I’m truly addicted to TV and have watched more Lifetime movies than I can count. Getting lost in an over-the-top drama that is full of twists and turns is an easy escape for me. But in real life, some of the most insignificant and drama-free moments can make an impact that’s so significant, you stop getting lost and begin finding your way again.
A little over a year ago, I was sitting across from my daughter’s third-grade teacher during our parent/teacher conference. Aside from squeezing myself into one of those tiny elementary school chairs, there wasn’t anything uncomfortable about this meeting. In fact, her teacher had very positive things to say about my daughter’s progress academically and socially. Admittedly, my mind was multi-tasking the entire time. From work obligations to the realization that I had nothing to pack in her lunch the next day, I was spinning on the inside.
Then, as the meeting was about to wrap, the teacher put down her paperwork, looked me right in the eye and said: “You’re doing a really great job raising her.”
These very simple and complimentary words triggered an emotional response from me that this teacher never saw coming. I literally burst into tears and began sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t hear anything the teacher was saying to me. Not because the sound of my sobs were too loud, but because all I could hear was a man’s voice saying the same thing to me over and over. The man said: “You’re a terrible Mother. You only care about your career. You can’t even pack decent lunches. You’re not raising our daughter, I am.” This man was my husband.
I managed to pull myself together and started spilling my guts to this teacher who I barely knew. I told her my story and explained how I used to sweep everything my husband said to me “under the carpet.” Under the carpet was where the verbal abuse lived for 12 years. That’s where I hid it and eventually, my self-esteem and swagger all but disappeared. Then a traumatic turn of events ended up being the biggest wake-up call of my life and I made the decision to file for divorce. Despite this decision, I felt like a failure and at the time, I was still knee-deep in guilt and shame. However, her words flipped a switch in me. I had turned into this self-loathing, “pity party of one” person who I barely recognized. And trust me, no one wants to hang out at that party. Sure, my best friends and family members tried to convince me that I was a good person, a good Mother and that I was strong – oh so strong. But their words didn’t help me make that left turn. It took someone who was practically a stranger to influence me to leave that “pity party” and start believing in my goodness. I’m still a work in progress, but I will never forget that parent/teacher conference.
These days, I still watch a Lifetime TV movie every now and then, but there are no carpets in my house.