Two Relationship Strategies and a New Group for Stepmoms

So I did my first Facebook Live video and of course after about 15 seconds I got a notice that my wi-fi connection was weak and it disconnected me! Anyways, here’s the continuation.

My purpose of doing this video was to start the new off on a positive note by giving you 2 strategies to help strengthen your relationship, because when that’s good, everything is more manageable!

Then I quickly talk about a new group I’m creating for stepmoms that I’m hoping to launch in about 1 week. It’s a positive, confidential place for support, but also where you’re going to get all of my strategies, techniques and tools to get you through every stepmom situation – without the fee of a coaching session. I’ll be in the group with you, supporting you through your entire stepmom journey. The cost will be very affordable, so hopefully price won’t be a limiting factor for you. 🙂 I can’t wait to launch it and feel free to email me if you’d like to be notified when it’s up and running.

Stepmoms, your feelings matter too

Stepmom feelings matterHave you ever had a difficult situation with your stepchild and thought to yourself “Well, I shouldn’t really complain. It’s harder on my partner because it’s his child, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut”? Like somehow you weren’t allowed to be upset because you’re not the mom or dad? If so, you’re not alone.

When there’s a serious situation going on with a child – mental or physical illness, addiction, serious behavioral issues, etc… – stepparents’ feelings are often invalidated or ignored because they’re “just” the stepmom – or dad’s girlfriend.

Sometimes this is truly how others are treating us, sometimes it’s just our perception of how others feel about us and other times it’s our own self-imposed “rule” we didn’t even realize we had.

It’s Not a Competition

There seems to be a belief that because you’re not the biological parent, you can’t possibly be suffering as much as they are, therefore you should just keep your chin up and mouth shut.

I believe in most cases this isn’t an intentional diss by others. In fact, it can be quite subtle. It can be in the way that an extended family member might ask you how your partner is holding up, or states “it must be so hard for him,” but doesn’t ask how you’re doing with it. Not acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, it’s been difficult for you too.

And sometimes it’s our own beliefs that prevent us from acknowledging our pain. Our internal dialogue telling us to be strong and supportive, that now is not the time for us to acknowledge or process our feelings. And then before we know it, the crisis is over and we’re moving on to the next.

Honoring your experience

Just because someone else’s pain seems to be more intense or they are biologically closer to the person having/causing the issues, it doesn’t mean your experience doesn’t matter. Maybe their suffering is for their child, and yours may be a combination of pain for what their child is experiencing, but also for the effect it’s having on your life; the intrusion, the upheaval every time he has an episode.

You may not even realize you’ve been holding it in, until one day someone sits down with you, looks you in the eye and says “Wow, that’s got to be incredibly difficult for you. How are you holding up?” And then it hits you, “Um… yeah, actually, it’s been horrible.” And you realize no one has ever said that to you before.

Your experiences and emotions are real. And they deserve to be acknowledged and processed in a healthy way. Even if your partner is too busy with his own pain to be there with you in yours, at the very least take some time alone for this. Or find a good friend (or community) who understands and can be there for you as you express your resentments, anger, pain, hatred, etc… without invalidating you by stating that the parent’s pain must be worse.

Sharing your experience with your partner

Although he may not have the bandwidth to handle it while in crisis mode, when the dust settles, have a conversation with your partner and let him know that you just need him to listen to your experience of the situation and how it affects you. Because it does. If there’s something he can do to make it better for you, ask him for that. If not, tell him you just want him to listen. Remember, his default thinking is probably “how can I fix this?” So if there’s no fixing to be done, let him know that.

For example, “I can’t imagine how hard this is for you and I’m happy to talk about that. But right now I’d like you to listen to how I experienced the situation – what it was like for me. I understand you may not want to do anything differently and that you’re doing the best you can – but I at least need you to have this information.”

