2017 in Numerology comes out to 10 or 1, which is symbolic of beginnings. Typically this is given a refreshed, powerful, inspired sense, and that just isn’t always the case.
Think of it this way:
When you start a new business, the initial decision is exciting and you jump into the prospect full of enthusiasm and energy. Deciding on a path and following it is a wonderful feeling. But the actual building of said business is not always easy. There’s set backs, unexpected costs, delays in successes…you get the idea. This very much defines my experience last year, which was easily the best and most difficult year I’ve had in my entire life.
I have sat down to write this so many times and so many times I have walked away from it. Truthfully, there are a myriad of reasons not to put this story on a public platform. I am very selective of who I like to share my personal life with, and I am fully aware of who likes to run through this page. I don’t need the snickering and judgement to get back to me, nor do I need to inspire assumptions based off a hyper focused, simplified for reading version of my story. However, every time I hang up with my dad after he’s talked me off another ledge, or my best friend has made me laugh through tears of frustration, all I can think about is how lonely I often feel in my experience, and how there’s probably some poor girl (or boy!) out there struggling with the same battle, feeling like she can’t talk about it. So I’m writing this to connect, and that’s it. Maybe someone else reading this will relate to a strand of the crazy and feel a little less isolated. And to that person: I am here for you.
This time last year, I was driving cross country with three kids in the back seat of my truck and a broken hearted father in my passenger seat. What had started out as an exciting family reunion for my boyfriend, had turned to anything but. I had left California, simply as a new girlfriend meeting parents and kids for Christmas. Now, I was returning a broke, full time caregiver to someone else’s family.
The trip to get to our destination should have been an omen. The truck I had bought in an emergency situation to help a friend that summer had been returned to me in a damaged state (unbeknownst to me at the time) and almost killed us on the way to picking up his kids, causing delays, guilt, anxiety, and a huge repair bill before finally reaching our first stop.
I can’t say I was nervous first meeting the kids or their mom. I know the type of person I am and how much I love children. In fact, I was really excited to enter into more personal realms of my man’s world. It’s the glory of a new relationship. So you could imagine how put off I was when, instead of being greeted as I stepped out to help pack/unpack the kids’ stuff, I was accused by their mother of stealing her boots. Completely confused and reminding myself that she didn’t know me or my character, I looked down and explained that I’d had them for years. I consciously brushed off the encounter. I mean, these types of things are always awkward. My parents are divorced, I’d been here before, except I’m usually the kid in the weird situation, meeting new adults I’m supposed to like and welcome into my life. This was the first time I was the adult, and I have to say my expectations had been higher. My fault.
Anyway, not too long after, we were on our way and the tension quickly wore off. The rest of the Christmas season was spent decorating and getting to know his family, whom I adore. The kids got to unwind and see their grandparents, uncle, aunt and cousins. Everything seemed so magical, I didn’t want it to end. But like all good things, they do, and driving home from his brother’s New Year’s Day to pack up for home, we were hit with an abrupt end to the joy.
Crying quietly in the back seat, was one of the kids. When their father asked them what was the matter, he expected an explanation about how they were sad to leave after all the fun. Who wouldn’t be? Instead we were stabbed with the confession no divorced parent wants to hear. Trouble in the other household.
We sat in shock as we pulled into our temporary home, shutting the truck off in haste. He pulled his kid out of the cab and they held onto each other as I numbly woke the other two to come inside. I went through the motions after helping tuck everyone into bed, and just as I finished brushing my teeth I looked into the mirror to see a tear soaked, guilt ridden man; a sight no one is ever prepared for outside of fiction. We held each other, still unable to accept what we had been told. I babbled stupidly about how it was out of his control and tried to reassure him it wasn’t his fault. Time stopped for a few precious moments before the tortured little soul was back in our room, unable to sleep in the dark alone. The time to process ended and in the next couple of months all three kids would spend their time velcroed to us as we winged how to handle it all.
