Forgive or Forget it?  

rm_LilBlondeNZ 41F
1259 posts
4/30/2006 1:33 am
Forgive or Forget it?

Now sometimes I just post about crap.

Squirrels, stripping, ice cream, Santa; you name it, I can probably write some random shit about it.

But sometimes I write posts that are very personal and somewhat heavy. Fathers, Be Good To Your Daughters is an example, and it is, in fact, the precursor to this post. I find that when I'm trying to make an important decision or trying to work through an issue, I'll mull over something for a few days, think all my random thoughts, and then go back and sort it all out as I put the summary to "paper". If I did the same while talking to therapist, I would need a 7 hour appointment because sometimes it takes me that long to get it straight in my own head, plus I find it very difficult to express my feelings on certain particularly painful subjects.

So here's to saving myself $700... this will be a long one. I've been putting off writing this post for a long while, but it's time I did it and got it out of my system.

My mother emailed me last weekend.

She sent me a hallmark e-card that said,

"I hope you had a good Easter. It snowed here! You're always in my thoughts and prayers. Love, Mom."

Pretty nice, right? it wouldn't really be a particularly significant event for most people, and certainly not upsetting. However for me, it's a little different.

I haven't seen nor spoken to my mother since April 10, 1999.

I only know that date because I still have the dated boarding pass. It was Easter weekend and I waited for 16 hours in Gatwick airport in London before I was able to get on standby to come back to the states. I had just turned 23 and was in my second year of law school. I was on Spring Break, so my friend Alison and I went to London as a treat for my birthday to visit her friends from South Africa who had just relocated there. We had a great week; London's an alright town and we had met up with some cool people. We had gone out to a club after the pubs closed early, stumbled in about 4 am, and fell into bed . I was half passed out with my platform heels still on when the phone rang. Nobody picked it up at first because we were all drunk. Besides, who would ring that time of night anyway?

It kept ringing.

I guess Alison finally got up to get it. She roused me and shoved the phone in my hand.

It's Danny.

I was ready to give my (then) fiance a piece of my mind for calling so late (couldn't he add the 6 hour time difference, FFS? It's 4 am!). But when I heard the tone of his voice, I sobered up quickly. I didn't catch it the first time, but I surely understood the second time he said it.

You need to come home. Your sister has committed suicide.

Well, it turns out that she lived through that attempt, although everyone thought initially that she was dead. She was revived en route to the hospital. Danny called an hour later update me that she was in fact alive but in critical condition. But it wasn't that much of a relief really.

I wasn't quite sure that continuing to live was a good thing for her.

She had been wreaked with a severe bout of depression for weeks leading up to this point. She had dropped out of NYU music school, and my mother refused to take her back into the house. I went and got her, and took her in to live with me in an apartment upstairs from my in-laws that was under construction. It was going to be my and my husband's future marital home in few months. I had gotten her into therapy and back on her medication. She seemed to be doing OK and so when I left for London I thought she would be fine.

Little did I know she "playing well"; she knew about my planned trip and was just waiting for me to leave so she could carry out her big plan without me interfering.

I arrived at the hospital the day after when I finally got home, and by that time she was in stable condition in the intensive care unit. I found the room and found my mother playing the role of "dutiful concerned parent" at the bedside (what crap!). Upon seeing me, she started to cry. I remember her words to this day:

It was all my fault.

How could you leave her alone?
How could you go to London and think she'd be OK?
You should have made her stay at school.
You never knew what was good for her.
You made the wrong decision.
Now look what's happened.
This is your fault.
You thought you were so smart, that you knew better.
I hope you're happy.

I was beyond crushed.

And it was the last straw. I never talked to or saw my mother again. And honestly at that point, I didn't care if my sister lived or not either. I was so pissed at her for being so ungrateful and selfish I just couldn't deal with her. I assured my in-laws that everything was fine, went back to school the next day, and buried the whole incident as deeply as I possibly could in order to finish out the semester.

How dare she try to off herself with no consideration how it would affect me. After everything I had done for her? And in my new house FFS! For my sister-in-law to find her? For my fiance's entire family to be traumatized by? Knowing that I wouldn't even be able to make it home in time to say goodbye?


