I feel like, I'm always doing this reintroduction - because, the times in between my writing have been so sporadic. Nonetheless, I'm back. I've stepped away from writing for a while, because well - new mom life and then, mostly because I'm honestly tired of my words, my art being weaponized against me. I can't tell you how many times, someone has used my own words to try and harm me. It's disgusting and I'm over it.
Being vulnerable has N E V E R come easy to me and I mean N E V E R. Almost every time, I've chosen to open up and be vulnerable with someone - the wrong someone. They've used it against me, if it's former friends gaslighting me, my ex husband making jokes about mental health - acting as if I'm crazy. Fake friends twisting things I've said and lying for the approval of others and so on and so on.
As far back as I can remember at least. To be fair, we'll say January 2001. I think that was a pretty big focal point for when things started to change for me. My foundation was shaken, when I lost my grandfather and to be completely honest, I don't think I ever bounced back. (I know, I know 19 years - let's not put a time limit on grieving).
For most of my life, well most of my dating life and especially after being divorced at such a young age. I vowed to never march to the beat of a man’s drum again, anyone's drum but my own. I vowed to not get caught up in a man’s world, anyone's world - so much that I forgot about my own. I stayed up late nights, making these promises with my best friend. And yet, the enabling part of me resurfaced and I found myself right back to my usual pattern of being “Jessica, the enabler, the fixer." Many of you know (and probably more of you don't if you're not following and because, it's not something I discuss often) my husband has a child, from a previous marriage. - See, Married With Children That Aren't Yours As, I watched my husband pleading for a relationship with his son. I would watch him go from this happy go-lucky guy, to furious, to broken to defeated in a matter of minutes during a conversation with his son's mother. It would break my heart. I wanted to help. I wanted to fix this for not only him, but for his son - who deserved to have two parent's who could effectively communicate. So, after being harassed on Instagram/Facebook - the Empath in me, the enabler, the fixer against the advice of those who were more aware of the person they were dealing with - I decided hey, let me be the bigger person and extend an olive branch. Boy, was I wrong. I should've NEVER opened that door, it is one of my biggest regrets in life (and I was married at 19 and joined the Navy). You ever wish you never met someone or that you had a time machine, to go back and continue to act as if someone didn't exist? Because, I have mastered the art of ignoring. Some people, just aren't worth your energy. They don't have peace and so, they don't want anyone else to either.
It wasn’t until after much self reflection and a multitude of pro/con lists, I realized I was enabling the broken child in myself through all these other people, I wanted to fix. I was subconsciously trying to fix them in hopes of fixing myself. All the times, I'd wished someone were there to help me out, to be a shoulder for me to cry on, to be the voice to speak up for me. - It was me, it was always me. Granted, I do want to help others, sometime's to a fault but, I felt so strongly about it because, it was about me.
How many of you have realized you are subconsciously trying to heal yourself in helping others?
I'm married to a man with a child.
People I meet are always shocked when they hear that from me. I always get stares and then, "Oh girl, how is that?" "Whaaaaat? You? Girl, I know that's the last thing you wanted." And my favorite one - "Do you have baby mama drama?" So, then I get all Kandi Buruss irritated face like sis.
Don't get me wrong my husband is amazing & we have the most solid, healthy, beautiful, loving, honest relationship I have ever had in my life. I would marry him 10x over, but this stepmom thing is for the birds; So, I'll break this down for you really quick.
- His ex and I used to be able to be cordial. We didn't start off that way though; she found out he was dating someone and immediately starting bashing me. She and her friends scurried to my instagram page & commenced Operation Name Calling - I'll list a few of my favorites: (So, you just gonna let the world know you're a home wrecker? His mistress, someone who's mom didn't raise them right) you know the typical things exes & their friends say. I tell you, a lie doesn't care who tells it. Mind you, their divorced had been finalized. I'm a divorcee, so I get it. I figured, you know what ... that's probably my karma from when I was nasty to my ex's new girlfriend. Nonetheless, I was a bit irritated. I was watching it all go down at work like ... I let it slide & continued basking in my relationship. A few months had passed, his child fell in love with me. I thought to myself, if I were a mother, I would really want to know who was around my child so, I reached out. (You can read about that here: StepMom Feels Despite the bad blood, I'm all let's bury the hatchet. I wanted to make sure she was comfortable with her child being with his father & understanding that I would be around. I wanted an open line of communication to make sure everyone was on the same page. Things were going well for let's say, 3 months. 90 days. A whole probationary period. A trial period. Like, you're not even eligible to take PTO or get insurance yet period. 90 days and then all hell broke loose.
