My prolems don’t mean any thing, because I am not a starving child in Africa.

Okay so maybe that was a little melodramatic.

Yes, a little self realisation that other people have issues in their lives too is definitely a bonus in helping us take stock of our problems and put things into perspective. (In my opinion). No one likes a self-absorbed brat.

But it does not, will not and SHOULD NOT EVER be a strategy for making someone feel like whatever is going on in their world is in some way ‘less important’.

Sometimes I have difficulty empathising with situations or feelings that I am not familiar with. I have to remind myself that not everyone reacts in the same way that I do, and it is unfair to hold everyone to MY standards – it is only fair to hold people to their own standards.

The thing is, when something bad happens to us, it might actually be the WORST thing we have ever experienced, and just because that isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone in the universe ever, has no relevance to the fact that it might be the worse thing that has happened in our own personal universe. So on our own personal scale, we react in a way or hurt in a way that might be on par with how someone else may react to something much worse.

Every person’s reactions are VALID. Every emotion, every sentiment is exactly their personal truth in that moment. What some one else’s personal truth is, has no bearing. Life is subjective.

We don’t have to understand, but simply because it is not how we would react, is not a good enough reason to invalidate someone.

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Dear Fiance

I’ve realized that it isn’t about forgiving you. For the rest of our lives I am going to forgive you over and over again for things you do, and you will have to forgive me over and over again too, so while forgiving you is important, it isn’t really the point.

What I really needed to realize was, regardless of anything that happened, whether we are still good for each other.

I fell in love with you a long time ago but im not still with you by default because of that. I’m still with you because I choose to be with you, every day that I wake up, every day that we are happy, every day that we have good times and every day that we have tough moments. I choose you over and over again.

I’m choosing you because you make me feel respected and loved and worth loving. I’m choosing you because even though its hard, I know how good we are together and because you bring out my best and I think I bring out your best too. I’m choosing you because you are my best friend.

I never want to stop thriving to be my best, for you.

Que sera sera…

I recently found out that my hairdresser is friends with the mother (BM) of my fiances son. I found out through facebook so I doubt either of them know this, but it lead to a realisation about my place in step-parent land.

I try really hard not to talk badly about BM, for several reasons; firstly of course because as a stepchild myself, I know how damaging it is to hear that while growing up – it doesn’t matter what your parents did, they are still and always will be your heroes (even if it is very deep down inside). And secondly because I firmly believe that positive re-affirmation can make a world of difference – if I talk about a situation negatively, it will be negative, if I talk about a situation positively, it will be positive.

Anyway. My realisation was that I worry of what other people think of me because of our situation. From BM’s perspective, I broke up her family (unfortunately this wasn’t the case, as my fiance always told me they were never together. Messy situation.) And in fairness to her, I did betray her trust by using some emails she sent me against her in court. (On a side note, although I recognise it was a betrayal of trust, I would still do it again, I was protecting the man I love most and his son.)

But we live in a small community, everyone knows someone who grew up with someone else who talks to so and so. As evidenced by the hair dresser situation. I am way too caught up in how people might judge me, if they only know her side of the story.

My first reaction was, oh my gosh, I need to find a new hairdresser!

Sad. I don’t want to close off my community because of my choice to be with the man I love and his adorable son. I want my community to be wholesome and rich and filled with all sorts of people. Also I really like my hairdresser, she does a great job.

I need to learn to let go, I think. To accept that what will be, will be. I don’t think BM is a bad person – sure we all have our conflict from time to time, but we are also human…

So. Working on acceptance, openness and unity. Anyone got any strategies?

Explanatory note.

I am not dealing with my anger and conflict well lately, and get worked up easily. I am tired all the time and have trouble concentrating (which is an issue when I am currently trying to attempt a double degree, one of which is Law).

Men, you should stop reading here.

8 months ago, I went to my doctor for a standard check up – we have excellent health services through the university which are covered by our fees, so I thought I might as well make the most of it! In the course of the appointment, the doctor found out the birth control I had been using for the last four years to control my migraines, could potentially have bad side effects, since I get the type of migraines with auras.

At that point, I was a straight A student, with lots of energy, no monthly mood swings, and so much compassion and time for everyone else in my life. It was excellent. If I ever get back to that, I will never take it for granted.

The doctor recommended a different kind of pill, and said it may take a few weeks for my body to readjust and to give it time. Quite happy with this, I started taking the new medication. Well, 12 weeks later, I was tired, moody, my nails were snapping and breaking and I was extremely pale – the reason? I hadn’t stopped bleeding since starting the new pill. Well and truly fed up, I returned to my doctor.

Convinced that I had given that pill my best shot, my doctor recommended a different brand – which was also much more expensive. Also a series of blood tests, which indicated my iron levels were well below the healthy range and I was severely anemic. Unfortunately by this stage, the anemia had taken quite the toll on my social and academic life – I never had the energy to go out, and if I did, it would take days to recover. I would get 12 hours sleep a night, and wake up in the morning so exhausted I almost vomited, and struggled to concentrate in my classes. That semester, my grades dropped to a B- average.

