Forgiving Mom…

Linda Athis stumbled in here recently and commented on my blog… which led me to her blog called “Forgiving Mom” (http://forgivingmom.wordpress.com/).  I was amazed and intrigued by the many similarities she and I seem to have.  But, the one glaring difference, is that she has lost her mom… and she’s feeling the pain of that.  Still, she talks of coming to terms with things and forgiving her Mom before she died.  It made me wonder how I will feel when my mom is gone some day?  But, I still didn’t know if I felt the same “forgiveness and understanding” she wrote of…  

 But, between reading her blog… and all the soul searching  and reminiscing I’ve been doing this past year…  and talking to my good friend til the wee hours of the morning the other weekend…  and the post I wrote recently about Christmas and how BOTH my parents made sure we had good ones..  I realized something….

 I need to forgive my mom. 

I have said that I did, because I believe she is/was sick, so I could…  but… did I really?  I don’t think so. 

I know I have a lot of resentment bottled up in me towards her… I fight it all the time… She makes me angry… crazy…. hurt.  It’s hard to squeeze forgiveness in there. 

But… I think… I finally do.  I think I finally can. 

All this researching… reflecting… has taught me a lot.  Not only about myself… but also about my Mom.

 For years…  I’ve tried to make excuses for her… and tried to forgive her and love her in spite of so many things about her that still made me upset.   I wanted to but, I don’t think I really could.. or did.   

But, now… I see things differently for the first time.  I still think I had a right to feel the way I did towards her… but, I finally feel like I can start to let those angry and bitter feelings go. 

For years, I saw my father as the “good parent”… and the “martyr”.  I still see that… but, for the first time… I am really seeing that my mom not only TRIED her best to be a good parent too… but, that all in all… she really was a good mom.  It took two to make our family work at all… and my mother.. was also a “good parent” and “martyr”. 

She had her battles too.  When I think about just how much she was dealing with that I can probably never understand… and I think about my childhood and how she was… and still is with my brothers and our children…. I realize…  I was actually pretty damn lucky.  Some of the stories I’ve read about mentally ill parents were much MUCH worse than anything I had to deal with.  However, I bet my mother could relate to some of the worse case scenarios because of HER mother that was in and out of institutions her whole life.  What a rotten childhood SHE must have had.  I never really understood that as much as I do now. 

So, yeah… she was a religious nut and is a bit whacky at times.  But, you know what? She really did love me.  She really DOES love me.  And she tries her best to show it.  Looking back, I see that she really did everything she could to try to be a good mom and be there for us.  And she was.  Even with her illness and the religious BS… she was probably a better mother than a lot of women out there.  Losing touch with reality a little… and dealing with her past…. ??  That had to be hard for her.  No wonder she was/is a religious nut.  Maybe that was/is her saving grace?  Maybe without it, she’d be in much worse shape and need meds and hospitals too?  So, she didn’t always measure up.  So what?  Who does?  Ya know what?  I finally realize that she did damn good. 

Yes, I still look back at some things… and think, “that wasn’t right!”… “that shouldn’t have happened to me!”.   I still believe that.  I think I NEEDED to validate those feelings… and grieve a bit for myself…  but, I think more importantly I need to learn and deal with those feelings.  I feel like I finally can do that. 

When my parents fought (which they did a lot)… my dad always use to say he was only staying with her because of us kids.  She use to say she was only staying with him because her relgion didn’t believe in divorce.  Hearing this, use to make me wince and again think my Dad was doing something great for US…  but not her.  She was only there for religion….  

 But, looking back… I think I had this wrong.  Regardless of what she screamed at him…  she HAD to have stayed all those years for a number of reasons probably (as did he probably!)… and myself and my brothers just HAd to be one of her main reasons too.  I think, deep down, she knew my dad was a good father.  Maybe she didn’t want to admit it… because it was confusing to her since he was an atheist and all.  But she also didn’t want to deprive us of that.  I think she did want us to grow up with both parents… and that she DID have our best interests in mind.  Regardless of if she ever said it. 

Using “religion” as her excuse – was just that.  An excuse she could rationalize out and readily admit.   I mean, let’s face it… she has used religion for an excuse to support anything that she ever really did… or didn’t want to do.  I think, that had she REALLY wanted to get divorced and leave him… you can bet your bottem dollar that the Holy Spirit or God would have appeared to her and told her it was okay…. and that she SHOULD.  This never happened until we were all grown.  Why?  Because she didn’t really want to leave him!  Why am I just NOW figuring all this out?!

