#stepmomtruths: lonely yet not alone

Hey everyone!  Welcome to Kinsfolk.  If you have been around for a while, you know that for the past year and a half I have been a full time stepmom of three-- ages 9, 11, and 13. It has been a journey that I never in my wildest dreams expected to be but one that I feel God called upon me to travel.  It has been hard many times, especially because I went from living on my own (this was my first marriage) to sharing life with four other people in the same house.  I have learned many things, made mistakes and made new discoveries about myself.  And so, I decided to start a weekly series called Stepmom Truths, where I write about my life as a stepmom.  And today I am writing about the one truth that smacked me in the face right away.

You can be surrounded by people AND feel alone.

This is something that caught me off guard.  There I was, a newlywed suddenly a wife and a stepmom of three, and four days later my husband had to go to his national guard training for one week.  Did I mention that up until that point I had never been with the kids by myself? I was anxious, angry that he put me in that position, resentful... you name it, I experienced it.  And to top things off, I was still dealing with the fact that all my possessions-- the vestiges of my life up until that point-- had been destroyed in a fire on their way to Minnesota. 

When D came back from training, I was an angry person.  You can say the raging Puerto Rican was in full force.  And it went down hill from there.  My husband and his kids lived their lives as if nothing changed while I felt like the odd man out.  Everything changed for me, yet nobody (but my sweet momma, who was my sounding board) was acknowledging that. Suddenly life became a series of kids activities, of hubby doing his thing (which is losing himself in a book or movie) and I was left feeling like "Is this all there is to marriage? If so I want out NOW." 

It was a scary feeling, but the more resentful i got, the more alone I felt.  Three months into our marriage I was ready to throw in the towel.  Four months in, I was on the verge of all full blown depression.  I remember one Saturday laying in bed crying and just not wanting to get up for the rest of my life.  And suddenly it hit me-- I had been in bed for two days straight without showering.  And a few things scared me:

  • I had withdrawn so much that I did not realize it until four months into our marriage.
  • My husband, noticed my behavior but he thought I was just tired and/or hiding from the kids.
  • I wanted to get in my Jeep and drive away.

Still, I said nothing.  I got up, took a shower, grabbed my laptop and went to a coffee shop, surrounded by strangers yet not feeling alone. 

Why is it that I felt alone with "family" but not here? Why did I feel like I was losing myself?

And that is because I was.  In an effort to be the perfect wife and stepmom, I put their needs and the house first.  I was a maid, a housekeeper, a cook, a chauffeur-- and all without a thank you.  And worst of all, without regards for the work I was doing.  I would clean and two minutes later the house would be a mess.  I felt like I was being taken for granted.  But that low moment made me realize something:  I put myself second, my needs, my feelings, everything. 

And in that moment I said: ENOUGH, I am putting myself first.

There is this misconception that we as the women of the house have to come second. But I do not agree.  Self-care is extremely important not only as a woman, but especially as a wife and stepmom.  Stepmotherhood is so hard. The hardest thing I have ever done.  And while everyone cared about how David and the kids were doing after the wedding, nobody asked me-- not once, how I was doing.  It was up to me to care for myself.

I started finding things to do for me.  Praying (A LOT), hiking, taking computer classes, going to movies, reading, spa visits-- all on my own. The interesting thing is that nobody cared about my feelings until I started doing things on my own.  That was 7 months into our marriage.  When I told my husband how I was feeling and why I was doing these things on my own. He was surprised and shocked.  He told me that while he is an intelligent man, he is dense when it comes to relationships and he apologized profusely.  Things have gotten better, especially when I started my new job, but once in a while I do feel alone.  It is a work in progress. 

So, for all the stepmoms out there who feel alone, I hear you and acknowledge how you feel.  We have been called for this moment but make sure you do not loose the essence of the amazing you.  Do things for yourself; self-care is VERY important to keep your sanity.  But above all, do not make the mistake I made and stay quiet.  Talk with your spouse about how you feel.  Make sure that those communications are open.  It makes for a happier marriage and household. 

Hope you come back next week for #stepmomtruths.

 

I may be joining: Chasing Community, Thought Provoking Thursday, Faith Filled Friday, Five Minute Friday, Coffee For Your Heart, Coffee and Conversation, From Messes to Messages, Sitting Among Friends, Moments of Hope, Fresh Market Friday, Christian Bloggers Link-Up