Writing and telling my story has been the toughest thing I’ve had to do for (and in) my business. At least a dozen times I’ve written, rewritten, and rewritten it. I’ve been asked often. It’s hard to know where to begin. Not to mention telling it in only a few minutes when I could go on for hours. Also, I could never bring myself to share much of it. Each and every person I told could see me choking up as I relayed parts of it. I’m sure they were thinking Holy cow! Why is it so hard for her? What could have happened that is so terrible? Or maybe they just thought I’m melodramatic (lol).
Repeatedly, I’ve been urged to share more personal details, even the “painful” stuff. They assure me that it would help somebody somewhere. If I went through it, the chances are that somebody else did too. So I deleted My Story from my page a couple days ago and will update it, as has been a plan for this year. The time has come to do it. Version 4 (at least) will be forthcoming soon.
Here’s why it’s been so tough (in no particular order):
- There’s no way to cram 4.5 years into 1 page. We had daily problems during the 2 and half years we lived together. It was an active few years for sure.
- I don’t want to make anybody look bad. I didn’t (don’t) want to say anything that sounds bad about anybody – not my ex, his kids’ mother, his kids, or me. I don’t want to out them w/o also stating what I did wrong. At the same time, there’s no way to tell my story w/o somebody, or all of us, looking bad.
- I thought it made the most sense to stick with only the stepfamily issues – the common stuff that most step families face.
- Stepfamily dynamics are so pervasive in everything else, though, that it’s difficult to separate the two.
- If what happened in my stepfamily is not common, how could it help others? If it’s not going to help somebody, what’s the point of sharing all the crap that happened? I‘ve always been the type of person who puts the past behind me and looks forward.
- Now I realize that I was wrong. Every stepfamily has unique circumstances, some of which is dysfunctional.
Luckily, most stepfamilies don’t have the level of dysfunction I experience. But unfortunately, some have more dysfunction.
I share my story for them. I want them to know they’re not alone and it’s ok to talk about it.
- I forgot a lot! Crazy, right? ‘How can I forget?’ you ask. I guess I did that good of a job releasing it and healing from it. I remembered the essence of how I felt, the big issues, and the many lessons, but forgot much of the day to day stuff. I recently had a memory jolt so I’m going to make another attempt.
- Last, but not least, parts of it are simply too painful to want to share.
What was so painful? That’s the next logical question. Note, I’m not saying the events were tragic, but just that they’re painful to relay. It’s painful just to say that I felt betrayed by somebody I loved so deeply. I’m not the first to feel betrayed by somebody they loved, but that doesn’t make it less painful. It’s painful to acknowledge that my ex’s daughter made it her mission (yes, her mission) to break us up. She exaggerated truths, fabricated on details, and made up stories on anything she found or heard on me. She conspired with the neighbor to eavesdrop of my conversations with others. Once, she and her mom went through my personal things trying to dig up dirt on me. I felt more violated by that one act than anything else. There were other things, too, but those are two most painful things.
I don’t want to scare anybody entering into a stepfamily. That’s another reason I didn’t necessarily want to share all of my story. I’ve not talked to any step parent personally whose step kids tried to break them up. I have heard of other cases of it happening, but I think it’s a small percentage. Or maybe, just maybe, they are just as uncomfortable as I am to talk about it.
Dr. Kay Pasley’s research indicates that a large number of stepfamilies deal with mental health concerns and other dysfunctions. That tells me that many of the issues I faced are not unheard of. So, I’m going to update my story and share some of the really personal details, the best I can, of which some are not necessarily considered stepfamily dynamics.
My intention in sharing my story is to give a voice to the people in stepfamilies who are experiencing a lot of conflict and challenges – stepmoms, stepdads, stepchildren, moms, dads, siblings, and anybody else. I’m going to share lessons I learned – about stepfamily dynamics, love and loss, betrayal and forgiveness. My intention is to give hope and inspiration to anybody going through a challenging (high conflict) stepfamily experience. May you learn from my experiences and implement something new to improve your situation.
Depending on when you read this, my story may or may not be shared on the respective web page with that title. Whether it is or isn’t, remember the following:
- There are 2 sides to every story. This is my story the way I see it. I try to be as objective as possible. But, in the end, it’s still my version. Jeannette Lofas of The Stepfamily Foundation refers to this as “My Reality, Your Reality”.
- It’s not the whole story. It will never be the whole story by nature of time and space. Truly, this story would make a great made-for-tv movie as it has all the elements. And it’s certainly filled with enough events, both good and bad.
- The psychology of stepfamily dynamics underlie everything else, even if it’s not obvious.
- My Story is NOT your story! Just because this is what happened to me doesn’t me it will happen to you. It DOES mean that you, too, can get past this challenging time, if you’re going through one. If I changed the story, so can you. (By that, I mean I changed how the negativity of my story impacted me, so that it now only affects me in a positive way). I’ve achieved peace of mind, and you can too.
- 20% of stepchildren feel close to their stepmother. Some may be discouraged by this %, but it’s encouraging for me. With the many new resources that are emerging regularly, along with the growing awareness, I anticipate this % increasing significantly over the next decade and beyond. (I for one would welcome being a stepmom again because I don’t for a second think that THIS story will happen to me again.)
If you’re interested in learning more of my story, you can read bits and pieces of it from various blog entries here and on my previous blog, which you can access by clicking here.