I am just now… at 41 years of age.. realizing that she also sacrificed for us kids… she also was a martyr for us… she also not only TRIED to be a good mom… but, WAS.  All things considered… she did pretty damn good by me…

And I’ve been a mean daughter…  Resentful.  Angry.  

I am so glad I am discovering these feelings before she’s dead and gone.  I am finally realizing how lucky I was/am to have her in my life.  I am finally realizing I need to let go of my anger and resentment towards her.  I am finally seeing her for the couragious person and loving mother she was/is…  

I need to tell her these things…  that she was a good mom.  I don’t think I’ve ever really told her that and meant it.  I really mean it now.  I need to tell her.

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12 Responses to “Forgiving Mom…”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    I read this and then went and hugged my mum.

  2. Linda Athis Says:

    Hi there Samantha,

    You make very good points. Peace with parents is the ultimate goal before they die. Just yesterday, I penned my final experience with my MOM.

    Thanksgiving Surrender
    -by Linda Athis

    How sad…
    people say,
    when I tell them Mom died
    Thanksgiving Day.

    I stop them abruptly.
    Correct their view.
    What a powerful death
    on a meaningful date!

    We knew she was close,
    when the holiday came.
    Her wasting frame,
    gray and heavy in shallow sleep.

    At times, her eyes flew open,
    shockingly skyward.
    Hands gestured wildly,
    lips uttered feisty whispered words.
    Such a rough and tough debate
    with something invisible.
    An argument with a heavenly coax?

    Three siblings, three shifts,
    on Thanksgiving day.
    Sister the night,
    brother took morning.
    Me midday.

    I entered alone,
    into sacred space.
    No more grudges.
    No more hate.
    All peace treaties inked
    by Mother, by daughter.

    But I must admit
    I took one last stand,
    and…
    dared to crawl under bedcovers beside her.

    Did I violate her tender space?
    A mischievous smile swiftly lifted my face.
    This time, she’s too weak,
    can’t push me away!

    For two divine hours
    I rubbed her head.
    Her contented snore grew deep and loud.
    I watched her breathe.
    Please…call off this fight.
    Time to invite
    surrender.

    Then,
    the final break:
    As an anxious brother, sister in-law,
    restaurant turkey
    tucked in their stomachs,
    invaded the room.

    My eyes convey the news.
    Not gone, no. Not gone yet.

    I put lips to her ear:
    Mom, I’m leaving now,
    if you go before I’m back,
    that’s OK by me.

    Then I and husband
    joined dear caring friends.
    We shared a turkey,
    not much was said,
    then sat on a deck and stared at the stars.
    And it was then,
    as we sipped soothing wine,
    that she chose her time.

    Thanksgiving nights
    will now be deep-hearted.
    No festival ruined.
    Sheer joy in having
    a yearly memory delivered,
    and a white flag brilliantly waved.

    End

    Keep pondering, keep thinking, keep your ego out of the way, and you’ll be amazed at what falls into place.

    Best,
    Linda

    http://forgivingmom.wordpress.com

  3. OneSmallStep Says:

    And I’ve been a mean daughter… Resentful. Angry.

    You were being human. You were on one end of the spectrum, in terms of the resentment and anger. But now you’re climbing to the other end, with the overwhelming depths of forgiveness we can have, in terms of horrible wrongs. As well as the ability to see through all the negative, and get a glimpse of the “diamond in the stone.” 🙂

  4. samanthamj Says:

    Rebecca –
    thanks… I left a comment on your blog too… verrrrrrry interesting how many of us there are out there that have some similiar whacky religious backgrounds, isn’t it?

    Linda –
    Thank you for the comment and for sharing that. It was both gut wrenching.. and a beautiful poem. Your poetry reminds me of my father’s death and losing him and all that went with that.. but, then of the turmoil I have with my mother as well. It’s an odd feeling, the blending of the emotions that each of my parents rise in me when those feelings have always been so seperate. Which, is actually perfect for me right tnow… fitting in with how I’m learning that it wasn’t as seperate as I thought. Thanks again.
    ~smj

  5. samanthamj Says:

    OneSmallStep –
    we must both be typing at the same time…
    Thank you also for such a nice comment. I think, for years, part of why I was so resentful, was because I never really validating my feelings for being so angry. I didn’t really explore those feelings until somewhat recently… and realized I had a right to be upset… really upset. I finally really took a step back to not just shrug it off, or joke it off, or to self-blame, or to just ignore my feelings. I felt bad for the child I used to be, that is still somweher deep inside me that had to deal wtih so much BS and confusion… but, I also realized how much I have to be thankful for in the process. And that sooner or later it’s time to forgive and move on. It’s a great feeling.
    =)
    ~smj

  6. OneSmallStep Says:

    Smj,

    ** I think, for years, part of why I was so resentful, was because I never really validating my feelings for being so angry. **

    This is hard, because in the US, we seem to live in a culture that doesn’t always allow someone to be angry in this scenario. It’s almost like being angry is sometimes equal to being a victim, and given how individualistic we are and the whole “pull one self up by the bootstraps,” we can’t acknwoledge when we are victims, or when we’re weak or things like that.

