It’s not/never what you think.

In every way, she was my hero. Jacquie had done a brilliant job of making her mess, her message. As an accomplished writer, she took her trials of being a stepmother into an award-winning book, full of solutions. Her down-to-earth wisdom spoke to me. As a newly minted stepmother myself, I was looking for some kind of road map through the pot holes of a blended family that often felt more like….family IN the blender.

Jacquie projected a great sense of ease as she expanded the reach of her book with podcasts and StepMom support circles. Her creative media savvy seemed to match her skill as a writer. She also became a sought after speaker throughout the country. Her articles on being a stepmother appeared in every respected publication dealing with home and family issues. And her book actually became a guide for therapists, social workers, and family educators.

Success. Solutions. Support. Calm. Confidence. She projected all of it with such grace. Did I mention she was my hero?

We talked frequently back then. She helped me immensely with my own struggle to find my way with my new family. When she discovered my background in marketing and brand development, and when we discovered we had the same goals to enhance the lives of others, by sharing our own life experiences….we started talking about ways in which we could work together. But our conversations seemed to stall out and then fizzle out altogether. I never really knew why.

For a time, I wondered what I had done WRONG. Of course, I assumed that I was lacking. How could anyone of her expertise and accomplishment have need of me? Isn’t that where we all go? When things fizzle or just fall flat, how often do we assume it is because WE didn’t cut the mustard? Those “less-than” thoughts become what we protect. We spend our lives trying to project something else entirely….unless you are someone seasoned and solid and successful, like Jacquie….right?

That’s what I thought, for years. Until last week. When, out of the blue, Jacquie popped up in a personal post on Facebook. Facebook, of all places.

Here is what she had to say:

“I am still learning to trust the quiet voice that comes from deep inside my heart–the one that loves me just as I am. That values my opinion. That thinks I am a glorious miracle. It’s getting easier because of all the lovely souls who have helped me as I’ve struggled. I grew up morbidly obese and was bullied by my elementary school mates. I didn’t realize until recently how deeply this experience shaped my view of the world, of other people, and of myself. There is a part of me that will always be that humiliated, hurt and frightened little girl, cringing while others aimed arrows at her heart.

Instead of developing a loving inner cheerleader that protected me during those years, I created a scathing inner judge who said things to me that were 100 times worse than the things I heard from classmates or neighbors or family members. As an adult, I’ve had to train myself to have a positive inner voice…..I am grateful I found a way to continue to love me when I slip back into old abusive thought patterns…’s to all of our hearts. May you listen to yours and believe in its wisdom.”

Whodda thunk?

In all that she projected, there was so much being protected?

It reminded me of that quote, the one that goes something like….

“Be Kind. You never know the battles another is facing.”

When we make assumptions about people, in all that they may be projecting, we actually have no idea what they may be protecting. Funny thing about knowing a person’s whole story…what’s projected and what’s protected….do you ever think less of them? And, are you always surprised?

And, what I have learned is that what’s projected is not about being false, it’s about being tender. It’s about developing a certain kind of bumper-car protection that allows us to weather the crashes into life with a certain amount of assurance we will survive the ride, in one piece….and maybe to even rise above the ride. I believe the tender places needing protection can also become the launching pad for the determination/projection….that becomes a thing called GRACE.

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