Lessons From an Awkward Dinner

I tend to be careful about what I share here and on my social media accounts. I realize that perception is reality and perception is very personal. My story and my reality very well may not be someone else’s. So I tend to try to choose carefully what I share because the other people involved in my story aren’t being given the chance to share their side of things here. I think that sharing my story is important because so many people are in the same position as I am, and when I was struggling most in my blended family journey, it helped me to know I was not alone and that things get better!

We are living through a worldwide pandemic (or global political hoax.. you decide) Anyways, we have been in a lock-down, quarantine, or safer at home state for the past few weeks. We have had a lot of time together – and in our own heads. For some, that is a great thing, for others it has probably been terrifying. I assume it’s been difficult regardless, for almost everyone, to have their world changed almost overnight. For me, it’s given me a lot of time to reflect, pray and think. It’s given me time to work on my heart and healing and to really dream about what I want this life to look like for my little family.

Forgive me in advance.. this post will probably be long, twisty and will probably bounce around. Because.. that’s my brain. What can I say?

There’s a moment I remember so clearly in my blended family journey. Looking back on it I can clearly see a few mistakes, but I am thankful I can learn and grow from that. About 5 years ago, my step daughter won a scholarship. She was presented the award at a semi formal dinner. This meant my husband and I would be attending this formal dinner with her mom, step dad and grandparents. I remember feeling nervous for weeks. I remember feeling like the last place I wanted to be was sitting at a table with people whom I felt disliked me and judged my husband’s and my every move. I felt insecure and while I craved a peaceful co parenting relationship – I was a wreck thinking of this event. I put a ton of thought into my outfit and drank a mimosa at the hotel bar before heading to dinner. I felt out place as a family member. I felt utterly confused as to what my place was. I sat there quiet, smiling at the right moments, trying to answer polite conversation and trying to not make it feel awkward for my kiddo. My step daughters mom’s side of her family are much more “aggressive” than I am. I don’t love confrontation and tend to be a more passive person. So they tried to make a lot of conversation and I struggled with it. I probably came off as extremely rude (already adding to the list of things I am sure I was judged for) and I am sure it really seemed that way. The truth was.. I was so nervous! I was also really hurting. I was sitting with people who I felt misunderstood by and had some unresolved hurts and I didn’t know how to deal with that. Looking back on it.. I wish I would have made better casual conversation. I wish I could have forgiven all the grievances I held on to in my heart and walked in there confident of my place and holding a place of love for everyone at that table. But I struggled so hard with it all that day. Here’s the good news…. mistakes are amazing opportunities to learn!

Fast forward to 4 years later. Things are still a little rough between households sometimes. I’ve worked on myself A LOT. It’s my step daughter’s 16th birthday. I had no problem inviting her mom’s family to my home for her party. I had no issue reaching out to discuss gifts, or co planning the party etc. I had no problem holding my step daughter’s cousins on her mom’s side and chatting with her mom’s family while they sat next to me on the couch. Weird.. sure, a little – but I am so grateful that we could be in a place to give my kiddo that.

We lived in that house for only 9 months. When we bought it, I had no idea we would be relocated, I had no idea we would be leaving it so soon. I truly loved that home. When I look back at it though, I honestly feel we were given that house for a time for a purpose. We were able to give my step daughter a beautiful memory and a night filled with love. I hope she looks back on that day for many years and that it reminds her how loved she truly is. I am so thankful for the time we had in that house and now we are in a new place where we can learn even more lessons regarding love and healing.

My husband’s job relocated him across the country. We were pretty excited because this meant living closer to some family on the west coast. This decision brought a lot of mixed feelings from my step daughter’s other home. Understandably so, our decisions ultimately affect the other home and vice versa in a blended family. We were already co parenting out of state, but it would still affect them. We did our best to work through and anticipate things, however the reaction we got has been hurtful and I am remembering my past lessons even more. I am remembering the importance of letting go, forgiving, loving and choosing joy over letting hurts rip my confidence apart. As we navigate this last year with her being a minor in a new place and work through everything this quarantine is causing, I am thankful for all of the lessons. I am thankful for growth. Because it’s amazing what can happen when we choose to grow in the gravel where we are planted.

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