Ep 24 – Abuse and My Stepparenting Story

Subscribe on iTunes  ·  Google Podcasts  ·  Spotify  ·  iHeartRadio

Hello stepparents!

Recently, I was watched an inspirational talk about sharing your story. It was a TED talk, which I love, because there’s always something valuable in them.

In that moment, I realized that sharing my story completely, might help to shed light on this kind of experience and possibly help someone else in a similar situation, to see that they too can get on the other side of it and have a full life.

This goes out to you who find yourself in a bad situation or a bad relationship. Know that you are not alone. You are worthy, you are beautiful and you can achieve absolutely anything you set your mind to.

Finding Stepparenting Strength In Moments Of Unworthiness

You CAN have beauty and blessings that you thought you could never have. It starts with deciding to get to know that part of yourself – no matter how tiny of a speck of a part that is inside of you – that knows it or gets excited about it. Just feed into it. And keep leaning into it.

Because that’s what you have been severed from. That part is your true friend. That is your true voice. It is your true self. Allow yourself to get back in touch with it. That part that’s full of love and has all the wisdom and resources that you could ever need inside of you.

And the way to do that is wanting to hear. Just allow yourself to want to hear it and lean into that desire. That’s where it starts. It’s as simple as that, I promise.

That was a little detour. Getting back to the story I wanted to share with you. Several of you know that I’m a stepparenting coach and you probably know that my stepdaughter was abused and neglected by her bio-mom and stepdad.

Which is how she ended up living with us full time and how I ended up essentially becoming a full-time mom even though, technically, I’m a stepmom. This was not at all by choice, but by necessity and by wanting to stand by this young girl.

And the reason I deeply understood her and felt the gravity of this situation and of standing by her side, is because I am a domestic abuse survivor. My ex-husband was abusive at times.

I have to say, understanding it and dissecting everything, it’s clear we both had our own traumas that we brought to that scenario. So it was a volatile situation. Had I known then what I know now, I would have seen that. But, of course, hindsight is always 20-20.

And when you haven’t been through something, it’s hard to see your way through it from behind that experience.

So I knew of the severity of what she was going through, and I knew that what she needs more than anything, is somebody who understands her and somebody who’s just willing to love her.

Someone who might not be great at it at times and will make mistakes because they’re human, but the commitment to loving her is all that I had to offer. I was never mom. I honestly believed that I shouldn’t be a mom. And it was never a role that I expected to come into. But here I was.

From the very beginning when I first met her – which I didn’t want to do until till it was a serious make-or-break moment – when I met her she was just absolutely incredible. She was so hard not to love.

When we learned about the abuse and neglect, it was a no brainer. Because that was such a terrifying time for me. I was broken down psychologically to being a child, as an adult woman for many years.

Even realizing that was hard because it’s not something you see from inside of that situation, especially because we met when I was 15. Recognizing how stunted I had been throughout that time because of mistreatment.

Carrying those wounds was heavy and healing from them wasn’t easy and was a long road. I struggled with a lot of self-worth stuff coupled with the physical abuse which made me feel like a fool.

I recognize now that we were kids each with our own baggage. We didn’t know better and didn’t have the tools and resources to heal, and clearly didn’t have anybody in our lives who could recognize that that’s what we needed to do. That’s where we were.

It took time for both of us to realize it and help each other. I had helped him find a day program for his substance abuse which was the moment that both of us started to heal. Because we were in it equally. I didn’t feel forced to be there. Though I didn’t think I deserved better.

Though not fully grasping it then, I was aware of the negative aspects and recognized that there were things that weren’t okay and that didn’t feel good. I got through it by allowing myself to dream. I allowed myself to feel and want things that weren’t there but that I desired.

Sharing Stepparenting Wisdom Through Guidance

When it comes to kids, they don’t know what they don’t know. And it’s so valuable to have a guide through those terrible awful moments. That’s what I was able to offer her. We’ve been able to forge the relationship because I didn’t try to hide My flaws.

She came into this relationship eyes-wide-open because I didn’t try to shield her from my flaws or pretend that I was something I wasn’t. I had some stuff I needed to work on, but I knew we could work through it together. And we have. I’m so grateful she allowed me that privilege.

But I also needed to share my story to say, if you are now or have ever been in a similar boat, and you feel that you don’t have anything to offer a child … It’s not true. All of the life you’ve lived, for better or worse, that’s your wisdom.

No matter what has happened and how you feel about that type of choice. Give yourself permission to say, “I messed up in this area and I learned from it and it’s made me the person that I am …” wiser, more courageous, smarter, more disciplined, more diligent, what have you … fill in the blank here.

Your insights and experience are valuable. Please don’t ever think that being a mentor or another adult in a child’s life would ever be a detriment to them. No! It would be a beautiful, incredible thing if you were willing to share yourself that way with a child.

They would only appreciate you because you would be showing up completely and sincerely and there wouldn’t be a power struggle because the dynamic would be equal. You wouldn’t be arriving as an authority on everything, but arriving with your flaws, experience and wisdom.

So if you’re struggling at all with that, and that might be preventing you from wanting to be a stepparent, don’t let that get in the way, guys. Because you deserve to be happy. And you deserve to have a family of your own. Even the joy of being around children, if, for whatever reason, having your own is not for you. I get it. That was me. That definitely was 100% me.

I want you to know that there’s life at the end of the terrible thing, whatever that might be, if that’s where you’re at. And when you’re at the other end of it, you can still have a full life. You can do it on your own terms.

And it’s a beautiful thing to have access to kids and watching them grow at close range. It’s such an incredibly powerful, beautiful experience. They have so much to teach you, and so much to reflect back to you. It’s fascinating, all-encompassing and a heart-warming experience.

I want you to know that you are worthy of whatever it is that you want for yourself in life. In case you need to hear that today or right now, wherever you’re at.

Whether you’re in a terrible, no-good situation, or whether you are on the other end of a terrible no-good situation feeling hurt, upset, vulnerable and wanting to hide – know that you’re not alone.

It will be okay and it’s okay to reach out for help. Help is here and available to you. Please reach out to me at maria@nullsynergisticstepparenting.com. If nothing else just to share your story with me. I’d so love to hear it!

You’re not alone. There are people who care. I am one of them. You can and will get through it. That’s what I’ll leave you with.

Until next time, be well!

Related Episodes:

My Story of Covert Abuse

Confessions of a Stepdaughter

The Surprising Thing That Will Make You a Great Stepparent

*Notes: How to leave a review on Apple Podcasts

  1. Open the Podcasts app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
  2. Navigate to the Synergistic Stepparenting Podcast.
  3. On Synergistic Stepparenting Podcast page, scroll down to find the subhead titled “Ratings & Reviews.”
  4. Under one of the highlighted reviews, select “Write a Review.” If you like what you hear – give us a 5-star rating! And let us and others know what you like about the show.