When I tell you, I've heard stories from my guy friends about their exes and the "baby mama drama" they were dealing with, but I never fathomed anything quite like what I was about to experience. We went from adults trying to maneuver co-parenting a toddler; communicating through bruised egos and harbored emotions to strangers battling one another in court. I watched my husband break into pieces as his son was ripped away from him again and again and again. I watched my stepson break as his father disappeared from his life. I watched my mother, father and brother in laws break as they watched their son & their brother hurt. I watched my parents become increasingly anxious as they watched me juggle everything that transpired. I began to ask myself, why the hell am I here? Why the hell would I purposely put myself in this situation? Why am I with someone who purposely put themselves in a situation, with someone who was so intentionally evil. Am I crazy? Is he crazy? I battled myself. Then, I realized her actions did not have anything to do with him nor myself. Did I say, this stepmom shit is not for the weak at heart.
I found myself caught in a battle that had nothing to do with me. Granted, I added some gas to the flames. I just didn't expect for the flames to set the entire city on fire. I was collateral damage. I was being blown away by the crash because I was too close. I had become accused of kidnapping, holding a child hostage, barricading myself in my home with a child. I had, had my home rushed like an episode of Chicago P.D. I mean, I love Voight, but I wasn't trying to live that shit. This happened when no one was even home. I had been in a high speed chase almost run off the road. I'd been in the middle of an altercation in an airport atrium. I'd been on high alert at every interaction as if I were still active military - in a war zone. Like, did I get married to a man with a child or did I join the Army & go to Afghanistan? Can you imagine my psyche? Sis, these kind of things are not normal. These kind of interactions on a daily are not healthy. These types of reactions are common in violent and abusive environments. This is how people who don't know how to communicate effectively react to situations. By lashing out and using violence as a speaking tool. This is not acceptable.
If you are thinking about being in a relationship with someone who has a child, please evaluate the situation. Evaluate the entire situation. That goes for if you're looking at being in a relationship with anyone. Evaluate their family, their upbringing, how they react to situations, if they overreact, if they don't react at all. If you find yourself relating to the person, do some self-reflection. These types of behaviors have become common and acceptable in "baby daddy-baby mama" dynamics. Why is that? If the roles were switched, the man would be looked at as a violent monster, who was abusive, aggressive, a danger. He would be intertwined in the same shackles and chains that intertwine the minds of the people who make the final decisions in this being acceptable behavior.
I'm married to a man with a child. An amazing, humble, hardworking, delicate, diligent man. A man who loves with every fiber of his being. I would marry him 10x over. But, when I tell you sis - think again, if you're thinking this task is easy - because, this stepmom shit, is not for the weak at heart.
Poison (n) -
We too often surround ourselves with poison. We allow toxic and poisonous people to inhabit our space. We fill our minds with poisonous thoughts, we indulge in poisonous behavior and we look at it as normal. We often try to decipher why our spirits aren't filled with the positive energy we are looking for and why depression and anxiety seem to consume us; but we never look at the toxicity we allow into our lives.
Toxic and volatile relationships, toxic jobs, toxic atmosphere's, it's almost impossible to breathe any sense of relief when we are engulfed in these ever so suffocating habits. So, you ask how do you move forward? How do you let go of that toxic relationship that you're so used to because you're afraid of branching out, or maybe you're comfortable, or maybe you enjoy toxicity. How do you quit that job that doesn't pay you what you deserve and also makes you wish you could just catch the flu for a week so you didn't have to go in. How do you tell your friends their problems are draining you and if their boyfriend keeps cheating on them to just leave? You just do. You have to find time for yourself, time to breathe, time to acknowledge this toxicity. Sometimes, we are so used to toxicity consuming us, we don't even realize why we're suffocating.
It's is 16 days into New Year. Normally, when the new year rolls in - I take a look at all the things, I don't want to bring in with me before the end of the year and I make a decision. This year, was different. I had already let go of so many toxic behaviors, friendships and loved ones that the only thing left to look at was myself. I'd dropped everything that was causing me to feel smothered that the only thing left was myself. I'd let go of jealous friends. I'd let go of behaviors that would bring poison into my heart. I'd let go of loved ones who were draining me but never replenishing. I can't tell you how freeing that is. For the first time in a long time, I started to just deal with and worry about myself. Although, I still dabble a bit in situations - I've learned the art of disengaging and that's freeing. Letting go of all the poison in your life and allowing yourself to heal, is one of the greatest things I could have done for me. What are you holding onto? What toxicity in your life is weighing you down?
