The Struggles of Co-Parenting, Blended Families, and Picking Up the Slack as a Step Parent

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I am no stranger to blended families. Both as a child and an adult.

When I was little my mother passed away, a few years later my Dad started dating again, and eventually married my step mother. While we had a rocky relationship at first (mostly because I was a angsty jerk from 14-22ish) I now can talk with her about anything, and I do have to say that she’s had a significant role in who I am as a person.

My Dad also helped raise her children, my brother and sister. So both my parents have experience in being step-parents, and both have excelled at it. Not only that, but they have both perspectives. Raising other people’s children, and raising their own with one of their exes and current partners. So needless to say, over the years I’ve asked advice from both of them.

That advice is needed as I’ve been a step parent twice now. Once with Ryan, and now with Jon. I do have to say it was much much easier with Ryan and his son’s mother. She played a very active role in her son’s life and had very similar parenting styles to Ryan and I. Sure, there were tiffs, and I was new to helping raise other people’s children, but all in all it was a good learning experience. Regardless of how we all felt about each other, it was very apparent that the kids come first no matter what.

It’s a little more difficult now. Jon and his ex do not get along most days, and neither of them have really co-parented despite their daughter being 9 years old now. Jon is very non-confrontational and his ex likes being in control. So once they split up, he just agreed to everything she said (including paying child support for the child she had with another man while they were together) because he was afraid that any fight they had she would refuse to let him see his daughter.

That had to come to an end when some very troubling things happened two summers ago, that spurned Jon into trying to co-parent with his ex. These were very severe issues, the kind that we should have called CPS for. However, once Jon vocalized his concerns with his daughter’s mom, inquired about therapy and requested that she do half of the driving (from PA to IL) she blew off her pick up date for a week with no contact. Once it felt like she was going the abandonment route, we text her and let her know that she could reach us anytime, but since school was starting we’d enroll their daughter in school. She showed up a week later with the police, and then refused her daughter’s visitation for Christmas and the following summer. That’s the kind of stuff we’ve got on our plate.

Just what Jon had feared.

We ended up taking her to court for visitation and other parental rights. It was absolutely ridiculous. During this whole time, she wouldn’t return Jon’s calls, or let him speak with his daughter, but had their daughter call Jon’s parents and read a legitimate script explaining why she wouldn’t come that year. I say script because when his parents asked her why, she re-read it. Word for word. To say at that point I lost whatever remaining respect I had for the woman is an understatement. Any mother who puts their children square in the middle of a dispute, and makes them explain that they’re not coming to see their family this year instead of being a grown ass woman and doing it themselves, doesn’t deserve to be called a mom.

Court thankfully went smooth, albeit slow. The end result was Jon got his visitation back, his ex has to do half of the transportation, and no more of these shenanigans. That doesn’t make it any easier though. Since then (last summer), it’s been nothing but petty passive aggressive attacks. For instance, the previous summer, when their daughter was 7, we taught her how to ride a bicycle (and a electric motorbike). This past Christmas when she came for a visit, she got a bicycle from us for this summer. We find out a couple of weeks ago, that she hasn’t ridden a bike since we taught her. Two years ago. The reasoning? The seat was rotted, and she couldn’t afford to buy a new one. (I just bought Noodle one for the same reason, $18 for a plush comfy seat on Amazon.)

The problem was is that while she couldn’t afford a $20 bicycle seat. She could afford to buy their 9 year old a new cell phone.

The secondary problem with that was Jon and his ex had discussed, and decided against a cell phone since she’s 9 and (too young to) doesn’t stay at home alone. It makes me question what the hell the point is? Why even bother having a conversation with your child’s dad and child if you toss it out the window later? We didn’t even find out she had a cell phone until she texted Jon from the airport.

It’s extremely difficult for us as anything we manage to implement (in agreement with his daughter’s mom), ranging from outdoor activity, playing with other kids, to rules on cell phones and at the dinner table is undone with a shrug from her mother. We don’t even have her medical records or a contact number for her pediatrician at her mom’s house. Can you guess why?