    The good news is that you’re not a prisoner to this anymore. You’re stepping back, as you said, and it sounds like this will improve matters with your mother. You get to see the good in her, and that has to be freeing, as well. 🙂

  7. tobeme Says:

    Your awareness that you must and do forgive you Mom for your perceptions of what and why she was who she was and is who she is is wonderful. You will find much freedmom in letting go of your anger and forgiving your Mom. Most of all, you must also forgive yourself. Let it all go and you will know a unbeatable freedom that you have ever known before.

  8. Sue Ann Edwards Says:

    What if I said that how ever your Mom has acted toward you, was the same way you acted in another time in history? How would you deal with the behavior if you saw through the eyes of time and it was YOU acting that way?

    Or…what if I mentioned that whatever causes your Mom to behave the ways she did and does, is within you, too. And that whatever you feel towards your Mother, is how ever Accepting you are of yourself?

    And what if I added that whatever wounds or hurt feelings there are within you, they are just head games you’re playing on yourself.

    Are you REALLY angry and resentful towards your Mom or angry with yourself?

    I sense your anger is misplaced and being projected.

  9. samanthamj Says:

    Hi Sueand =) Thanks for the feedback… but, I’m afraid you lost me on this one.

    Some of what you said might make sense in many cases… but… well? I don’t think it’s taking the mentall illness factor in to mind… especially a parent that suffered from it?

    I don’t believe in reincarnation, or that I “deserved” to be treated the way I was treated when I was a child because of some past wrong I’d done in another past life. ?? I supose that could explain a few things for myself and all the other abused or neglected children of the world if I DID believe that… but, I don’t. I was a child. She was the parent.

    Not that she is a terrible rotten mother who MEANT to hurt me… but, I certainly don’t feel it was my own fault that she did. Although, when I was a child.. I probably DID feel like it was my own fault most of the time. I still tend to feel very responsible for a lot of things – whether or not they are in my control.

    I also have to disagree with you suggesting that –
    “whatever causes your Mom to behave the ways she did and does, is within you, too.”

    What caused her to behave the ways she did/does – is her being mentally ill and her own trauma’s of growing up with an even more mentally ill parent herself and all that went with that. She doesn’t MEAN to lose touch with reality – but she does. She would never purposely lie or make things up that hurt people – but, she does. It took me a loooooong time to realize that she even WAS mentally ill… and even longer time to come to terms with just what her illness might entail and how it plays/played out in my life. I do NOT behave the same way she did/does… because thankfully, and luckily, I do not have the same mental illness.

    While I can now understand and forgive many of the things she said/did… I will not believe I deserved or brought those situations upon myself. I do believe I had/have a right to be angry, hurt, etc. However, again, it wasn’t until fairly recently I validated those feelings… tried to understand them. For years I tried to push them away, act like I was “fine”, and felt very guilty for having those feelings at all. (“OneSmallStep”s comments above were right on the money.)

    Of course, as an adult and no loger the victim/child, it was up to me to finally take it upon myself to try to learn and understand things so that I could come to terms with it all. And, I finally feel like I am doing just that.

    This post felt like a break through to me. I finally do NOT feel guilty… resentful.. or angry. This post was meant to convey that… I’m finally done playing the “blame” game with my mother, and with myself. I am letting go of those hurt feelings that are really not anyone’s fault… but, the result of mentall illness and the human factor.

