I would never be so bold as to say I’m brave. There are many situations/choices I have tackled with bravery or with a mindset to overcome my fear, but for each of those things there is something or someone I have approached with blind fear. Sometimes these situations are instantaneous situations that are over in a matter of minutes. Other times they are long and drawn out.
Step-parenthood is one of those things-the long and drawn out ones. More specifically, it’s one that starts off as an almost instantaneous situation (the “yes” or “I do”) and continues for the rest of your life. F-O-R-E-V-E-R.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but from my own perspective the idea of becoming a Step-parent was just surreal. I was raised on Disney movies and Lifetime TV shows and lived in a bubble of “Traditional Family Units.” I can’t recall a single movie (until Juno) where there was a step-parent that was not abusive, apathetic, a selfish home-wrecker or EVIL. Thank you, Disney, for that fabulous stereotype I will never be able to overcome at sporting events, 5th grade musicals, or a parent-teacher conference down the road. Back on point though, the idea of becoming a step-parent was just never an issue. It didn’t bother me. And I think if I am being honest it’s because I wasn’t ready to face the truth – I don’t really know what I’m doing, and that scares me.
It scares me for a lot of reasons, but there are two really big ones:
There are things in my life, as detailed on this blog, that I struggle with. There are things I have had to get help with and I am a far cry from what I believe a strong and loving woman should be. This week, for example, I’ve caught myself not once but twice walking out of the house without eating breakfast. I’ve looked in the mirror more times than I’ve smiled. I even went clothes shopping only to find that it just ‘wasn’t a good day’ for that.
I look at the picture above and I become hyper-aware that I’m not the only one looking in the mirror. I am not the only one noticing my habits. I’m not the only one that makes choices about eating breakfast or not eating breakfast in this house. It’s not just my ears that hear the “ugh these jeans don’t look very good” comments or the “Man I wish I could be ____” comments. And so for the last few weeks I’ve been walking around in this paralyzing fog of fear. I can’t be a good Step-mom with all of this crap going on in my head. I can’t lead by example if I’m not a very good example. I’ve been in Eating Disorder “rehab” before. More than once. They can’t ever know that or I might really screw them up! How can they ever respect me when it’s fairly obvious I can’t respect myself?? And on and on I go until finally today I found myself actually avoiding being around them.
And that’s when I realized something – E.D. (eating disorder voice) was winning. Satan was winning. And he was winning in a big way. He wasn’t just making my Magic Mirror show me a big butt or making me question my meal choices. He was finding a way to come between me and those I love. Those who have been entrusted to me. Entrusted to my care not only by their wonderful dad, but by their Father. Upon realizing that (not 20 minutes ago) I decided I needed to write it down so it was on paper and I could read it often.
This world is full of messages to young girls about what they are “worth”. Whether it’s based on their hair color, their ambition, their sexual prowess, the clothes they wear (or don’t wear), or the size of their jeans they are bombarded with reasons to feel unworthy. I refuse to allow my own fears to become a reason for my two Step-daughters to feel unworthy. They are worth my time. They are worth my efforts to struggle through my own crap. They are worth so much more than my desire to not fail in front of them.
I am not perfect. E.D. does win little battles sometimes. But if I pretend like I’m not afraid of those small stumbles, if I avoid opportunities to be a loving adult in their lives, then I also miss out on opportunities to teach them what they are worth. How amazing they are. How proud I am of them.
So today I’m embracing the fear for what it is. I’m acknowledging it outloud and I’m asking for God’s help in a big way. I’m a recovering anorexic. And I live in a house with 2 tween girls. I’m scared and I am worried I’m totally going to screw this up. But I can do it because I love them. And because God loves me.
And that’s about as good a starting block as any.