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"I should have left years ago."

My 81-year-old mother said that to me for the second time this morning, and it's made me sad. She takes full responsibility for her choice to stay with my father, a difficult man. But one of the reasons she didn't leave him years and years ago is me.

Makes me especially sad to think that her sacrifice on my behalf wasn't a complete success. Witness to her marriage, I was afraid even to admit a desire to have a husband.

And when I finally managed to do that, the man I chose to marry turned out to be very much like my father (imagine that). And now I'm working on getting divorced.

On the other hand, I did grow up with a father who loves me and who was present and responsible, if sometimes unpleasant. And I've had a chance to see what it's like when an unhappy marriage goes on and on and on and on.... It's been educational.

It hurts to see my mother unhappy, especially at this stage of her life. But hers is also quite the cautionary tale.

I don't have a daughter to explain my divorce to, or worry about feeding and buying school uniforms for. At this point in my life that's a blessing.

But I do have myself to keep faith with, and I know I don't want to become an octogenarian regretting a long marriage. As sad as my mother's situation makes me, it also gives me more courage to push ahead through divorce.

Thanks, Mom. For everything.

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