As a mother myself, I just want to scream when I hear about these things. I raised Noodle without a father, and their child is super lucky to have both parents in her life. However watching her being thrown in the middle by her mother and then neglected on top of it, just makes my blood boil. It’s like starting over every visit. It honestly kicks me square in the ass to find out she’s not given outside playtime, healthy food to eat, or the attention she deserves at home. Her mother even refuses to put their daughter in therapy during her portion of the year.. despite the fact that the child has suffered through a divorce, losing two of her siblings, and then not being allowed to see her Dad (via her mom). Everyone needs someone to talk to, especially when being dealt such a traumatic hand so early in life. To think about a mother denying her child mental health services makes me irate.

Yet that’s the hand we’re being dealt. All I can do as a step mom is try my best to provide a healthy home, someone to talk to, and give Jon my advice and thoughts. It just sucks on so many levels.

One of the reasons it sucks so much is what I call the “mom level”. His daughter’s mom is going to/has missed out on so many memories. She’s already missed out on teaching her daughter to ride a bike, she missed out on the motorbike. She missed/is missing out on teaching roller skating. She missed out on playing catch with her daughter. She is missing out on helping her kid pick out her first softball mitt, her first pair of blades, her first big girl bicycle (which really should’ve happened before 7/9yrs). All of those memories belong with the mother too. Not just with the father and the step mom.

It sucks to be a step parent where co-parenting is non-existent. It sucks to be the one left to do the things the other parent isn’t doing. It sucks to have to teach lessons only a mom can teach, and hasn’t. It sucks knowing the angst a child is going through, and being stuck on the sidelines while the parents try to work it out. It sucks to send the mother adorable pictures of all the memories she’s missing out on and getting no response. It sucks to see a child get excited about a hobby only to go home and have it quashed when she gets back to her mom’s.

I started this blog to give advice to other step parents, but I don’t have any. I don’t. Step parenting is winging it. We have to learn to love another person’s child, raise them as our own, yet deal with the hand their bio-parent deals. We’re just stuck on a ride, trying not to fall out. Being a step parent sucks, but it’s also super rewarding. You just some how have to stick it through the bullshit parts. Remember, you’re raising a child whether or not their yours biologically. What you do and say matters. You don’t have to be a bio-parent to be the child’s parent & advocate. Buckle down.

 

On that note, shout out to my step mom.. for being a great mom to me, even through all the bullshit. <3

 

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The Stress of Getting Shit Done

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Summer is upon us. It’s been mostly sunny and warm outside, with the occasional thunderstorm. The spring to summer transition is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s when we’re lucky to watch our garden grow, it’s when my daughter’s birthday is, it’s when I love nothing more than listening to the thunder roll in ahead of a storm.

It’s also super busy, and usually very stressful much to my disdain.

Like I mentioned, the short kid (who isn’t very short anymore) had her 12th birthday. We all made it through alive! My Dad & Sister came to help us celebrate and we had a lovely time eating, drinking and watching the kid open her (awesome) gifts. She got quite a few cds, a hoodie, a record player and a couple records, just to name a few. She was thrilled. It was definitely a rush to get the house cleaned and presents ordered in time. All of it was worth it of course.

Beyond that, the garden is planted and thriving, well except for my cucumbers, they’re slow risers apparently. We only planted 4 out of 5 raised beds this year, we had a bit of food wastage last year and I wanted to avoid that. This year we have 2 different types of lettuces planted, 2 different tomatoes, cucumbers, green pole beans, and then in our long in ground bed, pumpkins. I had bought milkweed, but didn’t plant it in time. That’s going in the back corner for the monarchs next year, so we’ll plant it in the fall. It’s nice to watch everything grow.

