I can’t stay mad at you

This is over a week behind, but I wanted to answer this daily post in particular. Do you hold grudges or do you believe in forgive and forget? I would like to think I am the kind of person who forgives and forgets. It can be difficult. I think the most difficult person to forgive has been my mother, followed by my father. I was able to be with each of them before they passed. With my father I was able to say “I love you” and mean it before he died. I could not think of anything to forgive him for at the time. I knew how hard it had been to live with my mother. Heck I lived with her and it almost did me in. But, after he died and I started reading some of his journals and things that he wrote I began to become extremely angry with him. I was angry because there was so much he had done to hurt my mother and his children. He was selfish, self-absorbed and hurtful. He knew he was hurting her and he just couldn’t stop himself. (At least that is what he said in his journals. He just loved to love women. And Mom didn’t do it for him.) Affair after affair. He always made it her fault. I remember that. Now I knew something different. It softened me considerably when it came to what I thought of my mother. However, there were things that happened in my childhood. Horrible things that were said and done that would ruin any child and it was mostly my mother that did it. How do you let go of it? How do you forgive your parents when it seems they had children just because it was expected and that we were more of an inconvenience at times than anything else?

I have come to the point in my life that I have to let it all go. I sat with my mother as she lay dying and forgave her and I meant it. She had a mental illness, she was married to a man who was emotionally and at times physically abusive. She was left alone to struggle and raise 4 children much of the time. It does not excuse the neglect, the often emotional and occasional physical abuse of her children, it just gives a reason for it. I feel that just because you understand why something happened, does not mean you can excuse it. But, you can forgive it based on the reasons that it happened. She did love all of us as much as she could with the condition that she had. She never killed us, never truly abandoned us and she tried to be better. And she did get better. Never perfect, but better.

So, can I forgive and forget? I can forgive. I have forgiven many people. Well there are two people that have been involved in my life at some point that I can say I will NEVER forgive and forget what they did without the help of God. On that note I suppose it is a continuing process, something I need to work on. It is better to forgive and let it go.


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Retired Navy Cardiovascular Technician/Respiratory Therapist. Wife, mother, grandmother.

4 thoughts on “I can’t stay mad at you”

  1. This is a great post and really resonates with me. I also struggle with my relationship with my parents. Growing up there was a lot of drama, darkness, and despair. But with the bad came a lot of good. We ate dinner together regularly. My parents were always there for the numerous activities I participated in. While there was a lot of bad, there was also lots of laughs, learning, and even love.

    For a long time I carried the negativity with me, not realizing I was still holding onto my baggage, because I had believed I had forgiven them. But in truth, I had not really forgiven them because I was holding them to an unattainable standard – perfect parenting. It was when I understood and accepted that my parents are human and how they did they best they could, that my anger and resentment towards them faded.

    Ironically my attachment to them faded as well. I have an idea in my head of what I need from a mom. A lot of our struggle stemmed from me trying to force my mother into what I felt a mom should be. She can’t be my ideal but she can still be mother. I still love her because she gave me life and has always been there when I have truly needed her despite all of our issues. But I also recognize who she is as a person no longer has a large place in my life. We just don’t gel. And that’s okay too. Not everyone is meant to be a long term part of our lives. Not even our parents.

    The anger or resentment have disappeared because just like her I am doing the best I can with the cards I’ve been dealt. I’ve messed up. A lot. I’m positive I have caused some long term emotional scars on my children. They’ll probably have a laundry list of things they’ll hate me for. But I hope that unlike me, they’ll realize immediately I am trying my best, making mistakes, and trying to get better every minute of every day. I hope they’ll accept me and the job I’ve done because regardless, I can’t change it. Just as continuing the anger and resentment won’t change my childhood. A lot of sucky crap happened to me, but it gave me a lot of experiences to learn from. And I think have helped shape me into an interesting person.

  2. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and insightful post. It is so important to remember that your parents were just human beings, but we depend on them to be so much more. And it causes heartbreak. I was always so jealous of girlfriends that I had who had Moms that were involved in their lives, showed them they loved them in healthy ways. Though the way they would talk sometimes their Moms or parents were Sadists. I had to remind them more than once that they were lucky. You have a great outlook and I think you are doing great. Just keep going, keep getting better. You can do it.

  3. Thank you for the encouragement. I doubt myself every day but I also know I kick butt at a couple things. So it’s a balance. 🙂 I will keep trudging forward!!!

    On a different note, I couldn’t agree more that we depend on our parents to be so much more than is reasonable to expect. As a child, your parents are your entire world, all-knowing, incapable of mistakes. A super-hero even. As a child grows and becomes more aware, they should be learning that their parents are not above making mistakes or needing to learn. They should not continue idolizing their parents to a standard that is unattainable.

    Patience has had a couple of these moments recently. She asked me a question about something and I told her I didn’t know the answer. She actually paused her game and turned around to look at me and say, “Wait, YOU don’t know something?” It was a complete shock to her that I might not have all the answers. I let her know that I often don’t know the answer but I enjoy trying to figure them out.

    She was similarly surprised when Patrick told her she had just taught him something new. When he told her he learned new things every single day and often times it was her and Prudence that were teaching him – I think he may have blown her sweet mind a bit that day. I smile because Patrick is the wise and noble one of the household. Teaching someone who seemingly knows everything a brand new concept is a mind-boggling experience. I can sympathize with her shock.

    Back to my point, our society has moved towards expecting perfection from everyone at all times. We do not allow for mistakes often citing them as being indications of failure. But if we never fail, how can we succeed or get better? We only know how high we can rise if we first know how far down the bottom is. To me, a mistake is kind of like life’s page break. You get a moment where you can step back and see everything that has happened up to that point, adjust, get comfortable, and dive right back into the story. It isn’t failure but opportunity. Opportunity to learn, to change, to start again.

    Every awful thing your parents did, and I think they did some insanely awful things, they were chances to learn. I strongly believe that the people who were meant to make a difference have also had some of the roughest starts to life. Their path in life requires struggle so they know how to break down walls without blinking an eye. Your trials and the awful things done to you helped shape you into something wonderful. From all of that darkness, your light still shines bright leaving you wanting to help others. What is more beautiful than that?

    I personally cannot think of anything. So in my mind, while your parents did unspeakable crimes against you, they were just playing their part. While I do not release them from the responsibility/consequences of their actions, I also think carrying forward anger or resentment is unnecessary. If you needed struggle in your childhood to help you become the person you needed to be fifty years down the road, why resent that? In the end, it got you where you needed to be.

    It got you to you. For that, we should all be thankful.

    1. I agree with everything you wrote. It is so true. And that is something I remind myself of everyday. That all I have been through has made me stronger. Even with the cracks.;D

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