If you don’t take the time to really work through your emotions and process your pain, you’re basically invalidating your importance and you run the risk of repressing powerful emotions that need to be released. And we all know those repressed emotions like to surface at the most inopportune times. A dirty dish at a holiday dinner ends up eliciting a reaction that’s really the result of all the crises you’ve endured in the past few years.

How to Honor and Move Through Emotions

There are many ways to acknowledge your feelings and experiences. Below are a couple of ways I’ve found that work really well for most people.

  1. Journal. Write down all your thoughts about the situation. Write down everything, even the thoughts you’d be too ashamed to speak. If you’re worried about someone finding your journal, burn it afterwards. What’s important is to let out what’s been festering inside of you. And of course be gentle with yourself. No judgments here. There’s no good or bad, just honest thoughts and feelings.
  2. Notice your emotions. Are you angry? Sad? Frustrated? Resentful? All of the above? Let the emotions flow. If you need to hit a pillow, do so. If you need to cry until you have no more tears left, do it. Those are healthy expressions of healthy emotions. Then bring your awareness to your body and notice how and where these emotions show up. Maybe a pit in your stomach, a headache, a backache, an aching in your chest, a lump in your throat. Then gently place one hand on that spot and take a breath. Imagine you’re breathing into the tension where your emotions are sitting. Do this until you feel the lump/ache start to dissipate. You can do this for as long as you wish.

What’s important here isn’t that others are validating your feelings (since we can never control that), but that you are validating and honoring them.

It’s great to be a supportive partner, but you must find the balance between supporting others and supporting yourself. Regardless of what any outsider thinks, you ARE affected by the actions of everyone else in your family. And your experience deserves to be acknowledged and tended to with love.

© 2016 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

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Stepmoms, there is nothing wrong with you

Stepmom feeling normalThis is a short blog post with one purpose, to let you know that you’re OK. That you’re normal and there’s nothing wrong with you. Whatever it is you’re thinking or feeling about your experience as a woman dating or married to a man with kids, it’s not unusual. 

A little perspective 

A common theme among my stepmom clients and the stepmoms I connect with in the Facebook community is that they think there’s something wrong with them because they’re challenged by their situation.

They think they should be able to handle this easily, but the truth is that many have started experiencing anxiety and depression and their stress has manifested in physical ailments. They also feel an overwhelming sense of shame in regards to their thoughts and feelings about their situation and their inability to deal with it effortlessly.

The vicious cycle

Due to the shame, these things aren’t often talked about openly, which causes more shame because everyone thinks they’re the only ones struggling. They feel  isolated, assuming they’re the exception to the rule and that everyone else is handling it easily. But the truth is if there are stepmoms out there who are breezing through it, they’re the exceptions.

I guarantee you, if you’ve thought it or felt it, regardless of how “awful” you think it is, so have thousands of other stepmoms before you, including me!

It’s easy to make yourself wrong for your struggles, but you’re not wrong. You’re just experiencing what most normal, healthy individuals experience when they’re in a situation as inherently difficult as a stepfamily.

Asking for help

That doesn’t mean things can’t be better for you, of course. But first you have to come out of the proverbial closet. Reaching out for help isn’t for the weak, it’s for those who are strong enough to say “Right now I can’t do this on my own and if I want things to change, I need to change something.”

One of the reasons I love my job so much is because I get to give stepmoms hope and show them that, at the very least, when they improve themselves they improve their experience of the situation.

Connecting with the masses

This is a simple exercise you can do any time you’re feeling down on yourself for feeling down.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself connecting with all the thousands of stepmoms around the world who are also struggling. Then imagine opening your heart and sending them love and compassion for everything they’re going through. Then send yourself the same love and compassion for your experience.

The bottom line is you’re not alone and you’re not unique in the struggles you face or your thoughts and feelings about those struggles. You are completely normal (and fabulous!), just like every other stepmom in the world.

© 2016 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

Ready to join a private community of like-minded stepmoms who are committed to creating the best stepmom experience possible? Join the Stepmom Revolution!

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