It may seem crazy, but it's how I felt. I seriously didn't care if she lived. I hoped that she would die, because to me she was dead anyway. I wanted her to justify my grief. After I did a lot of research, I found out that my anger was very appropriate at that stage, but I felt pretty "mean" at the time.

I have since made peace with my sister to some extent, even though she has decided to maintain a relationship with my mother. There have been several episodes over the years where I have had to get my sister out of trouble... into rehab, out of jail, back into rehab, our of money trouble. She's doing pretty well now, but in the back of my mind, I'm always waiting for "the phone call".

My mother, however, is a different story.

The episode in the hospital ICU seven years ago was the last in a *long* line of things that have caused me a lot of pain in my life.

When I was 5, and my sister was 18 months old, my father left us. For the next 13 years I held the burden taking care of my younger sister and protecting us both from a very abusive, unmedicated, severely anorexic, manic depressive. I was placed in foster care twice, but always returned back home. My mother "found God" and remarried to a minister, who ended up being even more abusive that she was.

While our younger step-siblings had their own rooms on the main floor, my sister and I shared an unheated attic loft. If we complained, we were locked in for the weekend, to only be let out for church Sunday morning; it was to teach us a lesson, "Be grateful for the Lord has given you".

By the age of 15, I had suffered two broken wrists, two sets of broken ribs, a broken collar bone, cigarette burns all over my arms, a 7 inch scalp laceration that required 62 stitches, and a broken ankle. I was so malnourished and abused that I contracted the chicken pox a second time at age 14 because my immune system was so impaired. (I still bear tiny white scars all over my limbs from that today.) I was hospitalized for 3 weeks because I couldn't heal and I was severely dehydrated. I hid all these injuries by explaining that I was a "clumsy" kid, with "a bad immune system". Plus, after all, my step-father was a minister; there was no way a nice man like that would ever hurt a kid. She eventually left him and we moved out on our own. I bided my time for 3 years until I escaped to go to college.

I never went back.

She was mentally, emotionally and physically cruel to us.
She let us down.
She sold us out.

And now she wants to be forgiven.

I have been back and forth on this issue many times over the past years. I would sometimes wonder "If she died tomorrow, would I go to her funeral?" I probably would, but only for my sister's sake. But all these years my mother had never been in contact, so it was never really an issue whether I should try to repair our relationship. She wasn't at my wedding, she wasn't at my law school graduation, she didn't call when I got divorced; I never heard from her. And that was perfectly fine with me.

Until this past week.

I'm not 100% sure what to do. I think I've made my decision but I need to think about it more.

Should I forgive her? be the bigger person and try to let this all go and take her back into my life? She is still untreated and I don't see *any* possible benefit having her in my life would bring to me. I certainly don't want her involved with my new husband or my future children. I have forgiven her as best I can; I know she's not well, that she cant help being the way she is. But she really doesn't have anyone besides my sister. She does need support... should I try to help her? Could I do that without submitting myself to reliving all that pain, plus subjecting myself to more?

Or should I just forget it? Move on and don't look back. I've done fine all this time on my own, why would I want to go back and deal with all her craziness.


I do know that even thinking about this whole subject is very upsetting and draining. I'm not quite sure I'm strong enough even if I wanted to try to help her. Plus she lives in Reno, Nevada with my sister; I would never really see her anyway now that I'm moving to New Zealand.

I really have no desire to have anything to do with her.

Is that selfish? Am I going to regret not having a relationship with her when she dies?

When is it OK to write off a parent?

Still mulling...


chasingfun27 39M
1108 posts
4/30/2006 2:15 am

Just because you share 50% of the same genetic material with someone doesn't mean you owe them any more than you owe anyone else. To be mistreated by a stranger is bad, but to be abused by those entrusted to care for you is abominable.

The question you have to ask yourself is 'What kind of person am I?'. Some of us can wipe others and move on, whereas some people can't handle holding a grudge.

Whatever your decision, do it for yourself. How it affects your mother should not even enter the equation.

bulging_boy 50M

4/30/2006 2:35 am

*whatever* you decide babe, I'm with you 100%

and if you change your mind?