We also expanded our fire pit. We’re huge fans of a good fire in the evenings, especially if it’s paired with good conversation and an ice cold beer. The fire pit I had was maybe 1.5 feet across, and very low to the ground. The downfall was that it would get overloaded easy, and the heat would roll down and kill all of the surrounding grass. So we added high stones, and expanded it x 2.5.
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It’s absolutely wonderful and has been getting a lot of use! The best part is that the heat doesn’t roll back down over the rocks so the ground around it remains cool. So we’ll be able to grow grass there again. The new grass seed was planted this afternoon and I can’t wait until it grows!

We’re also getting ready for Jon’s daughter to arrive. She’ll be here in a couple of days, so making sure her room is ready for her is top priority. We went out and bought her some summer clothes, and I am planning on buying more. Unfortunately the last summer she spent with us, her mother was a bit spiteful and sent only the clothes that were ripped beyond belief or way too small for her. We’re also setting up some appointments for her, to make sure she’s healthy and has someone to talk to. Being in a blended family isn’t exactly easy, and it has impacted her quite a bit. I’ve been non-stop stressing about her summer here, and despite hoping for the best, remembering how rocky it was before, makes me feel like I cannot be prepared enough.

Jon’s been working a lot as well. His new(ish) job is going great, and he definitely seems to enjoy it more than the other jobs he’s worked since we’ve been together. I can definitely attest to how important it is to work somewhere that doesn’t make you miserable. Plus, when one member of the family is unhappy, it effects all of us. So on that front it’s all glitter and rainbows.

On top of that, I decided to tap into my savings and pay off some debt and treat myself. I paid off my credit cards and double checked to make sure all of our monthly bills were current, and set aside a little bit of money to cover a tattoo I’ve been meaning to cover up for LITERALLY 15+ YEARS. I’m so psyched it’s absolutely ridiculous. So yeah, my savings took a bit of a hit, but it was needed, and covering up a tattoo that has made me incredibly self conscious for the better part of two decades I’m putting directly under self-care.

Needless to say, it’s been a busy busy month or so. While most of it was positive, it’s still been stressful and very very busy. My Crohns disease is definitely flaring up a little bit, and I’ve had a few headaches, which is not something I really have time to deal with right now. Either way, the next few weeks will be about me getting back into the habit of self care. I need to remember to do things for myself, instead of focusing on the house and family all of the time.

Onwards to the summer! It’s going to be a ride!

Direct Action, Dramatic Action

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At what point do Americans, do we, stand up and start demanding our rights? When do we stand up and start defending our constitution? When do we start standing up to sexism, bigotry, racism, homophobia and all the other shit our president and his cult are championing?

When do we DO something? When do we take action? When do we stand up and make things change?

It’s 2019, in two short years we have emboldened Nazi’s to march proudly in the streets. We’ve allowed them to create the Alt-Right and recruit our children. The White House is refusing to act on online extremism. Our children and adults can casually browse Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Discord servers and easily find white power recruitment pages.

It’s 2019, we’re still allowing the poor to languish in a system that is set up to fail them. We’ve allowed our government to discuss cutting pell grants so children of those families are destined to stay in poverty instead of excelling. It’s 2019 and our local government are prohibiting us from feeding the hungry and homeless and scaling back our welfare systems designed to help said people.

It’s 2019 and several states are severely limiting abortion access or banning it altogether. The government is attempting to defund clinics and doctors who provide medical care for the working class and poverty ridden because they might refer someone for an abortion. Christofascists are writing laws that limit our rights to healthcare and choice.

It’s 2019 and we are putting children who have crossed our southern border in cages. We’ve jailed families and in Houston have them sleeping outside in the rain, we have children sleeping on the concrete. Some how this country has forgot that it was founded upon immigration, and in our circle jerk of how great we are, forgot that people will travel here because of said boasts.

It’s 2019 and we’ve retreated back in time, we have a government that openly envies authoritarian states. In this day and age, our country which fought in a world war against it, is now straddling the fence and stepping into Fascism.

