The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mother, I Forgive You

Written (but not shared) during the fourteen-year estrangement from my family.

Mother, I forgive you. Oh it wasn't easy; it took nearly ten years, but through the grace of God – I have arrived. It was a long journey, yet I honor and respect each necessary step along the way.

I thought we started out right, you and me. As a child you were the center of my universe. I felt safe and loved. Each evening you tucked me into bed with a good-night kiss. You provided holiday magic, and delighted in my mischievousness. I remember the excitement I felt as we walked together for my first day of school. Then tragically, dad died and with him died my childhood and my relationship with you. There were no more bedtimes, or kisses; all the passages mothers and daughters share were simply gone. There was, however, a new man in your life. Year after year, the betrayal felt incomprehensible as I watched you - as you silently watched him - beat and torture my brothers and me. Through all the violence and betrayal, I never stopped longing for your motherly love. I missed so much. I traveled the road to womanhood alone, without your guidance or example of what it meant to be a woman, a wife or a mother. My first period, dating, child birth; these are experiences I had alone; other milestones I missed all together.

Long into adulthood, like a moth to a flame, I was forever drawn to you - craving your love, a love that never came my way. Sadly, when our relationship became too unsafe, I walked away from years of abuse, from you, and my family of origin to find a healthier life.

Oh, but I turned it around Mom. I read, I learned, I looked to others for support and I created a family of my own. I had two precious daughters and we've walked through life together every step of the way. I rejoice that all my hard work has paid off and I can celebrate with them a loving relationship. I have the opportunity to show them what it is to be a woman, and a mother. My longing for a close mother-daughter relationship has been realized with them. I feel very blessed.

As I've shared with my girls all the important events and passages in their lives, I have simultaneously experienced joy and sorrow. Joy at their milestones, happy to guide, advise and protect; I brim with pride and enthusiasm for them. Then quietly, I mourn for myself. Yet, I am the proud matriarch of a new family legacy.

People told me both while I was still seeing you and after I stopped, that I needed to forgive you. Forgiveness haunted me. Whenever I heard the daunting words: "You must forgive," I felt the responsibility to forgive immediately. Yet each time I tried, I failed miserably. After years of misery and burying my pain in order to pardon you, I abandoned my quest to forgive. As long as I carried unhealed wounds – forgiveness would have to wait.

Over a period of many years within the protective cocoon of my "family of choice," I was able to walk through the healing process that eventually set me free to forgive. In the safety of my loving friends and extended family, I shared my story. I expressed my hurt and my anger. With my family of choice, I mourned all my losses, honored my pain and moved forward.

Each day, I journeyed further down the path of recovery. I made great strides towards forgiveness when I realized, I didn’t have to trust you enough to resume a relationship with you in order to forgive you. Forgiveness was not dependant on your willingness to co-operate, nor did I have to excuse what you had done. I could forgive you and not see you.

The mother-daughter bond is I’m sure the strongest of all human bonds. I feel the loss of the mother you could have been. Although abuse and betrayal stand between us and make a relationship with you unsafe, I love you. I think of you daily and you are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

Forgiveness is not an event of immediacy. It's not a bolt of light that brightens the soul and burns the pain to ashes. Forgiveness is a process. When it is all said and done, the final process was an act of love: love of myself and love of my mother.

Wishing everyone, peace, love, and healing.


Leona, Seattle said...

Nancy, I am a fan of your great work. I love your quote "with in the protective cacoon of my family of choice" To surround your self with positive people is truly a gift and a prerequisite for healing.
Adult Child Abuse Survivor

Amysplash said...

i wish i could forgiv my mom but she hurt me so bad and my innerchild is hurt and i dont know how to forgiv yet

healandforgive said...

Dear Amy,

Thank you for stopping by. I think it is okay that you are not able to forgive yet.

Forgiveness can be premature and comes after adequate healing and the restoration of your soul.

By the way, your art is amazing! You have a gift!

All my best,