I don’t regret my past. It’s made me who I am today. People are shocked when I say that after hearing about my less-than-ideal upbringing: My father was an abusive alcoholic; I was beaten many times during his drunken rages. Also, as a girl, I had less value in my European family than my brothers; when I was sixteen, I randomly met a man who knew my dad for ten years and had no clue that I existed. He said, “I knew John had two sons, but I never knew he had a daughter.” Those are just a few reasons that I grew up as a shy girl with very little confidence in myself.
It took me until I was in college to consider myself even somewhat attractive. I found it quite surprising when I received any attention from the opposite sex, but I liked it. What I also discovered is that college boys liked me a lot better when I’d been drinking. Unfortunately, it started a vicious cycle of drinking and falling in love with the wrong boy. I ended up binge-drinking and binge-chasing someone who only wanted me for one thing…that is until I met Dennis. Dennis and I went out on dates; I met his parents; I hung out with his friends: I was his girlfriend. It was the first time I knew how that felt. I had never been so happy.
But then, we heavily celebrated my 21st birthday–I didn’t remember much. A few weeks later I discovered I was pregnant.
I was devastated when he changed his mind about marrying me. I had to move in with my mother as I prepared to become a mother. I felt the scarlet letter burn my chest as some of my family members were so disgusted and embarrassed by me that they couldn’t look at me. The day I told my dad was the first time I ever saw him cry. Thankfully, I had a few people who stood by me and supported my decision to keep my baby.
Those nine months slowly changed my life. As I felt my baby grow, I felt my confidence grow as well. I started thinking about the kind of woman I wanted to be for my child. Who I was at the time would not be good enough. I knew I had to make changes.
Nicole Marie Galovski was born on July 9th, 1987. I held her in my arms and fell instantly in love. She had big blue eyes and platinum blond hair. She seemed to respond instantly to my voice. I cried from pure joy, the first I had experienced in my life up to that point. Nicole was perfect, and I couldn’t understand how I could have anything to do with something so angelic.
The transition from me to us came with its challenges, but Nicole and I weathered them together. I continued to live with my mom, so I could provide a safe, loving environment for Nicole. Even though I had a college degree, I didn’t apply for any teaching jobs. I couldn’t imagine putting my baby in daycare, so I watched children out of my mother’s home during the day and worked in a restaurant at night and on the weekends when my mom would be home to watch Nicole. I made plenty of mistakes, but I learned from them so I could be a better mother.
Even though those days were difficult and far from perfect, I wouldn’t change anything about them. Nicole changed my life for the better. Her presence in my life removed me from the downward spiral I was in. I hate to think about the life I would have led if it weren’t for Nicole. She became my reason for living, not just existing from one intoxicated state to another.
People have told me over the years how proud they are of me for not choosing abortion and saving Nicole’s life. I am extremely thankful for that decision as well. But the truth is, Nicole saved my life. I was on a destructive path that only a miracle could alter; Nicole was that miracle. God gave me Nicole so I could get and stay on the right path. I’m nowhere near where I should be, but I’m definitely closer to the person God created me to be because of Nicole.
Nicole is a grown woman now. She is strong and confident and witty and beautiful–everything I wanted her to be because it was everything I wasn’t at her age. She lives two thousand miles away from me, but she still keeps me on the right path. A few months back she wrote me a letter in response to a difficult situation I didn’t handle very well. Nicole lovingly pointed out my mistakes, and added, “you’ve told me everything I’ve been doing wrong for 24 years (and I hope will continue to do so), and that has helped me out more than anything else; it’s changed me for the better even if it made me mad initially.” I appreciated her perspective and her candor. She saw that I had stepped off my path and lovingly brought me back–again.
That letter marked the day our relationship changed: We now come together as two women who have an unbreakable bond, even though we don’t get to spend nearly enough time together. I am blessed because God chose me to be her mother. I am blessed because God gave me a reason to walk away from my painful past and to walk towards a life of unconditional love.
The perfect illustration for those early days with Nicole: Blake Shelton’s video “God Gave Me You.”
Cause God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
And for when I think I lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you
Gave me you