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Everyone Has Childhood Stories

by Janice
(Springfield, IL)

The time I really never forgave someone happened when I was about 15 years old, and things were really bad with my mother. She was using my name and credit information to open cell phones and other accounts and then she didn't pay for them, which trashed my whole credit history.

She was also being threatening, and saying she would send us to a home for delinquent girls where they would beat us up and she said "shove broomsticks up our" private places. We were terrified.

But that isn't what I couldn't forgive. At the time, I believed that when something was wrong, adults could take care of it. I believed that adults would always act against something if they really knew it was wrong.

So I told a stepfather of mine who was still very close to our family what was going on. I thought he would do something that would get us out of that situation even if it was just calling child protective services.

He came to our house and told my mom I was telling him what was going on. She denied that it was true, but the thing is, he used to live with her. He knew that she did these kind of things. Anyway, she denied it, and he asked me, in front of her, if I was calling her a liar. I said that maybe she wasn't remembering correctly, but I wouldn't go back on what I said.

He didn't do anything to help us, and when he left we were threatened and hurt even more, especially about telling people what was going on.

I never forgave him. The strange thing is that my mom is on medication now, and she's better, and I forgave her. My anger toward him is just as fresh though. Is that strange?

Response from Dr. DeFoore

That is not strange at all, Janice. Anger toward the "non-protecting" parent (step parent in this case) is often stronger than the anger toward the abusive parent. And in fact, your stepfather hurt you in some ways as much as your mother.

Your need to forgive is about your own well being, and has nothing to do with him. Forgive for yourself, and accept that he is a human being with his strengths and weaknesses, like the rest of us.

You might try picturing him in your mind and saying to him, "I will not let you live in my mind and steal my joy for a moment longer. I hold you accountable for your actions, and yet I realize you are not all bad, just human like everyone else. I forgive you for myself. I release you to be exactly as you are, and I release myself to be the loving, joyful person I choose to be." Then let his image fade, take a deep breath and think of all that you are grateful for.

I hope this helps.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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