“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity.” ~Francois Gautier
My husband was a gift I never expected to find. I never imagined that I deserved the kind of love that he was capable of giving me. With complete certainty, I felt safe in loving him and lucky to marry him.
We both had children from previous relationships, and, with high hopes, we entered into the balancing act of a blended family.
I had reasonable expectations that among the hard work there would be an unspoken respect for each other, and we’d slowly start to make new memories and become our own. Simple. It was a new journey that we would all share; I was open and ready.
I was blinded by love.
I had anticipated a period of adjustment for us all. I was fully prepared for insecurities to surface, emotions to flare, and compromise to become our very best friend, but I could have never imagined what was ahead.
My new stepdaughter, she had no desire to connect. “When will you get it,” she’d ask. “I just don’t like you. I don’t want things to get better between us.”
I was hurt and confused, and it would only continue.
Trying to explain this behavior to our other children and trying not to blame my husband for her behavior became intolerable, almost agonizing to me. She treated them no differently, but with me there was a distinct anger, almost aggression. I needed to understand why.
I began to question myself, everything I had worked so hard to find in my life, my own self-acceptance and self-confidence. It took me all of thirty-five years to get here, and suddenly I could feel it all slipping away.
I tried every angle. I gave space, I gave time, and I gave love. I gave until there was nothing left to give. I started to lose pieces of myself every day to this. I started to have anxiety about coming home, and I started to lose my grip on all the other beautiful relationships in my life.
I felt like I was being punished, and I soon realized that I was beginning to punish myself, and others as well. I saw a side of me that I never knew existed. I was angry, I was sad, I was out of control, and I felt helpless.
We’ve all dealt with a “Negative Nancy,” the person at the office who thinks everything is a bad idea, the aunt who ruins every holiday, the neighbor who for some unknown reason just seems pissed off that you bought the house next door.
The happy ending to that story is that you get to go home, get away, regroup and recoup after they’ve sucked the energy from you.
What if you don’t? What if this person is a part of your everyday life? You want things to be different, but they don’t, and maybe never will for that matter. You have to find your own way.
I’ve learned that you must make a conscious choice to own your peace, to protect it.
Stop trying to seek acceptance from them; this most likely has nothing to do with you. Really!
Lastly, stop judging them. It’s so unbelievably hard to do, but necessary. I had to continually remind myself, even while writing this.
You cannot change the way someone else feels if their mind is set or their past has a hold of them. Until they want it for themselves, you have to let it be. Be brave, be gentle, and set yourself free.
This is not a life-altering tragedy that you are a victim of. This is a life-changing lesson you are faced with; use it wisely. Instead of resigning to the fact that you aren’t to blame for what’s happening to you, consciously decide to play a part in what happens. No matter how you got here, how will you handle this?
Keep your motives and expectations in check. Be much more mindful of your thoughts.
When you find yourself stuck in an ugly moment or a negative emotion, think loving thoughts for the person frustrating you. This can be very hard to do at first, but moments to practice will come frequently, almost daily, in every aspect of your life. Channel the negative into positive.
Avoid looking for intentions in their actions or words. There is a defense mechanism in their behavior; forgive them. There is a great deal of healing that needs to be done, but they have to want it for themselves.
Lastly, realize that you cannot control this situation, only your own feelings and actions. Let go of the desire and need to fix them. Just lead by example.
Actions speak louder than words. Show them an example of unconditional love and a life well lived; leave an open invitation for them to join you, but do not give them the power to take yours from you.
Maintain your boundaries. Insist on respect. Protect yourself and those you love. Give your thoughts, time, and energy to those who bring you joy.
Today, in what is a very slow and deliberate process, I focus my energy on keeping healthy relationships with those who want that as well.
To keep from being distracted by negative people and hurtful moments is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I hold on to the hope that someday this anger will leave us and be replaced with a chance. I hold on to that hope, but I don’t depend on it.