My mother was mentally ill and never received any treatment for her illness. Her hysteria was passed off as early menopause. Her abuse toward her children didn’t just stop at physical. One of her favorite weapons was humiliation and she used it frequently as it kept the three of us from ever reaching out beyond the household. This kept us close and fearful of asking for help or comfort.
This did not end in childhood. My siblings continued to stay close and allowed her to exploit them financially. My sister even gave my mother her first born daughter because she didn’t know how to say no to my mother. Even as adults we feared her wrath. I on the other hand stayed as far away from her as I could. That didn’t stop her from reaching me emotionally as I still needed my Mami.
Once I grew up I had to deal with the post traumatic effects of such abuse, they were impossible to live with. I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. Mostly associated with my body. I was terrified of letting anyone see my skin. Afraid that the moles and freckles were blemishes that would give away the secrets that I had to keep quiet about my whole life.
My outlet was to keep a journal. A place where I could let the voice of my inner child come clean. These journals in turn became the memoir that I wrote. I sought desperately to become whole and feel good for the first time in my life. I underwent intense therapy, once a week for 15 years. While there were people along the way that sparked ideas that inspired me to want to get better, it was in the private rooms with a mental health specialist that I was able to unravel and accept the circumstances under which I was raised.
My mother just didn’t know how to love.”
Forgiveness didn’t come until late in life for me. My mother fell ill with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It was then, when I saw the frail and fearful side of my mother that I became her caregiver. While I struggled with why I had put myself in such a position to care for my abuser, I soon learned that love is the resource that leads us to forgiveness. My idea that she was evil was transformed and I realized that she was a sick woman who did very much love her children. My mother just didn’t know how to love.
She passed away in April 2014 and although these were the toughest 3 plus years of my life I wouldn’t give it up for the world. The healing that came from this experience was propelled by the therapist that guided me to this point. What I learned was that forgiveness is what we are hardwired for. Staying angry and resentful takes so much more energy than to let it go. We are going against our hardwiring when we hold on to pain and resentment, as much as it seems like the natural thing to do as humans, it’s not.
I lost my mother, but I gained a relationship with her that I could never have had. I am whole as a result of forgiving her and letting myself love her. My siblings did not receive treatment and as a result still hate her. They did not come to her service to honor her life. When people ask what the big deal is, my answer is that we are never whole until we let go and let love.
I must add a list of authors that gave me intense growth. Maryanne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay shared their spirit with me giving me the tools that were required for a recovery.
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