My poor fiance, had no idea how to deal with what I was going through, it’s quite hard to explain to someone that your life is falling to pieces because you are ‘tired’. I had gone from super understanding, thoughtful, caring partner, to super moody bitch.

Oh also? my skin is worse than it was when I went through puberty. Gross.

So I tried the other pill. No luck. Went back to the doctor. In October last year, we decided to go for a Mirena, which basically is an implant into my uterus, which slowly releases the birth control hormone and lasts for 5 years. The side effects – I should stop bleeding entirely. Sounded like heaven.

Like anything, the doctor warned me it may take a while for my body to adjust. Initially I was having light bleeding, which I figured would stop. And it did! Yay! for the first time in 4 months, I WASN’T BLEEDING.

It lasted a week.

Since then, I have lost so much blood. Every day. Non-Stop. Let me tell you, It’s doing wonders for my sex life, not.

I have been taking iron supplements for months, trying to keep up my levels as fast as I am losing it. I certainly don’t feel as bad as I used to, but synthetic iron replacement isn’t quite as good as just not losing it in the first place.

Back to the doctor today. I wanted to tell her to GET THIS THING OUT OF ME. And please god, just let me go back on the pill I was on before.

She starts throwing around phrases like ‘see a specialist’, ‘you need an ultra-sound’, ‘have you got health insurance’, ‘more blood tests’. And no chance of going back to my other pill, by the way, apparently it causes strokes for people like me.

So here’s the deal; for the last 8 months, I’ve been bleeding 80% of the time. I’m exhausted, hormonal and my grades have dropped. Hoping my doctor could help me today, all I get is some medication to stop the bleeding in the short term until we suss out the problem (which also has the side effect of nausea, yay) and some more iron supplements. I have to get my third blood test in six months, I mean, cause who doesn’t love needles? and then sort out insurance claim forms to cover the cost of having an ultra sound (which by the way, doesn’t fix anything, just tells us whether the Mirena is even in the right place). If it’s in the wrong place, we take it out, and start again, and if it’s in the right place, then I’m just special, and it isn’t working – next step, see a specialist. Because I totally have time for that.

I don’t have the energy to focus on any one else except me at the moment. My course load expects about 45 hours a week, I do another 10 hours a week part time work to pay the bills, and then this. I need to be selfish, I need to take care of myself, I can’t deal with anything else right now.

That isn’t too unreasonable – it’s only until I’m healthy again.

Good thing life isn’t that easy then, huh? 😉

Powerless Step-parent – Take Two

So many expletives running through my mind. So much anger, indignation and fury. SO POWERLESS.

Maybe that’s the lesson I am learning, this trip on earth, to handle situations and create calm in amongst the turmoil of something that is so far outside of my control.

My stepson got conjunctivitis last week, poor kid, no fun for anyone! And so contagious of course, he really shouldn’t be at day care. That was Friday. On Sunday he went to the doctor and we find out he also has tonsillitis and ear infections in both ears. The real Tri-Fecta. But when you put that many kids in a melting pot of viruses and each others germs, what can you really expect, it’s Russian roulette and only a matter of time…

My partner immediately asked for the Monday off work – as any parent would do, no WAY should that boy be back in daycare at least until he has finished his antibiotics and his eyes have cleared up. You’d think. Unfortunately work was too busy for him to take off Monday, but my mother in law was able to take the day off and drive over (it’s about an hour) and my partner was able to finish a little earlier than normal – no worries.

Tuesday and Wednesday no drama either, my darling fiance, putting his son first, took a sick day, and another day without pay – but children first, right?

Thursday. The boy is still sick of course, and only half way through his antibiotics, definitely not well enough to go back to daycare. My partner has to go back to work – luckily the Boy has two parents right? You’d think.

My partners Grandparents offered to take him on Thursday while the boys mother was at work, it was only five hours – no trouble. The Boy loooves his great-grandad. And they live 2 minutes from where the Boy lives with his mother. Perfect solution!

Well. I just got this text from my partner. (I live far away while I’m studying, so unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do from here)

“apparently he was fine yesterday and last night and his mother made the call to send him to daycare (side note – without discussing it with my partner) the staff at day care said he was fine today and put himself to bed for a nice sleep”

Unfortunately, I don’t agree with this line of reasoning, so I told my partner that I felt angry that he wasn’t being looked after and indignant that the boys mother hadn’t either taken a day off herself, or left him with the Grandparents. If he is still on antibiotics and his eyes are still showing signs of conjunctivitis, I personally, don’t think he should be at daycare. I said to him, I would rather pay his mother out of my student allowance if she couldn’t afford the day off – I don’t think she is a bad mother, but I don’t agree with this choice at all, not when we have alternatives.