I'm still with you 100%

Peche85 32F

4/30/2006 3:46 am

Maybe you should tell her how it all made you feel (if you havn't already) then you can judge by the way she responds. Maybe she has been feeling guilty all this time and has only just worked up the courage to contact you. If she just laughs it off or doesn't understand how much it has affected you, then maybe you could get that final closure that you shouldn't have a relationship with her.

GoddessOfTheDawn 106F
11240 posts
4/30/2006 5:14 am

    Quoting chasingfun27:
    Just because you share 50% of the same genetic material with someone doesn't mean you owe them any more than you owe anyone else. To be mistreated by a stranger is bad, but to be abused by those entrusted to care for you is abominable.

    The question you have to ask yourself is 'What kind of person am I?'. Some of us can wipe others and move on, whereas some people can't handle holding a grudge.

    Whatever your decision, do it for yourself. How it affects your mother should not even enter the equation.

I think chasingfun27 has worded it quite nicely. As I'm in the middle of a similar situation myself I'll b watching the comments on this one

ultimately is is YOUR decision

Seriously_Real 49M

4/30/2006 5:39 am

It is very difficult to know what to say to you, because none of us have lived your exact situation. But a couple things occur to me:

1. In the past 7 years, have you missed her? Have you hoped that she would call, that you could repair it? Something tells me that you were actually okay with the lack of contact and moving on. This is not to say you don't miss the idea of a mother the way you would miss her if we had died. For the past 7 years, was there ever a point where you felt, like Mzhunyhole said above, that you just wish you could straighten things out and hold her, just once? Again, I suspect not and if that's the case....well. I think it tells you something.

2. The other thing is that you are not obligated to do ANYTHING. Yes, you cannot choose your parents and no, it is not ideal to write off a parent. But you are a grown, successful woman who has done REMARKABLE things with her life under the circumstances. It is like you were dealt a shit hand in poker and managed to bluff everyone else at the table into folding. You faked it until you made it. This is the sign of strength and stability. You have earned your scars, is what I'm saying. And scars beat the dogshit out of wounds, because scars prove healing.

Having earned your scars, you have earned the right to NEVER allow them to be opened again.

She is an acquaintance now, Lil. You would be perfectly within your rights (and probably even correct) to choose not to pursue a relationship with her. And just like an acquaintance, if it is the case that you want to pursue a relationship, it begins over and fresh at friendship first. You owe her NOTHING at this point. (Frankly, she's the one in the red, mother or no.)

Lastly, and this is a big deal to me that you get can NEVER pretend that nothing happened. If you ever open a dialogue with her, it begins with where and why you left off, I think.

Sweetie, it breaks my heart to hear all of this. I am so proud of you for having done what you've done with your life. And this also confirms everything I've ever known about to deserve each other in the right way. You ended up a winner with a winner. Good for you.


Dowd3 44M

4/30/2006 7:19 am

My daughter has a grandmother that neither of us has ever seen. My ex described her as abusive to almost every degree you can imagine. She allowed her father to do even more. When she was fifteen, my ex managed to get out from under both of them, but the damage is done. I've received two letters from Julie since my girl was born and the last one was ten years ago.

My ex is a bundle of problems that I am not equipped to handle, so we broke up after four years to preserve whatever friendship we had left. It appears that was a good move.

In the mean time I hear some alarming things about Grandma Julie. She, like your mom, found religion. She also married a farmer who pecked out an existence that was obsolete a century ago. Sounds like the "simple, God-fearing" type of man that hides out in the sticks to cover up more disturbing behavior. The last time we heard from her, Julie was sitting on the porch of her home with a rifle taking shots at the sheriff. I'm not lying or exaggerating. The last time we heard about her, she was carted off to a Tennessee prison for attempted murder of her ex-husband inn much the same fashion as I described earlier.

Unpleasant woman.

Yet my ex still loves her. She also loves her father, even though she will not visit him alone, nor will she allow my daughter to be left alone with him. Can't say I blame her. But the love she has is something I marvel at. I can't describe how ASTONISHED I am to know that she wants anything to do with these cruel, misguided excuses for humanity.