    peace =)
    ~smj

  10. StillGrieving Says:

    I struggle to forgive my mom. She’s a teflon mother who looks perfect to the rest of the world, and she either won’t admit she neglected and abused us (usually by proxy, through one of her three husbands), or shrugs it off as the past she can’t change. Forgiving her is a conscious act every day. Trying to honor her is even harder. I envy those whose difficult parents have died. It’s much easier to mourn the dead than to continually have to mourn the living, and never reach any kind of peace. My father died two years ago. I hadn’t seen him for 35 years, since my parents divorced and my mother manipulated our abandonment by him. I was finally in touch with his family and was hoping to meet him (for the first time since I was 7) when he died suddenly of cancer and stroke. God didn’t let us reconcile, for His own reasons. I forgave him years earlier but I really wanted to see him again. I don’t want my mother in my life, but I want to obey God more than I don’t want her, so I keep slogging along, trying to establish a new relationship with her (I cut her off for a few years so I could finish the separation that should have been completed two decades ago). I know this isn’t on topic, really, but I just need to say it. It’s so hard to forgive the unrepentant. The worst thing is that I wish she would suffer, because she’s spent my lifetime making me do the suffering for her. If I saw her suffering a little, it would be easy to reach out to her, help her, do something for her. As long as she’s perfect in her own eyes, there’s nothing I can do. I guess that’s how God feels about all of us, and why He sends afflictions and sorrows in our lives. I don’t feel like it, but I praise Him, because I know His plan is perfect (unlike mom). It does get easier when I praise Him, so I guess I’ll keep doing that. Blessings on all of you and your struggles.

  11. samanthamj Says:

    StillGrieving –

    Thanks for the visit… and feel free to vent here any time.

    wow… the intensity and anger in your post is so clear… I feel so bad for all that you are going thru or have been thru. It sounds like she did a real number on you. On one hand, I can relate – because for many years I simply couldn’t stand my mother – but, I know it’s next to impossible to explain these feelings to people without getting lectures and looks of horror.. saying, “now now… that’s your MOTHER!… you shouldn’t talk like that!”.. which, I know only fuels that resentment and hurt feelings. So, I don’t want to do that to you… but, on the other hand… I hate to see you torturing yourself even more by holding on to these feelings…

    You mentioned that she won’t admit she ever did anything wrong. My Mom never did either. She won’t. She will blame and accuse others of so much… and eveyrone can tell her she said or did something wrong, and she’ll argue with them all. She will even acuse people of plotting against her… or being brainwashed against her. She’s always done this. I use to try to get her to acknowledge that she was wrong – prove it to her, and try to get her to realize she was wrong… or sick. It never worked. I don’t bother anymore. She will never get it… or admit it, if she does. I finally realized that – I don’t think she can.

    One thing I truly believe, is that what goes around, comes around.. in THIS lifetime… and even though your mother isn’t showing any “suffering” to you… I have to believe on some level she is. If you can’t reach out to her for her sake… maybe, selfishly do it for your own. There comes a time when we have to save ourselves… by letting go of hate and hurt and resentment… This is where I finally feel like I am. I’m not saying you don’t have vaild reasons for feeling the way you do… just to try not to torture youself anymore than others already have done. Ya know?

    Hang in there…
    ~smj

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Things happen for a reason and a curious thing happened this morning. My mother died in 1994 and 2007 my grandma. I awoke today thinking about them which is uncommon to be so involving though i do think of them often but not as pronounced as this time. Then i started to think of my Dad who is still alive but of whome i need to forgive for some material upset i had with him, it was lending him quite a bit of money about 12 years ago of which he promised to pay back but has not, whilst this sort of thing runs deep in our family as stick to your word and committment well he has not so i fell out with him. So i thought why am i thinking all this, maybe its time to forgive, so i wrote my thoughts on the search bar as if to communicate with my mum and thought if there is something out there she might see it. I wrote that its time to try and forgive Dad and that the world was getting crueller and more space was needed for love and i thanked my mum and told her i love her as well as my Gran. Was this a prompt from heaven as they say, i don’t know, could have been simply me feeling that way when i awoke. Well I clicked on search and was drawn to read your comment and you know what we are clones, exactly the same in every way and shape possible. I hope you get to read this because i can tell you from the depths of my heart your mum loved you very much. My mother was a Jehovahs Witness and my Dad was an atheist. Mum had three illnesses and was very weak as a child…asthma, excema and epilepsy. When she discovered the Witnesses if something had a bearing on her life it was that, at last she had something tangable to hold on to. She lived and breathed for the glory of God and my Dad was’nt too happy but in time stuck by her and realised well if this is his bag he’d better shape up and respect this is what she wanted and did so to his own lengths. My Mum formed her mould around the religion, every aspect became this like you say but this was her rock something hard and solid she could stand on without sinking, she taught us all love and patience through childhood and even though us three kids are not religous in her way now we still know that she loved us and wanted the best for us, she did not desert us and you got to realise that, that rock your mother had was her salvation also. It all seems pro active religion but it is’nt, your Mother had something to hold on to and wanted to share it with you, a little selfishness on her part, a bit mixed up to get a balance between earthly and heavenly love but the goodness of her heart was still there. Forgive her and become as one, for all that she has become she loves you very much, she needs to let go of some of her regime, drop a few stitches and if you talk with her she will and you will knock down the wall you have built and find that she really is the Mother you wished for now and always has been.


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