Tag Archives: peace

PDSD

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Do you know people who seem to thrive off of drama?  They carry on so  much that they make themselves sick?  I like to call this phenomenon post dramatic stress disorder.

I’ve tried in all areas of my life to avoid this dreaded disease.  But some love  its contamination.  Really it’s just a foil to cover the insecurity and the emptiness in their lives.  Drama distracts them from their pathetic existence.

PDSD really likes to rear its ugly head during the holidays.  So how do you stay drama-free you may wonder?  Here are a few things I do to cut the theatrics:

1.) Be secure:  People love to gossip and if you just so happen to be the object of  malicious slander, you will need to fortify yourself. The best reaction in this case is none at all.  People are allowed their opinions. And just because they “said it” doesn’t make it so. You show your security when you resist constantly defending yourself.  When you know who you are, nothing can shake your foundation.

2.) Learn to handle them:  You can’t avoid people who suffer from this condition ALL the time.   Sometimes those very people reside in your own family or his. And many times you work with them.  Therefore, when you HAVE to be around them, it is best to keep the conversation light, cordial, and on general terms.  Smile and greet “the room” so that no one can claim you did not acknowledge him or her.  I was once accosted by a relative because I failed to give her a picture of my baby.  I simply replied “No, I did not” and left it at that, which left her speechless.

3.) Know their motive: People who suffer from PDSD ALWAYS have a motive.  Usually it is to get under your skin, ruin your day, steal your joy, usurp some of your security for a temporary high,  to break your inner peace, or all of the above.  Understanding this enables you to handle their attacks  in a nonreactive way.  Do not allow them to use you for their sick and twisted entertainment purposes.

4.) Don’t be surprised by their hostility:   Do you REALLY expect them to behave any differently? Would you be upset if a shark bit your arm off?  Initially yes, but after you think about it, that’s what they do when they feel threatened.   Not to mention, it was only behaving in the only manner that it knows how–as a shark.  In their (the poison people, not the shark’s) minds you represent a threat to them because you (fill in the blank ).  Sharks bite, bottom line.  If you want to reduce your chances of being eaten alive, stay out of  shark infested waters. Or at least don’t dive in smelling like bait.

5.) Silence is golden:  Oftentimes when drama comes my way, I exercise the Miranda rights and remain silent.  Nothing makes a drama queen or king feel worse than when they are ignored.  By choosing this tactic you keep the power in your hand.  You also lessen the chances of anything that you say being used against you in the court of public opinion.  Know in advance that you can’t reason with the unreasonable so there is no point in trying to get the clueless to see the light.  They won’t. 

Feel free to add your tips below.  Here’s to staying drama and sucker free this holiday season!

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Snowlight

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Last night I was walking through the hallway, heading to my bedroom when I noticed a soft glow in the living room.  I thought that Nicholas had left a kitchen light on so I went to turn it off.  This “light” happened to be the brillance of the snow shining in through our large picture window.  It was such a pretty, peaceful sight; like the light of an angel’s halo in the starry night sky.

Peace or Points?

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I have come to find that it is always good to have balance in most if not all situations.  Living in a blended family setting definitely requires this. 

Rarely does a day pass that I don’t try to come up with solutions for our stepfamily issues.  I read books, blog, do research, and attempt to form bridges where they need to be.  Thankfully I have Rhonda and Stacy to bounce ideas off of.  My goal is to truly find blended family equilibrium. 

In order to have proper balance all of the adults involved must meet in the middle.  But somtimes it is confusing as to where that middle ground is located.  Each person has a different sense of direction.  When I look through the eyes of the children, I can see much more clearly.  It’s like having a blended family GPS device–it tells me exactly where to go.  

I’ve decided that I don’t want to accumulate points at their expense.  Plus, I’d rather have peace than points.  I’m not keeping score but I know that she is.  I’m busy waving the white flag with one hand and extending the olive branch with the other. 

I find that being contemplative about situations that arise is the best way to go.  I now understand that most of Eliza’s issues are really not about me; they are rooted in her own insecurities, habits, emotions, hurts, and perceptions.  She only projects them onto me.  Understanding this allows me to view her more compassionately.  Sometimes you have to read between the lines.  I am not always successful, but I try. 