So when do we rise up and act? When do we demand change? When do we do more than hold signs up and scream. Hell, half the people in this country don’t even support protest, even though Protest is Patriotism. Our country is headed down a very dark road, and we’re left sitting here wondering what happened.

It’s about time we start talking action.

 

Women’s Reproductive Rights & America

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Welcome to the United States of America! We came so far in the last decade, only to regress back 70 years in half of a presidential term. Honestly, I’ve been sitting here staring at my screen for 15 minutes now. I just don’t even know where to start anymore. All of the other bullshit aside, which I WILL be writing about in other posts.. the current attack on Women’s Reproductive Rights is such a damned shitshow, where do I even start?

Several states have passed ultra restrictive laws pertaining to abortion. Alabama is the most recent one, the legislature has passed a ban on Abortion and it is currently waiting for a signature from their governor. When the bill looked like it was going to pass, the minority proposed a amendment to allow abortion in cases pertaining to rape and incest.

It was shot down. So if this bill is signed into law, women in Alabama cannot receive an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, unless they and their doctors want to face 99 years/life in prison. Wow. I mean, wow. What do you even say to that?

Well, Twitter and Reddit have plenty to say. On the right you have men cheering and spouting nonsense about how women should “just keep their legs closed” despite the fact that it takes a dick to get us pregnant. You have people cheering on life sentences for women who get an abortion even though that sentence is harsher than most rapists, child molesters, and sexual predators receive.

Other people are bringing up cold hard facts. Like the fact that Alabama has the 2nd highest child mortality rate in the USA, only Mississippi is higher. Alabama’s child mortality rate is on par with Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Cyprus, and Ukraine. Or on a broader spectrum:

Alabama Ranking

Alabama is pretty much bottom of the barrel for our country. They have one of the highest infant mortality rates, the lowest education rating, and their healthcare is garbage. So instead of funneling tax payer money into any of these categories, you know, to keep existing children alive, educate them, and make sure they can get a job and rise above poverty.. Alabama legislature has decided to pass this bill, with the intention of fighting it all the way up to the Supreme Court.. at the expense of taxpayers.

No matter which way you look at it, it’s absolutely disgusting. We all know that abortions will happen whether their legal or not (and underground railroads will be set up again for women who wish to have an abortion), all this is is taking away a women’s autonomy. It’s designed to take away a women’s right to have a say over their own body and life. It’s taking away equality. It’s simply an attack on women.

One of the MOST common responses to the abortion debate is this: “There’s other options!! What about adoption!?” Well sit back, and let me tell you about my experience.

I became pregnant at 17. Primarily because I had never learned about contraceptives nor how the female reproductive system works. After dealing with Pregnancy Crisis Centers (Christian Scam Artists) and getting well versed on abortion from my medical provider (Planned Parenthood), I chose adoption. Back then I had those options, I was healthy enough to carry my child to term, and I didn’t want to go through what I thought would be the emotional turmoil of abortion.

I started looking up adoption organizations. I came across MANY scams, ie: trafficking, and then when it came down to meeting a lady from one of the legit ones, it became a race against time. It looked like my choice for adoption, would end up with placing my child into foster care as there isn’t as many people adopting as you think. The foster care system/social services is horrifically under funded and overwhelmed.. which you think these Christians funding these bills & laws would work on first.

I lucked out. My Stepma knew a couple who was trying to adopt as having a biologic child didn’t work out for them. After hearing about them, and then meeting them, I was ABSOLUTELY THRILLED. I knew they were the right people to raise my child, and wanted to begin the process.

The paperwork was astronomical, and add on the fact that I was 17 and had no transportation, I had to walk MILES, while pregnant to meet up with my advocate. She let me know that it was going to be daunting, and a lot of work, but I had absolutely no idea. The first thing we had to do was to get the father to sign off on his rights.

