When your biological mother saw you as more as a pawn in her chess game; a two-dimensional cut-out to benefit or threaten her (and still does), it does a little bit of damage to your self-worth.
When I arrived at my father’s house the night I finally decided to leave my real mom, I didn’t understand what it was like to be my own person. The nights were cold and bitter and I was up for them all.
My room was always a place I stayed for a weekend, not weeks. The large house wasn’t lively when I was awake. I lost myself in sleeping all day and being up all night. The hallways twisted and turned with cold winter drafts and my brother’s empty room felt out of place.
I spent a few minutes at my mom’s house for Christmas. The warm colors and welcoming dining room were so different, juxtaposed against the cold, dark house I now called home. Did I make the right decision?
Moving to a new town, I decided to stay back a year in school and retry my Freshman year the next fall. So, nights were lonely. Days were quiet. Except for one thing.
Three times a day, I was woken up in my room with warm food. I was given a laptop to write with. When I was sad, someone would come in and give my hot chocolate. I was brought to therapy to work out my turbulent adolescence. My childhood.
I was brought to a psychiatrist to manage my anxiety. Quietly in the background, someone always had an eye on me. Someone was always there to talk when I needed. Someone was there to validate that it was okay to breathe. I could breathe. I could breathe!
I didn’t have friends in my new city. I was terrified to start my new school. Instead of letting me quit, I was dragged crying the entire way to school. Again and again. Someone believed in me.
Someone believed in me! I was hitting highest honors. In the new, big school, I made friends that had been good to me.
This could have been the opposite of my story.
I could’ve ended up a product of my environment. I could’ve started using like my biological mom. I could’ve ended my life before it wanted to. I could’ve ended up a million different ways, but I had someone who believed in me.
Someone who stepped up to a position that she wasn’t asked to. A position that people told her she didn’t belong in. She wasn’t my “real mom”. She fought tooth and nail to see me where I am now.
She pushed me where it counted. She talked me through every crisis with wise experience. She drove me hundreds of miles to doctor’s appointments and auditions and jobs.
She might not be my birth mother, but to me, she’s much more.
To my stepmom, thank you. Thank you for being there for me, always.
Thank you for being my mom.