Girl, Bye!! Mindset Makeover Week 12 #BFHOE #VIPStepmom #GirlBye #NajaHall

Hello Ladies!!! Welcome to Week 12 of our Girl, Bye Mindset Makeover book study (you can order the book HERE). This week I tackled Pages 142-153. Again, there are so many sections that are great food for thought depending on your unique situation and there were several components that I journaled individually in my book because … YES!!! But for the purpose of covering ONE main idea per week with the group, I chose this one.

Our loved one’s decisions CAN affect our ability to be involved in their lives…. some times you’ll have to STEP AWAY when their life choices conflict with yours…. you two need to learn to exist parallel for a while without intersectionality. Sometimes letting go gracefully can be the best way to build some type of new relationship with the person they are becoming.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t think I’ve ever cut off anything GRACEFULLY which reminds of the Lifeway Bible Study series I attended: Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst. But, that is the ultimate goal. Gracefully…. but, anyway.

Unfortunately, I have a history of allowing myself to be used when needed then discarded, used when needed then discarded, used when needed then discarded, and it’s a real struggle because I sometimes allow that under some type of “unconditional love” umbrella. In hindsight, I can see it really made me an enabler and my loved ones knew that they could do whatever and I’d likely still show up to bail them out even if I ended up wounded in the process. So guess when I heard from them? You got it! When they hit rock bottom or needed something. And it’s happened over and over and over. You would think I would learn, but apparently not LOL.

What I really needed to learn years and years ago (and still today) is that it is OKAY to step away from other people’s lives UNTIL a new, healthy relationship is possible. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or conditional or unloving, it means you are working to have HEALTHY relationships (and you don’t want to ENABLE them).

I love Miss Naja’s note that “letting go is something some people master, and others can never quite seem to get right” because I’m definitely in the second category but am getting better at it every day, week, month and especially this past year.

What was your take away of this week’s reading? Did you have a favorite part?

Coffee cheers your way. I’ll see ya next week.

 

 

 

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Girl, Bye!! Mindset Makeover Week 11 #BFHOE #VIPStepmom #NajaHall #GirlBye

Since so many people (raising my hand here) have had to hit pause on life and self-quarantine, I’m going to go ahead and start covering the book review in larger chunks (see the Journal – HERE). Initially I wanted to cover it in smaller sections as to not overwhelm other members of the small group, but I’ve actually finished the book already and have all of this free time so…. let’s rock and roll. Of course, GO AT YOUR OWN PACE. This is meant to be HELPFUL, enjoyable and reflective. It’s not a race by any means nor should it be another thing on your “to do list” that stresses you out.

Week 11 covers Pages 116-141. Page 116 really hits the nail on the head for many people. Miss Naja says “being a stepmom can unearth your own childhood traumas”. Um, heck to the YES! I, for one, DO have stepchild trauma. The Stepdad who raised me from age 3-17 and gave me away at my wedding dismissed me as “not his responsibility” as soon as my parents divorced. Even now, I see the question all the time “would you still have anything to do with your stepkids if you and their birth parent divorced”? And yes, I would. Because I personally cannot imagine doing to them what was done to me. Also, even if you did NOT grow up in a blended family, how you were raised can still mold how you parent. I hope Hubster doesn’t mind me sharing this story, but a decade ago Hubs told me about a time when he was growing up that other kids on the playground would make fun of his shoes (the K-Mart special). He grew up on limited funds by a single mother and was the youngest of 5 kids. Shoes were simply something to provide protection for your feet but it was something that has always bothered him. So, guess what? Hubs makes DARN sure that his kids have nice shoes. Always. We get them on sale and they usually aren’t the latest or greatest but they are trendy, name brand and in great condition.

What experiences did you have growing up that have altered the way you parent or hope to parent one day?

Throughout the remaining pages of this section, Naja really puts that Master Family Coaching training to work. Don’t be bitter, be better. Do this, not that. She even gives a Personal Assessment that starts with …. drum roll please… accepting accountability and takes you through an AACEE journey. That journey will be intimate and personal for each person but she really gives you plenty of time and space to work through your own baggage.

Finally, she wraps up Page 140 with one of my favorite life lessons of ALL TIME. You are OBLIGATED TO LOVE YOURSELF. I have said that for YEARS and LOVE that reminder. I always have and I always will. After all, even “love your neighbor as yourself” requires you to love yourself first. Or as RuPaul says, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else…”. And yes, I did quote both the Bible and RuPaul in the same paragraph on purpose because this concept is not limited to any particular race, religion or political affiliation. That’s the beauty of it. It is limitless. Self-care is not selfish. Love yourself.

 

 

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Girl, Bye!! Mindset Makeover Week 10 #BFHOE #VIPStepmom #NajaHall #GirlBye

This week’s personal goal was pages 108-115 and it didn’t take long to say Ah Hah! Yes, Amen Naja, PREACH!!! In fact, it was Page 108 LOL. Naja said “Forbidding your child from liking me isn’t hurting me. It’s hurting them”. (You can order the journal HERE).

