Friday, February 25, 2011

How to Forgive?

I've been reading allot of web pages and blogs lately that talk about healing from childhood trauma.  There is really only one thing that they all have in common... they all say you should forgive your abuser to help you move past the experience, but how do you do that?

Is it really even feasible to forgive someone who doesn't even see that they've done anything wrong?

Is it possible to truly forgive someone who continues to abuse even after they've asked for forgiveness?

Personally, I don't think so.

I don't hate my primary abuser, my mother.
Truth be told, I pity her, even as I remain angry at her behaviour, and continued insistence that SHE is the injured party.   This is shown in all it's glory in my earlier post titled Dirty Laundry where she categorically denies any wrong doing on her part, even while trying to villainize my sister, myself, and our maternal grandmother.

Does someone like my mother deserve to be forgiven?
What is forgiveness, really?

A common phrase I hear... that we've all heard, probably allot... is "forgive and forget"

I can't do it.

Especially the "forget" part...  there's an awful lot to forget...

There is not one person in my family who doesn't know that my mother was abusive and neglectful.  Not just immediate family like my my maternal grandmother, my mother's brother's and sisters, their spouses and children, but more distant relations like great-aunts and uncles, second and third cousins, and even relatives that are further removed, but no one really knows the extent of the abuse, and nor did they do anything to stop her when she would scream invective at us, or even beat us in their presence.
My grandmother usually brushes aside any mention of neglect by saying, "well, you always had me" which, as far as that goes, is more or less true... when we were able to contact her at least.  But more than once, my mother took us away from any possible contact with my grandmother by taking us to a different province.  My grandmother says, "I was always only a phone-call away" but what she doesn't understand is that most of the time, we had no phone.  And even when we did have a phone, the threat of beatings was always there if we were caught.  Gods forbid that mother ever saw a long-distance call on the phone bill!

Finding forgiveness is hard.

Recently, I have been told things by my brother's daughter's mother that make me believe that mother even sexually abused my brother.  He had scars on his penis.  I was told they looked like bites that had healed without treatment.  Human bites.   My niece's mother even asked mother about them, after my brother was dead.  Mother got quiet and said "he must have been bitten by a dog when he was little" and then changed the subject.  Mother is never quiet about anything, unless she's feels the need to hide something.
If my son's fiancee ever asked me such a question, I would be shocked... appalled even, and would want to know more... I would want to know what had happened if I didn't know already.  And if my son had such scars since "he was little" I would know why, and how!
As it is, I have heard mother threaten to cut my brother's penis off nearly every time he was in trouble for any reason.  On more than one occasion, she even took his pants down, and held a knife to the base of his penis and made him beg her not to cut him.

How can she expect forgiveness for that?

Most of the family makes excuses for her.  They say "she's sick, and doesn't understand what she's done". That "she doesn't remember anyway, so what's the point in holding a grudge".  Or they say "so what, she's your mother, you have to forgive her."

No, I don't.

I'd like to.  I'd love to forget the awful things she's done.  I'd like to have my mother become the loving person she claims she was.  I'd love to erase the past, and be able to start over.

But I can't.  No one can.

And now, I'm a mother myself, determined not to be like mine.
The only way I know to do that is to remember...  to check my behaviour against my memories of my own childhood and stop myself when I find myself falling into her behaviour patterns.

I yell allot.  I've gotten quite a bit better over the years, but I still do it too much.   It's hard not to blame her for that.
Every time I yell, I remember... because it's the only way I know to break cycle of abuse.
Even when I yell, I don't call names... I don't put my child down, and try to break her spirit.  Nor did I put down my son.
but when my daughter covers her ears, and cries... when my son would cover his... the anger I feel towards her grows again, and forgiveness is that much harder to find.

My children are unable to give me physical affection unless they ask, because if I am surprised by physical contact, I tend to lash out.  I threw my son to the ground once, when he leaped onto my back without warning... he was only 4, and I was devastated, even though he said he was unhurt.  I could see in his eyes that despite not being physically harmed, the incident hurt him emotionally.  I can't help but blame her for that too. 
He never did such a thing again, and that saddens me more than I can express.

So, I ask again, how do you forgive ongoing abuse?

Even living 3500km away from her, and not having talked to her face-to-face for 7 years, I still feel, sometimes, like I live under the cloud of her hatred, and abuse.  
Especially when family tell me that I have to forgive and forget.

I try to pretend now, for the most part, that I haven't got a mother... try to pretend that she's dead and no longer a part of my life.  But my family... her family won't let me forget, or pretend for very long at a time.

Forgive and forget?

I can't.  I won't.

No comments:

Post a Comment