In the days following, things exploded. I went from the new girlfriend of a divorced father of three with hardly any custody time, to the girlfriend of an apparently not divorced father of three who was causing war by taking his kids home to safety without asking permission. In the chaos of it all, I never second guessed his decision or thought about abandoning the situation, but now I had 2,000 miles to let it all sink in. My thoughts ran through the entire gambit of emotions before returning back to the center of, “we are going to do this.”
And this is where I reach the point of my post (and future posts). Being a stepparent figure is hard, and I spent an entire year trying to figure out the giant gray area I called my life. So often, as women, we are expected to happily accept our new roles and have a constant joy about accepting children into our lives. Admitting that it isn’t always an easy transition for anyone involved feels like you’re committing heresy. Everyone watches you, expecting you to be more perfect than “real” parents because you’re the outsider. It’s unrealistic. You must instantly love the kids, and they must instantly love you. You must instantly know what’s the right thing to do and never once falter in your confidence. If you do, it must mean you resent the kids or are scheming against them and were never really interested in your new role. Everyone always seems eager to jump down your throat at the slightest imperfection while eating up uninformed and assumed statements about your person. But the reality is, we’re human too, and trust me, we want to make things work, we want the best for everyone involved, and we are doing the very best we can because we want to. Superhero expectations are placed on our role where you’d probably be forgiving of a biological parent.
This was my 2017. Sitting in the middle of a storm I didn’t create, choosing to be an anchor with all my previously accumulated life knowledge because I believed that’s what those three amazing kids and their dad deserved. Last year seemed to be the drain of matrydom, and tried as I did to stay my course, I kept drowning in all the bullshit that came from my noble decision. I stripped myself of 15K dollars helping create a stable environment for my new little buddies while my significant other tried to keep his head above water. I lost jobs and gave away time to help nurture kids too little to be carrying so much emotional baggage. I kept my chin up, blow after blow, when selfish, impulsive, and revengeful immaturity from adults hurt my heart. I’ve had to celebrate joys in secret, and treat myself as an abomination in town as a result of mindless scum who found loopholes to retaliate for our choice to remain a family unit. I’ve bitten my tongue near bleeding countless times in my relentless desire to take the high road when greed inspired the idea that I wasn’t contributing to “the cause” of a messy separation. Why? Because I clung to the small hope that when it truly counted, the strain and setbacks and bad news would lift.
It didn’t. What should have been one of the happiest times in my life, almost turned into the moment I broke and walked away. I endured terrible back labor without the one person I needed to help me cope, and nearly delivered my first child without his father all because of some vindictive voice box. Without being a parent it may be hard to understand how it feels not being able to speak openly about the excitement of your first baby, celebrating his birth, or talking about all the best things in your life. I still marvel at the strength my man possesses in order to bear that emotional battle. He is an amazing human being, and the inspiration I go to when I don’t know how much heartache I can carry.
2017 was spent relinquishing and sacrificing to a broken system that does not support capable and honest adults (cue any and all Atlas Shrugged fans). I did not have an easy “Beginning Year.”
Yet, here I am in the wee morning light of the new year and I wouldn’t take back a single experience. Last year tested my moral strength beyond conceivable limits, broke down my walls against codependence, gave me an opportunity to create a family core I believed in, and granted me a blessing to override all the struggle and pain I fought through. So, goodbye 2017. I’m done with you, and all the people I allowed to get the better of me. Thanks for making me impenetrable in this newly built fortress of mine. It feels good to say that writing this has been a surprisingly annoying experience and I know exactly how well equipped I am for the year forthcoming. It’s time to let it all go now, and look forward to writing about the humors of a “blended” family, the accomplishments I will obtain regardless, and the love that survives and thrives in it all.
This is numerically an ascension year (more coming on that in the Starchild Diaries portion of this website), and I plan to utilize that to my utmost capability. I’m ready to nail this whole stepmom-first time mom-writer-boss-witch thing. I’m a hybrid, and I will spend this year defining it as a positive example to all the little ones watching me.