If you know me, you know I really don’t care if people like me or not. A pastor named Duane Sheriff used to say that 10% of people automatically won’t like you, so stop trying to please everyone (because you can’t). Also, I am very ADHD, can over talk, interrupt, and lately have been Miss Grumpy Pants. So, I’m definitely not for everyone. I get it. And I’m 100% ok with that. But back to the kids…

When it comes to the kids, it really hurts them, bothers them, and puts a lot of pressure on them to make sure they don’t smile when they talk about something we did fun or to even mention my name. I remember a few years ago one of the kids said “I accidentally said you really liked a song that was playing on the radio, so my mom turned it off and I got in trouble for bringing you up. We aren’t allowed to speak your name”. Look, if that’s true, I’m flattered. Seriously. But that really puts unnecessary pressure on kids who are already working on keeping 2 homes in balance. And now they’ve began to associate liking or bonding with their stepparent with discipline or getting in trouble which causes anxiety for them. Meanwhile, I’m not missing any sleep over it at all. It hurts them, not me.

There’s something else I’ve learned about this blended family gig. Although the kids become adults and graduate high school and the court order becomes irrelevant one day, the kids still have milestone events that both sides of the family may choose to attend such as high school graduations, college graduations, weddings, baby showers, child births, grandkid birthday parties. So the sooner you can help the children relax, the better because this is a looooooooong journey.

PS: Check out page 112. Stepmoms versus Stepdads. I really wanted to address this topic too because there is such a huge double standard between these 2 roles. Maybe we can chat about that more in the group coming up.

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Girl, Bye!! Mindset Makeover Week 9 #BFHOE #VIPStepmom #NajaHall #GirlBye

Hey hey hey!!! I wanted to take a moment to blog a few thoughts about Week 9’s goal (pages 100-107) from the Mindset Makeover Journal (link HERE). One would think that with only 7 pages to choose from, this would get easier but NOPE lol. This section is packed with all kinds of excellent advice such as: If he’s not the BEST man you’ve ever been with RUN!!! Initially, I wanted to blog that point because it’s 100% relevant. In my case, Hubster is the best man I’ve ever been with so …. but even then, RUN RUN RUN I have on occasion. Next up…

Do you know how some bio moms will completely flip their switch and go crazy bananas when their ex remarries? Miss Naja says that a HCBM that is not used to having boundaries may initially use YOU as a helping hand but will ultimately turn on you. If y’all only knew… In 3-4 years I’m going to share some of these initial emails and texts I received asking me to attend events, send photos, babysit on weekends while she worked, meet half way for visits, only to have me reminded that “no kind deed goes unpunished”. I LOVE that Naja teaches and encourages strong, firm & fierce boundaries from DAY ONE. I have said it a dozen, thousand, million ka-jillion times. If I could go back and do ANYTHING different it would be to remain in hiding permanently. She also gives some critical tips and tricks that are so useful in high conflict cases such as limiting all contact to email, don’t be available by text, only engage or respond to matters dealing specifically with court ordered communications related to the children. In the larger stepmom group I’m in, so so so so many stepmoms are stressed out and frazzled from what is essentially a lack of boundaries. Get those boundaries up and keep them there.

Finally, my FAVORITE Naja reminder is don’t be this person. Don’t be petty. Wish HCBM peace and blessings. And I agree that is the right thing to do. But let’s be honest, so much of the stepmom struggle is the lack of empathy and support and understanding many stepmoms have. I think many HCBM’s will truly develop a much stronger sense of understanding when they themselves become stepmoms and can see the larger picture from a different perspective. I’m sure they don’t appreciate their husband’s ex nagging or complaining about them, damaging their reputation, talking negatively about them to their stepkids, spreading lies about them, etc. Seeing a different perspective – as a stepmom – may help them in the long run. It’s difficult to understand the stepmom journey until you’ve become one.

So, coffee cheers your way and I look forward to chatting with you next week.

 

 

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Girl, Bye!! Mindset Makeover Week 8 #VIPStepmom #GirlBye #NajaHall #BFHOE

Week 8’s goal was Pages 90-99 of the Mindset Makeover Journal (link HERE). It was a pleasure to read and journal this week because every single page turn was new food for thought and all of them made excellent topics (such as how being a stepchild helped mold you as a stepparent, stepmom shaming, stepmom martyring, bio mom lingo in a what she said versus what she meant format).

My biggest struggle this week was picking ONE and ONLY ONE topic to blog. I decided to tackle this topic because Hubster has checked me on this soooooo many times. Naja says “Not all kids with a HCBM take on her temperament. Be careful not to isolate a stepchild that actually desires a relationship with you”. AGH y’all. This. Is. Such. A. Challenge.