If your mom wants to step back into your life, I see no reason why you shouldn't be wary if not downright indignant. She didn't act like a mother before, why should she start now when it's too little and too late? Is this the action of an old person trying to get into heaven? Or is she genuinely trying to make amends? But remember that anger is an emotion that protects us from deeper fears. Bitterness grows inside us when we fail to move on from pain of our lives.

In your case I might make the rare suggestion (for me) to let the feud continue in silence. Usually I'm all for opening communication between family, but I'm not sure there will be resolution in the end for you. My ex still wishes she had a family that loved her even though it is clearly beyond her parent's ability to do so. It may not be wrong of her to wish they were better people, but it is unrealistic they ever will be.

You appear to have the mindset that your mother will never change, but do you ever wish that she will? If the answer is no then wash your hands of her entirely, for you have grown beyond her reach. If the answer is yes, then take great care in how you proceed. Our fondest wishes often blind us.

Take care.

TheRealThing655 49F
9558 posts
4/30/2006 9:43 am

I am new to your Blog and I really like you and how you write.
Shit, you have been through the ringer my friend. I have my own story of my relationship with my mother and she has done many things to hurt me, though not to the extent of yours but still important to me. And this is your post and I'm not going to take over with my story
I have not spoken to my mother in almost 5 years now. I've tried to make contact with her and she never responds.
It is hard to decide what to do Lil. My mother never came to my graduations or wedding either...she's completely ignored my children, the only grandchildren she has ever had.
There have been many things she has said and done to hurt you. For blaming you for your sister's attempted suicide is just about the cruelest thing anyone can do to a person. How dare she???? You suffered horrible physical abuse and she knew about it and did nothing. Sure, she left him, but the damage had been done. Perhaps it is her religious beliefs that make her reach out and try to mend things with you, who knows? Many people want forgiveness as they look over their lives and are old and nearing the end. Who knows?
I think a lot of your decision might be made on religious beliefs. I am not a religious person although I respect people for their own beliefs. Some religions tell us to always forgive, no matter the pain caused. For myself, I could just not forgive your mother. You may want to forgive her for some internal peace before she dies.
You are not selfish at all. You have been through experiences and lived things most people cannot even fathom.
She does not deserve your forgiveness. The fact that she sent (sorry) a fucking e-card shows the extent of her communicative abilities after all of these years. Maybe if she took pen to paper and wrote you a book about all the damage and trauma she caused you you might think differently.
Just my opinion, move on. Write her off. You are moving to New Zealand to be with a wonderful man you deserve. All my best to you.

Package1971 47M
1051 posts
4/30/2006 10:33 am

Wow. I can't imagine having gone through what you did and then being able to put it all into coherent thoughts years later. Your conviction and strength is apparent.

All I would add to this is that, maybe your mother feels some remorse for the way she treated you, somewhere deep inside. And maybe even she realizes how banal and ridiculous an e-card looks to you after all this time. But maybe this is all she's got. Maybe she's simply unable to communicate anything more meaningful at this time or she just wants to make contact without digging up all that crap you both will definitely feel.

This is a minuscule crack in her armor and you have to be very, very careful about what you do next.

I recommend forgiveness, because forgiveness really has nothing to do with her. It's about what you carry in your heart all your life.

"Should I forgive her? be the bigger person and try to let this all go and take her back into my life?"

I don't think letting this go would make you a bigger person. I think it would make you a seething, bitter person. IF you talk to her, you might try to say something like, "Mom, I am so happy to hear from you after all this time, but the last time we talked, you really hurt me, and I'm having trouble imagining a happy relationship with you."

Don't think you ever have to be as close to your mom as your sister is. I think you should set some well defined boundaries for yourself and for her. You can allow her back into your life as much as you want or don't want.

She's still your mother. Mean, abusive, imperfect.

Tread carefully dear.

rm_DaphneR 59F
8023 posts
4/30/2006 11:03 am

Bottom line, you dont OWE her anything. Make your decision based on how you feel. Don't worry about her.

Have tongue, will use it. Repeatedly.

rm_1hotwahine 64F
21091 posts
4/30/2006 11:10 am

Okay, here's my perspective. As always, feel free to take what fits and leave the rest.

The phrase "Forgiveness is the beginning of healing" popped into my mind. However...

