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Not Ready To Forgive

Posted by SweetPea at 4:41 AM
    So what I wanted to talk about for some reason is abusive parents and what we owe them when we become adults. From many of the people I talk to on a daily basis hear a bunch of "Parent's did the best they knew how." "They gave you life so you need to get over whatever else they put you through." Maybe this is a biological obligation that I don't understand because I am adopted.  Maybe the bonds that would be between a biological family are wasted on my trying to understand them. Here's what I do know, I have a daughter now. She's five, and as I replay some of the things that my mother did to me, and allowed my brother to do, I could not ever in my wildest dreams imagine subjecting her to that. Despite the psychological view that the abused eventually become the abusers.  It is because of that very fact, that I am simply not able to forgive my family members right now.  In fact, it diminished me wanting to forgive them even further, because I know it is my love for her that would prevent me from ever wanting to cause her harm. Which begs the question...did my mother actually love me?

   Here's the thing, I get mistakes. I really do, but when parent's are not held accountable for their mistakes then how is it within their right to make sure we are held accountable for ours? Abuse isn't just a momentary thing, just because the abuse stops doesn't mean that everything is all better. I still have permanent physical scars and broken bones as a result of the abuse that I had to endure growing up. Many other abuse survivors also have to go through psychological and emotional issues which make it difficult to function normally in society.

   Now, let me make something very clear. I am not condoning survivors of abuse failing to take accountability for themselves. There comes a certain point in our lives that we have to take accountability for the choices that we make and the path we take in life. That being said, this is more about what we owe those people who have tormented us for so long, because they hold the title of "mother", "father", or "brother."  For me, absolutely nothing. In my case I have family members who either won't acknowledge it ever happened suddenly suffering from a case of selective amnesia, or they justify to themselves that this is "what you wanted, you wanted this to happen."  In my personal opinion if someone can't even acknowledge the things that they did to you, which is first and for most on the road to trying to make things right, it's a good indication that they have no intention of doing so.  This is incredibly common in cases of childhood abuse. Parents are usually more interested in self justifying the abuse, than they are with apologizing and reconciling with those that they have abused, if they acknowledge the abuse at all.

    My sister was murdered in November, not long before Thanksgiving. We are pretty sure that one of her girlfriends stuck a dirty needle in her arm. I was the first in our family told since I am the one on decent terms with my niece. My niece who for a time before leaving to go live with her mother was subjected to the same abuse. I called to let one of my brothers whom I was on Christmas card greeting terms with know what had occurred and to make sure he told my mother and other brothers who I have been estranged from. My brother (estranged) did call me and tell me he wasn't doing to well, how sad he was. I sat on the phone listening to him completely emotionless and not buying a word of what he said to me.  He said at the end of the phone call "You sound like you don't want to talk to me so I'll go." to which I offered no words of comfort because it was true. A couple of days later, I got in contact with him on Facebook and told him why I didn't want to any contact with him and if he would like to change that then he needed to acknowledge the abuse he had subjected me to.  As he has maintained since the day I turned 18, it never happened, he didn't know what I was talking about, I make up stories, and he just doesn't remember any of what I am saying. Despite me recalling in detail several instances of the abuse occurring.
 
     One of the things you hear a lot in group sessions and in therapy sessions is that you need to forgive your abusers. That in order for you to have a life you have to move on. This is something that I disagree with. After several years of trauma treatment in a lock down facility, and finally getting out from the heel of my family, I blossomed more then I ever imaged I could have. I have a wonderful relationship with a man who is amazingly kind in ways I did not think human beings were capable of being. I've gotten my GED, I'm going to graduate from college soon, I am able to balance a job and school and for the most part have become a very well rounded person. A feat that ten years ago seemed impossible and that my treatment team certainly felt was improbable.  I have been estranged from my mother for over a year now, and even in her failing health, ..as horrible as this may be to say so I am currently making no attempts to reconcile with her. Even some parent/child relationships are toxic. You may be thinking "but that's your mother!" Would you be persuading me to reconcile with a boyfriend or husband who was physically abusive? Especially one who was unwilling to acknowledge the abuse.

       As adults, we are responsible for ourselves, this includes the people we allow to be in our lives, the people we choose to help. I spend much of my time working with young adults, helping them achieve the same goals it took me so long to achieve. I feel it is these people who could most benefit from my help.  My mother and my brother have each other. Some times, the best thing to be able to recover from years of abuse, is to simply be able to close the door.

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