By Mary Nellum
I looked my 11-year-old son full in the
face and gently said, "Your dad and I will never get a divorce.
We love each other, and we love you. We will be a family forever."
Later that year, my husband
threw me against the wall, choked me until I passed out and
then waited for me to wake up so that he could continue.
I had to look my son
in the face again and tell him why I was leaving not just his
dad but also the state, his school, his friends and our family.
My heart was breaking in two but I still felt I had to act strong
for his sake. We gathered all of our personal belongings, packed
them in the car and drove away from the only home that my son
had ever known.
We moved to Virginia
and lived there for two years. We hurt at first. We were both
broken into little pieces. It's hard to help someone else when
you're broken, too. My son didn't know who to be mad at. He
wanted to be mad at me and he wanted to be mad at his dad. All
he knew was he was hurt and he wanted his family to be like
it was before.
That's what I wanted,
After being in Virginia
for a year, my son wanted to go and spend the summer back home
in Arkansas, and I let him go. Within a month, he was calling
and writing me, begging to be allowed to stay down there and
go to school that next year. I couldn't stand the thought of
being away from him for that long and immediately said no. But
by the end of the summer, I finally said yes -- with limitations.
That was the hardest
year of my life. We talked every day on the phone -- just about
the little daily details of our lives, but it wasn't the same.
I would cry myself to sleep at night wondering if I was doing
the right thing, and then the next year I moved back to Arkansas
myself. I couldn't stand it any longer.
I regret a lot of the
choices I've made, but that's not one of them. I am my son's
Mary Nellum is a 40-year-old
single parent who lives in Arkansas and just recently started
writing again. "I've always loved it, but now it means something
to me -- I see the power of words more clearly now," she says.