tell you, there is no satisfaction to be found in CPS having cause to investigate. Nothing to be gained to learn that she was throwing all your gifts away, badmouthing you to the kids, getting drunk at every turn, breaking the law, and god knows what else.

I’m a firm believer that what you put out into this world comes back to you. Even if it was never meant to be, even if it wasn’t true, I wish in those early days I had worked harder at trying, just a little bit, to believe that my stepkids’ mom was trying as hard as she knows how. Because now it turns out she’s as broken as I believed, only she’s not the one paying for it.

They are.

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Stepmom Challenge: 30 Days of Self Care

September 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

happiness aheadI’ve been quiet and pensive and slowly watching my life turn into something resembling a nightmare lately.

Enough.

I found myself looking back through tweets and pictures from the last 6 months and realized that I have completely lost my spark. And while I can (and will) wax poetic about all the things that are hurting my heart, in a lot of ways, they’re nothing new. What has changed is me.

I have spent the last year and a half learning that what makes or breaks my ability to cope with this roller coaster stepmom life is how well I am taking care of my self. Not only do I have to fill my own cup before I can fill anyone else’s, but my ability to see the positive, to keep reaching, to keep putting one foot in front of the other comes from that full cup.

I haven’t been taking very good care of myself.

I think, as stepmoms, we care so much and so deeply for others, our hearts for loving our husbands and our families, that we face a constant struggle to remember to take care of ourselves first and foremost. Our families depend on us being at our best, but we can’t be at our best if we don’t make ourselves a priority.

My life very well my be flipped completely on it’s head soon. I may go from being a 3 times a year stepmom to a fulltime stepmom. Which means I need to be at my best.

So I am putting a challenge to myself and to any other stepmom who wants to join me: 30 days of self-care. 

Today is September 1, the first of a month with 30 days. It’s a long weekend, with plenty of time to figure out your plan. But how hard can it be? Do one thing, every day, that fills your cup, that takes care of you.

Here are some things that fill my cup:

  • Going for a walk
  • Cooking a well-balanced meal
  • Taking photos
  • Journaling
  • Creating art for my home
  • Cleaning my house
  • Going on a hike
  • Doing a workout video
  • Gardening
  • Getting (or giving myself) a pedicure
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Blogging
  • Unplugging from the internet

I can do this. I can turn things around. One thing at a time. Every journey starts with that first step, right?

I’ll be tweeting about my journey under #30dayselfcare. Hope to see you there.

It doesn’t matter

June 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

…if my bathroom is spotless;
…if they have an outfit for every occasion;
…what outfit I wear to pick them up;
…how many times we go out to dinner;
…what their mom does or doesn’t think we’re doing;
…what’s going on at mom’s house;
…if they get mad or sad or scared;
…if I get mad or sad or scared;

because really, all that matters is that we are a family and we will love each other no matter what and work through whatever may cross our path as a family.

We were given this life because we are strong enough to live it.

A letter I wish I could send

March 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

I wish you could see the value of seeking help.

It doesn’t have to be an admission of failure, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You are holding on so white-knuckle tight to what little you have and it is suffocating everyone. When will you see that letting go is more powerful than whatever it is that you’re doing now?

It’s not normal to continually be fighting and separating and reuniting with your spouse. It’s not normal to constantly cut family and friends out of your life. It’s not that people don’t know your life, it’s that there is so much bullshit in the way that having normal, healthy relationships is not a possibility for you right now.

I don’t know that I blame you all that much. I look at your past, your mom with her mental illness, your dad coming out in your teen years, and I see that it would be very difficult to come out of that situation well-adjusted and healthy.  What I do blame you for, however, is the choice to not seek help.

I don’t want you out of the picture. I don’t want to be the only mom. I want you to get help, to get healthy, so that my kids don’t grow up having the same relationship with you that you have with your mom. They will struggle their entire lives if this course doesn’t change.

What is your breaking point? How many times will it take before you realize the damage you’re doing to your children?

How long will I be cleaning up your messes?

Silver lining.

March 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

I turned 29 on Tuesday, the most worthless day of the week, and of course it was a gray,  threatening rain kind-of day because you can’t win them all and sometimes adding another year to your life isn’t about celebration and sunshine but about growth and personal development.

I’ve had this feeling that something has been coming, something I didn’t know the answers to, but something nonetheless that my subconscious has been working overtime to sort out. I woke up on my birthday feeling melancholy and morose and not exactly sure what was eating me but definitely pained by something. 50-some facebook notifications of family, friends, and acquaintances wishing me the happiest of days and…nothing. Just leave me alone until I figure this out, you’re not making this better.

I really wanted to put the blame on my mom who had spent the better part of the last week throwing the most elaborate of too late temper tantrums over my brother’s life-changing move across the state that she decided at the last moment she wasn’t prepared to accept. I somehow ended up being punished for his life choices by the simple fact that I wasn’t taking her side. Really put a damper on things, I thought. And it didn’t matter that I didn’t want to see her on my birthday (boundaries, space, etc) when she asked if they could celebrate with me on Friday. What a slight. Surely, this was the cause of my birthday malaise.

But no, truthfully, everything with my mom was commonplace and expected. Nothing new, in other words. The glum was coming from somewhere bigger, something determined to surface and claim territory in the landscape of Things I Have Resolved.

I don’t really know what to say next except that I found myself in a movie theater, watching Silver Linings Playbook and fighting back tears. Oh, there it is. This man, so broken, has lost everything and as much as he’s trying to make things better, he’s standing in his own way and at times, making them worse. And then enters this woman into his life. At first you think that she is just there to help him, that she’s saving him and he needs her to better his life, but by the end, you realize, he was saving her, too. She needed him.

It was like watching an allegory of my life. Sometimes the symbolism was heavy-handed (infidelity, restraining orders, helping, saving), and other times, it was just an emotional parallel. But, my god, I was missing that end part this whole time.

Last week my therapist was asking me about unfinished business from our lives before the kids moved and we moved. I was describing the loneliness, the pain, the utter despondence that came as a result of rolling up my sleeves and helping my husband dig himself out of the hole he was stuck in, and she asked me if I resented him for it.

I mean, really, absolutely not. Do I resent him for needing help? For being the one to help him? No, not even a little. How could I? Do I resent him for benefitting from that help now and getting to chase his dreams while I work hard at a job I don’t really like in order to support him, me, his kids? Sure, but—wait what?

I guess that unspoken grudge was growing and festering and I had no idea.

I have a million reasons to let myself be resentful. Up until 6 o’clock on Tuesday, I still thought that I was the one doing all the saving and for as long as I held onto that idea, this notion has silently grown that I am owed something, maybe not something overtly from him, or maybe something definitely overtly from him, hell, maybe something karmic at the very least. Just, come on, I SAVED you. Why do you get to be the only one to reap all the benefits? When does it ever get to be about me??, screamed my selfish subconscious.

This movie though, THIS MOVIE. He saved me. I thought I was saving him, but he was saving me, too.

All the parts I like about myself, literally all my very best parts, would not exist had I not met my husband and gone through hell for and with him. I would have continued to be this lost, self-absorbed but well-meaning asshole with no purpose in life but to careen from one failure to another. There would have been nothing to force me to grow into the (let’s face it) incredible, strong, albeit bumbling, woman I am today.

Do I resent him, the life I have because of him? No.

He saved me.

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