I was asked a few days ago — again — if I have forgiven my mother for her terrible abuse of me from birth until I left home when I was 18. Every time I am asked that question I find myself rethinking myself. “Have I forgiven my mother?” I always find myself confused not only by the question, but more so about what people are even asking me when the question pops up — yet again.
I examine my reaction to this repeating forgiveness question. I examine my feelings of confusion — and yes, of fear and of guilt that, “Who do I think I am that I dare not forgive my mother?”
I think about the words recorded and kept throughout hundreds and hundreds of years in the only prayer that Jesus left for humans upon this earth, that clearly tells us, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
I work my way through this question I was asked yet again. I work my way through my feelings. Then I get to my own truth, to what I know to be true inside of myself.
Sometimes I find myself thinking with what I refer to as my “Dr. Spockonian” mind. Whenever I find myself thinking, “This isn’t logical” I know my Spockonian logical mind is busy thinking about something that my emotions cannot find answers for.
The truth is, as far as I can tell, NO I have not forgiven my mother.
My lack of forgiveness has nothing to do with whether or not I am willing to forgive my severely psychotic mentally ill violently abusive mother or not. My lack of forgiveness has to do with what I see as FACTS.
(1) My mother was psychotic. A person does not CHOOSE to become psychotic. My mother’s psychosis came to her as a part of a serious mental illness over which Mother had no control.
(2) The psychosis of my mother’s mind was based upon (I believe) particular patterns of abuse and trauma in Mother’s earliest childhood that evidently included a threat that IF — probably IF she told anyone what someone had done to her — the DEVIL would come to get her.
(3) During the distress of Mother’s terrible birthing of breech-me something inside Mother’s mind broke so that she PERMANENTLY believed (as I have said on this blog so many times before) that the devil had finally come to get her — as promised. The devil, in Mother’s psychosis, had sent trying-to-be-born ME to kill her in childbirth. Because she and I both survived, Mother’s psychosis then believed forever after that I was not human but was the devil’s child who had been sent not only to kill her — but to be “a curse upon” Mother’s life (because I survived).
(4) The thing about a psychotic break such as Mother had — a component I believe of her severe Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) — is that it exists as a foundational LIE that is perceived as TRUTH and therefore cannot be challenged, examined, or changed by the person who suffers the psychosis. When the illness of BPD was first named in the medical profession it was balanced upon the perceived fact that people with this BPD disease continually walk a ‘borderline’ between neurosis and psychosis.
As it happened in Mother’s case her psychosis took very real and definite form around ME which left the massive amounts of neurosis that defined everything else anyone else knew or saw about Mother OUTSIDE the very real inner core of hell that she formed with ME captured for 18 long years at the center of.
(5) The kind of psychotic relationship Mother had with me was, as I continue to see it, a fact of NATURE. This psychosis was rooted in Mother’s physiology — in her body and in her brain and in her mind. In this way Mother’s severe abuse against me happened because of the FORCE OF NATURE that was the end result of Mother’s continued ability to act her psychosis out upon me.
(6) So, logically to me, I can no more forgive Mother for being so terribly, terribly SICK than I could blame a grizzly bear for ‘catching’ rabies. I can no more blame mother for what she did to me than I could blame a tornado for damage, or a tsunami or an earthquake or a great tree falling upon my house.
In some strange way it strikes me that I have not only been robbed of a safe and secure infancy and childhood, but I have also been robbed of the CHANCE to forgive my mother. She had no choice. She acted out what her psychosis created for her in her body/brain.
I therefore have never forgiven Mother because it is not possible for me to do so. Forgiveness would only apply IF Mother consciously CHOSE to so terribly, brutally and consistently harm me.
She HAD NO CHOICE. What she did to me was a consequence of her disease which was, itself, a force of nature.
I feel informed compassion and pity and sorrow for the tragedy of the disease my mother suffered from. I pray for her soul. I am not angry at her (although I can feel angry about what HAPPENED to me). I do not blame Mother. I wish her no harm.
But I do not forgive her because in a rational world rational thought excludes even this possibility.
This entire picture does beg questions about my ability to forgive my father who enabled Mother, who often watched her brutal attacks of me and did nothing on my behalf — etc. I don’t really CARE, nor do I invest much of my precious life energy in trying to figure my father out. Any answer about him or about what he did or did not do has not come to me so far in my own healing. My conclusion is that this whole matter is not of that much consequence to me. I simply pray for his soul in the next world along with Mother’s and leave what matters to God.
This entire picture always makes me think about every other adult who COULD have noticed what was happening to me — and done something to help me. This is all a different matter requiring different thought on my part — and not thought I am engaging in today.
All I will say in conclusion is that there is still much ignorance in the world about what truly matters. I am just extremely grateful that I know and believe that a different human world IS coming — and that this new world will be heaven on earth.
It is words like the following that I trust in and try to understand, not words of my own or of any other human being —
CXXX: “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility. “ by Bahá’u’lláh in ‘Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh’, page 285
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2 thoughts on “+YET AGAIN, WHAT DOES ‘FORGIVE MOTHER’ MEAN TO ME?”
I think too often people who are not survivors of abuse view forgiveness as a moral imperative. I don’t believe it is. Even with severe psychological impairment, abusers still make a choice to abuse. Yes, there are mitigating factors, but abusers who aren’t mentally ill also make excuses for their behavior. People experiencing psychosis can choose to get help so that the psychosis doesn’t have such a negative effect on their children. Basically, abusers choose to abuse. We don’t necessarily have to hang onto the rage at our abusers, but neither do we have to forgive them for their choices.
For me, the important aspect of forgiveness is the process of forgiving myself. I have traditionally blamed myself much more than the abusers. They wanted that; they forced me to comply and even to participate in the abuse of others. As a child, I couldn’t understand the moral complexities of participating under duress, so I blamed myself. I haven’t yet forgiven myself for a lot of what happened, and that’s the forgiveness I’m actively working toward. The child I was then deserves that.
Thank you for your comment — very thought provoking. I always instinctively resist the sort of “shame on you for not forgiving…..” message that people can present to me even when they don’t mean to. Often, also, this kind of message comes from people who were very abused as kids and who have struggled with these same issues deeply within their own self.
I find this link interesting on the World Forgiveness Initiative
I was looking for a related movie I watched on this topic — not finding it at the moment — Forgiveness is a HUGE topic and to me a HUGE mystery. I do believe in prayer — I believe it helps me through my confusions……
I sure agree with you that forgiveness of self is most important!! And of course I don’t KNOW about the choice aspect in respect to my parents — I just do the best I can!
Again, thank you so much for your comment!! Very much appreciated! Linda – alchemynow