Forgiving her and allowing her back into your life are two different things.

The forgiving part is along the lines of "she is who she is, all of us simply do the best we can at any given moment" etc. Forgiving her might release something within yourself that feels good to let go of.

However...the "danger" of forgiving her MIGHT lie in hoping that things will be different. It won't be. Therefore...

Frankly, I don't see a point in bringing her back into your life.

So I guess my bottom line is to find within yourself what YOU need from it. Beyond that, feel confident about your decision to not bring this unnecessary negativity and pain into your new life.

And by the way...
You are truly one in a million.

Yeah, I'm still [blog 1hotwahine]

rm_LilBlondeNZ 41F
1028 posts
4/30/2006 8:29 pm

To everyone who commented:

I am really, really touched.

I expected maybe a few one-line well wishes, but the deeply insightful nature of your words and the fact that you took the not only the time to read my lengthy post, but the time to respond- sending me such write heartfelt, detailed, supportive, introspective personal responses... I really can't tell you how much that means. I've read these comments 10 times over, and I'm sure I'll read them many times more.

This was not an easy post to write, but it had been in progress in my head for several months. This whole week I was feeling completely insecure, doubting, anxious, just really negative about myself and my accomplishments so far this year... I knew I would be bummed from leaving Bulge behind in New Zealand, but it was more than that.

I woke up and asked myself yesterday morning "What the hell is going on with you? You're not like this. What triggered you turning into a complete basketcase overnight?"

It was only then I remembered the e-card I had so quickly deleted and tried to bury in the back of my mind.

That's it.

So my exercise here was to deal with my suppressed feelings on the subject and get everything off my chest, and it really has been beneficial. As soon as I clicked "Post", I felt like I did a good thing. I never dreamed I would get the kind of feedback you guys gave me. I'm really thankful to have such wise, warm, knowing, experienced friends on this site.

It's very conforting to see that I am not alone in my situation, and that I'm not a "bad person" for wanting to leave that part of my life, and the people who made it so difficult, behind as I start a new one in a few months.

I wish I missed my mother like MZ does hers, but I don't. I don't think I ever had any kind of bond with her to begin with, and whatever we did have was eaten away by fear and sorrow. Even though she was physically present, she had abandoned us too. I really have no feeling for her or connection to her... all I have is a lot of disappointment, an equal amount of hurt, and some leftover anger mixed in.

So I think I've made my decision. I'll write back cordially and thank her for her attempt to reconnect because that can't have been an easy thing to do. But explain that I'm getting remarried and moving away... that pretty much that she missed her chance to be a mother to me. I will invite her to keep in touch if she wishes as an acquaintance, but explain I feel that I would not benefit from trying to reconstruct a relationship that never existed.

I'll sleep on it for a day or two and see how I feel.

Chasing, MZ, Peche, Honni, GOTD, Daph: Thank you so much for your thoughts and encouragement. They are truly appreciated.

Real: You are right, she is an acquaintance. She really hasn't earned her stars; can't really grant her the title of "mother". Thanks for your thought provoking questions...

Dowd: That had to be so difficult. And the fact that she still wants a relationship with her monther is kinda insane... but I can't judge. I will take your advice and tread carefully. I think it was more my idealistic thinking that was guiding my altruistic thinking rather than knowledge of reality. Thanks.

RealThing: Thanks for the compliment. It always makes me happy when someone likes my writing because it's a direct product co-written by my brain and heart. You've echoed that part of me that is indignant. I am not religious (and probably for good reason based on my history) but just spiritually- I think I will have to fogive her in my own mind for good energy's sake... can't drag around old baggage. But I'm not sure if I want her to be the end beneficiary of that forgiveness. I think I'll be keeping it to myself. Thanks for your comment and your opinion.

Package: "I recommend forgiveness, because forgiveness really has nothing to do with her. It's about what you carry in your heart all your life." Well said, and point taken. Thanks so much for your input on this tough issue.

1Hot: Your reasoning is the same I have. She won't change, and if I want to make her a partof my life- I would be inherently hoping that she wound... which just sets me up for future disappointment. You always give me such good advice. Thanks. *And* thanks for the compliment, it made me tear up.