Case in point: When Eliza wrote to the judge, we chose to reply and address her concerns in a  factual manner.  Though tempting, we refrained from using any emotion and simply addressed the issues she had.  I didn’t want to use words to attack her because I knew it would have added to the continued pattern of miscommunication, animosity, and stress.

I have to believe that even if she chooses not to operate in this manner that she will eventually upon seeing it modeled by us.  The drama simply gets old after awhile.

I’m Their Stepmom, Not Hers

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I reached a vey obvious conclusion–hence the title.  I think I have been trying far too hard to establish a working CoMama relationship with her.  I see now that this energy would have been better spent on forging a relationship with the kids, especially Ethan.  Evan and I already have a close bond.  In a sense, it doesn’t really matter if she and I have a relationship or not as long as we treat each other cordially.  I can’t guarantee that she will abide by this principle, but I am certain that I will (think Romans 12:18).

This thought occurred to me as we celebrated Ethan’s birthday.  It felt so good to see him relaxed and happy.  That’s what matters the most–their happiness and growth. 

I know that the kids were aware of our past animosity.  I felt ashamed by this and felt if they saw us working through it that they would’nt feel so divided.  She after all is their mother so they have that automatic loyalty to her–whether she is right or wrong.  I am only joined to them through marriage.  And what kid feels comfortable around someone who doesn’t like their mom?  We have never badmouthed her around the kids, even though I know she has been obscenely vocal about her rancor toward me and my husband, she is still mom…

 In other words I didn’t feel good about having them choose sides and putting them in the middle.  Kids should allowed to be kids–not miniature liasions for immature, narcistic adults.  With this in mind I’ve attempted to build a bridge with their mom and involve her as much as possible in their lives.  However, she continues to be paranoid and stressed about a situation she is helpless to change.  She refuses to accept any acts of grace for the simple fact that she is not a gracious person.  Therefore anyone extending her any type of kindness makes her suspicious.  In her eyes kindness is a facade for a hidden agenda or two.

Regardless of who she is I owe it to them to be the best stepmom that I can be.  I don’t owe her anything.  This is such a liberating notion because I’ve carried the burden of trying to help her deal with her imprisonment for far too long.

And not to say that I don’t wish that it could be different, because I truly do.  But, most importantly I see that the kids also need and deserve help lifting their burdens.  The burdens of violence and dysfunction that they lived with for so long under her watch.  They really had no choice.  Eliza, an adult, had choices.  Unfortunately she made the wrong one and will have to live through it, as do her children.  Hopefully my role as stepmom can make Ethan and Evan’s journey in life more bearable .

If Possible…

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I have been trying diligently to have a cordial relationship with Eliza. Why?  Even I ask myself this.  Her antics over the years have truly tested our marriage. And not that I was the damsel in distress in need of rescuing, because I was always willing to spar with her.  And in my opinion all my reactions were, well reactive (the DHX has a very thought provoking quote about this). Is it because I want to make the impossible possible?  Or I am extremely tired of the animosity? Do I want to be at peace with self and world?  Do I want to befriend the enemy?

I have tried fighting fire with fire, killing her with kindness, and ignoring her. But I found that the best approach is to do what I am comfortable doing and that is being me.  I am kind, loving, genuine, confident, compassionate, and strong.  This is what I want to share with her.  The little voice in my head says that she doesn’t deserve it.  This little voice then recalls all of the things that she has done to us. But so what? I am not always the nicest person. And sometimes I don’t “deserve” kindness.  Nevertheless, that is when I need it the most.

I, too, want the kids to be comfortable.  I get along swell with the little one; he loves me, and this I know.  Though with Ethan, I’m not so sure. Our family poses such a catch -22 for him.  I haven’t done anything in particular for him to dislike me, yet loving me would probably feel like he is betraying his mom. I can see this dilemma in his eyes. I guess that is the real reason I try so hard to keep things civil between she and I.  I don’t want him to have to feel that way. I know that our past has created this burden for him. I just want to do anything that I can to keep their tender hearts from bleeding, so I use Romans 12:18 as my personal mantra if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Extending the Branch

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It has been three years since I started blogging.  Here is my first post–remember these days??? How things change!

