There are moments in your life that will never leave you.
They will imprint themselves in your memory forever.
The one for me was the night my mother revealed her inner strength and showed me how to rise above the darkness.
It was winter, and the snow was falling. Big soft flakes, creating a pure canvas all around.
The night felt still and peaceful, but that was to change.
At home, I remember getting the call.
“I need you!” came the voice on the other end of the phone.
It was my mother.
I stopped what I was doing, opened the front door, and ran.
I ran from one end of town to the other.
Her voice was different and I knew I had to be by her side. For this was the night that I saw and understood what strength and courage was.
Many women live in abusive relationships with the fear of saying the words “It’s over”.
This fear has many moving parts.
What if he walks out right there and then, and never comes back?
What if he becomes so enraged that his wrath will destroy everything?
What if he takes the kids?
What if I can’t make it on my own?
What if I am making a huge mistake?
But the one scenario my mother didn’t think of was– what if he says NO.
NO! I am not leaving.
NO! This is my family, my home and we are going to stay together.
YOU will get over this.
YOU will change your mind.
What do you do then?
Well, you live in misery. You walk on egg shells. Your anxiety and stress become unbearable. Until you hit rock bottom. Until the unthinkable happens. The abuse blows the roof off the house and my mother realizes if she stays any longer she will lose her daughter forever. Because I cannot live this life with him anymore.
As my father became his lowest self, my mother became her highest self. His unforgivable actions one night created a stillness in our home that made my mother know that this was the end of her ‘family’.
And we left.
I will always feel grateful that she had the courage to save us from a life of… I will be honest…Hell.
My memories of our first night of freedom in our little subsidized townhouse were so,
All three of us felt it. The stress was gone. The yelling was gone. The abuse was gone. Our day of reckoning had come and we welcomed it with open arms.
I cannot say the same for my father.
The guilt became overwhelming for us all. As it somehow does for victims. We somehow feel guilty for the damaged abuser.
The call that came on that winter’s night, was the realization that my father’s life had stood still from the day we moved out and that on the day he was to leave he hadn’t packed a thing.
He reached out to my mother for help, and out of a sense of obligation and wanting closure she went, with the expectation that she was helping him wrap up the odds and ends of his move. Instead she walked into a house that still held the remains of a family that had left months before.
As I reached the house and walked up the stairs to the front door, my heart was filled with fear and I was incredibly anxious to open the front door, not knowing what I was going to find on the other side. My biggest fear was that the guilt would overcome my mother and that she would change her mind and take him back.
Instead what I found were two exhausted parents.
When something ends for good, or for bad, the open wound at the beginning seems irreparable. And the light at the end of the tunnel is extinguished.
I followed my mother’s lead and took her direction as she worked through the mess and failures my father had brought upon her life.
These were the times before mental illness, depression and anxiety where acceptable or even acknowledged. And to be frank, it wasn’t even anything we had heard of, or knew of. But as the months and years past, the evidence of mental illness surfaced and became the reality for my father.
I would say this explained many things. Hopefully releasing my mother of her guilt for leaving him.
But what she did, during a period of time where things seemed impossible, was to create the possible for her two daughters.
She saved us.
She chose us.
She always has and I know she always will.
She is the embodiment of leading by example. I try every day to be as good as she is.
To live with optimism.
To see the good in all those around you.
To work through struggles without complaint, but to stand strong and push through.
To live with little and to be happy about it.
To be a realist, but always have a dream.
To support your community in whatever way you can. Raising money through charity events that enrich other people’s lives.
To strive every day to be the best you can be.
To live simply and enjoy life’s little pleasures.
So, on days when I struggle to be a better mother, wife, sister, friend, employee or simply just a better person, my mother is ALWAYS my first call.
She will always be my sounding board and the person I go to when I know that sometimes there is just no one else who understands where I am coming from. She has been the person who I have confessed my darkest secrets too, as well as my most ridiculous dreams.
Of all the lessons I have seen her embody, and of which I am still struggling to achieve every day, is the simplicity of just being you. My most treasured memories she created for my sister and I, was that she was simply just herself. We lived a real life. She was always present and there. Loving us unconditionally and creating a bond of safety and respect for our uniqueness. Never trying to change us, but cherishing the women we were growing into.
As I began this blog and revealed some of my darkest secrets—and some of hers, she took time to understand and show support. To dig down deep with me. To hear me and know that writing was my way of healing. She is so brave and so strong it amazes me…truly it does.
And I believe this comes from how she breaks down the world. Believing that kindness and love will always be your best choices.
This is what she has always given me, from my first breath, to now my 43rd year as her daughter. Through ever struggle, hardship and battle I have faced, she has been by my side and I love her so much for this.
This is my blessing in this life.
Thank you for bringing me into this world and for being the absolute best mother imaginable.
I love you.