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Discussion Starter #1
A good friend of mine has recently gone through a lot of therapy, including issues from her childhood. She had some tough issues to sort through, but she isn't an SA survivor.<br><br>
Now, after the therapy, she is all about "making peace with her mom", and showing her mom that she loves her. Her therapist says forgives is essential, and that forgiveness and love towards your mother is essential if you want to have a good relationship with your own kids.<br><br>
My friend has been "on my case" for letting go of my unpleasant feelings towards my mom, and to forgive and love her, and tell her that I forgive and love her. I understand my friend is coming from a place of love, and that therapy has helped her immensely.<br><br>
However, I am NOT ready to forgive my mom for standing by while her boyfriend sexually abused me. I am NOT going to love her for failing to protect her child, and for choosing to pretend it didn't happen. Now that I am a mother myself, I understand it even less. I'm upset because I thought my friend got it. I don't need to tell my mother I forgive her, and to truly feel forgiveness, in order to be a great mom to my kids. Right?<br><br>
I do love my mom, and I do appreciate many things about her. I can even have a normal kind of relationship with her, while I am blocking out the past. But I can't forgive her. And as time goes on, rather than telling her I forgive her, I am thinking of letting her know how much I was damaged by what happened, and how many years I spent thinking I was worthless, and my body was worthless. The years during which the SA went on, I felt utterly alone and unprotected. I was a kid. So much was taken away from me, and she didn't stop it.
 

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Clearly you and your friend's situations are different. I would let her know that you are glad she is getting closer with her own Mom, but that your issues are different and that you are comfortable with the way your relationship with her is already.<br><br>
And if she still wont let it go, tell her to butt out <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that"><br><br>
I am all for forgiveness but it has to come from you & it has to come from within and no, I don't think you need to forgive your mom to be a good mom yourself. I do think that forgiveness can be incredibly freeing. I do think if/when you're feeling ready that just talking to your mom about how terribly it affected you (irregardless of an intention to forgive) could help you move forward. But no one can or should force you to forgive, and as much as your friend (or any of us, really) has gone through her own rough patches, she can't truly understand what YOU experienced, your experience is unique to you. It's annoying when someone just doesn't 'get' it.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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is it possible your friend felt bullied into forgiveness, if so maybe I would cut her some slack, otherwise I'd let her now that the subject is off limits for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
No, I don't think my friend was bullied into forgiveness. She is living with her mother (and her son) after leaving her husband, and her relationship with her mother is SO MUCH better now, after the therapy. Her mother bullied her into having an abortion at 18, among other things.<br><br>
The problem with my mom is that she will not even acknowledge the abuse happened. Perhaps, if she said she was sorry, I could forgive her too. But that is never going to happen.
 

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Being a sexual abuse survivor has its own issues that make it different from other problems. That is why there is such horror when we hear news stores of children being sexually abused - because of the profound harm it can cause, especially if family members either abused you or stood by and did nothing.<br><br>
You can suggest to your friend that if she is concerned with your healing she could read some books about healing from sexual abuse - Jennifer Freyd's <i>Betrayal Trauma</i> and Sue Bloom's <i>Secret Survivors</i> come to mind. You can gently let her know that if she wants to help, she first needs to understand what you are dealing with before jumping to applying what helped in her therapy to someone else.<br><br>
An analogy might be that what helps someone deal with OCD symptoms isn't going to have the same effect on someone who is depressed, or schizophrenic - different reasons for needing therapy need different treatment. Coming to a place of forgiveness with her mother may have helped her, but that doesn't mean it will help you any more than the antibiotics that may have saved you with a massive infection are going to help her with her heartburn or a headache. Different problems need different responses and solutions.<br><br>
You might also decide that this is a topic you will not discuss with this friend and that if she cannot let it go, you might want to take a break from this friendship until you are at a different place in your own healing. I have certain friends I simply do not discuss these things with. They do not understand and I do not want to use my own life as a teaching tool for them - way too vulnerable and unhelpful for me. I have very few friends I can discuss any of my own past or healing with and that is fine with me -I am actually working through things much better and faster not having to accommodate someone else's feelings about my life.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, Shantimama. I have tried explaining to my friend that one size does not fit all, therapy-wise. She does understand that, of course, but she can't get past the "love your mom" theme.<br><br>
This is really an awesome friend of mine, I love her dearly. I guess that is why I am hurt that she would say I can't be a good mom if I don't love my own mom, and that in order to have a good relationship with adult children, you first have to have a good relationship with your own mom. I don't buy it. Relationships are a two way street, and if my mom isn't doing her part of it, that doesn't mean my relationship with my kids is ruined.<br><br>
To the contrary. I have been feeling great, and doing therapy myself. Not for the SA part (yet) but for my jail time in Korea (I'm a journalist, I was locked up for three months for exercising press freedom in a country where there is none). The therapy has been awesome. Better then before, because I am so ready for it now. I feel wonderful, and my kids are thriving on that too. I also have a new job, and feel great about that too.<br><br>
The last thing I need is stuff like my friend telling me I can't be a good mom. It's more theoretical I guess, because she KNOWS I am a good mom. She doesn't get the feelings that come with SA, and of course I am glad that she doesn't, because she hasn't been through it. You're right, I'll tell her that this is not a topic I want to discuss. She brings my mom up every time I see her, which is often.
 

