A common lament among all of us stepmothers is “When will this all end?” or “When will this get better?” I ask myself that same question and I have reached a new conclusion. I think it is us. Stepmothers are a fragile tribe. We are hard working and focused, but our hearts are easily broken.
Even as I write this line, I can feel the pain of my broken heart. It feels as if I have been stabbed in the heart. Do you know the feeling that I mean? It feels as if your heart is deflating. I get those feelings when an innocent comment is made, but it means isolation to me. Recently, I was at a graduation party where I overheard remarks being made. The guests were talking about a stepmother who was attending the event, even though she was divorced from her husband. The woman loved and adored her stepdaughter and wanted to support her. Those around her seemed incredulous that she would attend. I glanced over at her with great admiration. I wanted to pull up a chair and just thank her. I decided that was too weird.
I wondered. If I divorced my husband, would I be invited to my children’s events? I heard someone say, “It would totally be up to the children if they wanted their stepmother to be a part of their lives.” When I heard these words, my world crashed in. I guess I never even considered the idea that I would no longer be welcome. I never considered the idea that I would no longer be loved. My heart stopped beating. I was crabby the rest of the evening.
My head was saying. “Let me get this straight. After all of my hard work and love, I just get tossed aside.” Even though I knew I was being ridiculous, the thoughts continued to swirl in my head. I thought, “Why am I so obsessed with this thought?” I knew that I was afraid. Then, I realized an embarrassing thought. I don’t feel safe in my stepfamily. By definition, stepmothers are replaceable. After all, aren’t we replacements? I could be replaced at any time, at any moment. Or, I could be forgotten. Tossed aside.
My heart was thinking, this previous paragraph sounds like the words of a heartsick young girl. “Will that boy like me and go steady? Will those cool group of girls let me into the sorority?” In fact, the feelings are quite similar and are rooted in our childhoods. It is about time that we let those inner children grieve and move on. A therapist would say to write your anguish in a journal. Let yourself cry. Write a blog. (Ha ha!) Comfort yourself. Watch a great chick flick, wrapped in a blanket while eating ice cream. Get over it.
Here is the bottom line. Our heart breaks around pain that has been unresolved, most likely from our childhood experiences. These unresolved issues, like abandonment or lack of attention, are the source of our brain’s thoughts. No need to believe those childhood thoughts. We are all grown up. At the same time, our families, friends or other tribes in which we belong, do not define us. It is our ability to react differently to an event that will save our broken heart. Don’t attach more meaning to them than is really there. Will I be left alone? It doesn’t matter.