The Day I Thought My Hero Fell

By , Bellevue, WA
My dad was arrested for domestic violence against my mom when I was two and since then, it’s been just my mom and me. I can list her accomplishments as if they were my own: twelve years in the Bering Sea, eleven years owning a catering business, two hundred employees, three restaurants and real-estate agent. Built a life out of nothing. Single parent. I can tell you how her scar on her back is from her spinal fusion from working too hard and how she got her tattoo as a thank you to God after surviving a five lane roll over car accident. And I could even tell you how the pattern of her walk can reveal her mood.
Before I was old enough to fully grasp the magnitude of the problem, I knew that my mom’s Achilles’ heel was something referred to as “addiction”. I knew that she had managed to beat drug addiction by the time I was born, alcohol by the time I was four and cigarettes by the time I was six. Her ability to survive anything always amazed me; I created situations in which my mom would defeat a thousand villains one-handed and save the world. I retained this childish image of my mom in my head, remaining blind to her faults. As eighth grade was ending, the epitome of a cliché summer began to fill my mind. Yet no matter how convincingly we are lied to, children can always tell when something is wrong. I was purposefully oblivious, not ignorant, of something that loomed at the peripherals of my vision of summer and I didn’t have the luxury of intentionally hiding from the truth for very long. Three weeks before eighth grade ended, my mom sat me down and – as I saw it – ruined everything. She revealed that she wasn’t as strong as I thought she was and she admitted that she was sick. The reality, that I had chosen to close my eyes to, was that she had come close to dying due to her eating disorder, and she would be spending six weeks in a rehab facility in California over the summer. Her past victories lost importance and all I could see were her mistakes. I hate to admit it, but I wasn’t there for her and I didn’t comfort her the way I wish I had; the admiration I once held for her had turned to detest. Not only had she ruined my summer, but she had ruined the way I saw her. In my head, she became the source of all my problems. She became my excuse for why I wasn’t better: a better person, a better student, a better friend. The way in which I justified my life didn’t make any sense, but at the time, I couldn’t find a better way to deal with my complete and utter confusion. I felt as if my safety blanket had been stolen before I was ready, like a band-aid ripped off a wound not yet finished healing.
I used to look forward to the day that I could proudly exclaim how my life was a perfect story where I forgave my mom, my life returned to how it was and we lived happily ever after. The truth is that there was a long period of time where I could hardly stand to look at my mom. We never got along, we disagreed on everything and everyday felt like a new battle to fight. Yet with time, the anger subsided and the small things started to fall into place. Looking at my mom became easier, talking to my mom without yelling became easier and most importantly, admitting how I felt got easier. Today, I am still going through the process of forgiving her. We still don’t always get along, we still disagree on some things and some days are still a struggle. My life has shaped into something similar to the life I thought I had three years ago yet the difference is that I live life with my eyes wide open. I am no longer afraid to face the truth. While my life may not be what the thirteen year old (name) had imagined, I am proud to share my own, re-written definition of strong. The (name) Dictionary defines strong as, “attempting to do something that challenges somebody physically, mentally and/or emotionally, without guaranteed success”. I have, on first hand, seen the strength it takes to admit your weaknesses.





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