Let me tell you, seeing as how he was the ONLY person I was sleeping with at the time, I KNEW it was his. That or the 2nd coming of Christ. So we contacted him and he refused and demanded a paternity test. For those of you who don’t know. A paternity test is not only invasive before the baby is born, but expensive (and not covered by insurance a lot of the time). My advocate essentially told him, either sign or be prepared for a child support suit (he was military, so that’s it’s own can of worms on his side) as soon as the child was born. We were able to get it signed and proceed.

In the coming months I had to prove that I wasn’t being forced into it, that I was of sound mind, and that this was not something that I’d back out of later (even though you’re legally allowed to). It was absolute hell. Add that on to the normal monthly and weekly OB appointments.. again, with no vehicle, and it was damn near impossible.

Fast forward to my son’s birth. It was horrific. I was 17, and had no idea what was going on. My OB induced, for a reason I still don’t understand (it wasn’t because of my health), so labor was STRONG, painful and horrifically long. Those labors usually don’t matter once you hold your child in your arms, but that was the most painful part. I had to hold a child, a child that I wasn’t going to take home with me, knowing that there’s a great chance I’d never see him again.

I had to walk out of that hospital, in pain, bleeding, without my child later that day. The emotional turmoil that I went through after that spurred months long deep depression and destructive behavior. Add that to all of the months I was unable to work (I was already out of school), and basically being thrown out of my friends group, it was a recipe for disaster.

For YEARS, at work, at college, in my every day life, when people found out I gave up a child for adoption the reactions were vastly negative. Rumors were spread among my friends regarding my sexuality, and I was loudly berated at my work: “You gave him away?!? You’re such a bad mother, only a shit mother would give up their child”.

I quit that job shortly after.

My point is, adoption isn’t this easy answer either. It’s signing up for a lifetime of grief and often times depression. It’s not the “obvious answer” in the abortion debate, and it should never be. Both options deserve to be weighed equally.

One that doesn’t deserve equal weight is “Just keep your legs closed!” or “Stop being a slut!”. As I mentioned above, this is absolute trash for numerous reasons. When it comes to “just keep your legs closed”.. so the argument is to remain abstinent.. 100% of the time until we’re ready to procreate? Short of sterilization (which I’ll get to in another post), birth control isn’t 100% effective. So, we’re just not supposed to have sex with our boyfriends, or husbands unless we’re procreating? We’re just supposed to keep our legs closed? Well guess what y’all.. I’m pretty sure the men would change their tune if we refused to have sex unless we’re trying for a child. I’m not even going to give the slut comments any use.. because in order for us sluts to get pregnant when we don’t want to be pregnant.. guess what we need? That’s right.. DICK. Back to logical thinking.. it takes two to get pregnant. The blame is NOT solely on the woman.

I just don’t get it. I don’t. I don’t understand how these Christo-Fascists can even live with themselves when voting in favor or supporting these bills and laws. No one is mandating abortions for women. No one. All we want is the CHOICE to make our own medical decisions.

It’s only a matter of time to see how far this goes. These states are violating federal law, so they must fight up the chain. However, when they make it to Kava-dick, is he going to hold to what he originally said? That he wouldn’t challenge existing law ie: Roe V Wade? I doubt it. We’re coming very close to the need for direct and drastic action (for many reasons INCLUDING reproductive rights), and the question is? Will you stand for what you believe in? Or live on your knees?

 

 

The Universe did NOT shit on me today!

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Long ago I had called my Dad because something had gone horribly wrong in my life. He helped me figure out a solution, instead of burning it all to the ground, and when I thanked him he offered up a bit of advice.. or maybe experience is more accurate.

“Don’t worry, as soon as you get one part of your life, or one thing fixed.. something else will break. It’s how life goes.”

If that isn’t the truth, then I’m obviously living in an alternate dimension.

When I was in my 20s, one of my biggest problems was taking things in stride. Admittedly, I still struggle with that on occasion, when the problems pile up, and my anxiety gets going, everything is a world-ending ordeal. However, thanks to a lot of growing up and kicks in the ass from my pops, I’m slowly learning to deal with life’s every day problems. You see, my Dad was right, there is always something going wrong.

