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Thursday, December 28, 2023

Twelve Years Later: Forgiving Mom

The realization hit me this morning that today is the twelfth anniversary of Mom's passing.
I've written about her before, here.  Maybe too much.   Sometimes all the hurt and anguish builds up and demands, even needs a vent.  Some people do that with art.  Or going out for a drive.  I learned a long time ago that I can't paint and I'm a threat to everyone on the road if I'm not in the right state of mind for driving.
I guess, I'm writing this to note how much my attitude toward Mom has changed in the past year or so.
There is no forgetting the things she did.  I can still hear her screaming "You're retarded!" at me.  The beatings.  The humiliations, often in front of friends (mine or hers).  Her telling me I wouldn't count for anything, and how much I believed her and maybe still believe on some level.  The list goes on.
I don't even know if I ever got a sincere loving hug from her.  She may have thought I was too deformed, too broken: the result of a birth that almost ended in my death and that close family insist made me mentally defective.
No, there is no forgetting those and more.  Mom had, as a dear friend put it, "a kernel of cruelty".
But in the past year or so, something has happened that surprises me as much anyone...
I've begun to forgive her.
It's not complete. Not yet. But maybe that's coming.
I've gradually started to let go of my anger and hatred toward her.  Have stopped letting it dominate my life, for the most part.   Maybe, even, coming to sympathize with her a little.
Because she was NOT all bad.  She did work hard to provide our family with food and clothing.  She also worked so that my sister and I would benefit from a private school education.  And there was never a bad Christmas, when Mom and Dad were behind it.  We always got nice presents from Santa that morning.
Mom did have her sweet moments, too.  They were so sporadic as to be complete surprises.  A few times she would come home from work, and having stopped at the Eden Mall along the way to get some things, and she would have a new Transformer toy for me (I so loved those little guys).  There were times when she surprised us with Domino's pizza for dinner.
I can't unfairly account for her bad, without doing likewise with her good.
Perhaps I must be content to resort to believing thus: that Mom was a very complicated person, who sometimes let the worst come out but was also capable of good.  That's the best I'll probably ever get to have on this side of the veil.
In her final year, she did once say something about how she had treated me at times.  Telling me that "wasn't the real me".  I've thought long and hard about that.  Was it just a lie, one of many that she told me over the years?   I don't know. I'll never know.   But like I just said, that's likely the best I'll ever get.  The closest to a real apology from her. I've got to do my best to accept it.
Nothing good she did will completely erase the hurt. But I can choose to overlook those, for sake of allowing myself to love the woman who, for good or bad, did bring me into the world.
Maybe writing this and sharing these thoughts will bring me closer to closure. And perhaps these words will resonate with others, who likewise are having a hard time letting go of anger and bitterness. I can tell you that forgiving someone can be a very hard thing. But it really will bring you a freedom that you've never known.
If I can forgive my mother, then anyone can forgive... and be forgiven.


Jen, Wisconsin said...

I'm very proud of you Chris. A lot of people will be when they read this. It can be among the most seemingly impossible accomplishments to forgive someone who has hurt you so. Most will never get to that place but you did and you're showing the way for others. May God bless you in 2024 and thank you so much for the blog!

Chris Knight said...

Thanks Jen. That means a lot.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris. I've followed you for many years so far and you never cease to amaze. You are definitely THE most interesting person I've seen with a blog site. Your growth and change and evolution into what God meant for you to be has been nothing but a beautiful thing to watch unfold. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. Wishing you a happy new year! Signed, Aaron