Salz: Thank you so much for sharing your story, and I think you are making the right decision yourself. "When did you become pretty?" ... yikes, that makes me cringe. I rememeber at a young age that all I wanted was for my mom to think I was pretty. Instead she said "it was a good thing I was smart". Her cutting comments about my looks (a junior's size 9 was "heavy" to her) went right down to the quick; I can probably still recite every one of the things she said to me as if they were said yesterday. I look at young girls now and can't imagine why anyone would say things like that to such fragile little creatures. Your parents seem like users and I think you are right to keep your daughter away. I wouldn't have her anywhere such shallow un-loving people. Thanks so much for your story and your encouragement.

Bulge: Baby, you are my heart. I am so lucky to have you in my life. You are so supportive, understanding and so helpful to me. Thanks for reeling me in when I was out on the edge the other night. I love you and I'm very very grateful for what we have.

Thanks you all for your comments. I will be revisiting this post many, many times I'm sure.



rm_sj365 57F
2414 posts
4/30/2006 8:39 pm

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.
~Mark Twain~

if nto for her, do it for yourself

FeistySyn 53F

4/30/2006 9:32 pm

I went through a lot of things when I was a child, some very similiar to what you did, though I was raised by my father and step- mother... I have not spoken to my step mother in almost 20 years (I am now 41, she and my father divorced after I had moved out of their home to support myself when I was 16) ... after having some very good therapy in my 20s, I came to realize that if I don't LIKE someone (this has nothing to do with forgiveness) I do not have to have that person in my life, no matter how they are related to me. I do not like this woman, she is crass, loud, drunken, tacky and crude - not anyone I would have as a friend, so she is not part of my life. My father, on the other hand, is a bit tacky and crude and he drinks too much, but he is a very likeable and friendly guy. I don't spend a lot of time with him (I can only take so much chain smoking and beer drinking), but we stay in touch.

I have a sister who has been drug addicted her entire life, and she is older than me... she has served time as a felon in prison for drugs and has lost custody of 2 of her children and lost the third in a vehicle accident (most likely drug/alcohol related). Again, this is a person I choose not to have in my life. My two other sisters think I have "issues" because of my choices... personally, I just think I am happier than they are and maybe will ever be, because I learned how to say "no" and to love me enough to choose who I will and will not let in my life.

It's not guiltless, but it has brought me happiness and a lot less stress.

Apparently the depth of depravity here is bottomless... don't you feel right at home?

caressmewell 54F

5/1/2006 1:45 pm

You've been given some excellent advice but the bottom line is you have to do what YOU feel is right for YOU. I think Seriously_Real hit the nail on the head with what he said about your last 7 years of no contact with your mom.

Best of luck you to in making this decision.

bardicman 51M

5/1/2006 8:47 pm

I see alot of people stating that you do not owe her anything.

I disagree.

You owe her all the animosity you feel.

I think you should forgive her because that forgiveness will help heal your soul. However, forgiveness does NOT mean you forget. Forgiveness does NOT mean that you put yourself in the position to be hurt again. I do not think this woman belongs in your life and I damn sure don't think that she belongs in the life of little Bard (if its a boy)or bardette (if its a girl). As a mother you have to offer the protection to your own children that was never offered to you.

I am not dead yet

rm_cockmerollme 46F
1223 posts
5/2/2006 1:13 am

Anger is an energy.

And spend the are worth it. You future is worth it.

Get the fucking therapy.

You are worth the time.
It'a all you have, right?


romeoMEETSjuliet 53M/53F
162 posts
5/3/2006 10:41 pm

She says - I have many thoughts about this, and I know Romeo will likely have even more. A consultation is on order before any 'advice' could even be considered. I shall bring it up with him first thing.

What I will say, for now, is that you painted a painfully perfect picture of some of the major details about your youth and your family. For that, I offer you a huge hug. Time has a wonderful way of solidifying such details into the foundation of our character. Building "up" from that crooked, cracked, unstable foundation is something to be truly proud of.

barbiebunny 37F
5597 posts
6/18/2006 1:04 am

wow i never had a chance to read until now....U have mad props from Me...your my hero blondie.

Its good to be...ME

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