Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ten Days of Thanksgiving - Day 10

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! I'm finishing up my "Ten Days of Thanksgiving" series with my final post.

Today, I am thankful for my mom.

I've talked about my mom a lot on my blog. We have a really close relationship and she is honestly one of the best friends I have ever had. Once I graduated from college and started my new job, the last thing on my mind was moving out. In fact, I plan on living with her for a few more years. It's cheaper and we get along. I see no reason in leaving home just yet.

I've already talked up and down how much I admire her as a person. It's a given that I am thankful for her and our great relationship. Today, I want to talk about how thankful I am for one specific, big decision she made. It was a hard decision and took a whole lot of guts, courage, and bravery for her to take this big step.

I am thankful that my mom left my dad.

I was 11 years old and in fifth grade when she sat me down to tell me she would be leaving my father. Since their relationship had been more volatile and unhappy, I wasn't sad. I was relieved. As Dr. Phil likes to say, "Children would rather be from a broken home than in one." In my case, this is 100% true.

My father had (has?) a gambling addiction. He refused to admit he did but would blow his entire paycheck on gambling. He would go to Derby Lane on the weekends (and sometimes on the weekdays) to bet on the dogs. And I guess if he was actually GOOD at it, it wouldn't have caused such a problem. (It still would be one, I think, but extra money could soften the blow, ha!) He was terrible. He almost never won and if he did, since he had an addiction, it never stopped there. He kept trying to get more and more money. My dad would promise my mom the world -- once he won. She was constantly disappointed by him.

If that was the end of his problems, that would be enough. But it wasn't. In addition to a gambling addiction, he also had a drinking and anger problem. He had a short fuse and it didn't take much to set him off. My mom bore the brunt of his anger and she was the victim of physical abuse more times than I care to think about. That's what scared me the most. Imagine being a 7-year-old little girl, huddled underneath your bed with a pillow pressed tightly against your ears to drown out the sounds of their arguing. Of the abuse. I remember silently begging my mom to "just be quiet" but also so, so proud of her for standing up and fighting for herself and for us kids. I felt helpless to do anything. My dad when he was angry was not someone I wanted to be around.

After twelve years of marriage, my mom finally made the bold move to leave her husband. To take her 11-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son and move in with her parents. It had to be the scariest, most uncertain time in her life but she knew she had to leave him. She left him for us, but also for herself. Because he was sucking the soul out of her. She was a shell of the woman she is today. She knew she deserved better than what he was giving her.

Sometimes, we muse about what our life would have been like if my mom had stayed with my dad but those thoughts make me shudder. Things may have gotten better but I seriously doubt that (as my father has spiraled deeper and deeper into trouble in the 13 years since). Things would probably have been bad. Really bad.

My mom made a tough decision that had to have scared her to death. But she did it and persevered. I can only hope if I am in a situation that calls it me to make a tough decision, I can be as strong and courageous as her.

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