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My Mother and Forgiveness
written by: Dawn Parish
As a loving child, I could not understand why I was treated so badly by my mother, who'd adopted me at age two. She once mentioned how odd it was that many times after she'd "spanked" me, I would wrap myself around her leg and hug her tightly. Her sad perception of this behavior was to believe I only felt love when I received negative attention, so the "spankings" continued. What she did not understand was that even at my young age, I saw the insecurities in her and somehow knew that it was SHE that needed to be loved unconditionally. The "spankings" were often actual beatings and abuse so traumatic to experience, that I lived in great fear of her. Yet, I loved her anyway, feeling her great pain and emptiness. Years later, on the day she died, I went to the hospital, where she lay in a coma. Several people were standing around, and as I entered the room, my mother's body stiffened and jerked. Everyone gasped and looked from her to me with shock at what they'd witnessed, then quickly left the room. Once everyone had gone, I told my mother that she was loved and forgiven and gently stroked her head while telling her it was okay to let go and "go home." My mother, who had been dying of brain cancer, quietly "crossed over" two hours later. That night I was completely unprepared for the utter devastation I felt after her passing.
For many years, I held onto bitter memories of the pain I'd endured at the hands of my mother. I let negative feelings overshadow many happy times and good memories that were also a part of my childhood. My mother had her bad days, that's for sure, but she also had many good days that were filled with fun and laughter. She had a great sense of humor, loved nature and animals and treated all people with respect. As an adult, I would visit to play cards, drink coffee or iced tea and have deep conversations about many, many things. She was a very intelligent woman that looked at the world with a very keen set of eyes. I learned so many things from her, for which I will always be grateful. I think one of the difficult things about growing up and becoming an adult, is the realization that our parents are real people too, with problems, imperfections, and broken dreams, just like everyone else.
The tragedy of holding onto painful memories from the past is how negatively it affects our lives. When we let things stew and fester, the outcome can be ongoing depression and even physical illness. We subconsciously hit the replay button over and over, reliving the trauma or pain as if it happened only yesterday. If this involves someone still living, there's the possibility of talking things out and perhaps receiving a much-needed apology. However, if the person has passed on, we're on our own to resolve the issue in a way that is best for our mental and emotional health. What's best to realize is that everyone makes mistakes, behaves badly and does things they regret. There is a good and bad side to absolutely everyone, and sometimes we seem to get the brunt of someone's bad side, which can affect us very deeply. If we make the effort to look at them in a different light and try to understand the reasons they may have acted as they did, it will make it easier to find forgiveness and let go of the pain. Even if we find no understandable reason for what occurred, learning to forgive is really for our own benefit and allows us to move on with our lives, holding onto only the good memories.