So in the last couple of weeks, we have sprung a leak in our roof, been rushing to get my car repaired for emissions, and had my lawnmower crap out. The same day that the lawnmower took it’s last bit of gasoline, I tripped and busted my ankle pretty good while attempting to repair it. It was one of those “last straw” moments, where I was either going to lose it, or set everything aflame.

It took me a little while to calm down, and think rationally.

Lawnmowers aren’t that expensive, and out of the issues at hand, it was the cheapest thing I could eliminate from my “worry list”. I sent Jon out to the store to buy a new one for us, and he was able to find a decent one for $140. Lawn was mowed, fire was had all was good for the evening. We luckily have also managed to find out where our roof is leaking. It’s not a bad leak, just needs some roofing tar, so we’ll take care of that the next nice day out. Then, we just need to repair the dryer vent hose, and turn on the outside water to see if we can figure out where it’s leaking. Minor projects, nothing major, and finally my brain is learning to deal with one thing at a time.

Over the weekend, I had been driving my car a bit to see if the check engine light would come back on. It had been off since I got it from the repair shop, and they had warned me that it should come back on and cause me to fail emissions. I was looking at replacing the fuel injectors at $1900, so we had opted to do a fuel system cleaning & my spark plugs hoping that that would hold it over until emissions. The car runs great, it’s just a matter of passing that stupid test.

Well this morning after Jon went to work, and the short one left for school, I figured.. let’s go get it tested. Last time I had emissions, I had just gotten repairs then too, and went too early for the computer to complete the test (and ended up failing the 2nd time, so I needed more repairs then too) so I figured that was the worst that could happen. However.. the universe took pity on me. The Rav4 passed the emissions test so I can renew my license plates!

Holy fuck is that a weight off of my shoulders! I felt about 50 lbs lighter driving out of there! So now it’s onto the next issue, but I’m lucky enough to be able to remind myself that none of it is world-ending, and that we’ll fix it one way or another.

Happy Monday.

 

Anxiety & Late Night Thoughts

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I managed to get a bit of my outdoors to-do list done today, or rather yesterday as it’s now 1:10am. The sun was out after a few days of a good soaking rain, so I went and dug up and turned over the soil in my five raised garden beds. I had already planted two rows of lettuce and my chives (as they always seem to be a bit heartier than the rest of my regular crops) but finished almost all of the rest of it with a little bit of effort.

In the first bed I have the two rows of lettuce, chives in a corner, and two different pepper plants. This year we’re growing bell and shashito peppers.  In the plot next to it I have two rows of cucumbers, no trellises yet as I’m going to wait for them to sprout and see what needs to go where. In the next plot I have my two tomato plants. Usually I have four tomato plants, but the last year I had a lot of food waste and decided to downsize. I chose Celebrity and a neat heirloom. The fourth plot I have two rows of green beans, didn’t place trellises there either, just waiting to see what comes up. I also have a cute little hanging pot full of strawberries. I used to have them in a little section next to my raised beds, but they were awful to get to once the crops came in, and now my lilies started taking over the area too so I opted for the hanging pot.

I still have one more plot to use, but I haven’t decided what to put in it. Usually the last plot is for carrots and radishes, but I’m the only one who likes them so I am forgoing them this year. Eggplant and Zucchini were voted out too, again because of food waste last year and the plants were hard for me to manage. We then have one long garden plot, which we’ve been growing pumpkins in, but I didn’t have the energy to dig up a 10ft by 4ft plot today. Hopefully I can get that done this weekend.

Unfortunately I was not able to mow the lawn today. Last fall I wasn’t smart enough to add oil to the lawn mower, and it looks like it seized up over the winter. I messed with it a little bit but wasn’t able to fix it, so it looks like it’s going out on the curb and I’ll be buying a new one. It just sucks, it’s one more thing on the to-do list that directly effects my pocket book.