- A few years ago, I wrote about the chronicles of the women from the fatherless tribe. We are always hearing about fathers not being apart of their children's lives, more than we hear about the women who are apart of the motherless tribe. It may be less common but we are definitely here, whether it be due to losing a mother to death, sickness, career, inability to be a mother, or those of us who grew up without a figure we considered a mother. Being a part of these tribes teach you lessons you may have never learned had you not been from them. A few lessons I learned that I didn't appreciate until I got older are listed below:
- Resiliency (adj.) - (of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. - Discernment (noun.) - the ability to judge well. - Empathy (noun.) - ability to understand and share the feelings of another.When I was younger, I didn't acknowledge the gift I had been given by being apart of the motherless tribe. I didn't understand why I was chosen to be apart of a group I wanted no parts of; I didn't understand why so many of my friends had relationships with mother's I could have only dreamed to have. Life had thrown me so many curve balls, I should have been a baseball player. I had taken so many different paths, I should probably own stock in some automobile company. I have learned that even playing the best hand with the cards you are dealt may not always guarantee you a full house. I learn a lesson each time. I always recover. I am always moving forward to something better. I am always making a mental note on how to not make the same mistake twice. I am always looking for a lesson in each mistake. I don't trust people easily, I try to weed out the people who don't mean me well and although, I'm not always the best at it. I've done pretty well thus far. I am constantly, putting myself in another person's shoes and simulating how they would feel. I had taught myself that this is and how life was and how it would continue to be. Then one day, it hit me. All the while, I was envying the relationships my friends had with their mothers and focusing on not having a birth mother, I had something much better. I had a mother who wanted a child as much as I wanted a mother. I had a woman who taught me resiliency, empathy and discernment. I had a woman who taught me to be self-aware, who taught me that there is a lesson in each and every mistake I would make. I had a woman who loved me unconditionally, no matter the mistakes I would make, even if I didn't learn from them. I had this amazing, powerful, strong, intelligent mother the entire time. Often times, we are so focused on what we don't have, that we aren't paying attention to things that are right in front of us. A lot of us have these same mother figures and we don't acknowledge it as we should. There are women who are mothers that surround all of us, you just have to take a deeper look. -- The Woman from the Motherless Tribe.
Today, I acknowledged something I had been looking over for some time now.
jeal·ous - ˈjeləs/ (adj.) feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.
Jealousy - let's talk about jealousy. What is jealousy to you? Most of the time I hear, well I'm prettier than this person or I make more money. I'm smarter, I'm in better shape, I have longer hair, I drive a newer model car, I have more freedom, I have the ability to do things they can't. This person likes me more than they like them, I got the job they wanted, I slept with whomever they liked and the list goes on...
Rarely, do I hear that jealousy has to do with the way people love you. Seldom, do I hear people are jealous because the heart a person possesses or the character, their charisma, their willingness to persevere through obstacles in their lives. Today, out of twenty five years on this Earth, it hit me. The majority of what I've witnessed and experienced were not the materialistic things people reflected their jealousy on but the intangible things that they wish they could get.
I realized that most of my life had been saturated with people who were jealous of the way other people loved me. People who were jealous of the fact that I could overcome obstacles that would have torn them apart, people who pretended to be praying for me but were preying on me. You hear me, sis? Pretending to be praying for me, but we're preying on me.
I had unknowingly surrounded myself with people who had no good intentions for me. They were just eager to find out how and why people were loving me the way they were. How I was overcoming so much, how I continued to keep a smile on my face while things were coming apart around me. How did I get there? How did I not see it before? It was like an epiphany.
Why were there so many people in my circle who weren't in my corner? Why were there so many people who wanted to sabotage relationships I had with other people? They didn't understand why they could love me as they did and not feel the same about them. It hit me like a ton of bricks, a light bulb went off, a boulder fell on my chest. This had always been the case for so many people I allowed in my life. They were just there to observe. I had done this to myself. I had family like this, friends, relationships, I'd seen it before. Beware of the people who serve no purpose in your life but to just try and find out why others flock to you. Steer clear of people whom are in your circle but not in your corner, the people who don't clap when you succeed. The people who criticize every move you make. Recognize the faces of those who pretend to love you but are truly snakes in the grass. Acknowledge the people who hurt you but don't apologize. The people who try to make your feelings invalid with excuses, a great friend of mine once said pray for discernment and accept what people show you rather than what they tell you and I have asked God for that ever since.
What are some characteristics you possess that you think make people jealous? Tell me in the comments.
