Voices Of Forgiveness: How I Finally Forgave My Parents

A child born in the 50s, I seemed caught between two worlds ... the old world post-WWII and the new world that was coming into being, the swinging 60s. My parents were forever stuck with what was.

My mother, herself the product of an unstable home, a father who had died and left her on her own and a mother who was committed to a mental hospital, had no idea what to do with a strong-willed child who just wanted to live her own life as she saw fit no matter what the cost. My father, the product of an emotionally absent father and an emotionally smothering mother, had no idea how to parent at all. He turned to alcohol when I was very young. All I knew in my younger years was that nothing was forever and if I didn't get what I wanted when I asked for it immediately, I was never going to get it.

There were fights, and words that were thrown around that I had never even heard before. I didn't know until much later that people can actually sit down and have a meal together and not throw food at the wall or across the room. I learned that the person who 'won' was the one who hit the hardest. My dreams were not acknowledged or encouraged. In fact, I was told I was too stupid to ever go to college.

I know I must have seemed like a handful to my parents. I was extremely independent and said what I thought. At some point, it didn't serve me to be that way anymore. Life had beaten me down, and then I allowed the next step to happen. I met men who treated me the way I thought of myself. I didn't feel I was deserving of anything better. Bringing two children into this type of environment didn't help my cause. Thinking I was creating people to love me, I learned that being a parent is anything but easy and I was certainly not cut out in any way, shape or form to be a parent during that time.

Over the years, I had gradually cut myself off from my parents. I went to Al-Anon, therapy, classes, meditation, church. I tried anything that would help the emotional pain of estrangement. It wasn't until I met my third (and final) husband that something shifted for me.

For a while, he loved me as I was -- damaged and imperfect. He encouraged me to seek peace with my family for my own sake. Not for theirs, but for my own. That was a radical concept for me. Through his eyes, I was able to get a better appreciation for the people that my parents were. They didn't try to be awful parents. They truly didn't know any differently and for whatever reason they were never able to change that. How could I blame them for that when I was struggling with the same issues myself?

It wasn't easy, but because I loved this man, my husband, so much, I was able to move past the pain of my childhood and reach deep inside myself to forgive my parents. I was able to express that feeling to them, and while there was never the loving, close familial bond, I was able to visit them and so were my children. It became even more important to have this connection as my father was dying. He so desperately wanted my forgiveness, and I readily gave it to him with no problem. My mother and I were never close but we were able to talk to each other superficially, see each other, and she had a wonderful relationship with my daughter. My mother just passed this year, and I'm so thankful that I was able to heal the rift with her.

My marriage didn't last, but I am grateful to this day for this man who meant so much to me and who brought the gift of forgiveness to myself and to my parents. He helped me ease their suffering and my own.

Earlier on Huff/Post50: