Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mothers Day

If you had a wonderful mother, I’m so glad for you!

This post, however, is mostly for those of us who had less than wonderful mothers. Mothers who even if they wanted to be good and loving mothers didn’t know how. Mothers who may have been outright abusive. Mothers who may have blamed us for what was wrong with their lives.

This is, in short, for all of us who gag at saccharine Mother’s Day cards and platitudes.

I had a mother who used to tell me I was crazy and should kill myself before anyone found out—and then she would tell me in detail how I should do it. I had a mother who blamed me for every problem she had with my father. I had a mother who...

I had a mother who was hurting inside. Who hated herself so badly she had to hate me as well—because I reminded her of herself. Who never learned what love was herself. Who tried to do better than had been done to her. Who hurt me deeply anyway.

I tell you this so you will know where I’m coming from. I tell you this so you will know that I KNOW how toxic some mothers can be.

It’s important that you know because I want to talk about finding a way to forgive and love our mothers anyway—and ourselves.

LET ME BE VERY CLEAR—FORGIVING SOMEONE DOES NOT MEAN WE MUST CONTINUE TO PUT OURSELVES IN HARMS WAY! For the last 15 years of my mother’s life I did not see her or allow her near my children. I did not feel safe making any other choice. At the same time, I consciously chose to forgive her—knowing that what she did came out of her own pain and her own self-hate. I forgave her knowing that it was something I had to do for myself. I could not hold the hate and anger inside and still be loving toward my own children.

We need to acknowledge the anger—and the magnitude of any harm that was done to us—and at some point we need to let it go. We need to forgive so that WE can heal inside and turn that energy to making our own lives better and happier. We need to forgive our mothers for mistakes they made so that we can forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make—and learn to do better.

I wish that all of us had had loving mothers. Many of you reading this did and I am so glad for you! Many of you did not and if you did not I know that it may have caused you to believe you were worthless because mothers are always supposed to love their children, right?

If you were not loved by your mother or if your mother was abusive, I want to say—as emphatically as I can—IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT! If your mother could not love you or hurt you it was because of pain and hurt and self-hate within HER. YOU deserved to be loved and cherished and valued!

If you had a wonderful mother then I hope that on every day, not just Mother’s Day, you tell her so. If you did not, I hope that you are able to imagine cherishing and loving the child you once were. I hope that you are able to bring people into your life who DO value and cherish you. I hope that you are able to imagine, sometimes, what it would have been like to have had a mother who could love and cherish and protect you. Because when we can imagine what that would have been like--and believe that it IS something we deserve--then we know that we truly are finding ways to heal.

Blessings and sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))))),



jumpinginpuddles said...

this is a really honest blog about you and your mother we are glad you foudn that forgiveness but also saying finding it didnt mean you didnt keep your children safe it meant it freed you to go on.
We arelearnign to forgive our now deceased mother but we have to admit its far easier to do so when shes dead than alive

Enola said...

Thank you for this post. How refreshing to read something so honest on Mother's Day, instead of the usual platitudes. To read sommething I can relate too.

On this Day I wish you a wonderful Mother's Day - because of how far YOU have come and because the lessons you have learned are sure to make you a better mother.

babe in the woods said...

Thank you for sharing your story of forgiveness as a self-healing act, while still maintaining physical or emotional safety.

You did for your children what your mother didn't do for you. You loved and protected them.

Yes, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and all the ubiquitous, family-centered "greeting card" holidays, are often excruciating for survivors. They are for me.

On this day I wanted to share some healing news. I was inspired by the "Thinking Blogger Award" to come up with way for every survivor to have a "Healing Blogger Award."

Well, I found a way, the Healing Blogger Awards are here and available to all survivors with a web presence!

I chose the name "Healing Blogger" because as a blogging survivor you (all of you) are not only healing self, you're helping to heal others too by being here to share and care. We are all Healing Bloggers.

Check out the examples I have on my blog. Get one for your blog or website deserve it...each and every one!

(((Hugs of healing))) back to you, April Optimist!

austin said...

The reason I like this entry is because it shows how you personally have been able to make sure that you don't pass on abuse to your kids or family. I like that you didn't mince words. You didn't sugar coat it and you didn't press issues too hard. The words "forgive an abuser" are fighting words for many survivors but I think you put it well and gave an example of how it had to do with them and not us. I think what you showed in this entry was that forgiveness isn't about giving something to the abuser but gaining something for self WHILE realizing self worth. Never have I seen it put this way before. No, I won't be forgiving my mother but at least I can read this and not want to toss my cookies or go off with unyielding anger at the thought that someone should even suggest that I forgive her. I appreciate the points you brought up because it takes focus off of giving to the abuser and puts the focus on the one who is trying to heal.

thank you for this,

April_optimist said...

Thank you all. Forgiveness is a process and not something we can force. When we do reach the point where it is possible, we do it for ourselves and it becomes a turning point in our healing journey. And I love the idea of Healing Blogger logos.

keepers said...

this is a very good post, one that a great many can identify with we are sure, sadly true but true none the less.

peace and blessings


April_optimist said...


Yeah, it is sad that it's true for so many of us. But because it is, I felt it needed to be said.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Thanks for sharing this important post. I'm glad you talked about forgiveness. I can't lie and say that I'm there yet, it's still a goal in the future for me. But, I'm going to do it for myself. I can't hold onto that hate. What is it they say? It's like taking poison and expecting the other person to die? Yep yep yep.

April_optimist said...


I'm a big believer that trying to forgive before we first acknowledge just how awful the damage was that was done to us is a mistake. It doesn't work and it diminishes us--says that our pain doesn't matter and God knows most of us do too much of that already. BUT when we are ready, then it's one of the most powerful things we can do.

April_optimist said...
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Angel said...

How in the world can someone tell their child to kill themselves and tell them how to do it?

I hate Mother's Day. Actually, I don't really hate it because I ignore it. I do hate the sentimental BS around it, though, because it always serves to remind me of everything.

April_optimist said...

Angel, Weird isn't it? I can't imagine saying to my kids what she said to me. I figured either she was scared of what I might tell or that she really was feeling that way about herself and projecting onto me. She tended to do that.