Continue Blaming or Forgive? Reflections on Both

MarilynDavisatTIERS By MarilynDavisatTIERS, 23rd Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Personal Development>Self-awareness

“Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter. The one of us who finds the strength to get up first, must help the other.” ― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Who is to Blame?

No one can deny that others influence us, from early childhood through today. However, there is a difference in saying, “My friends thought it was a good idea to rob the store, use the drugs, or skip school, and I went along with them because I wanted to fit in”, than, “They made me do it, and they are to blame for my actions.”

We are all the product of both nature and nurture. There is much debate about favoring one influence over the other; however, the reality is that both influence us.

Yet, I have never heard a person say, I hate my mother or father for giving me brown eyes; while people talk about the hate they feel towards their parents for the messages or harm from their childhood.

They Should Have Done or Been Better

A singularly onerous or tedious lament is that no one told them, “I love you”- enough. What is enough?

Having birthed two children, who did not come with directions for good parenting tattooed on their little behinds, I did not know how often, how much or when to tell them I loved them.

Should I blame my lack of awareness of good parenting on the Creator, a design flaw, or my children for not standing in line when the directions were given out, rather like, “When God gave out brains, I thought he said trains, and I missed mine.”

My Mistakes Cost Me My Children

My self-serving mistakes and faults in my addiction cost me my children. There was not enough room in my life to use and be a mother; therefore, my children went to live with their father.

Oh, I was embarrassed, sad, and disappointed in myself; however, I was unable to make my actions the reason for their move.

I created the illusion that my children were better off with their Dad and step-mother to some people; to others, I presented it as though my children were shallow, self-centered, and materialistic and that was why they went to live with their Dad; again, blaming someone else for my shortcomings and my addiction.

Motherhood in the South

Running to Georgia to escape my addiction seemed like the best thing to do; without realizing that regardless of where we are, our addiction is right there with us.

The south puts motherhood second only to Christ; virtues must be on display at all times; rather like the imposing figure on the cross prominently displayed in churches. This is not a denouncement of Christ; love thy neighbor, do unto others, and you are your brother’s keeper are all valuable qualities that have intrinsic worth.

It is more a comment on the unrealistic demands placed on women within a particular culture. I did not meet expectations at all. I tried in vain most times to avoid the subject of children; knowing I would lack the requisite attributes.

Since I ran away in March, I had a reprieve until the school year ended. Surely, I could come up with some plausible excuse for why my children were not with me by June, when the school year ended. It did not happen.

We Should Have Been Arrested: Developmentally We Were

I hung out with children of my parent's friends; all of us lost, broken, and committing the crime of buying drugs. Not some teenagers, that we might make allowances for; after all, they are just learning to make good decisions. No, we were all in our thirties, simply looking for the next pleasurable encounter.

Living at home with my mother and father, I lived my failures. My mother rarely found anything of value in my behaviors even growing up; she had obsessive-compulsive disorder and believed that people must be doing something at all times – preferable something that involved crafts and hands.

I have five thumbs. It works well for typing and texting, however those were not available outlets in 1984.

Growing up in Silence, We Do Not Learn to Communicate

So, do I blame my mother’s lack of demonstrated love for the reason I became a drug addict? No, however, I do recognize that the silent household I grew up in influenced me to create incredibly negative messages about myself.

Those messages, created in response to the silent looks of disapproval or the seemingly greater interest in her hobbies, fell into the following categories:

• If my Mom will not talk to me, I must be bad.
• I think she loves my sister more than me, they are both artistic.

“Mother was,' June thought, 'a beautiful little ornament that was damaged.' Her broken edges cut her daughters in ways both emotional and physical, and only sharpened with age.” ― Karen Abbott, American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee

No Communication – Only Collective Condemnation

When children, even the chronological adult children do not perceive love from parents, there will be self-esteem issues. I struggled with reconciling how crappy I felt as a daughter, wanting desperately to blame my mother for my feelings, with how equally crappy I felt as a mother, and knowing that if I took the blame, I would in effect be no different from my mother.

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” ―Lewis B. Smedes

Light at the End of the Tunnel

When I got into recovery in 1988, one of my goals was to make amends to my daughters.

Making amends to children means that we have to acknowledge how wrong we were, what was going on with us at the time, and then ask what the injured party needs to continue the relationship. It is not, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not just other people we need to forgive. We also need to forgive ourselves. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done.” ―Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie

Forgiveness: You Cannot Get What You are Unwilling to Give

Sitting in meetings, hearing others share about their childhood, often fraught with sexual abuse, neglect, and violence, I began to form a different concept of my childhood, not in a comparative way, simply looking at it in ways that did not include blaming my mother.

