Some moms fit into those perfect Hallmark card descriptions. Others leave their children with a legacy of broken hearts and therapy sessions. For the latter, years of pain, tolerance or suppression can build layers of bitterness.
We asked some of our readers about their own experiences of forgiving their mom for a mistake she made and how they could turn away from the hurt — and the responses were heartbreaking and inspiring. We've excluded their names for privacy reasons, but found the responses so inspiring we had to share. Below are five women's experiences of moving past the hurt and letting go of anger towards their mother:
"12 years ago (I was 15 then) she cheated on my father. It was a nightmare. Because of that I hated her for years. Two years just after she left us, my father found someone and eventually left us also. [At] that young age my life started to be ruined. I quit college to do something — get a job and take care of my younger siblings because I am the eldest among five. We were left alone. We spent birthdays, Christmas, New Year's, etc. crying for many years. Years passed by — my mother and father created their own family, having new children. We, with my four siblings, learned to be independent.
"It is a matter of own choice to forgive them. We chose to forgive and forget what they did. We can see that they are already regret what they did. I am already 27 years, graduated Civil Engineering (on my own), married and about to give birth. My other two younger sisters have their own families too. And my other two youngest siblings are both consistent achievers in high school (without our parents' guidance).
"Somehow, that event in our life [taught] us many things in life and made us better [people]. That's why there's still a good reason it happened."
"My mom is an alcoholic and for years, made me very ashamed of myself and of her. I'm bipolar and whenever she was drunk [she] would announce it wherever we were. It could be at a family gathering, restaurant, wherever. I always felt so belittled, so shamed. There is no shame in mental illness. After she stopped drinking (sober for 7 years now), she asked me one day if I had ever hurt her while she was drinking. I was honest with her. It killed me to tell my mom how she hurt me. I'm a mother myself and I'm not sure I could handle the heartbreak of hurting my own child. My mom literally crumbled when I told her what she'd [done]. She had no memory of it, of course. I came to understand it was her addiction, not her that hurt me. Her addiction does not pardon or excuse her for her mistake, but it does explain it. That helped me forgive her."
"I forgave my mom for … not giving me the love, [making] me be the "mother" of my 3 years younger brother, sending me to a man I didn't know (and whom raped me) ... I forgave her for not being able to see who I was because of her alcohol abuse and her many different relationship[s].
"Today I don't have a mom, but I have a very close friend, only because I finally had the possibility to forgive and move on. And also because she had the courage to say 'I'm sorry and I love you.'"
When this woman was asked how she was able to become friends with her mom after what had happened, she said, "I didn't talk to my mother for 3 years, and when I finally found my way home, I was so sad, mad and heartbroken. All of the hate was burning inside me.
"I had, and still have to, tell myself that she did the best she could, with the things that … she learned from home. It sounds magical, but I found that by thinking that way, and letting go of the hate and all the past, I became so much lighter, so much more free, so happy. Suddenly we both found some kind of relief. We then could be in the same room, without fighting."
"I forgave my mom for leaving us with another man. Growing up without her, especially at my teenage years was too painful. I thought I can never forgive her [until] the day I die. Now I'm happy that I did, before it gets too late. She's now my best friend and strength. I'm 31."
"I forgave my mother for sleeping with and having a relationship with my daughter's father. I was with him for 10 years. We did not speak for two years. I was only able to forgive her after finding out that she had cancer. She died in Oct 2013. I still cry about the whole situation and have many "what if" moments. Not easy."
If you're in the process of forgiving your mom, consider going to therapy, asking God to help take away your anger, and following some of these examples to let it go.