Getting off the Altar Of Others and Setting Yourself Free

And there God is...

And there God is…

The Altar of Another

At certain times in our lives, we are likely to end up on the altar of another, as the symbolic sacrifice. This happens when another person is unable or unwilling to handle his or her own life, and looks for a scapegoat, or in this poem’s phrasing, the sacrificial lamb.

In my own world, the altar upon which I am most likely to be sacrificed upon is the altar of stepparenting. Only with time and experience am I realizing to do this to someone is not only wrong, but ineffective. I can not be the sacrificial offer of the failed marriage and the, at times, dysfunction of the children which resulted.

I am not meant to play such a role, nor are you. Whenever you find yourself in the situation of serving as scapegoat for another, climb down off that altar, and set yourself free. Your heart, spirit, and soul are too important to be relegated to such a role as sacrificial offer in the lives of others.

The altar I teeter,
Then totter upon,
Is one held dear
To almost all men.

To take my place
I held my beliefs,
cloaked my hopes, and
entered ceremony,

Upon these circumstances
Dressed in gold
I stood at the point
Of vision and vows

And allowed my self
To be relegated
To sacrificial offer
On the marriage with
Children altar

What God had made,
Man ended, and
Dues were to be paid.
Confused wanderings
In the desert commenced.

Delusional ravings
Along the parental spectrum
“They are not yours”
“Love them like your own”

What insanity,
What labyrinth
Lay in wait
For open hearts
And soaring souls

The parental axiom
“not our fault”
Tolling the bell of
The end, before it

They know not what
They do-
Innocent are they-
Awaiting the lamb
Upon the altar.

13 thoughts on “Getting off the Altar Of Others and Setting Yourself Free

  1. I tried step-parenting ONCE and never again. Pain you feel, I share! You are NEVER good enough and you’re damned if you parent, and damned if you don’t. Set yourself free.

    • Ha!! Thanks for your words of support. I love how you write that you tried stepparenting “ONCE” and that was enough. Until you live the experience, you really have no idea how it really is. 🙂

  2. As you are aware through my posts, I lost my stepfather a little over a year ago. I was in 7th grade when my mother remarried. We moved into his home soon after the wedding. Although I did not love my stepfather out of the starting gate, I respected him because he loved my mother. I could see that immediately. He respected her, too, and her ability to parent. By the time I graduated from high school and was off to college, I loved him. None of my sisters or I or my mother ever tried to blame him for our mistakes. We were 100% accountable for our mistakes and our successes for that matter. He was proud of us for our triumphs just as my mother and father were. But he didn’t take credit for any of it. And that’s what good parents do, regardless if they are the birth parents, the adoptive parents or the stepparents. They guide children in the hopes of them finding joy and happiness. The burden is on the children to make the most out of life and not the fault or efforts of the parents. 🙂

      • Glad to hear that you had a good experience, Paula. It’s so often more like Brenda’s (and my own). Step-parenting is a tough, tough job, Kimberly – I really feel for you. *Hugs*

      • Thanks!! It is such a strange situation- to be judged, while others are completely left off the hook. It speaks to the insecurity and fear of my stepchildren’s parents that when things get bad, it must somehow be “Kim’s fault”. I would never give my power away to someone in this manner.

      • My stepfather had challenges, I won’t lie. My mom had 4 daughters to help parent and we were/are each very different with quite opposing personalities. Luckily for him, our father didn’t interfere with the new family my mom and stepfather were building. And we didn’t pay any attention to our father when he did speak ill of our stepfather. Our dad’s opinion of our stepfather mattered little considering he didn’t know my stepfather. I do think part of my stepfather’s success was a result of my mother never taking sides. She left it up to my stepfather and us to work through any difficulties. I do not envy anyone in his or Kimberly’s position. I’m thankful he never gave up on us, though. I am a better person today for having him as one of my influences. 🙂

      • Whoa! Thanks for your final lines. Even if my stepchildren value that I never gave up on them, I would consider it such a victory. Your posting just helped remind me that families come in all shapes and sizes. There is truly no “right way”, we all create it day by day.

  3. I was never a step-parent, but my 2nd husband was, to a 13 year girl and a 14 year boy…who had NO FATHER in their lives for 10 years! I, the mom, was the only constant in their lives and all of a sudden here’s this guy who wasn’t going to take crap. Yep it was rough, me and the kids were already in family counseling and then we brought the ‘new’ guy in. Somethings were okay others were not…we had a couple of ‘outsiders’ that didn’t help things…my socio-pathic narcissitic adopted-out sister that I write about…but we all grew up and are still standing…whether you are a step-parent or a foster parent (I had foster parents)…some times you win, some times you lose…either way, you have to live the life you have at any given moment, the best you can!

    • Lovely final sentiment. We all walk our paths. Stepparenting has taught me so much about myself and also about how others traverse life. We never know why things unfold as they do, but if we are lucky and brave, we will find ourselves within the “mess”. 🙂

  4. You captured this again so precisely and beautifully. You are an exceptional poet, artist, thinker – your work is a true blessing.

    This poem inspired some new thoughts which I thought might be worth sharing.

    It is always the one with a good heart who feels the “obligation” of self-sacrifice; whereas the one who inflicts the damages is the one who demands someone else’s sacrifice.

    Narcissists love to see the others’ self-sacrifice for them. Sacrifice implies suffering, and these pathological minds simply enjoy when others are suffering, deprived of joy and freedom.

    Many of those who suffer because of having been abused are entrapped in such situation and they see the only way out in the other extreme. Hence, as the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people”. But the ones who really hurt the others intentionally and by choice is a narcissist.

    What makes a narcissist is the very feature that he/she wants to hurt intentionally and keeps such intention consistently. There is a world of difference between a helpless victim, raging and struggling, and the smooth operator, the kind and pretending, the real narcissist. The difference between them is often too difficult to understand …

    • I so agree with your last statement. And it is our empathy that often results in our struggle to not recognized the difference. One of our greatest attributes is that we truly care about others. And, in the sense of reciprocation in a relationships, we will self-sacrifice to a degree, thinking such acts will be returned to us. With abusers, the return in sacrifice and kindness never show up.

      We learn so much when we must deal with abusers. We in some ways are forced to confront our own self-value. Thank you so much for your thoughtful words and helping us stay on track as far as paying attention to people’s intentions.

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