Counting the Costs Part 2 – Building new, not adding on – Grieving

June 2nd, 2014

Counting the costs for creating new relationships in the family – remarriage, adoption, fostering – is often viewed as bringing someone new into the current situation and having him ( her) remold or re-make to fit the existing family. The same is true about learning how to prepare for the new situation – reading something and trying to blend it in with what is already known. Results are like trying to set jello while it is simmering on the stove.  It can’t be done.

When another is brought into the family – in whatever means and what ever age – you have chosen to change what the family is. It isn’t often discussed about losing what you have when you make the choice for new relationships, but there is no neat space another person will come in and fill that complements the time, energy and attention you have to offer. It will always be more and different that you imagined because you had only imagined it based on nothing real in the experience of this person.Your children will get tired, and become irritable with the changes in their lives.  You will find yourself more tired, less prepared and less loving often in the process. It will impact everyone in the family more than you had prepared for and differently  than how you had explained it. You will grieve the loss, doubt your decision and, if you continue to hold on the what was before, resent and scapegoat some member(s) of the family.

In a similar way, using educational and instructional materials that do not address assimilation, trauma, abandonment and grief will not provide the healing and support the new family (and you) require. Old control and consequence models will not build the trust and create the safety everyone will need in this new formation. Letting go of what you thought you knew to understand in a new way what will strengthen and provide the peace each member will need to grow can feel uneasy and frightening. You may grasp to hold on to it. Until you can exercise the trust to do life and love a new way, you will not be able to show it to the family. The transition is challenging. You will lose some of the confidence and competence you thought you had. You will no longer define yourself in the same way.

Life in the fast lane – or even on the shoulder of the free way -will give way to travel on small, narrow, under developed paths. That means what you take with you will need to be pared away. Extras – which you thought were essentials – like church committees, room mother, choir, community organizations, men’s/women’s groups, immaculate home,  and even 3 balanced meals a day, independence, and private bathroom time.  You may become the one receiving and needing the support of meals, laundry, yard work, transportation, rather than being the one to arrange those schedules for others. You will need to depend and trust in a different way.

Can you? Will you?

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