The Power of I Love You Mama

01 April 2011
I was sitting in the play room with my girls the other day, watching them with their eyes glued to the television. The dancing colors and the music that came from the screen only held their attention momentarily, until my oldest caught me watching them. “What is it, mama?” She asked, “Nothing Li Li.” I responded, then she got up, climbed in my lap, wrapped her little arms around my necks and said I love you mama!

Not abnormal in most families, but a year ago, I rarely heard those words slip out of my daughters’ mouth. In this moment,, though my mind was racing with the stress of the other responsibilities I had, I pushed them out of my mind, blinked back the bitter sweet tears, kissed her cheek and turned on another cartoon to watch as she snuggled in my lap.

See I am going through a divorce, my second, to be accurate. This time I am getting out of a very abusive four year relationship. A year ago I was a broken person. I moved to Fort Wayne Indiana with my parents when my husband went to prison for soliciting drugs. In Missouri we were living in a homeless shelter, and I was just a hollow shell of what looked like a woman. I laughed and smiled at the appropriate times, but they were just empty movements, just what I knew was acceptable. Most nights I cried myself to sleep. I thought this was because I missed my husband, because I had no idea how long he would be gone, but looking back now I cried because I missed myself.

For a few months I focused solely on getting him out of prison. I spent hours on the phone with disrespectful lawyers and rude secretaries, all of them telling me the same thing, “Get out!”. It wasn’t until I was belittled on the phone, first by a prosecuting attorney, then my husband, that I realized I was fighting a losing battle. You see from behind bars the only way he could hurt me was by cutting me down. For weeks I had been “amazing”, “the best wife anyone could ask for”, but sudeenly, because one court refused to work with his prison stint, I was unable to do anything right. “How could you think anyone could ever want you but me” was his response when I told him I was leaving two days later. His exact wording, I believe was, “fat nasty whore”, before I hung the phone up on him for the last time.

Again I cried myself to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, my dad dragged me into the bathroom and forced me to look at myself. There I stood, staring at my reflection, not recognizing the person looking back. I wasn’t sure how long I had gone without a shower, the last time I had applied my make-up or the last time I had even brushed my hair. I hated who I had become, I hated him for making me this robot, doing only what was necessary to make sure my kids were fed and taken care of, but most of all, I hated myself for allowing him to bring me down so much.

Flash forward to a year later. I have found myself again. I look in the mirror and I am slowly loving who I see. I smile because I’m happy, I laugh because I find it funny, and the woman staring back at me is human again. For four years I let a man tell me I was nothing, that I could be nothing, and I believed it. But that is not true. I am a mother, I am a friend, I am a daughter, and I am a woman. I have learned to never to depend on someone to make you who you are, not to allow someone to have control of your self-worth. As women we are, by nature beautiful and strong, smart and ambitious. I’m seeing my life with fresh eyes and I am seeing all the beautiful things I have missed, or pushed away all because I thought I needed something that was bad for me. I’m not saying that every day is easy, I have days where I want to do nothing but cry, nights where I DO nothing but cry, but each day I wake up I am thankful I got myself away from what was bringing me down , from something that would have ended up killing me. I look at my girls and I never want to see them as hurt as I was and I try everyday to make sure they have more than what I was giving them in the past and I am loving every minute of it. I do not need a man to make my life complete and worth living. I will never again allow another person to make me feel like they are my reason for living, because my value comes from who I actual am, not from who someone says I have to be.

2 comments: said...

You are no longer broken. It takes so much courage to write and share what you've written. The emotions scream for your desire to be loved and valued and you are.

I know what it's like to be in a relationship where I struggled to love myself because he made "me" seem ugly and fat. But, where I am and who I am is beautiful and I smile when I think of how far I've come.

Too bad you don't live in Oregon. You need to have a celebration party...celebrating you!!! I'm proud of you for forging your own way. You can do it!

Unknown said...

Thank you very much! I really appreciate your encouragement! It's been a struggle for ma and I hope that maybe I can inspire other women who are struggling with their self image because of what people think about them.