My partners response – “I don’t want to fight about this, I don’t have the energy. I know my son and think it was a bit soon for him to go back to daycare, but why must you put me in a position to fight about it, it’s not the end of the world.”

Well shit.

I told him we would have to agree to disagree and that I didn’t want to talk about it any more because I didn’t want to fight with him about it, I’m tired, have my own health issues, as well as trying to keep up with doing two degrees at the same time.

What am I supposed to do? Am I over reacting? I know I am exhausted from my own stuff and don’t have the same amount of clarity as usual, but still, what am I supposed to do with all the emotions…

All I want, is for that poor little Boy to have the chance for his immune system to recover. Is that so wrong?

My partner is accusing me of making him feel like a bad parent. Way to turn the whole situation around on me. We have so many options available so the Boy doesn’t have to be at daycare while he is unwell, we are so lucky there is family that close, even if he seems better, I can’t help but feel like that extra day would have done wonders helping his immune system get back on track.

I feel better for having had this vent.

All Grown Up

Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is but today’s dream – Kahlil Gibran

My baby brother is turning ten tomorrow. A whole decade. I can’t remember what I ate for lunch last Monday, but those days in the hospital when he first arrived – those are vivid in my mind. The things we remember are so bizarre, especially when each moment feels like it is the MOST important…

This is a strange week for me. It is my birthday, my brothers birthday, my sisters birthday and my fiances birthday. What a way to feel old. (and broke!) I hadn’t really thought about how far we had all gotten in life until now – One sister married with a baby, the next one has a real job in the big wide world, me – engaged, the next sister old enough to drive and the littlest brother no longer in single digits. (It’s also bizarre that out of the five of us, only one of them is fully related. Oh my jumbled half siblings. Try explaining to someone that yes he is your brother and she is your sister, but no, the two of them are not related.)

And I bet in another 20 years I will read this post and laugh and laugh and laugh. We are all still babies.

Sometimes I feel like one day is longer than all of my life so far but the next day might pass so quickly. Why do we try and measure, collect, contain time? seems like a pretty fluid thing to me, it’d be easier to measure water in a sieve.

I used that website futureme.org and emailed myself five years from now. That is a cool thing! What a great idea. I guess its a similar reason to why I write this blog – I guess I am guilty of trying to capture time too! or at least moments of it. I wonder where we learn this attachment from? This need to control. Maybe it’s just my culture? Maybe it’s just me?

What next.

Which Step-parent should I be?

The last couple of days this has been something that has really stuck in my mind. I always knew my relationship with a man who already had a child wouldn’t be an EASY path, but that doesn’t bother me – what doesn’t kill you make you stronger right? and the things my partner and I have gone through together… Well lets just say it’s enough to last us a lifetime.

But it’s not about what is easy or difficult for ME that has been bothering me – its about what my little stepson will have to endure, because of the decisions we, as his parents (step or otherwise) have made now. I don’t know whether it makes me ‘luckier’ than other step-parents since my own parents are separated, because I sure as hell know what I would have preferred in the same situation that funnily enough I find myself in now, too.

Let me lay this out for you:

Option One: My step mother always told me not to be in a relationship with someone who already had children. Oops. The thing about that piece of advice though, was that it hurt me quite personally – here was a woman who had been part of my life since I was four years old, who had helped toilet train me, taken me shopping, put me to bed and watched me grow – and hadn’t she just said she resented having step children? that’s what 12 year old me understood anyway.

Option Two: On the other side, my step father treats me like his own daughter. He is a man who I don’t remember not having in my life, who changed my nappies, read me bed time stories, told me to stop being a brat when I went through that awkward pre-teen stage and watched me grow – at times, he has been much more of a dad than my biological father.

Now here I am, engaged to a man I love and cherish and will happily spend the rest of my life with, playing house and building our world together, our family together. But the thing is, we already have a family. The mother of his child was three months pregnant with their son when we met and started seeing each other – they were never officially ‘In a relationship’ – which probably makes it easier for me to deal with, since they have very little history as a ‘together’.

From the beginning I told her that I didn’t want to be a ‘Mother’ to her son. And I don’t – I’m young, still studying and not ready to have children for a very long time. Here’s the catch – I AM his fathers partner, I AM here for him, I DO love him, I WILL support him, he WILL be the older brother of my own children – so what am I supposed to be to him?

While having this dilemma I searched other ‘step-parent’ blogs. One of them really stuck with me. Like the ‘bonus mom’ in that blog, I am taking Option Three: I am not his stepmother. I am not his mother. I am his Person. I’ve also realised it’s not my decision, or his fathers decision, or his mothers decision to make. It’s actually his decision, because the relationship between myself and this little boy is a private matter, his choice, his life, and all I can do is be the best I can be – not even for him, but for me.