Forgiving My Mother

The author's mother abused him when she was drunk and high, and he went into care. An illness in their family makes him realize he'd rather forgive her than stay mad.

by Anonymous

I didn’t talk to my mother for six years. I’ve had a better life away from her, and now I’m figuring out how to forgive her because being angry at my mom was bad for both of us. I wasn’t connecting with girls I dated, and I think it had to do with how my mom mistreated me and my anger at her.

I often suspected that girls I dated were out to get me or that they were going to cheat. If my own mom couldn’t treat me right, how could someone who didn’t give birth to me treat me well and help me grow?

When I was 13, I ran away from home because my mom and dad were abusing me.

My mom used to hit me when she was drunk or high. She told me that I was going to end up dead or in jail. If I tried to defend myself from her abuse, she’d say, “I brought you into this world, and I’ll take you out.”

I stayed with my cousin for a few weeks, and then the court allowed me to go live with Leshawn, my mom’s ex-boyfriend’s sister. Child Protective Services (CPS) was not involved. Two years after I moved in, though, Leshawn got sick with diabetes.

When Leshawn got sick, she called CPS without telling me.

Within a week, I moved in with my first foster mom, Ms. Rodriguez. She cooked three times a week at the most; she didn’t help me with my homework.

She didn’t give me enough money for clothes or school lunch.

After a week and a half, I asked my caseworker Candice to find me a new placement. I moved in with Blanca the next day.

A Better Mom

Five and a half years later, I’m still there. From the start, Blanca treated me like her own child. When I first got to Blanca’s, she asked me not to do two things: Don’t cut school and don’t be around the wrong crowd.

I tested the waters by coming home late and not going to school all the time. Then she started to get up and drive me to school and pick me up, so I knew she cared.

She cooked for me and her other foster son, and she taught me how to make rice, baked chicken, and mac and cheese. She also showed me how to wash clothes.

I started to see she was one of the good foster parents. She woke me up and made sure I left home in time for school, and helped me with my homework.

Without her care, I might have been doing what my birth family does—sell drugs, hang around gang members, and rob people.

Living with Blanca helped me realize that I can love and be loved. I’m happy I got a good parent figure, and that helped the anger at my mother fade.

So did Blanca’s experience, which she shared with me. Her mother died 13 years ago, when Blanca was 33. She told me that a week and a half before her mother died, they argued, and Blanca told her that she was “a bad mother.”

She never got the chance to apologize, and she feels bad that her last words to her mother were hurtful.

I don’t want it to be like that for me with my mother, but I’m still angry at her. I hate that I couldn’t get that love from her, and I wish she had treated me how Blanca treats me.

However, Blanca taught me that everyone has problems and suggested I forgive. She said, “You only live one life. Don’t live it hating people for the past or for their mistakes.”

Then I saw my mom unexpectedly, in very emotional circumstances.

Let Her Say Hi

My mom’s brother, my Uncle R, was diagnosed with HIV 10 years ago.

Uncle R and I had a good relationship when I was little: He used to take me out to eat, to amusement parks, even horseback riding. He was my favorite uncle.

Three years ago, R started to get sicker. He wasn’t taking his medicine, and he lost a lot of weight. He was smoking weed and crack and having sex with men for money.

Our bond weakened, because it hurt to watch him slowly kill himself. Social media kept us connected, though, and we continued to speak on the phone at least once a week.

About seven months ago, R got so sick he couldn’t walk. My grandma called and told me my uncle was in the hospital and was probably going to die.

I went to say goodbye to him. I walked into the hospital by myself, and it smelled like old people.

R was lying on the bed with a tube in his mouth. He usually looked shiny black, but in the hospital, he was pale grey. I thought he was already dead, and I started to cry.

Then my Aunt Jessica and my grandma came into the room saying, “He’s a fighter,” and “He’s going to make it!” I didn’t believe that.

Then my mother came in. Even though it made sense that she’d be visiting her brother, I was shocked to see her. I had not laid eyes on her for six years. I didn’t look at her because I didn’t want to have a conversation with her.

My grandma said to me, “You’re not gonna say hi to your mother?”

I looked at my grandma with attitude; she knew I didn’t want to talk to my mom. My mom didn’t say anything at all; she just stared at me.

I said, “No,” thinking, Why do I have to say something to her? Her mouth works; let her say hi.

Confused Feelings

My mom looked shocked that I said “No.” For so long, I was afraid of her. Now I’m 19 and taller and bigger than her.

I felt a lot of anger rise up seeing her, but I didn’t lose my cool. I took a deep breath and thought about the reason I was in the hospital—it wasn’t to get into anything with my mom.

