‘Stepmom confession… I’ve been living a lie.’: Stepmom shares how she took control of her inner peace

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“Stepmom confession… I’ve been living a lie.

It’s true. But in my defense, I had absolutely NO idea. See, I thought all the fear, anxiety, and pain I was dealing with was because of the dysfunctional situation I married into. And from the outside looking in, it definitely made sense. 

But see, that was the problem. I was looking on the outside to make sense of all the problems I was dealing with on the inside. I mean A+ B= C right?

Example: Husband gets a completely unnecessary, nasty message and then tells me about it. I am now seeing red. ‘Nobody talks to my husband like that. This is such crap. Why are people so crazy? Ugh, this is all just so sick. I didn’t sign up for this. I hate being a stepmom. I feel miserable, so tonight when he comes home I’m gonna find something to complain about to make him feel a little miserable too because after all, it’s his fault I have to deal with this.’

That’s just a little glimpse into the inner monologue that used to go on inside my head. And it was exhausting. Guys, the thing is, I really did believe all of that. I really did think me being upset was 100% justified and LEGIT. 

Diagnosed With Complex PTSD

Fast forward to the hardest year of my entire life.

What I thought was ‘postpartum anxiety’ was actually (complex) PTSD. Hence why it stuck around a lot longer than expected. And to be honest, the chaos and dysfunction I have dealt with as a stepmom has actually played a pretty huge role in my PTSD diagnosis.

I know that’s a lot to take in. But my point is, I have had to do some MAJOR soul searching and self-healing. And in the process of my healing journey, I have so graciously been given the most profound insights. Insights I’ve heard many times in my life before but that just never registered on a deep soul level. 

People, I know this sounds crazy, but you aren’t who you think you are. You aren’t all those feelings that swarm your mind at night while lying in bed, or those gut-wrenching insecurities that creep up on you when you hear something about your husband’s past. You don’t really believe all those things you have been conditioned to believe about the world and yourself. Mind blown, right?!

How To Change Your Reality

So, here’s how it works. Feelings are nothing but an experience of a thought. Which takes me to my next point. YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS. Your brain is a machine and it generates like 60,000 thoughts a day, every single day. This is why the Bible says we have to ‘take our thoughts captive.’ If you don’t want to have a certain thought, then when it pops up, reject it and replace it with the thought you do want to have. And yes, this is a lot easier said than done and takes practice.

Do you realize you can change the entire reality of your stepmom experience by becoming merely an OBSERVER of your thoughts rather than constantly living as a slave to the subconscious (aka ‘ego’)? Step outside of yourself for a second. You don’t have to cling on to every single thought or feeling that enters into your consciousness.

And the thing is, once you realize how you have literally become a slave to negative thoughts and emotions, it’s actually really easy to make sense of all the chaos going on around you, but most importantly inside of you. 

Did it ever occur to you that when the ex writes a nasty email, in her mind, that is reality? Am I saying it’s true? Heck no. But is it HER reality? Yep, sure is. Doesn’t that take some of the sting out of it? Can’t you just find it heartbreaking she has created this painful twisted reality for herself and is subconsciously projecting it on to your husband (and probably even your stepchild)? 

And doesn’t part of you want to stop right here and go WHAT THE %#*$! because this is all just so dang bizarre?

Anyway, we’re all doing it, you know. Projecting our own meaning onto every conversation, every event, every single thing that happens in our life. But who says the way we are thinking or feeling is even the ‘right’ way?

The good news is, YOU have the power to step outside of your thoughts, emotions, reactions, and figure out why you think, feel, and act the way you do. And in doing so, you’ll probably finally understand why the crazy folk in your life act and feel the way they do, too. We are just all a bunch of broken sinners, aren’t we?! 

Would you believe me if I told you probably 90% of the negative emotions you experience in your stepmom role are just you being triggered by your past? What an AMAZING ‘aha moment’ when it finally hit me that the pain I’m feeling today isn’t coming from what happened today.

It’s a pain that’s been buried deep inside of me since childhood and keeps getting dragged out of its grave every time something happens that feels remotely similar to the hurt I experienced in my past. 

