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.

1 comment:

  1. Seems to me that you are doing JUST FINE! In all respects. Just for the record, even those of us who totally choose parenting....go way out of our way to get there even, even we have days of resenting those little buggers and their neediness and the lack of time for oneself.

    It's damn hard work to parent. The tantrums and moods and screaming and throwing food all over the place and can imagine how much worse it gets when the kids join in on it all. ;-)

    I feel guilty ALL THE TIME and that I couldn't possibly be as good a mother as I want to be, need to be and set out to be. Then there are smiles and shows of compassion toward each other (the kids I mean) and doing funny things and helping out their friends and I think maybe I do sometimes get it right.

    Anyone that tells you s/he's got the whole parenting thing totally figured out is either lying or delusional. I really don't think there are any other options.

    Thanks for the honest and thought provoking words. Like I said...I think you are doing JUST FINE.