Posted on May 10, 2013 by Cynthia Gunsinger
“Thanks for nothing, Mom.”
More than 400,000,000 children have been abandoned and live on their own on the streets of hundreds of cities around the world. While you may not have been abandoned to live alone on the street, you are familiar with the feeling of maternal abandonment, abuse, or negligence.
My Mother didn’t…like me, love me, want me or protect me.
Ready to move on, let go of your anger and forgive your mother?
How to Forgive Your Deadbeat Mom
1. Move Away From Anger
Any offence triggers defenses, but if the offender is your mother, the impact multiplies exponentially resulting in both anger and resentment. You can become so enthralled in this anger and so focused on the pain that you may never look for solutions.
Letting go of anger is the beginning of a healing process for you. We all learn at some point that our moms are people too and they make mistakes and some of us learn this earlier in life than we should have to.
Acknowledge your anger. What are you angry about? Find a space to put that anger: in a journal, in a letter, in a coaching session, then choose to move away from it inch-by-inch.
2. Try on Forgiveness
“I forgive you” can be a misleading statement. It feels like extending an undeserved olive branch to someone who has offended you in an irreconcilable way. Like with leaving anger behind, forgiving someone is a mental decision and an emotional process. Once you’ve made the decision the process can only be designed by you.
Forgiveness is a healthy avenue that helps relieve your burden of pain. With forgiveness, you may have the disposition and mindset to explore the memory without reliving the experience. At that time, you may be able to identify lessons for your own life.
Remember, forgiveness is something you give to yourself, not someone else. It allows you to unstick from anger and resentment and move on.
3. Acknowledge and Hold Accountable
Forgiveness is not letting the offender off the hook. We can and should still hold others accountable for their actions or lack of actions.
However, forgiveness does not allow us to revert to being the victim. Forgiving is not saying, “What you did was okay, so go ahead and walk all over me.” Nor is it playing the martyr, enjoying the performance of forgiving people because it perpetuates our victim role.
4. Build Your Boundaries
Forgiveness is not letting the offence recur again and again. You don’t have to tolerate, nor keep yourself open to, lack of respect or any form of abuse.
If you find yourself constantly forgiving, we might need to take a look at the dance we are doing with the other person that sets us up to be continually hurt, attacked, or abused.
What are the standards that you want to hold for the way the people in your life treat you?
5. To Reconcile or Not, That is the Question
Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling. You can forgive someone even if you never wish to have a relationship with them again. Forgiving does not mean denying reality or ignoring repeated offences.
Some people are obnoxious, mean-spirited, apathetic, or unreliable. They never will change. You need to change the way you respond to them and quit expecting them to be different.
The question is: does the benefit of having this person in your life outweigh any offensive, abusive behaviour? Are you waiting for them to change?
It’s Your Timeline
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It takes time to heal and allow the healing process to take place without re-opening the wound with every memory.
Forgiving too quickly to avoid pain, or to manipulate the situation, offsets the gift of forgiveness: releasing pain and frees us from focusing on the other person. In the midst of turmoil, we desperately look for a quick fix to make it all go away. Be careful not to simply cover your wounds and retard the healing process.
If you feel obligated to forgive just so others will still like you, accept you, or not think badly of you, it’s not true forgiveness — it’s a performance to avoid rejection. Give yourself permission to do it right.
Maybe all you can offer today is, “I want to forgive you, but right now I’m struggling emotionally. I promise I will work on it.”
Forgiveness is a process, not an event. It might take some time to work through our emotional problems before we can truly forgive. That’s okay.
Co-writer Pamela Akers is a Life and Family Coach from Indianapoilis.