So what if you extended yourself with the mom or stepmom and it went poorly? What if you reached out to her and she screwed you? Or you were just going about your business when you suddenly realized, Whoa! That is totally unfair? Happens to all of us. Stepmom/mom scenarios are rife with little exploded bombs like this, because there are two women trying to wear the same teeny pair of shoes. Makes for a lot of staggering… and very few winning teams in the three-legged sack race.
So what do you do if:
- you made yourself vulnerable
- you took a chance with her
- you now wonder whether she was ever sincere, or had ulterior motives all along
- you feel manipulated and taken advantage of
- you're now kicking yourself for what happened?
The first thing to do is depersonalize.
Shit happens. People misunderstand each other. Agendas change (including yours). Core issues get triggered (including yours). People sometimes freak out and do dumb things. And perhaps, worse of all, sometimes people actually DO consciously intend to harm you.
The question now becomes, what are you going to do about it? Here are four steps to take:
1. Take care of the moment
- First, accept what is, much as you may not want to. The event happened. You cannot make it un-happen.
- Get helpful support, not crappy support. Helpful: someone who can see the other person’s issues, your issues, and not make either side completely wrong. Crappy: whips you up into a frenzy that only makes you feel more victimized or upset — or self-righteous support, which feels like, “Wow, you dummy, why couldn't you see that you were doing this one stupid thing?”
2. Sort through what went wrong and identify the unacceptable parts of what happened
- Are you clear on what should NOT have happened? What violates your boundaries? Break it down into specifics so that it’s not just a big emotional ball of mush in your brain. Take note of your answers for step four.
3. Take responsibility for your shit (and yes, it’s probably there!)
- What did YOU do to contribute to this problem?
- What errors in judgment did you possibly make?
- Were you operating from any automatic behaviors that set the problem in motion, in part?
- As much as we hate looking at this stuff, think of it as exercising. Feels hard in the moment, great after you’re done!
4. Figure out what you want to do, going forward
- How can you protect yourself in a healthy way, in the future? Any actions you need to take (refer to Step 2)? Anything you need to convey (respectfully) to the other woman? Is there some specific help you’d like to request, even if it’s hard for you?
- Are there any areas where you might still be open to risk or connection? You might not be ready to go here yet if your feelings are raw. But bear in mind: if you contributed to this problem, then it’s not entirely the other person’s “fault.” May as well not skew the blame and draw a hard line in the sand for the future that may only make things worse between the two families.
- Take care not to dwell on the event. Handle it and move on. If you mull and stew, you’re only compounding your pain and injuring yourself twice. It may have been the other’s person’s doing the first time, but don’t injure yourself all over again by fixating on the problem. Deal with it, then set your sights back to the better things in life.
Let us know how it goes! As always, we welcome comments and love hearing from folks.
© 2008 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved