Step by Step

And day by day. One thing I learned in Al-Anon (for friends and families of alcoholics) and have tried to remind myself of ever since, is that sometimes you can only take things one hour at a time or one minute at a time. Life is constantly changing. It’s in a state of flux and that’s what makes it interesting.

In step family life that can sometimes take on an entirely different meaning. That word…”interesting”. There are days you pray for “normal”. There are days you beg your higher power for “boring”. And there are days where you can roll with the punches and none of it seems so bad.

I took a break from Facebook a while back. I found I was on it constantly and with the state of the world so politically divided I just didn’t want to watch people fight anymore. I lasted two days, but it was a refreshing two days. It was around 2 a.m. when I decided since I couldn’t sleep anyway it might be a good time to log back in. I immediately upset myself with a comment I saw from my fiance’s ex wife about our handling of a situation with the kids.

Against my better judgement I responded to her on a mutual friend’s Facebook page. It took me hours to get to sleep. I tossed and turned, was so irritated, frustrated, and felt so set back in all the progress I felt she and I have been making lately. I let it deeply affect me.

I was wrong to do that.

I was wrong to post anything in the first place. Despite the fact that this story has a happy ending, I was still wrong. This is not my fight. It’s never the step parent’s fight. And it doesn’t have to be the bio parents’ fight either.

Things said online, whispers and secrets overheard from mutual friends or family members, stuff the kids come home saying from the other house… none of it matters. Going about your day as if none of it is true or worthy of your time is the best way to react. I speak from experience.

But I didn’t do those things above. I reacted. I got upset. I felt sad. I felt defeated. I felt betrayed, as if I had any right to feel a friendship or kinship with her when she may not feel the same. I woke up to a comment back that didn’t make me feel much better. And then I made all the same mistakes all over again. *I* responded again, this time saying I wish she’d contact me or my fiance privately about this.

Guess what happened. She did. She messaged me. We talked. Maybe we didn’t fully agree on everything the other person said, but the comments were deleted, we ended our conversation pleasantly, and life went on.

Not everything has a happy ending like that in step family life. It’s never a good idea to fly off the handle and respond to something when you’re upset. Sometimes it’s not even a good idea to respond when you’re no longer upset. I truly believe that about seventy percent of step family success is determined by your ability to choose your battles.

Will this matter a year from now? Six months from now? Five years from now? If the answer to the six months part is no then you’ve got your answer right there – don’t respond and don’t start a discussion about something that will cause more harm than good. Sometimes it’s just a time to be quiet. 

 

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