Healing Work

Y’all, it’s time to do the work. Figure out the root of your triggers and start healing those wounds. You owe it to yourself and your family. 

You know, I used to sit around waiting on ‘peace.’ And for me that meant something like, my family is perfectly healthy, my husband is happy at work, and there’s nothing tragic going on around me. And the ex moves to Europe. Just kidding.

You know the drill… If I could just eliminate everything that caused me anxiety in my life then FINALLY I could have peace!!!

But that difficult year proved something to me. Proved it to me on a level so deep it’s in my bones now. For life. See, peace has NOTHING to do with what’s going on around me and has EVERYTHING to do with what’s going on inside of me. 

Let me explain it like this. 

Okay, so just being real here – I have a freakin’ hot, successful husband who loves me more than anything on this planet. My stepdaughter loves me and we have an awesome relationship. I have beautiful, hilarious little boys who are 100% PERFECTION. I live in a beautiful house and I don’t have to work. My family is healthy. But you know what? 

None of that meant JACK when I was living inside the prison of my own mind. Do you get what I’m saying here? Of course my family mattered to me, but everything was so perfect on the outside and STILL I woke up every morning for MONTHS in utter HELL. 

Don’t you see?!

It doesn’t matter what the ex does. It doesn’t matter how disrespectful or rude your step kid is. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like being a second wife. It doesn’t matter if your husband pays too much child support. It doesn’t matter if everything isn’t like the fairytale you thought it would be.

These ‘problems’ are NOT YOUR PROBLEM. I’m not saying these things aren’t hard realities to accept or deal with, I’m just saying they can’t steal your peace. Unless YOU let them. 

How about this? Stop taking things personally. Stop getting offended. Stop playing victim. Realize everyone is dealing with their own version of pain and trauma and yeah, sometimes it spews out of them like poisonous venom and no that’s not okay, but it’s not YOURS to carry. 

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Stop letting your emotions lie to you. You are in control of your mind. Your mind isn’t in control of you. For far too long I let my feelings run the show and when things really hit the fan for me mentally, the consequences of my negative thinking finally caught up to me and took me into a pit so deep I didn’t think I would ever claw my way out. 

But here I am. So grateful for this pit. It has changed my life because it has changed my mind. You create your reality folks. Don’t let anyone create it for you. 

See, now I refuse to entertain resentment, fear, insecurity, revenge, or jealousy any longer. If I feel those negative thoughts start to pop up, I swat them away like a fly because I ain’t got time for that. I’m on a mission for God and He tells me to ‘throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles!’

And isn’t that exactly what negative thoughts and emotions do? Get your mind so tangled up, messed up, and distracted that you can’t even think straight enough to be effective for God?

I can’t tell you how many times I see stepmoms blasting all over Instagram, ‘All I want is peace! I just want peace!’ (And yes, I used to be one of those.) But do you REALLY want peace? How bad do you want it? Are you willing to do the work? 

I know some of this may be overwhelming, but I just pray God will put it on your heart to look inside yourself and see He wants us all to embark on this journey of healing so we can be truly FREE. Free from the mental prison we have put ourselves in. Free to be the wives, mothers, and stepmothers He created us to be so we don’t keep raising more hurt traumatized adults.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how perfect your life is or isn’t. The fact of the matter is peace is there for the taking. All day. Every day. The only one holding you back is you.

Can you see now that maybe you, too, have been living a lie? Who do you really want to be? You get to decide. But it’s hard work. Super hard work. You’ve got some serious thought habits to change and it’s gonna take time. But trust me when I say it is 1000% worth it.

Because on the other side of it is unshakeable peace, joy, and a safety and security you’ve truly never known before. It’s like a whole new world. A whole new ‘me!’”

mom holds her two children close
Courtesy of Rachel Dunne

This story was submitted to Love What Matters  by Rachel Dunne, the Spiritual Stepmom. You can follow her journey on  Instagram and her website. Submit your own story here.

Read more from Rachel here:

‘I begged God to turn back time and give me a redo.’: Stepmom shares faith journey through marriage, blended family difficulties

One Of The Greatest Gifts You Can Give Your Stepchild Is The Freedom To Love And Adore Their Mother

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