On Valentine's Day, this day of love, I thought I would throw a new perspective out there. One that has called on me to throw a bit of love and compassion towards someone who makes it hard as hell to understand, let alone like.
In our blended family, we are faced with a co-parenting dynamic that is challenging, at best. It’s one that has the potential to create a lot of stress and conflict in our lives. And yet, those challenges are not part of our family. We are very intentional – and try our best - to make sure that this dynamic doesn’t drive our family decisions or impact our relationships with our kids, or each other.
In our home, we choose love.
This means we look for kind explanations to help little ones understand unkind words spoken by their mother about us. We embrace compassion to find ways to explain her crazy behavior. When one of us gets triggered, we look for ways to defuse, rather than pile on. When blows are thrown our way, I actually visualize them washing over us like waves over rocks – rolling over us, each one making us smoother, more centered and grounded. (Sounds goofy, but this visualization stuff does wonders for me.)
Now, this is not easy…seriously…it’s hard. Really hard. We didn’t wake up one day and decide that love was the way and it would be sunshine and rainbows from that point on. Nope. Before we got to love, we tried to appease, disengage, ignore, undermine and fight back. None of these worked. While each one had a certain appeal (depending on our emotional state at the time) each one led us to more frustration – at the situation and at each other. And when we got to that place, we weren’t able to be the parents/step-parents or partners that we wanted to be. Plus, we were letting something – or rather someone - impact our family dynamic. We realized that all other options were never going to bring us any sort of peace, and were not consistent to who we wanted to be, for ourselves, each other, or our kids.
Now, I know that this realization won’t transform my husband’s ex. This is who she is – expecting her to change her thoughts or actions is foolish. This realization can transform us though. When we hold her with compassion instead of anger, when her constant blows strengthen us, rather than cut us down, and when we speak about her to my stepchildren with only words of respect, we can practice something that has a transformative quality for us. And doing this repeatedly over and over, has been healing for us, and I know it has brought us closer to each other, and our children, and given us a perspective that brings us more peace.
So on this day of love, maybe think about someone that you can't imagine loving, someone you might even dislike. And try and see if you can throw some compassion their way. I'm sure they need it, and the release will feel good for you too.
Then, be grateful for those that you truly do love - and that they love you too.