Never Say Never
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, too.

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 mother.

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.

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