Tag Archives: effort

Frienemy

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Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

                                                 ~Abraham Lincoln

My goal regarding Eliza has changed.  I no longer want to pursue a friendship with her.  I just don’t think it can happen.  Simply put, I don’t believe that she is capable of maintaining a friendship.  There is too much mistrust, bitterness, paranoia, anger, and jealousy on her end.  

 

I thought it would be a noble thing to do.  But if I am honest with myself, she is not the kind of friend I would want to have.  It is hard to call a one-sided relationship a friendship; although she has made spradic attempts to reach out to me. 

  

In my mind I wanted to achieve the impossible—becoming friends with the enemy.  I was tired of the animosity.  I felt like God had provided me with this opportunity to heal some old wounds.  I wanted to partner with Eliza to help her stay connected with the boys. 

 

And it’s not that I “need” a friend because I have been blessed with enough. It is true that we have had a tumultuous past; but I still didn’t find it strange that I would want to befriend her.  Jesus still remained “friends” with Judas even though he betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver.  Nor did he turn his back on Simon Peter who disowned him three times before the cock crowed.  Now that’s what I call pure love and graciousness!

 

I have accepted that we are never likely to be friends with a little sadness.  It would have been cool for her and me to do things together with the kids once she is released.  I was looking forward to having an open, relaxed line of communication.

 

However, I still am willing to remain cordial to her.  I refuse to let my goodness sour because she desires something different than what I had in mind.  I still have hope for other mother and stepmothers who both are willing to do the work involved in interacting in a healthy manner.

 

I continue to escort Ethan for visits.  I am content to provide snacks and sit back and allow them their time together.  If she writes inquiring about the children; I respond in a timely manner.  However, I no longer “entertain” her by letting her draw me in for arguments.  I answer the questions she asks and refrain from responding to any commentary, accusations, or wording meant to trigger a response from me.

 

I have also stopped sending “encouragement” to her.  From time to time I would send her books, cards, articles, and other things of inspiration.  I have visited her attorney to obtain documents, checked on her niece who was in foster care, and coordinated activities so that Ethan and Evan could spend time with their other brother.  I stopped doing most of this in the last three months when I noticed that despite my friendly gestures, she continued to bicker with me.  I had to set up boundaries with her for my own contentment and sanity in this trying situation.  Now I only deal with her on a need to basis.  I no longer try to save her from herself if that makes sense.  In essence I’ve removed myself from the picture as much as I can.  I’ve started to focus more on building solid relationships with the kids instead of her.  I realized that having them in our homes is a gift.  She had taken the boys from our lives for years, but God gave them back.

 

Rhonda has commented that deep down Eliza really probably does want to be friends with me—she just feels that Eliza doesn’t know how.  She is very good at pushing people away and projecting her fears and insecurities onto them because she refuses to trust anyone.  Eliza always feels that others are out to get her.  It is as if she expects everyone to hurt her.  I think this stems from being an incest survivor. 

 

At a visit not to long ago, she introduced me to a fellow inmate as “Ethan’s stepmom and my friend.”  I was a little surprised by this term of endearment but took it with a grain of salt.  I know that her actions do not support her words.  I felt sorry for her and knew that it was an attempt to manipulate my emotions.  I think she knows that I have grown tired of her mind games. 

 

I have been on both sides of the fence with her—her enemy and her “friend.”  Of course you know what side I’d prefer to be on.  I still pray that God is able to use me in whatever way he sees fit in this situation.  I know it has only been with Him that we have managed to make the progress that we have.  I still believe that anything is possible.

The Track Pack

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           Ethan has joined the track team, thank goodness.  He is a very quiet, absentminded, introverted child.  He is also smart and makes good grades.  However, if we would allow him to, he would play the game system nonstop.  I know that this is his means of escape, a time when he does not have to think about anything.  It is his way of putting his mind on cruise control.  All he has to do is sit back and enjoy the ride without feeling a thing.  He is hollow inside and this worries me.  He also lacks imagination.  He is such a literal child.  While he seems mellow on the outside, I think a quiet storm is brewing inside.  Ethan holds a lot of things close, like me.  He pretends to be okay with Eliza being in prison.  But I know he really isn’t.  I also worry because we have spent a lot of time and energy dealing with Evan and his problems.  Our whole world revolved around Evan’s neediness.

            But now that Evan is in residential treatment we have been allowed the opportunity to focus more on Ethan.  We are attempting to draw him out of his shell.  Things with us have been pretty awkward, partly due to Eliza’s once obvious hatred of my husband and me.  I think he realized that his father will always be his father, but since I have no blood ties, I am simply his father’s wife.  In other words, he doesn’t have to get along with me.   Ethan being her oldest child was well schooled on my perceived evilness.  I’m sure he never thought that he would ever have to live with his wicked stepmother.

In the beginning he was very antisocial borderlining rude.  He would not say good morning, good night, hello, good-bye or thank you.  Even if he bumped into me he would not say excuse me.  On my birthday he declined comment.  He would often tell Evan and his other brother how mean I was.  He did not like having rules and thought at age twelve he was old enough to make his own.

            For months I was miserable in my own home.  It was too uncomfortable to be in his sullen presence.  My husband talked to him often about his attitude with little change.

            Since then our relationship has improved slightly.  He does manage to greet me and say thank you without being prompted.  But I know in his own way he is making an effort.  When my mother died he offered his condolences.  And one day he made a picture just for me.  His way of conversing with others is through sports trivia.  When I get home in the evening, sometimes I am met with a did you know that the Lakers…type greeting.  I guess I have to take what I can get.

            I have been making a greater effort to bond with him, too.  This is how I came up with the idea of the track pack.  I bought a small container in which I decorated with track themed stickers.  Then I filled it with lotion, powder, deodorant, gum, lip balm, a water bottle, breath mints, and a towel.  The final addition to the pack included a pair of green, white, and black Reebok running shoes.  Thus, track pack was born! I haven’t given it to him yet because I still feel a little nervous.  Will he like it?  Or will he have the same nonchalant reaction that he has to most things that I do for him?  I guess I will just have to give it to him and see.