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Maybe the problem is in defining what makes a "good" relationship with one's mother.<br><br>
Does good mean "feel good and no conflict allowed?" Does good mean healthy - where everyone involved is safe and respected? Does good mean looks good on the outside but someone in the relationship is being eaten away with fear, anger and emotional manipulation on the inside?<br><br>
With a mother who either has not abused her children or else one who has taken responsibility for her actions, made amends and changed her behaviour - sure, having a warm adult relationship can be a healthy thing. But if the mother was abusive and continues to deny or abuse, a warm relationship (if possible) isn't good or healthy.<br><br>
It is right and healthy to have careful or no contact with people who abuse us. If both parties are not healthy or willing to work towards healing the past, how can you have a healthy relationship?<br><br>
I did everything I could to have a warm, loving relationship with my mother for a long time. I berated myself for not being more forgiving and accepting of who she was. Then she started down the road towards playing the same mind games with my children and I realized I had to put a stop to that. She wasn't physically abusing them but she was starting to mess with their heads.<br><br>
I think that if my mother had been a healthy person she would not <i>want</i> to be allowed to abuse her daughter or grandchildren. The thing is, she was and is not a mentally healthy person and so she does not get to determine what is okay and what is not. That is my job.<br><br>
For me, having a healthy relationship with my mom meant creating huge boundaries in our relationship. Pulling back from her made me a better mother, not worse. My mother was not happy with the changes I made but I am no longer being abused, my children are no longer witnessing their grandmother abusing their mother, and I am a stronger and healthier person for it.<br><br>
Maybe it is about your definition of forgiveness too.<br><br>
I am no longer trying to change my mother - in part because she has advanced dementia, but it is more than that. I accept her for who she is and was. Could that be forgiveness? I do not condone any of her abuse or standing by while others abused me. I have forgiven her in the sense that I no longer hope for or expect her to change or make amends in any way. I haven't forgiven her in the "Hallmark" sense - but that fluffy feel good, everything is okay, it doesn't matter any more doesn't fit with my understanding of forgiveness anyway. The distance in our relationship is a natural consequence of the things she said and did. I can accept her for who she is without having to welcome her warmly into my life.<br><br>
So yes, I think you can be an excellent mother without having a warm, close relationship with your own mother. How could you be a truly healthy and good mother if you had to deny your own truth and feelings to be in such an important relationship? How can you "forgive" and move past an issue like the way your mother betrayed you when she isn't doing anything about her part in that? What about the mom loving her child properly???
 

