Learning from the past

Every journey begins with a first step. How I got from here to here is still baffling to me, perhaps that’s why I’m blogging. Blending a family is not just about two households coming together to fill the furniture void post divorce, it’s also about making a new life from lessons learned. What lessons have I learned?

  1. Words matter and they can break a marriage. In another life, I was married for 16 years. I was not careful with my words. Anger ruled my tongue and at times the venom was more toxic than a snakebite. I regret my carelessness. I’ve since apologized for my verbal transgressions, but my angry words linger. They serve as a reminder of the power of an unchecked tirade. A smart woman once told me to speak to my partner like he’s my friend. I strive to be a better friend.
  2. Winning an argument is pointless. There is only understanding and degrees of losing. No one gets a certificate of achievement on the fridge for winning an argument. It’s important to remember people argue because they don’t feel understood. Now, before engaging in conflict with my partner, I try to ask myself: why am I angry and what do I need to hear or what action needs to occur to stop the anger? Too often I sought to punish my ex-husband when I was hurting and resolution was an afterthought.
  3. Forgiveness can save your sanity. If you can forgive yourself, then forgiving others is easy. Moving on from a disagreement with an open heart and clean slate builds trust. Previously, I carried my angst with me from battle to battle and because I did not know how to forgive, I was unable to trust. Living in a home without trust will make anyone crazy, and crazy is only fun to live with in the movies.

Welcome to the hell mouth

Being a step parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I adore my stepchildren, especially my stepdaughters. They make my heart explode with joy and sadness in the same breath (they’re gifted). However, stepmother to a child with disabilities, like my stepson, makes me feel helpless and afraid. Watching my stepson and his parents stumble through adolescence is like watching a horror movie: the protagonist refuses to listen to the advice the audience screams from the comfort of their recliners. I have an agenda. I am not without my own motives both good and bad. Still, I feel like I’m trapped in a dream with my arms and legs refusing to respond to the dangers ahead. Nonetheless, my stepchildren are a gift. I have grown and healed and learned more than I deserve, and at the same time, I have sacrificed and suffered and reconciled more than I expected before embarking on this journey. I am an atheist, and yet, I am blessed. I am a wife, and yet, I am not a partner. I am a mother, and yet, I feel like a voiceless outsider. That’s step-parenting. It’s what you make it.