What is it about forgiveness that is so elusive?

Just when I thought I had forgiven my mom for all the hate she had for me in my life, recently talking to her on the phone brought up the laundry list of all the hurt she had ever caused me. It was quite spontaneous this list of wrongs, I was unaware it was even happening. All of a sudden I realize what I am thinking and am instantly crushed by the weight of unforgiveness I still hold in my soul. I cry out to God and say, I thought I had forgiven her!

In my head, I say all the right things to myself…she did the best she could….she really didn’t mean it….she has suffered in her life and that’s why she hated me…..maybe she had postpartum depression, undiagnosed in the early 1960’s, that’s why she treated me so poorly…..it wasn’t my fault…it wasn’t her fault…and so on.

I left her home when I was sixteen. I am now fifty four. I have maintained a geographical solution to dealing with her by this one thousand mile distance I put in place long ago.For a long time I still craved her love and acceptance which always left me even more bruised and battered, never understanding why this woman disliked me so much. My inner voice used to tell me that if your own mother doesn’t like you, you must be pretty darn useless….

Throughout the years, she would call me and lure me into conversations and insult my choices and every conversation left me feeling wrecked.I played this telephone game with her for thirty or so years, her calling to remind me that I am a useless, unlovable idiot, me taking the call and reeling with unworthiness for days or weeks or months after. There were times when, out of guilt,I would fly home and ‘visit’, only to receive my heaping helping of non acceptance in person. There has never been a time in my life when I could really feel she loved me at all.

So I stopped flying home, I stopped calling and emailing, I made excuses as to why nobody should fly here to visit me. Even when I got cancer two years ago, I would not allow my mom to come here and ‘help’ me .I successfully enlarged my no violation border to an extreme. However, now, right now, she is travelling by car to come and see me. She will be here in a few days, accompanied by her husband who serves no purpose to me at all. I have insisted they stay in a hotel, that they will not be allowed to visit me at work or my home, that I will see her only for a few short hours each day she is here.

During the call where she insisted I let her come and torment me in person, she made sure to systematically degrade my current life choices. Somehow I felt I had run out of reasons to enforce the travel ban, and probably somewhere deep inside my soul, I thought, well, maybe this time will be different. However, after the call was when the obvious unforgiveness starting cropping up. Which led me to think that now is the time I will kick her out of my life for good, in person, with a witness (her husband), so that nothing will be misunderstood. I felt empowered by this approach and I started to anticipate her arrival with courage.

I realize again that the only thing that has ever worked for me is the maintained boundary of mileage. As long as she is invisible, I am fine. As her arrival approaches, I feel as though I am five years old again, unable to speak, unable to find my voice to stand up for myself. I start to fall again, into the deep void of wanting my mother’s love and even though beyond a shadow of a doubt I know it will not happen, I still yearn for it. So who am I standing up to..her or me? Can I really say, hey Judy, it’s not like we ever had a relationship, why don’t we stop this game and get off this dumb ride? Please, for my sake, don’t ever call again, don’t ever visit again, don’t send me stupid cards that imply you love me. You have nothing but pain and bad memories to offer me and this charade is over.

Can I do this? Should I do this? Will I do this? Is it my duty to find a way to continue this relationship? Am I defying “honor your parent’s”? It’s not like she ever honored me. Recently, I heard someone say, Oh you think you are emotionally healthy? Spend an hour with your family and find out if it is true. She isn’t even here yet, but I know it’s not true for me if I have to spend time with her. I’m already crumbling.
So, God, The Universe, all my angels……what do I do? Grin and bear it? I would appreciate some assistance here.

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