When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up and be brave. At the time this meant that I would be an archeologist or an anthropologist, travelling the world to obscure and secluded places a la Indiana Jones. I remember reading somewhere that courage was being scared but doing the right thing anyways, and I believed in that.
Then the teenaged years hit, and I no longer wanted to be brave, I wanted to forget, to not feel. By my late teens, there was no more need to be brave; I was so self destructive that no one around me thought I would make it past 27. Since the future and the unknown/uncontrollable is usually what scares me the most, not expecting to have a future made being brave easy.
Then in my early 20s I wizened up, moved here and started over. After my first year here, the thing that scared me the most was normalcy. I didn’t want to get sucked into what I saw as a mind numbingly boring life with a husband and 2.4 kids and a house in my teeny tiny hometown. My family tried for years to stuff me into that mold, and I fought just as hard to do the exact opposite. By this point I had realized and come to terms with the fact that I was pretty messed up and I decided not to impose my craziness on anyone else. I would brave my life alone, independent, no man, no kids.
After a few years, a couple of relationships, a total breakdown, a bunch of therapy and the was even more secure in my idea that I should be alone, and that it would be fine. My definition of bravery had gone from grand adventure to facing a future alone, and I was ok with that idea.
Then I met my BF, and as I got more and more involved with him I encountered a fear more intense than any I have ever encountered before. I realised that this relationship was different, whereas before I had loved someone and taken the risk of losing that person, this time I was quadrupling my risk, this time around I risked losing a family. There was a turning point where I had to make a decision. The more involved I got, the more I would have to lose and the less control I had over the future, and the more terrified I was. Then I remembered that bravery was being scared and doing it anyways, and I dove in. Almost immediately, another realization hit, I was headed head first into that mind numbing boring life I didn’t want. That second fear I rationalized away, I told myself that I was only a weekend stepmom, and that I wouldn’t have the day to day boring parenting stuff to do.
I spent the next year and a half or so patting myself on the back, I had conquered my fear, and had triumphed, all would be well…or so I thought.
A few months back we got hit with a whole lotta crap, and we hit another crossroads. It was starting to look more and more like the best thing for the kids, and us, was to ask for shared custody. Then one day, SS1 came right out and asked for it. My BF, being the wonderful guy he is put no pressure on me other than to say that he was seriously thinking about it, but that he would not, and could not, do it without me being 100% on board.
Just as I was finally hitting my stride with this whole step-parent thing, BAM! Right in the kisser. The fear was even more intense than the last time; there were so many more questions, and doubts. We discussed it over and over, the pros, the cons, the uncertainties. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, or if I would be any good at the day to day stuff. I knew the Ex would have a fit and would take out all of her rage on me. Was I willing to give up the faint, yet still present possibility of a adventure filled life to devote myself to his kids for the next 14 or so years. Anyone who knows me will tell you right off the bat that I am not a long term commitment person. The longest I’ve had a job is 2.5 years, same for relationships. Lucky for me, I have a lot of supportive people around me who whole heartedly believe that I will make a good parent, even if I’m not sure.
The truth is, I still don’t have any answers to any of those questions, and I am still terrified, which is why I’ve been hiding from the interwebs for the past while. The only thing I do know, is that I have decided that I am willing to dive in even further, and that this family we have created is worth the fear. We started proceedings for shared custody this summer, and have our court date for November. This time the fear is not going away, or even lessening, but I am doing it anyways, and hoping it’s the right thing.
Inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop : Write a post inspired by the word: brave