If truth be told, I always thought I was my stepchildren’s fairy godmother. It all made sense. The story in my head went like this:
My stepchildren’s parents divorced. They were very sad. Then, the universe decided to save them by sending a fairy godmother into their family. (That’s me) This magical being was in disguise. She looked like an everyday mom but she had magical powers. She would save the day and make the children happy again.
In my vision, I looked like a cross between Glinda the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins. I liked the idea of flying, powered by an umbrella. I loved the idea that the children would adore me because I could do magic. This dream was more appealing than the reality that I married their father and was a living, breathing symbol that their parents would not get back together.
They say that families are brought together to teach each other lessons in this lifetime. I still liked the idea that stepmoms were brought to the families to help them heal. After all, we are in an extraordinary situation. How many friends do you have that know all of the key players in your life? Not only do we know everyone, we watch these relationships evolve.
It was a painful revelation when I learned that I could not fix anything. You can’t fix the divorce, the children, the ex spouse or anything. The most that you can do is ease the road a bit. I found that the Buddhist tradition gave great advice on how to be this quiet magician.
Buddhists teach a practice of compassion. The most effective way to offer yourself and others compassion is to do so with objectivity. Literally look at yourself as if you were a third person. Become a watcher. Do the same with others. Watch from the sidelines and offer others the best. At times when you feel panicked, exhausted, angry or frustrated, say and wish the following for yourself and others:
May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering. 1
Saying these statements out loud and watching as a third party can change your world. Dr. Martha Beck says that monks that regularly stay in this compassionate, watching state, often have increased neural activity within the space of the brain associated with happiness.2
In an article called, “Four Noble Truths-Buddhism” from the website http://www.SymbolicLiving.com, the author offered a great explanation:
Buddhism teaches that you are the watcher, that regardless of the things that go on around you, you are simply the energy that watches. When one gets too attached to things, or get caught up in the hurricane of life’s events, we forget to be the watcher, the experiencer, instead we become caught in the hurricane instead of calm like the eye of the hurricane.
So for all of us stepmoms who dreamt of healing, the answer may lie in a magical place in our heads. Become the watcher. Who knows? Perhaps, we were sent to our families to watch and grant compassion.
1, 2: (“Taking the Weight Off Again”, ,http://www.oprah.com/health/Weight-Loss-Advice-Martha-Becks-Plan-to-Stick-to-a-Diet/5#ixzz1Zde5yMAc, Accessed 9/29/2011)