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.


5 thoughts on “What is it about forgiveness that is so elusive?

  1. Of course you still yearn for her love. I’m not sure the yearning ever ends. The hope holds out to the very end. And in the end, I told my mother, at her dying bedside, “I’m sorry.”
    “But I should apologize to you,” she said.

    “No. You stood by me even with my rage. You never left.”

    We gazed into each other’s eyes and for first time I felt truly loved. I never saw her conscience again.

    I’m not sure what I’m saying. Just that my love/hate relationship did end with love. That one moment. I still think of the bizarre treatment and wounding she caused. Yet love her. Love is like that.

    Not sure having her on your turf makes you feel more in control and stronger, or your choosing to go to her if or when you decide. But that ought to be your choosing. If you don’t want her to come, the phone is my safe avenue to tell a person something.

    I wish for peace for you in your relationship with her. Whatever form that takes.

    • grace to survive…I thank you for the advice. It took an immense amount of courage for you to say sorry to your mom. My mom is sure she doesn’t need any forgiveness from me, she never did anything wrong in her mind. Having her anywhere near me makes me feel out of control and weak and she is the only person in the world who elicits these feelings from me. I don’t want to hurt her, and all I want to do is release her from my unforgivness. It seems to be about unanswered questions and me knowing I’ll never get a real answer. I know there are jillions of people out there who would give anything to say one more word to a parent who is gone. Thanks for the response.

      • I was very leery to leave a response, because I didn’t mean it to be advice. Only to share just how our love/hate relationship finally ended.
        She constantly criticized me, I constantly kept looking for her love, only being criticized. And probably because her criticisms made me hate her…. for wanting to love her but being criticized.. And she criticized probably because I never let off the hook for not protecting me. We went round and round right to the end. And how sad is that?
        I would be behind any choice you made and hopefully it is one that has your needs and safety in the forefront. I am no help at advice because my own relationship was so filled with the opposites of those two emotions of love and hate our entire lives. No fun.

  2. If you have not already, read grace to survive’s posts.

    All I know is that healing is a never eding process. You owe it to yourself to be good to you, try not to go alone.

    Take someone with you. I wish I was there with you,

    I am in your heart, know that ok?

    Peace ~ it belongs to you.

    • Thanks for the reply. I can’t take anyone with me. I have been able to forgive several people who were involved in my abuse. Really forgiven. Just not her even though I have given it my very best effort. How do you forgive someone who displays the same behavior time and again??? My ‘forgiveness’ seems to based on not taking her abuse anymore.

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