Some of you have already done this, and some of you are considering it. You’ve reached a point in your life where, for whatever reason, you’ve decided to take a break from trying to make it work with the stepmom or ex-wife.
You’ve taken back your olive branch and tucked it away for safe keeping.
So… now what?
Well, first, I’d like to congratulate you on making a decision that feels right to you. I know it’s not an easy decision to make, especially because as women, we just want the conflict to end! And we think WE’RE the ones that can make it happen.
If we just try harder.
But, as you might have found, trying harder isn’t always the way to a peaceful existence. When the results of “trying harder” are continuous emotional stress, constant rejection or harassment, the way to a peaceful existence is to actually stop trying.
And as many of you have described in your comments to my post “Are we sabotaging ourselves?,” you’ve seen the benefits of what “not trying” can look like.
We could also replace “not trying” with the words “refocusing our attention.” It’s a little more positive.
Now, lets get clear on what “refocusing our attention” does and doesn’t mean.
It does not mean:
- You’re selfish
- You’ve given up
- You’ve been defeated
- You’re a failure
- She wins
- You don’t care enough about your children or stepchildren to continue trying
- You haven’t tried hard enough
- You’re not cut out for this
- You’re the same level as her if you give up
- You’re powerless
It does mean:
- You love yourself enough to remove yourself from a situation where you are continually abused, harassed or just plain disappointed
- You love your family enough to know they’re better off when you’re at peace and not filled with anxiety and anger
- You’ve reached a limit and are willing to set a boundary
- You’ve decided to take back your power and be in control of yourself
- You find it costs you more (in emotional upsets) to keep trying, than to step back
- You’ve learned when to say “when”
- You’ve seen the toll it’s taken on your marriage and family life and you’re not okay with it
Oh, and let’s get rid of any guilt you might be feeling.
Your goal is to someday have peace with this woman, but there’s nothing wrong with deciding to take a break from the drama and conflict. And as the Roman poet, Juvenal, put it, “Peace visits not the guilty mind.”
Once you decide to detach from the conflict between you and the other woman, a few things might happen.
1. She still might try to contact you. Or she might still try to get a reaction from you. If she’s polite, you may choose to respond in an equally polite manner, with the minimal communication necessary for the situation.
If she’s not so polite, as hard as it will be, try not to respond.
I know, I know — you’re asking, “How do I just sit back and not do anything, when she’s verbally attacking me?!”
Well, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
First, try to remember, words are just words until we give them meaning. You have the option to give them meaning or to not.
Second, try to imagine the sequence of events if you DID respond. Sure, you’ll feel better for about 3 minutes, but then what? You’re almost guaranteed another response from her.
And on and on it goes…until you’re right back where you started.
Wasn’t the whole point of you detaching from this to gain your inner peace and sanity? Will defending yourself lead you to inner peace? Or will it lead you on a path in the opposite direction?
2. You’ll probably still be replaying in your mind all the awful things she’s ever said or done to you.
We can spend our entire lives reliving the past in our minds or worrying about the future. And what a waste of time that is, because we can’t change the past and we don’t know what the future will hold.
Meanwhile, we’re missing some wonderfully special moments that are happening right NOW!
So pay attention to your inner dialogue. Catch yourself replaying the past or imagining the future and bring yourself back to this moment. If you need some help coming up with techniques to help you become present, the March Mastery Challenge in the Member’s Community, has some very useful tips.
3. Life won’t suddenly be all rosy and full of rainbows.
It’s true — just because you’ve decided to step back and focus on yourself and your family, instead of the drama and conflict, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly free of all negative feelings.
You’re still left to deal with the aftermath that came from being in an extremely stressful situation.
Realize that this might be a daily battle. Like with any growth process or change we attempt to make, it doesn’t come easily. It might always be a struggle. But trust your decision and notice your growth.
This is your choice, you are in control.
Every day, you might have to remind yourself that what you’re doing is right for you. That you have a right to protect yourself. And that’s okay.
You may even want to remind yourself that she’s probably hurting too.
Some other things that might help:
- Have a friend remind you why you’ve decided to refocus your attention
- When feelings of frustration come up or you have the urge to defend yourself, write them down
- Draft an email and then don’t send it. I repeat, do not send it.
- Write out your thoughts and feelings in a journal
- Make a list of the benefits of refocusing your attention from conflict to yourself and your family
Lastly, remember that every new day brings new possibilities.
Nothing is forever, and the only constant is change. So while today this might be the right decision for you, who knows what tomorrow will bring?
For those of you who have already walked this path, please share your experiences with us: What was it like? What did you learn? What would you have done differently if given the opportunity?
© 2011 Jenna Korf All Rights Reserved