As I was shoveling again today (2.44 miles logged this time!), I had plenty of time to think and perform some more introspection. Sometimes when I reflect on my past, it brings the anger to the forefront. Today is no exception. So, instead of angry typing, I did angry shoveling.
The past I thought about was not the distant past (AKA childhood and early adulthood). It is my more recent past. It centers on my husband’s children. When he and I got married, his children were 16 and 13 respectively. My children were 10, 7 and 3.
Being a step-parent was not something unfamiliar or new to me. Mr Potato Head had two children from his first marriage. To this very day, I have a wonderful bond with them (and I have not been with their father for 24 years!). I am able to think of them as my own. Unfortunately, I have a hard time doing the same thing for my husband’s children. I am envious of my husband who is able to think of all five children as his own, never differentiating between biological or step. He is an amazing man. This ability is only one of the many reasons I love him.
Anyway, shortly after my husband and I were married, he received letters from his children. The letters were almost identical in what was said. Each child had tweaked it to suit her/himself; but the gist and tone were the same. Long story short, they told my husband to get bent as long as he remained married to me. According to their letters, they felt my husband was choosing his ‘new’ family over his ‘old’ one . . . That he no longer wanted them. They accused him of not being there for certain important things in their lives. The letters tore my husband’s heart to shreds.
He absolutely loves his children. When he divorced Mrs Potato Head, he thought by leaving them in her custody he was doing right by them. He used his loving, caring mother as a guide, thinking Mrs Potato Head would do right by the children. It was a judgment call he came to regret (his words, not mine).
Mrs Potato Head is a bitter, angry woman. She thinks nothing of spewing her venom in front of or around her children. When my husband and she split, she turned him into the ‘bad’ guy. She thought nothing of disparaging him when they were around. She filled their heads with a crap-ton of bullshit.
In order to visit his children, he had to do it on her terms. He could not take them out of town (even though he was allowed two weeks and other dates). He was told where he could and could not take them. Rather than make waves, he just went along with it. (My husband does not particularly care for confrontation.)
She HATED when I entered the picture. She quickly discovered I am very much an Alpha Female. When we wanted to bring his two to Michigan so they could meet and get to know their new siblings, all hell broke loose. It became ugly . . . And they never came for a visit. It was not too long after that the letters arrived.
The hurt and devastation my husband felt killed me. To see him in such emotional pain put me in a bad space . . . And I was already in a dark and twisty place. The combination was not good . . . Not good at all. Looking at him, I could see he was feeling incomplete. I wanted him to be completely happy. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do as I was part of the problem.
The only thing I did was tell him they would come around. I did not know when. I did not know how. I just KNEW they would. It was a gut feeling. Very seldom are my gut feelings wrong. In my heart, I knew one day they would grow up and see Mrs Potato Head’s bullshit for what it was: BULLSHIT. He just needed to be patient. I told him as long as he let them know the door will ALWAYS remain open, they would one day walk through it.
Six years later to the month, I received a phone call from my step-daughter. She was reaching out to her father. As he was at work, I took the message. No sooner had I gotten off the phone with her then I blew up my husband’s phone. I was elated for my husband! His daughter was trying to reconnect . . . She wanted to reconnect. That is a HUGE deal.
Even though I was happy for him, I was still leery. I tend to hold grudges. I tend to hold hard, angry grudges against those who hurt my loved ones. My step-children are not exempt. If she had intentions to come around and rip my husband’s heart out, she would find out quick, fast and in a hurry that I would show no quarter and damn sure no mercy.
The reunion went well for my husband and his daughter. They have reestablished their bond and I am so very happy about that. She and I have forged a bond. It is not the same type of bond I have with my former step-daughter, but it is a bond.
Another five years would pass before my step-son reached out to his father. Eleven years to the month (what is it about the month of November?!), my husband receives a phone call from his daughter saying her brother would like to reconnect. Again, nerves were on edge . . . the husband’s, the step-son’s and mine.
Again, the reunion went fantastic! My husband now feels complete. The hole in his heart has been repaired. His walls shored up and fortified. I am happy for him. I am happy for all of them.
Growing up without a father, I can understand some of their feelings. The difference between their fatherlessness and mine is they had the ability to contact theirs at any time. I did not have such an opportunity.
I have left out quite a bit from those chapters of our lives. The ones I have shared are the ones which came to mind first. I have a tendency to get long-winded and go off on tangents. So for the sake of brevity, I only touched on some highlights.
For the past few years, I have been trying to figure out why I am having such a hard time letting go of my anger. Is it because I am waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop’ . . . for them to crush and devastate him again? Is it because I absolutely do not have – and never will have – the type of bond I share with my other step-children? Is the anger I feel on my husband’s behalf or is it purely mine? What is causing me to hold on to these negative feelings? Am I trying to protect my heart from future hurts? Is the anger I feel simply a ‘security blanket’?
I do not have the answers to any of those questions. I wish I did. The one thing I do know is I need to let it go. The negative feelings serve no purpose except to weigh me down. I cannot move forward until I get let go of the excess mental and emotional baggage I carry. Getting these feelings out and on ‘paper’ (AKA my blog) is a step toward releasing the negativity.
In order for me to continue on my journey, I need to purge the pains and sorrows of the past. Lifting those weights from me will lighten me in more ways than one.