An Open Letter To My Second Mom

An Open Letter To My Second Mom

Thank you for all that you are.
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You've been around far too long to not hear this thank-you.

After about 8 years, I think it's fair to say that you know me better than I know myself. On the days I can't necessarily pinpoint what's getting me down, you've usually got a pretty good idea, and you've already figured out what to do in order to lift my spirit. Like my own mother, you know my "normal", and you're the first to recognize when something's a little off kilter. When I'm acting out of the ordinary or something seems out of place, you know me well enough to ask what's up.

You're familiar with my strengths and weaknesses, and you always encourage me to pursue them. You're honest with me. And you know the difference between the times when I need you to be straight forward with me and the times when I need a delicate reminder to get it together. You never hesitate to call me out when I need a little attitude adjustment, and you never let me get down on myself without a little word of encouragement. But that's only one of the ways you make me a better version of myself. When I'm feeling unconfident, you are quick to remind me of my strengths, and very quickly you pull me out of my pity parties.

You offer me a safe place to come to when I'm struggling and don't know where to turn. You hold secrets I couldn't even muster to tell some of my closest friends, and you truly listen to me. You scold me, sure, if that's what I need-- I mean you are still a "mom" figure in my life, but you are also gentle and compassionate when I need nurturing, just like my mother would.

One of my favorite things about you is that you say what's on your mind. You're blunt, and anyone who knows you knows this about you. And although it may have hurt my feelings once or twice, I needed your honesty. No one gets anywhere in life by being babied, and I sure as hell don't want to be oblivious to my shortcomings.

You offer a serious and sensitive side to our relationship, but more importantly you offer a carefree, fun side. Whether we are sitting out on the back deck enjoying a hot summer day and working on our tans with drinks in hand, or meeting up for dinner and drinks where you wouldn't hesitate to not-so-gracefully hint at the cute server that I'm single, there's no doubt that wherever we are, whatever we're doing, laughs will be shared. In fact, many of those laughs lead to a few to many margaritas and someone usually nearly wetting their pants from laughing too hard. You are my second mom, but you are my friend too.

Your hugs bring a comfort that I can't find anywhere else. When I first met you, you weren't necessarily the most sensitive person, but that has changed a bit since then. I always knew, though, that when you would get sentimental, you actually meant it. I don't think that'll ever change. You have a tough barrier to break through, but once you're on the inside it's clear. The hugs get tighter, the sentiments get sweeter, and the laughs get louder.

Thank you for being you. Every single ounce of who you are, you have brought joy and comfort and fun to my life. You have made average days more enjoyable and bad days better. You are my rock, constantly and steadily supporting me no matter what, and without you I would crumble. I love you to the moon and back again.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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