There's plenty of stuff I avoid blogging about. Mostly because parts of the story are not mine to tell. And figuring out what parts are, and what parts are not...is tricky. And avoidance is easier.
But lately I can't shake the feeling that it's time. That ongoing inner dialogue with the Holy Spirit...Him nudging and me resisting...it's a dance we're both familiar with.
So here goes. Here goes honesty. The unspoken thoughts turn to written-down-gone-viral-can't-be-taken-back words.
My words. My experience. My perspective. Completely and utterly one-side of a story that has, possibly, a different view from every direction. I'm not pretending to know the experience, or feelings of my other family members. That's their story. But I do know my thoughts. My feelings, and my take on life.
This is my story. (insert that sound from Law & Order)
For eleven years now, I have been part of a step-family. I may have just heard the whole internet mumble under their breath, who isn't? I know, I know...it's common and old news. Cliche. And hard.
Being in a step-family is odd. And sometimes uncomfortable, even when you like them. And during the times that it does feel comfortable, it almost always feels awkward to me, even after all this time. Does that make sense?
Movies are made about it all the time. I mean, c'mon, we all know from Cinderella how mean and ugly step-mothers and step-sisters are. There's always two options shown...the mean-evil ones, and the super nice ones where everyone loves each other...cue The Brady Bunch. And then there's real life...
My parents divorced when I was 21ish. My Mom remarried when I was 23. By that time Ben and I had been married a couple years and I was very pregnant with my first-born, Noah. My sister was a teenager, and my brother was 11ish.
My Mom's new husband had three children as well, all in different stages of teenhood.
Both families were sort of reeling from the loss of their nuclear family. Mine, to a messy, painful divorce and theirs from the sudden loss of their mom (the details of which are not my story to tell.)
Because I was the oldest, and already married, my experience of the whole combining families is totally different than that of my siblings and step-siblings. I missed a lot of the drama. And because Ben and I were starting a family of our own, I was distracted enough, in all honesty, to just be content watching it all play out...from the outside.
My mom, and step-dad (whom I almost always referred to as "My Mom's Husband" rather than step-dad because I was grown when they married, but now after 11 years I can say he is a great guy and very much a father figure to me and a grandpa to my children) wanted us all to mesh together as a single family unit. They did not want it to be two families, but one family. And to their credit, they did all that they could to foster that. Their intentions were good.
In the beginning, I think we all kind of went along with it. Each family knew that there was no going back to their original family life...so the idea of The Brady Bunch was appealing. We avoided using the term "step" whenever possible. We worked hard at treating each other like real siblings. And for me, that worked...for awhile.
And then time went on, and we all became older. New people were added to the family by marriage, babies were born...and lines were drawn by all. Sometimes visible one, and sometimes invisible. Sometimes I wanted those lines there, and sometimes I didn't, but either way, the lines are there. It's part of the complication of blending families. Because you're family, and at the same time, you're family once-removed.
And for me, it became too hard to treat everyone the same. Because we are not all the same. I care very much for my step-siblings and their families. They are good people. But the bond I have with them is not the same as with my sister and brother whom I share a father and mother with. A childhood with. A connection that just comes from being blood. My investment in my sister and brother is fierce. And my pretending otherwise is really beneficial to no one.
It is what it is. We were two families, joined into one...but we don't really become one, because you can't. We are still two, who do their best to function as one when we need to. And I think that's ok. And it's not anyone's first choice. And it's ok to say it. Out loud. It's not disrespectful. It's not out of anger, or apathy. It's from the heart. It's the truth.
I think after 11 years, we are all learning to let it be what it is, rather than forcing it into what we wish it were. And from what I can tell, it is sort of a never ending process. Each person figuring it out for themselves at their own pace, with their own rules, at the same time trying to figure out each other's pace and rules...the very definition of blending. It's tricky...which doesn't mean it's a bad thing...but it is tricky.
Sometimes the hardest thing to admit and be content with, is that it is what it is.