In my situation, the oldest stepchild absolutely has HCBM’s temperament and is literally her Mini Me. Which is fine. That’s her character, nature, behavior, temperament, DNA and birthright. But it’s not a good blend or fit with my makeup, nature, behavior, etc. It also proved to be very destructive. I developed a protective barrier and made the mental note that extending my hand would result in wounds so I stopped extending it. Boundaries. Also fine. But I also began approaching the other stepchildren in a “you could bite the hand that feeds you any moment, so I’m going to approach you with caution as often and as long as possible”. In fact, I would tell my husband “don’t trust anyone… or, oh just wait…”. WAITING for child X, Y or Z to prove my theory correct. And THAT drove my husband crazy with me!!! I was not mean or rude, I was just distant. I didn’t isolate the child, but I isolated MYSELF. If Child X, Y or Z wanted to cuddle and watch TV or desired affection, I sort of treated them like a potentially vicious dog that could be prone to biting at any minute. Like, I’ll pet you and cuddle you but I’m going to be very very careful with it. I certainly didn’t approach it with the same affection and openness I’d had with my littles. Not because I didn’t want to but out of protection to self and an abundance of caution.

With TIME and PATIENCE and PRACTICE I have gotten a little better about this. I’ve began to see the other stepchildren as individuals, as Hub’s offspring and DNA, and they honestly do have A LOT of their dads behavior, temperament, demeanor and character. Yet, still … I find myself guarded very very very often and I hate it. I wish I was more open. It’s just difficult for me, ya know.

Is this something that you also struggle with? If so, does it drive your spouse batty?

At the end of the day we are all a work in progress. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There are times we can run and times we can rest. On this topic, I’m just going to rest for a few and let it marinade some more. Acknowledging this is the first step and baby steps work for me.

Coffee cheers your way.

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Girl, Bye!! Mindset Makeover Week 7 #VIPStepmom #GirlBye #NajaHall #BFHOE

img_6434Hey Y’all 🙂 How’s your journal reading and workbook going? Week 7’s reading goal was pages 78-89.

In typical Naja fashion, there are so many critical reminders packed within this handful of pages, each of which could be highlighted in FULL. For example, “you may not have been his FIRST WIFE but you’re his FOREVER WIFE”. Or my favorite nugget reminder regarding whether your stepchild will ever love you if the child’s mother doesn’t like you… “Sorry, but if your stepchild’s mother discourages the child from bonding with you, at best, the relationship will be surface and superficial”. THANK YOU Naja for that reminder because I have lived that one and just had to let it go. I learned pretty early on that positive contact with me by a stepchild resulted in discipline and punishment to the child. In fact, being ugly or saying mean things about me was met with rewards. I spent YEARS and lots of mental space attempting to change that and it didn’t work. Putting ALL OF THAT in the f@ck it bucket (see last week) – changing my perspective rather than trying to change the outcome – really helped me with that.

She also dives into what I believe is one of the most important reminders for stepparents which she refers to as Reverse Stepmom Enmeshment – “When a stepmom is unable to compartmentalize her feelings of contempt for her stepkid’s mom and separate it from her stepkids”. There are absolutely occasions when the child is literally the ex spouses mini me and works full time to damage the family relationship any way they can (with their dad, stepmom, stepmoms bio kids, etc). But there are also women that cannot separate their stepchild from the ex spouse and the child suffers for it. The child is not to blame for the “antics” of the ex spouse. That is HER issue, HER need for control, HER need to cause pain, HER need to remain in the spotlight, but it’s not the child’s fault. It’s really not. The child is simply being used as a tool – an arrow – to wound the ex spouse. And guess what, most kids DO and WILL see that later in life for themselves (most, not all).

Do any of these issues ring out to you? What struck you the most this week?

For more info about the journal or to join in, grab your copy HERE.

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Girl, Bye!! Mindset Makeover – Week 6 #VIPStepmom #GirlBye #NajaHall #BFHOE

img_6194Hey, Hey, Hey!!! It is Week 6. This week’s reading and journaling goal was pages 66-77.

Many parts of this section were SO FUNNY!!! I loved it. Have you ever heard of a “F@ck It Bucket”? Naja defines the F@ck It Bucket as a metaphorical place where you put things you really don’t care about or don’t want to deal with at the time.

Oh ya’ll…. YES!!! About 1-2 years ago I gave myself a challenge to allow myself to SCHEDULE (or reschedule) things that I just didn’t have the energy to deal with immediately (because I was driving, or working, or needed to talk to Hubs first). I called it “hitting pause” on something. But, when you hit pause, you’ve got to come back and hit PLAY eventually UNLESS you discard it in the F@ck It Bucket entirely!!!

Pages 76-77 are worth noting as well because she teaches you how to handle someone who has been triggered. And I’ve been on both sides of that coin. There have been times when I am the “ding, ding, ding, you better listen, you better listen, you better listen” end and times I’ve been on the “what is this crazy chic doing” end. Learning to self-calibrate your emotions once you’ve been triggered is in imperfect art. For some (raising my hand here) it is 2 steps forward 1 step back, 3 steps forward 1 step back, 4 steps forward 1 step back. Becoming #TeamUnbothered is a trial and error, work and homework, get knocked down but get back up process. But the goal is the same. The art of becoming UNBOTHERED by BS you cannot control.

Hugs hugs hugs ladies!!! Coffee cheers your way. And I’ll meet you back here next week.

P.S. It’s never too late to join in the book club. Grab a copy HERE and come back later to comment and participate.

 

 

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