I Forgave My Parents For Past Abuse and Neglect

Le Thompson / photo provided

Le Thompson / photo provided

Forgiveness is not for the faint of heart. For me, forgiveness means constantly reminding myself to leave what happened in the past in the past. It’s acknowledging that while the violation happened and my emotions about it are valid, for the sake of my own peace, I must let it go. Eventually, I forget what happened and am able to feel new things again. But the process of letting go of negative feelings and choosing feelings of freedom is a long road.

This past summer I made the decision to forgive my parents for their emotional neglect and verbal abuse from my childhood. I blamed them for so much – my feelings were in the right – because they weren’t the best parents. Through the process of forgiving, I had to put a lot into perspective.

I was dealing with my childhood self because I didn’t mature in that area of emotional development. I was holding onto the violations; I had to face the pain my younger self never healed from and become the voice of reason. My mind flooded with distant memories of pain.

I had to acknowledge that my parents didn’t show up for me the way I wanted them to. I had to deal with my anger against God for giving me the life that he did and giving me parents who never understood me. My mother said I wasn’t the daughter she wanted. And when I confronted her about her anger against me, she centered herself and ignored my pain once again. That one hurt. It hurt so much that I distanced myself from everyone for three months.

After that, I had to search deeply and grapple with my continued hurt, pain, anger and rage to forgive her. Every time thoughts of her violations would run across my mind, I told myself that the past is the past, and I forgave her. It took months for me to get closure on my own and allow God to heal me – my faith is everything to me. Through the process, I had to learn how my anger came about and what hurt felt like in real time because I had a tendency of brushing things off and mulling it over in a sort of mental revenge scheme. That was not healthy for me.

That said, one may wonder how I did it. How did I forgive such deep pain? First, I realized how my past traumas actually shaped my identity. Once I saw how those worked in my life, I made the decision that I did not want to feel the negative emotions associated with them. I did not want to dump old baggage on new people or be constantly triggered by new folks that may look or smell like my past. That is unfair to the new people and prevents me from having positive new experiences.

I wanted freedom more than I wanted to hold onto my past. I desired to feel new emotions outside of my trauma. I came to the conclusion that I deserve to feel joy, and to do so, I must forgive.