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My mother is still actively detrimental to my well being. It would not be healthy on any level for me to have a relationship with her. She is a pathological liar. She is a user. No, I don't need to forgive her to be a good mother. I need to work on my own $h!t and be an honest, good person to be a good mother. I need to not pass on the legacy of abuse. Those are the things that will make me a good mother, not putting myself in a position where I can get kicked more.<br><br>
I have tried to make amends with my family. I even paid for professional mediation. Things got better for a couple of months and then they went back to normal with my mother making promises and lying. My sister threatening to beat me up at my baby shower (I'm dead serious). My mother thinking that showing up with a box of $.99 crap for my kid made up for stealing money. It is *not* healthy to engage with toxic people.<br><br>
That said, many people in America have unreasonable standards they try to expect of their parents. I can understand telling people who have a difficult but not abusive relationship that they should find forgiveness. it is *different* if you are an abuse survivor.<br><br>
My mother will never have independent access to my children because she believes she did nothing wrong when she neglected me leading to my being violently raped repeatedly before I was 10 years old. Not a person I can trust, thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Shantimama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15442879"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">So yes, I think you can be an excellent mother without having a warm, close relationship with your own mother. How could you be a truly healthy and good mother if you had to deny your own truth and feelings to be in such an important relationship? How can you "forgive" and move past an issue like the way your mother betrayed you when she isn't doing anything about her part in that? What about the mom loving her child properly???</div>
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That exactly. I'll go a step further and say that I finally recognized a pattern that had been developing for a while. I struggle with anger sometimes. Something that I hadn't realized was that my current bouts of anger, directed at the kids, were ALWAYS triggered by contact with my mom. This normally involves her hurting and tearing down my deepest being. We do have periods where we can have normal contact, but they are so often overshadowed by casual comments from her side that leave me frustrated, and then angry.<br><br>
For instance today. I spoke to her, and she told me that a friend of hers, who has kids in their teens, finally left her abuse boyfriend. She said that she felt great for the kids, because the boyfriend was always shouting and cursing at them. She then added that she doesn't understand who her friend let this guy do that to her kids, and that something would have never happened to her, as a mother.<br><br>
This coming from the woman who still denies her boyfriend repeatedly raped her own daughter from age 11. Such comments would have set me off big time just a while back. The less contact I have with her, the less things like that happen. Now that I know that I am likely to have anger bouts after speaking to my mom, I can make efforts to prevent it. It's been working great for a while now.<br><br>
I like your points about what constitute a healthy relationship in different situations, and what forgiveness means. I am also at the stage of accepting my mom for who she is, and appreciating her good points. Yes, she does have many good points. She's an excellent long-distance grandma to my kids. She loves them to bits. But that little girl crying out for help, and being ridiculed instead of protected, is still so strong in me. I feel like that little girl is wanting ME to protect her now, all those years later, and standing up for her rights. That little girl, screaming for help, would not have wanted me to forgive my mom for doing that to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>rightkindofme</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15443926"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My mother is still actively detrimental to my well being. It would not be healthy on any level for me to have a relationship with her. She is a pathological liar. She is a user. No, I don't need to forgive her to be a good mother. I need to work on my own $h!t and be an honest, good person to be a good mother. I need to not pass on the legacy of abuse. Those are the things that will make me a good mother, not putting myself in a position where I can get kicked more.<br><br>
I have tried to make amends with my family. I even paid for professional mediation. Things got better for a couple of months and then they went back to normal with my mother making promises and lying. My sister threatening to beat me up at my baby shower (I'm dead serious). My mother thinking that showing up with a box of $.99 crap for my kid made up for stealing money. It is *not* healthy to engage with toxic people.<br><br>
That said, many people in America have unreasonable standards they try to expect of their parents. I can understand telling people who have a difficult but not abusive relationship that they should find forgiveness. it is *different* if you are an abuse survivor.<br><br>
My mother will never have independent access to my children because she believes she did nothing wrong when she neglected me leading to my being violently raped repeatedly before I was 10 years old. Not a person I can trust, thanks.</div>
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Thanks for sharing that. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2"> to you too. The question of independent access to my kids doesn't even come up in my case, because we're halfway across the world. It's that way for a reason.<br><br>
Would you share some details of what kind of contact you do have with your mother now? What can you handle without it affecting you? If you do have some contact, why? Because you want to, or because you are guilted into it?<br><br>
I'm thinking of writing my mom a letter to let her know what it was really like for me. Perhaps I won't even send it to her, but perhaps I'll even have the courage. It's probably a bad idea though, and will only lead to a repeat scenario of what happened when I told her about her boyfriend raping me - denial, ridicule, and accusations.
 