- A tribute to my best friend, my life partner and my forever valentine. I couldn't think of better man for God to have paired me with. Thank you for being the best teammate and uplifting me when I'm down, for always giving me encouraging words when I need it. Thank you for always having my best interest at heart and being the extraordinary man you are. I am so honored to be marrying you, I will forever say YES. Being with you has made me proud, I'm a better person because of it. I know I say this a lot but I love you, you ask me why I reminisce so much and it's because I like to go back and compare the way you looked at me then, to how you look at me now. I like to examine how your eyes are still the same. I like to sit back and hear the songs you introduced me to and realize how 409 days have passed and how that song still makes me feel the same way it did when I heard it the first time. I love knowing that I have an amazing teammate who even if my team is losing is pushing for the win.
- Stepmom. That was a movie I used to watch as a child and when I say watch, I mean religiously. I loved Susan Sarandon & Julia Roberts; even as a child I empathized with Julia being the new woman & taking on the responsibility of getting someone else's child to even like you. Even more awesome, was that she was this cool, young woman, that was a photographer in New York City, I rooted for Isabel. I never thought I would even have this title; to be honest, I didn't even realize I would be a step-mother until a few days ago. I mean, I knew I was marrying a man who had a child but I didn't acknowledge being a stepmom. Our situation has been dicey to say the least. I like to say, we have a complicated order but I have faith that things will work out for the better. His son is only two years old & we barely get to see him. My fiancé is military and we are stationed somewhere other than where his child's mother lives. Which is a blessing and a curse, I suppose. We are about 7 hours away from his little guy, but even if we were closer I don't think the situation would be much different. Remember when I said, we had a complicated order? It is definitely that. His child's mother has been a tall order of "I'm not here for any new woman you are trying to bring into MY son's life", Which has been, a little frustrating, not so much for me but for me to watch my fiancé lose out on being involved with his son. It has also been a tad difficult because, as you all know by now I don't normally date men with kids and here I am marrying one. We saw his son a few months ago (right after we got Aspen, our lab & he was immediately in love with him) and I realized he liked animals and he was really silly. I was excited because my love of animals is insane & I was happy, I could share that with him. I also, found myself thinking back about Isabel buying a puppy to get the kids to like her in the movie. I found myself enjoying and becoming more fond of him than I expected. Granted he is only two years old but I promise you, he understood the bond between child and dog. It was at that point, I knew I wouldn't mind playing a role in his life. I recently reached out to his mom in hopes to change the negative connotation that sometimes comes with stepmom. I wanted very much for the transition of "just your dad's girlfriend" to"your dad's new wife" to be a little easier than the first initial idea of her child's father moving on with his life, with someone else. Like I said before, I had faith that things would work themselves out; she was extremely receptive of my reaching out and I'm hoping this will be a step forward in all of us working towards the best of the child. I'm a huge advocate for children rights and doing what's best for the voices that can't be heard. I never wanted to be a stepmom, nor marry a man with a child; but I can't help but think my destiny was to be where I am, being a part of this child's life (and not just for the dogs). I know this journey will not be an easy one but I am possibly naively optimistic that things will get better from here. We shall see. Signed, - The Not So Ugly Step Mother
- Men with children. Generally, this is something I avoid all together. I have never been a fan of dating a man who has already been so intimate with another woman as to have had a child with her. I believe in the sanctity of family, probably more so than anyone can imagine. I've avoided men with children for so long that I could almost sniff out a father among the crowd. They have a certain look about them, different values, different financial statuses, different lifestyles, etc. God himself could have told me I would've met and fell in love with a man who had a child and I would have laughed in his face. Not me, I am way too selfish to split my time between you and your child. I want my own family, not some blended family that involves you, some other woman's child and me. I didn't grow up seeing that. My grandparent's were married to each other until death, my grandfather never had any outside children, there was no step-parenting in our households and then I was awakened. This is no longer the case, this is not my life. I have joined the club of dating the men who are fathers. I can't tell you how enlightening this experience has been. My situation is a little different than every other weekend and holidays, because he is military, but it is an experience nonetheless. I have never thought I would even enjoy someone else's child (besides family, friends, etc) but I have grown to be more patient and understanding. I know this is more common for some people but I have always had a standard of never dating a man with a child and now I couldn't imagine seeing myself with a different person. Life is crazy like that, it just comes at you fast. I could not have asked for God to pair me with a more understanding, thoughtful, attentive, caring human being. I am truly grateful. If you are dating a father, please share your experiences with me.