I did have a bit of a fall today though. I was walking down the steps for the deck to go get the gas can which needed to be filled up and tripped on one of my pavers I’ve been putting off fixing. A tree root has pushed it up a bit, so my shoe caught the corner of it and my ankle just rolled. It was enough pain to take my breath away, but the pain eased a bit for me to be able to run out for gas and a drive. However I am regretting that choice now, despite some decent painkillers, it’s hard to get comfortable without it hurting.

It was nice, I was able to fill up the gas can and drive my car around a little bit. I just got it back from the shop for the second time. The check engine light has been coming on, and after $900 in repairs, it looks like it will need fuel injectors, which is $600 in parts alone. I’m going to drive it for the weekend, and then take it to emissions testing on Monday. I’m hoping I’ll be able to apply for a waiver as I can’t afford the additional repairs and the repairs total out to more than what my car is worth. So the driving today helped, I’m going to take it out a bit tomorrow, and then on Monday I’ll go get tested.

Admittedly, it’s weighing on my mind quite a bit. The car runs really well surprisingly, but if the state won’t give me a waiver for the light, I won’t be able to drive it. It’s daunting to think about, even more so that something always seems to break before I can save up any money in my emergency fund. I know we’ll figure it out, one way or another. More importantly, I know that worrying about it doesn’t help anything, yet, here we are.

So I guess, I’m going to try and get some sleep again. Good night out there.

Family Isn’t Just Blood, and Blood Doesn’t Mean Family

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I come from a very blended family. My immediate family consists of my Dad, Sister, Step Mom, Step Sister & Brother. My extended family is the same, with random marriages here and there, step siblings, grandpas, parents. We’re a pretty mixed bunch, and I completely love it.

Though as some of you know, I don’t stay in touch with my mother’s family. 90% of it is we are just living different lives, and lost touch over the years. Some of them I avoid because they’re toxic human beings who made me miserable and influenced my life in negative ways. Hell, while I now know my Dad’s side of the family (estranged for most of my not-adult life thanks to shit I had no control over), and I love talking with them, I’m also not super close to them. It is what it is, and just because we share some kind of genetics doesn’t mean I have to force them to hang out with me, or go out of my way to hang out with them.

I will go out of my way to help or spend time with my immediate family, not so much outside of it. However, I also include other people in my “family”. I have close friends who I consider family, people who have been there for me during the rough times as well as the good times. Hell, I would drive across the damn country if I was needed. That’s what family does.

My point being, is that it doesn’t matter your actual blood relation, adoption, or marriage for that matter.. what counts is your actions. Just because you’re related to one another doesn’t mean that there has to be some sort of relationship, that also means that you don’t have to tolerate negativity from someone just because they’re “related” to you.

While I learned this lesson long ago, someone close to me is learning it now, and it’s hard to watch it unfold even though I’m happy to see them standing up for themselves. This person has been struggling with their family’s constant monitoring of them, and their need for constant contact for years now. I’ve watched it unfold as they were expected to drop everything, regardless of their plans to preform some menial task for family. Over the years, as this person learned tasks that are pretty essential to being an adult, they started to wonder why their family didn’t teach them any of this, and why it seems like they were set up to fail. Hell, I wondered that much myself. All it took was them standing up for themselves and asking their parents to stop doing something illegal and frankly absolute bullshit for the threats to begin.

It was the eye-opening moment for them, they were able to see that if their family doesn’t get what they want, or the control they apparently crave, they will attempt to undermine this person’s livelihood. 

Unfortunately, sometimes that’s just the way it is. All you can do is accept whatever behavior your “family” has, accept their attitude, and ask yourself: “Is this what I’m going to subject myself with for the the foreseeable future?” You can either deal with it, accept the negativity or back away, limit contact or cut them out of your life.

No one should have to put up with blackmail, negativity, abuse, or any of that in their life just because “they’re family”. That’s an absolute horseshit excuse. Just because someone is “family” to you, doesn’t mean you get to use them, threaten them, or control them.

That’s not what family is, and family is more the blood.