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In your own space. In your own time.<br><br>
Your friend needs to back off and mind her won business. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/angry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="angry">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MittensKittens</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15444004"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Thanks for sharing that. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2"> to you too. The question of independent access to my kids doesn't even come up in my case, because we're halfway across the world. It's that way for a reason.<br><br>
Would you share some details of what kind of contact you do have with your mother now? What can you handle without it affecting you? If you do have some contact, why? Because you want to, or because you are guilted into it?<br><br>
I'm thinking of writing my mom a letter to let her know what it was really like for me. Perhaps I won't even send it to her, but perhaps I'll even have the courage. It's probably a bad idea though, and will only lead to a repeat scenario of what happened when I told her about her boyfriend raping me - denial, ridicule, and accusations.</div>
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Before I got pregnant with my daughter (who is now 2) I had zero contact with my family. During that pregnancy the hormonal rush was such that I felt like I <b>had</b> to have contact with my family. That is when I paid for mediation and worked really hard to build bridges. We had contact about once a month for over a year. Things started deteriorating rapidly when my daughter was about 13 months. My sister sent a message to my brother (with whom I have tenuous contact at best and he is completely no contact with my sister and mother and that's been true for many years) saying that whatever it is he thinks that they (my mom and sister) did he has to get over it because in families you have to put up with shit. Thing is, he has very real very serious grievances. Telling him to just get over it is... really not ok. I started pulling back hard at that point.<br><br>
Then my mom freaked the @#$! out. Then I started getting constant calls from my mother and my sister's creditors. Always my favorite. I just stopped returning calls and at this point my mom has backed off. My sister keeps sending me nasty grams about how I 'owe her' information. I don't what the @#$% she is smoking that she thinks I owe her the time of day.<br><br>
So uhm, yeah. I have no contact because any contact at all causes me major stress and they are toxic people. This kind of sucks because my niece (who I am in contact with) graduates from high school on Tuesday and she wants me to go. Festive.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Shantimama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15439204"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">-I am actually working through things much better and faster not having to accommodate someone else's feelings about my life.</div>
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Very good post Shantimama.<br><br>
And this statement is actually very informative, and very true. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/nod.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="nod">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>rightkindofme</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15445278"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">So uhm, yeah. I have no contact because any contact at all causes me major stress and they are toxic people. This kind of sucks because my niece (who I am in contact with) graduates from high school on Tuesday and she wants me to go. Festive.</div>
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That's tough. What are you going to do? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MittensKittens</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15455322"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">That's tough. What are you going to do? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2"></div>
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Not sit with the family and give her a hug after the event and go home. I will take her out to lunch on a different day. My stated excuse will be that my 2 year old can't go out that late at night.
 

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I really hate all of the pressure to forgive. No one can be told to forgive. Forgiveness is a great thing and brings a lot of peace when it does happen but it can't be forced by any means.<br><br>
My stbxah has pressured me to forgive my mom for emotional trauma that she caused me when I was younger, but, if she's not sorry, I can't forgive, and neither do I have to.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Mrs. Turner</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15457718"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I really hate all of the pressure to forgive. No one can be told to forgive. Forgiveness is a great thing and brings a lot of peace when it does happen but it can't be forced by any means.<br><br>
My stbxah has pressured me to forgive my mom for emotional trauma that she caused me when I was younger, but, if she's not sorry, I can't forgive, and neither do I have to.</div>
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Exactly. When she can't see she did any wrong where there was so obvious and blatant a "wrong", then wouldn't it be self-destructive to forgive?
 

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I think that letting go, even if it's temporary, is a healthy, positive, alternative forgiveness. Again, it is nothing that should be forced upon someone who is not ready to do it. I'm in a time in my life where I haven't forgiven my mother, but I've let go of the situation for a season. I've put it to rest and am enjoying the present relationship that I have with her which is completely different. It's a relief.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Mrs. Turner</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15458764"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think that letting go, even if it's temporary, is a healthy, positive, alternative forgiveness. Again, it is nothing that should be forced upon someone who is not ready to do it. I'm in a time in my life where I haven't forgiven my mother, but I've let go of the situation for a season. I've put it to rest and am enjoying the present relationship that I have with her which is completely different. It's a relief.</div>
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Yes, that is where I am at too. I can (mostly) enjoy the current relationship I have with my mom (until she says something to hurt me), but I certainly haven't forgiven anything. I have let go, and made peace, but that's different.
 
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