Psychologists have determined that there is a process for a stepfamily to develop into a group of people who are respectful and appropriate around one another. Estimates for how long that takes vary from 7 to 12 years. Maybe you’re gasping. Maybe you’re choking. Even if you’re still basking in the glow of newly re-married love and hope, you’ve had glimmers of what might be up ahead and you’re likely very worried.
You can sit around and feel sorry for yourself. You can talk until you’re blue in the face. You can cry until you can’t cry any more. You can go onto chat rooms online and listen to people slander and dissect. You can let yourself be told what to do. You can experiment with the current advice available on any bookstore shelf. You can run away and keep away and you can over-stay. If you do these things, you can be sure you are normal. We’ve all been there.
And. You can get a girlfriend.
Not just any girlfriend. Get a girlfriend who is a stepmom and who thinks like you. Get one who understands what you are saying. It doesn’t matter if she lives in your town or far away. She will still get you. She will understand when you say you worked all day to fix that meal and the kids walked in and sniffed and ate and left with barely a goodbye. She will get it when you say how happy you were for your stepdaughter but there was no way to show it.
The stepmom-girlfriend is one you cannot do without. The sooner you find her, the sooner you will feel sane. When you chat with her online or on the phone or over coffee, you’ll feel the tension slipping away, your shoulders will unwind, and you’ll begin to breath more freely.
The rest of it . . . sure, read the books. There is a lot of great information out there and they are full of wonderful ideas. But, be wary. Listen inside yourself and if the ideas that are being purported aren’t ideas that fit for you, don’t go there. Retain your own internal authority. Retain your own decision-making power that works for you. Listen to your gut reaction, imagine taking the suggestion and what it will mean and how you’ll feel. Maybe it’ll take a while to find balance and for you to know your place in the family, but according to the psychologists’ developmental stepfamily scale, there is no rushing this process.
And by all means, go on the chat rooms, but monitor yourself. If you go there and aren’t a name-caller, mud-slinger and you begin to be one, watch out. Maybe you need to sign off. Or, surf around until you find the forum that fits the best for you. If you are naturally a name-caller, mud-slinger and you think that lets you off-load your feelings, stay tuned. I’m waiting on a reference so I can finish a blogpost about name-calling.
My beautiful, amazing, and inspiring stepmom-girlfriend is someone I found online while I was cruising the comment aisle of a blogpost. I liked her thoughts and respected the way she worded her concerns in the comment. So, I clicked on her name and up popped her webpage, I left a comment there and she responded. We’ve been talking and emailing and chatting and honoring and respecting and witnessing for one another for about 6 months now. I cannot imagine life without her.
Go, find your stepmom-girlfriend . . . you need her and she needs you.