What you and I have in common – Part 1

I’d painted myself into a corner with my writing here recently and felt less and less able to really be myself.

What popped me into clarity was reading about how stepmom Becky Lippett of La Belle Mere transformed her previously wretched relationship with the ex-wife, while on the cusp of divorce. Look at what she’s created by taking some very brave risks:

  • “I have a new friend. And I mean that sincerely. I have to admit, to my surprise, that I haven't had to try very hard to like her. It actually came fairly naturally. We have lots more in common that either of us realised.
  • The children seem over the moon with the situation. Their excitement and happiness is impossible to miss.
  • My marriage has improved beyond measure. In fact, we are stronger and more in love now than ever before.
  • I no longer suffer from "Outsider" status. Rather than having the sense of being on the outside of something that is "theirs," I now feel on the inside of something which is "ours."
  • I am less likely to feel the sense of persecution that I felt before. I no longer feel under attack or like I am forced to share my husband and my world with "the enemy."
  • Events such as parents evening, school plays and sports days are no longer likely to induce an anxiety attack that can be measured on the Richter Scale.
  • My heart feels bigger.”

Becky credits our book, in part, for her big change. And Erin over on the Erin Experiment also had a recent epiphany that’s led to more peace and happiness by ironically, taking a step back from being a Super Hands-On Stepmother. Read more in Learning the Art of the Stepmom Stepback.

THIS, folks, is why we wrote this book!

This is why I’ve been writing this blog for three years (we turned 3 last month!). It makes me deliriously happy to read Becky and Erin’s stories of change and healing.

Becky’s terrible relationship with the ex-wife was one of the main reasons she was heading towards a split, but instead, her family life has been transformed. If she can do it, then maybe you can too! And don't miss her update, answering questions on this cool turn of events.

With all my heart, I want to help others create happier extended families after divorce and remarriage. And yet... I’ve been struggling myself.

I’ve been thinking things that have created a sense of separation and disconnection for me and I miss everyone. I want to get back to feeling like we’re in this together. So in that spirit, a list of some surprising things we have in common:

I’m on my own too

Sometimes I felt like such a poser. Where’s the stepmom in our picture? If she’s not typing away with me, doesn’t this cancel out our book’s message of Kumbaya and mom/stepmom harmony? I’ve mentioned before how Carol’s art career takes up a huge part of her life, but even if she had eight arms and two heads, Carol doesn’t have the slightest interest in writing anything here. She has that right, much as I wish it were different. In the meantime, I’m lucky enough to call her a close friend and I love her like a sister. So interviews, videos (more on this in Part Two - they’re in the can and ready to go!) and me picking her brain will have to suffice.

This can be hard because....

I can’t get the moms involved either

Their backs are turned to me too. I say “too” because that’s who’s reading our blog and book: the stepmoms. So here I am, a mom/ex-wife talking to (mostly) all you stepmoms, telling you to not give up, to keep plugging away and trying... when really, I’m in the same boat (minus the heart-pounding tension).

Why is this?

My theory: moms hold most of the power. The kids usually live with them. The kids are “theirs,” whether they’re appalling parents or candidates for Mother of the Year. Who wants to let go of control? The ability to call the shots? Not many folks, once they have it. Most mothers just wish you weren’t around. Simple as that. But it’s still possible to create a life that works, in spite of it. More on that later too.

I know what it’s like to be betrayed

Carol and I are close friends, but that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to your pain. Recently, I became involved again with my first love, long-distance. Because I knew him long ago, I foolishly ignored some glaring red flags and got massively burned. This was someone who had done something fairly hurtful to me over thirty years ago and believe it or not, every few years I would dream about him so I could ask him WHY??? Why did you treat me this way? I finally have my answer....

I ended up being nothing more than a rebound—and perhaps even worse—a secret. So I still know what it’s like to put your heart on the line and offer it up to be sliced open. Many, many good lessons here, excruciating though they were.

(If anything, this recent experience makes me think it’d be a good idea to talk a lot more here about what makes a good relationship and how to keep them alive and healthy! Lord knows I’ve still got a lot to learn....)

Okay, so romance and stepmom/mom relationships are very different. But aggression and deceit, no matter who serves it up, still stings. Lies can make you doubt yourself. In our naïve surprise and confusion over being mistreated, we can gnaw on a situation over and over, trying to make sense of something that cannot be understood.

Being screwed over by someone is a great opportunity to gauge your self-love -- the areas where it’s strong and where it needs shoring up. Although these lessons are of the “oh crap, MUST I learn this stuff this way, through pain?” nature, the breakthroughs they can lead to are invaluable.

Just like what it’s like with the conflict in mom/stepmom relationships.

It’s hard to create peace in your life when you feel like there’s a leak in the submarine. Which is why...

It’s better when we’re in it together.

More on this in Part 2!