 

This is my first “official” post, so I thought I’d begin by providing my readers with a brief synopsis about my situation and why I decided to begin this blog with my fellow step friend, Rhonda.  I am the custodial step mom of two boys, Ethan age 12 and Evan age 9 and the bio mom of Nicholas age 10.  The birth mother of my two boys is currently serving time in prison for a murder that she committed in front of her children.  I am also the adult that takes the boys to see their mom (I’ll post about this later).

Our “relationship” has always been pretty much nonexistent and strained from the inception.  I can’t recall a single cordial moment between me and her.  She has been incarcerated for 18 months and it has only been in the last 10 months that she and I have gingerly tried to lay our differences aside.  It has been tough. 

The first eight months of her incarceration, she did not communicate with my husband or me.  However, she did call collect and write her children weekly. It felt awkward and strange not being able to dialogue with her regarding Ethan and Evan.  I wondered ceaselessly when she would realize that it would be necessary to talk to me or him whether she liked it or not.  I opted for civility the moment we received the midnight call informing us that she had been arrested for murder.  Without hesitation I was willing to make a Herculean effort to do away with our rancor. 

  I debated over and over if we should make the first contact.  Rhonda was very patient with me as I ran each pro and con by her at least once daily.  I also discussed it with my husband.  We agreed it would be best if I waited for her to take the first step.  I feared any correspondence I might have sent, even with the best of intentions, might have been misconstrued as harassment. As the days stretched into months, I grew bitter. I was angry that she was continuing to remain immature given the grave circumstance she was in.  I mean if I was willing to let bygones be bygones, why wasn’t she? And because she had withheld the children from us over the years, there was information that we needed from her.

    Then one day a letter addressed to my husband and I arrived in the mail.  In her letter she wondered if we could put the past behind us.  I would like to first apologize for the past.  I know we have not always seen eye to eye and there has been an substantial amount of disagreements between us and I would just like to apologize for my faults.  I pray we can put that behind us she wrote.  My husband not believing that she was sincere declined comment. I chose to respond.  I was disgusted at how long it took her to swallow her pride. While I answered the questions she had concerning the children, I also let her know that I had not reached a plateau of forgiveness.  I probably should have stuck to answering her questions and avoided being emotional, but at that point in time, I couldn’t help myself.  However, I did inform her that I was diligently working on letting the past remain where it belonged…

We have exchanged many combative epistles since then.  Not always being able to accurately interpret the tone of the words we each wrote, it was quite easy for both of us to take offense when none was merited.  I finally got sick of the terse, defensive exchanges and wrote asking for a truce.  I came to understand that we were both suspicious of one another’s motives, both vulnerable, and that we were both attempting to navigate unchartered territory.  We simply had a lot to overcome.  An avid reader all my life, I naturally turned to a book to serve as a healing balm.  I invited her to study a book with me, Having a Mary Spirit in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. 

Oddly enough, I had actually extended the invitation confident that she would decline.  Though I truly wanted to stop the bickering, I really wanted to be the one who “tried.”  When she agreed to my proposal I had mixed feelings.  It was a blessing and a curse.  The blessing being that it would give us a chance to get to know each other and attempt to dispel any preconceived notions that we had about each other.  It would mean a clean slate for us.  The curse was that I would have to allow her to get to know me.  And I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted her to know me on a deeper level.  I wished I had never opened my mouth!

  We were able to have a few study sessions before she suddenly stopped sending her portion.  Although I was pretty disappointed and felt slightly rejected, I didn’t inquire why.  I never even raised the issue during our monthly visits to see her.  And much to my credit, I only tried to psychoanalyze her decision briefly.  As much as I wanted to have the happy fairy tale ending, this was my gentle reminder that it would not materialize over night.

I have learned a lot since we obtained custody of the boys almost two years ago. I have come to understand that before I can transform her, I need to first transform myself.  She is no Eliza (no pun intended) Doolittle, and I, certainly am no Henry Higgins.  I have been working on having compassion for her as a mere human being with many gifts as well as many limitations.  I can only hope the she comes to the same dawning about me.  It was only then that I was able to accept her withdrawal for what it was–a relationship that was going to take much time, effort, and mutual desire to be fortified.  While I am not always successful with my new ideology, I am willing to do what it takes, for civility’s sake.  I have learned that it means taking a step back and allowing whatever is supposed to develop to do so in its own sweet time.