Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hard Stuff

It's hard to imagine that I'm not the only person feeling exactly as I feel about so many things, step-parenthood is just one of those things. Sometimes I feel so resentful, which only leads me to feel guilty because I chose this life. Who should I resent more than myself?

Sometimes I resent my husband because of how much his job requires him to travel. It feels like he gets to escape when things get difficult because his job takes him out of town so much. And there I am left to deal with all of his parenting responsibilities for a child that I am still struggling with belonging to. I who have thrived on my ability to always do what I wanted when I wanted am now caged and clipped to someone else's decisions. I'm angry, I'm depressed and I'm trapped. These are not good feelings to base parenting decisions on, so then I'm guilty too.

The irony of the whole situation is that in some ways I really do want to want to do these things, somewhere inside of me I want to enjoy parenting and the responsibilities of it. But I can't seem to get past my pride and resentment, because I wanted to be able to choose those things. I feel like all of my powers of choice have been removed and replaced with action out of necessity. My husband isn't available so regardless of my wants or needs I have to step up. The removal of that choice seems like such a small thing, I should just be able to get over it right? I mean I just said that I wanted to want to do those things so why does it feel emotionally and physically impossible to find enjoyment in the responsibilities that are being put on my shoulders. It seems so stupid because I think even if I had the illusion of choice I would be able to find some peace in doing what needs to be done. That seems so shallow that I don't know how it can be that simple. Is it that simple? Is it just the illusion of choice and not the choice that I need? And if that's the case then what does that say about me?

My husband and I work through these things delicately. There are so many things that can go wrong when trying to sort these things out. These are emotionally volatile subjects because we are all so deeply invested in the outcome. I could pretend not to know what the outcome will be, but that would imply that I don't believe whole heartedly that my husband, my step-kids and I are strong enough to come out of this as an intact family. I believe that we are strong enough. I believe that we can take care of each other and take care of ourselves. I believe that the only thing that could cause our efforts to fail is silence. That's a hard thing to say because I have spent the better part of my life valiantly protecting the thoughts and emotions that make me most vulnerable. But I see how communication has improved my marriage and my self and I know that saying the hard things with love hurts less than the interminable silence of not saying anything at all.

I'm scared, and I'm hurting but I'm never as lost as I feel because wherever I go, there I am. I just have to allow myself to be seen and I have to allow myself to see others. But I have to allow myself to see others as they are and not through the veil of my own emotions, I can't see that clearly if I'm holding onto my emotions like they are some kind of precious currency.

I am trying to teach my step daughter about what actual strength is, and it took me a long time to realize what true strength was, it's not having the strength to stay silent about what hurts. The most powerful strength is in being able to be vulnerable when your the most scared that what you might say could be used against you. True strength is knowing that even if opening yourself up leads to being hurt you are going to be okay and getting hurt won't be the end of the world. You might cry a little you might feel a little bit angry, but in the end the strongest people aren't the ones who can't speak when they hurt. The strongest people are the ones that can look at someone else and say "Ow, you hurt me" and be okay if they aren't strong enough to apologize.

The best thing is that people are much better than we give them credit for. Sure people fail us from time to time, and that hurts, but people for the most part are willing to apologize when they hurt us. When it's all said and done and the tears have dried and the bruising ego's and hearts begin to feel less tender, many times we find that if we acted with love not only are we better as individuals, our friendships, marriages, relationships are better too.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Extra Terrestrial Life Forms

There are times in this step-parenting journey when I think to myself, "OH MY GOD WILL THIS NIGHTMARE EVER END!" I know that's all kinds of dramatic and over the top, but so am I, so it's really what goes on in my head. I find myself feeling like I have an alien life form wandering the halls of my house and I can't quite figure out what to do with the strange little beings who look at me so expectantly that I feel guilty that I don't seem to quite get it. I don't seem to quite speak their language, and then suddenly it's not them that's the outsider, it's me. I'm an alien in my own home. There are two people who share a bond so definitive and so deep that the best I can do is to recognize that it's there because I don't feel it. It's not that I don't love my family, I love them all and yet sometimes it just seems so completely inadequate that I find myself feeling guilty for my inadequacies. And then I'm angry. I don't know why I'm angry but I am because I am home and somehow I still feel like the puzzle piece that got put into the wrong box. And then I feel guilty again, I mean, I chose this life and these aliens. I walked into the family with my arms, eyes and heart wide open and yet there are so many days when it just doesn't feel like enough.

Sometimes I feel like I have lost a sense of me and the things that used to ground me. Those are probably the hardest days because I have placed so much value on my individuality when I can't find it in the chaos of our family I just want to sit down and bury my head into my hands and cry. But then I am angry again, and then guilty and round and round it goes until I am so dizzy with conflicting and antagonizing emotions that it's not just my mental state that feels nauseated it's my whole being. Sometimes I try to analyze how I let it all consume me so quickly but that only makes me feel worse and I know the only thing to do is to stop fighting it all, to just let it be what it is. I finally let things go, stop trying to control every aspect of the world around me and suddenly the connections reappear, the aliens become the family that I love and I realize that maybe just maybe the only alien in the house was me.