Written by: Tina Marcella
I was 12 years old. I could hear laughter and loud music coming from the basement, while the smell of heavy smoke and alcohol wafted into my second floor bedroom.
I laid in bed praying to God that the party would stop. That everyone would just calm down so I could get to sleep and dream for a better tomorrow.
But I guess it was just wishful thinking.
The shots of vodka were being poured faster than my dad could drink them. Smash, another glass broke. He was now inching his way closer to the personality change I feared the most. It was only a matter of time until the angry, irrational, non remorseful, and scary side of my father showed its ugly head.
If the past is any indicator of the future, I knew a fight was on the horizon. I could feel it.
The party finally ended, but in my father’s world, that meant the night was just beginning. That’s when the physical and verbal altercations between my mom and my inebriated father began. This is what many children dread when the go to bed. This is the reason young kids don’t even want to come home.
This was history repeating itself…again.
Sometimes these fights were contained to the first floor, far enough away from my bedroom that I didn’t have to watch. But most times it was right in front of me.
Often I would jump in front of my mother to protect her. My three other siblings and I would try and calm the situation, hoping that THIS time it would work. That this night would be the fight to end all fights. My father would realize his wrong doings, he would get the help he needed, and my family would be happy once again.
Fast forward 25 years later, and that dream continues to remain a fantasy that has yet to be fulfilled.
But this isn’t a story about an alcoholic father with a violent personality. It is a story about the path my mom has chosen, and how I finally realized it was time to break away and start my own.
Later into my adult years and after moving out of the house, my phone would ring practically every other night. It was mom again. And I would always debate whether or not I should I pick it up. After living with the abuse for so long myself, I couldn’t bear to hear about another incident that would make both of us cry.
But after being exposed to these altercations over and over again, there was one thing I never understood: why is my mother still with this person!? Why does she take abuse in every form imaginable, including some words that cut deeper than any hand slap could?
My brothers, sister, and I have tried for years to convince her to leave. “Mom,” we would say. “Stay with us. You have four kids and four different homes to live in.”
We insisted that her life could be so much better and more meaningful if she would just make the decision to walk away.
But our words always fell on deaf ears.
To this day my mother still sits by my father’s side, somehow always making excuses for him. Saying things like, “he really isn’t a bad guy”, or “when he doesn’t drink he is a different person.”
I guess I could agree with that. Somewhat.
But it took almost 40 years for that proverbial light bulb to finally go off in my head. It was the same night my phone rang (again).
I knew if I picked it up, I would be in for a stressful hour. And that’s when I decided enough was enough. I refused to answer.
It suddenly dawned on me: why should I continue to suffer and get angry because of my mom’s poor choices and co-dependency with my dad? Despite our pleas and safe exit plans, she has made a choice to stay. I realized that I could not make her take a different path, even though I wanted it more than anything.
And that was the problem all along. I WANTED IT. She didn’t.
I had to relinquish control. She is on her own journey. Just like we don’t enjoy it when other people tell us how to live our lives, she didn’t like it either. Yes we saw a better future for her, but sadly she didn’t. And now I know it’s up to her for find her own path, and walk through it. Only she can make that decision to change.
I made a pact last year that I would no longer allow her to run the conversations about my dad. That if she calls with another problem, I would quickly change the subject. That her decisions are not meant to run my life.
My life, my lessons, and my path are based on MY decisions, not the decisions of anyone else. Someone else’s journey is meant for them, not for me. I love her and will always support her, but I now know that our lives can be separate. I decided that HER story does not have to be MY story.
We love our parents with our heart and soul. We want to protect them just as they “protected” us. When we see one or both parents making choices that stress and hurt them, we take it personally. But you have to let it go. Everyone is on their own journey. You on yours, them on theirs.
I now feel liberated about my decision, and excited about my future. I live more freely, and feel as though a weight has truly been lifted. Bottom line, I am finally a peace and accepting of mom’s continued circumstances.
Our journeys are there so that we can learn from them. So if they haven’t learned their lesson yet, it’s ok. We just need to accept what is, and follow our own path. Let everyone else follow theirs.
Moral of the story: living someone else’s life is tough! The freedom of letting go of what you can’t control is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
Tina Marcella is a Certified Personal Power and Performance Coach and creator of The Fabulous Factor. She assists entrepreneurs in gaining clients and visibility by refining their brand and message. Her programs are based on Massive Transformation and igniting inner Personal Power! Tina’s inspiration for this decision came from a book titled Co-dependent no more” by Melody Beattie. A book that has changed her life.