I watched a show the other day that dealt with an alcoholic, drug addicted mother seeking forgiveness from her estranged daughter, only the mother refused to own up to all the things that hurt her daughter which caused the strain on their relationship to begin with. She wanted forgiveness for years of hurt and pain that she inflicted on all of her children, which required her daughter to step in and become the mother to her younger siblings.
I watched with intense interest because I lived that hurt and pain. I also couldn’t understand why it is so hard for some people to admit that they were wrong, acknowledge the pain they caused so everyone involved could move on. The only difference between my situation and the mother and daughter on television is that my mother was never an alcoholic, nor did she suffered with drug addiction. She was a victim of her environment and upbringing – but she also refused to break that cycle (or simply didn’t know how to) for her own children.
My mother has the attitude that she had an awful childhood, so her kids would too. It was like we were being punished for the misery she suffered instead of her protecting us from the misery she suffered. As a child I couldn’t understand why a parent would want their kids to endure the same pain they did. All I ever heard from my mother was how much she hated how she grew up: Broken home, dirt poor, abusive father, incest, and no one to turn to for help. Yet she marries a man who is verbally and physically abusive to her and her children? Wait, let me correct that. He could verbally and physically abuse her children, but she wouldn’t stand for him doing the same to her. She made sure she protected herself. We, the children, had to take whatever he dished out because “He’s your father. Respect your father.”
I got a little sidetracked there, so please forgive me. (no pun intended) But you get where I’m coming from, right? Till this day, my mother has given poor lip service as to the horrible decisions she’s made in regard to our family and how she allowed her husband, our father, to treat us. Her philosophy is “Leave the past in the past and move on with your life.” She’s the master of ignoring problems instead of addressing them head on. Her reasons for allowing such behavior from our father are all selfish. She was afraid of being alone. She didn’t want to raise her kids by herself. She didn’t want to have a failed marriage like her parents, even though that’s exactly what she and my father have, despite still being married today. They aren’t happy. She’s been living in misery for many, many years with him.
Now that we’re all grown, she wants us to simply let the past be the past and forgive her so life can be rosy…for her. She wants her conscience to be cleared by us for her mistakes that she still refuses to completely own up to. She still refuses to take full responsibility for how messed up her children are because of her decisions. My mother had the power to stop the bleeding and start the healing. She had all the power to do this, but she chose to keep a man in her bed than to do what was in the best interest of her children.
I’ve forgiven her for her poor decisions. It took many, MANY years for me to finally do so, but I have. As a wife and mother I still can’t fathom how one can claim to love their children but put them second fiddle to a man. A no good cheating, abusive man at that. I can’t help but think of how different our lives could have turned out without that demonic cancer torturing us the way he did. It’s pointless to go down the “what if” road, and I know this. We’ll never know, but we will always be left to wonder “what if?”
More importantly, I’ve accepted the fact that I will never get that full on admittance of guilt from her, and I’m okay with that. My mother is who she is, and she hasn’t changed in all these years, nor is she about to. I had to accept this about her in order for me to forgive her and let go of the long held resentment I held toward her. I had to forgive her for my own peace of mind. Are we close? No. And we never will be. But we are cordial toward each other if nothing else. My father on the other hand…that’s a whole other story for a different day.
Forgiveness isn’t something that you can demand. Forgiveness takes time. Forgiveness can be hard, but nothing makes forgiveness harder than a person refusing to admit their wrongs. So if you don’t get the full admittance of guilt, sometimes you’ll have to forgive them anyway. For your own peace of mind.