My mom said, “You don’t need to speak to me, but I hope you do one day.”

My mom turned back to my uncle in the bed and started crying “Don’t go!” to him. I felt angry and sad at the same time. My mom used to call my uncle a crackhead because he had an addiction.
I hated that she sat there and acted as if she was so hurt. She’d done nothing but judge him in the past for drug use, even though she was an alcoholic and smoked marijuana.

I wanted to say, “He’s going to be good,” to my mom, but I didn’t want her to get too comfortable with me. I wanted her to admit she was wrong for abusing my sister and me.

As mom was about to leave, she said, “Give me a hug.”

I gave her a hug because I didn’t want to get her mad. I was afraid she’d start yelling and cursing, and I didn’t want that energy around my sick uncle. I was angry that she pressured me into hugging her.

To everyone’s surprise, R got better and left the hospital three weeks after being admitted. Two months after that visit, my grandma asked me, “How did it feel to see and talk to your mom after so long?”

“I feel OK. I haven’t really forgiven her completely, but I’m working on it.” As Blanca said, “Forgive, not forget,” and “You only get one biological mother.”

You don’t want to hate your parents no matter how bad they were to you. It’s not a good feeling to hate the one who brought you into this ugly but beautiful world.

YC Art Dept.

Does She Know Abuse Is Wrong?

It’s hard, though. I get upset when I hear people talking about how good their parents are to them. I wish I had good biological parents

Soon after R left the hospital, I went to my mom’s house to visit my siblings. She didn’t seem drunk or high, which is important because she has custody of my 10-year-old brother.

From what I know, my mom is good to my little brother, but she didn’t start abusing me until I was 12. I’m happy she treats him well so far. I think she’s trying not to lose him like she lost me and my older sister.

I talked to my sister for a while, and then my mom pulled me aside. She asked, “When can we start to build a relationship?”

I wondered if she said this because my uncle told her that he wanted us to get along after he died.

“I’m not fully ready. I need more time,” I said.

“You had seven years,” she said.

I walked away, aggravated that she wouldn’t let me move at my speed, not hers.

I’m still angry that she didn’t say sorry, but maybe she doesn’t think hitting me and verbally abusing me was wrong. She was abused when she was younger by her mother, my grandmother.

Avoiding Regret

But the anger felt bad. Seeing my uncle in a hospital bed reminded me that my biological parents could die anytime. I don’t want to lose them while we are on bad terms.

A few of my friends told me that they hated their parents for years, but when their parents died they regretted not fixing the relationship. They went into depression.

I started to think that regardless of the bad things someone did to you, you have to forgive and keep making yourself a better person.

When I graduated high school, I didn’t go to my graduation even though Blanca wanted me to. I didn’t want to go if my birth parents weren’t there to watch me walk across the stage.

I regret not going because graduating was a huge accomplishment and I should have done it for Blanca. She helped me get through high school, and she’s still pushing me to succeed.

I was lucky to get a great foster mother who wants to adopt me. My bio mom is my blood, but Blanca treats me better. And Blanca is cool with me having a relationship with my mom.

Blanca’s love and support helped lower my anger. Blanca helps me with homework, cooks, takes me out, and tells me the truth I need to hear.

I told her that I didn’t think I was going to finish trade school. She said, “Don’t do this for me; do it for you so you can get a job that pays well. You’re not a dumb kid.”

She was right, and I finished trade school to do building maintenance.

Now I speak to my mother a few times a week when I call to talk to my brother. We never talk about the past, and I don’t want to because it will end in an argument.

She asks me how I am doing and asks if I’ve had a good day. Then we hang up or she gives the phone to my little brother.

I forgave my mom but she doesn’t know that because I never said, “Mom, I forgive you.” I feel like she should start that conversation, because she made the mistakes, not me. Sometimes I still hate her.

But today I can feel the forgiveness in my heart. One thing that helps is my work as a Youth Advocate for younger foster children, which gives me the opportunity to help others with the same kind of pain I had.

Another reason I can forgive is the love of my foster mother. She’s the reason I got my high school diploma, my certificate in building maintenance, my OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) safety training, and a home where I feel loved and respected.

I succeeded despite my parents, but they did give me life.

Forgiving my mother has helped me connect with women I date. I can bond with them because I’ve gotten better at speaking my feelings. I treat them like queens and princesses: I hold the door and walk on the outside of the street.

When nobody loved me, I only cared about myself. The better my life is, the less angry I am at my mom, and the more I have to give others.

Forgiving my mother has helped me connect with women I date. I can bond with them because I've gotten better at speaking my feelings.
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