Stepparents have an incredible opportunity to do good in the lives of their stepchildren. Children of divorce usually have roadblocks in their way that make it a challenge to grow up healthy and whole. That’s just the way it is. A stepparent can take a child under his or her wing and help to remove some of those obstacles, help to heal some of the wounds, help to make them feel valued and accepted and loved. Or, a stepparent can put the final nails in the coffin of feelings of worth, convincing a child beyond the shadow of all doubt that they are unwanted, unworthy, unloved.
Unfortunately, some stepparents are damaged themselves and have no idea of the power they hold to shape a child’s life for good or for ill, whether the child is their own biological offspring, or the offspring of their spouse.
When I was a teenager I developed a hatred for my stepmother. I already hated myself. For many years after, as an adult, I could not forgive my stepmother for stealing my father away from me, preventing me from having any access to him, and for hating me so much. She did hate me; she told me she did. Maybe that was just an impulsive reaction to me pushing one of her buttons to make her angry. Maybe she didn’t really hate me and she didn’t really mean what she said to me, but I had no reason to believe she didn’t mean every word, especially as a damaged, abandoned, unloved teenager, and especially since she never said anything to the contrary.
It took me a really long time to forgive my stepmother, but God’s grace made it possible for me to do that and by doing so, a heavy, crippling weight was removed from me. It really doesn’t matter whether my stepmother wants my forgiveness or accepts it. I understand and I have compassion for her and her own hurts and woundedness. I wonder what traumas she has experienced in her own life that have marked her, and I pray for her that she will have healing like I have had. God loves her deeply and wants wholeness for her.
I struggle with the idea of telling the truth about what happened between me and my stepmother as I write my memoir. I started writing my memoir because I feel called to tell my story in depth, because of the amazing things that God has led me through and how he has walked with me to new and almost unbelievable places of wholeness. It’s a story of hope and transformation. The hard part is to be honest about the yucky parts; not because I don’t want to get it all out there, but because it’s hurtful and nasty and sometimes feels extremely awkward to write about things like this precisely *because* you have forgiven the perpetrators (including yourself).
I don’t know anything else to do but continue on my path. I have to; I have a mandate. I’m getting the words out of me and the story down on paper. Once that is done, I’ll figure out where to go from there.