As I started writing a life history, I saw patterns to the times that she did not speak. Consumed with her latest hobby, my sister and I would fend for ourselves, eating the food she prepared in silence at the table.

These episodes of silence seemed to follow arguments with my father. Since he travelled most of the week, there was the lingering unsaid and unresolved disagreement after he left.
It hung in the house; echoes of arguments, then silence.

When I risked questioning my mother about these episodes of silence, I genuinely heard her love when she told me that she was afraid to say anything to us after an argument with Dad for fear that she would hurt us; she believed that she would say something to my sister and me out of misplaced anger at my Dad.

Never in a million years would I have assumed this was the reason for the silence – she did not want to hurt us and loved us. This difficult, but necessary conversation, let me know how wrong I had been to judge her actions and how desperately she wanted to prevent us from being harmed.

I knew at that moment that I would have to forgive her to begin to gain forgiveness from my own children.

“In this life, when you deny someone an apology, you will remember it at the time you beg forgiveness.” ― Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut

Years of Verbal Silence

My daughters are two distinct people; they are the product of nature and nurture, yet each processes differently. I did not get forgiveness in equal measure. I do not know why I expected them to forgive me in the same manner anymore than I would expect them to select the same dress, given a choice.

Their forgiveness is as different as they are and I was shortsighted to expect anything different.

For one child, the conversations are still, even after twenty-five years in recovery, a matter of carefully chosen words, inflections and subtle nuances and uncomfortable, yet there are conversations and for that, I am grateful.

The silent, unsaid is always under the surface rather like the echoes from my childhood. I do not know and may never know what if anything can heal this wound. I simply know not to add to the pain today.

“There’s a small window of opportunity to apologize sometimes after you’ve terribly wronged someone. It closes. Sometimes forever, but it never opens wide enough again for a good breeze.” ― Darnell Lamont Walker

Subsequent Generations - Succeeding Better

Regardless of the communication, each of my daughters has given me the privilege of a second chance, as a grandmother. Nana has never been high or drunk, Nana does not take off and not show up for important events like soccer, football, chorus, ROTC, PTA, or grandparents lunches.

These children in turn let me be a silly child; they listen to stories, they tell me about their day at school, or their first crush, or their goals in life and I marvel that they see me through eyes not jaded by my past actions.

So, even if the people you most desperately want forgiveness from in your life cannot give it at this time, or do not give it in a way that you think is fair; do not blame them and fall victim to self-pity.

Second Chances - New Purposes

Rejoice in your second chances at life in recovery and learn to forgive yourself. “It's like this old patchwork quilt my momma used to have...Each piece on that quilt meant something. And some of those pieces were the damn ugliest things you've ever seen...

But some of the pieces were so beautiful they almost hurt my eyes to look at when I was a kid...That's the best you can hope for, Danny. That your life turns out like that patchwork quilt.

That you can add some bright, sparkling pieces to the dirty, stained ones you have so far. That in the end, the bright patches might take up more space on your quilt than the dark ones.” ― Brooke McKinley, Shades of Gray


Amends, Blaming Others, Forgive Yourself, Forgiven, Forgiving, Forgiving Oneself, Forgiving Others, Mistakes

Meet the author

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
A Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, with 25 years of abstinence-based recovery. I write about addictions, recovery, life lessons and general writing tips.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
23rd Nov 2013 (#)

always all ways forgiveness is the key to the kingdom...happy holidays to you and yours Marilyn...

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
23rd Nov 2013 (#)

Good morning, Fern; thank you for the comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
23rd Nov 2013 (#)

Nice post

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
23rd Nov 2013 (#)

Good evening, Carolina; yes it is and happy holidays to you and yours as well. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Nov 2013 (#)

Love your use of quotes on this one. Hate that you had to go through what you did to end up on this side of things, but I'm glad you're here now.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
24th Nov 2013 (#)

Good morning, Phyl. Thanks; going through these things form the patchwork. The quotes sew them together; no pun intended. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Johnny Knox
24th Nov 2013 (#)

I personally have a strong belief in forgiveness...Very rich and powerful post Marilyn

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
24th Nov 2013 (#)

Good morning, Johnny; thank you. Without forgiveness, I believe that we are harmed by the resentments, anger, and sense of injustice that we harbor. It is not just about relieving their burden of guilt, but lightening our burden of negative aspects as well. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
26th Nov 2013 (#)

Forgiveness of others makes way to receive it for oneself , and the doorway to letting go of the past and moving forward without the baggage ...
Bless you Marilyn for your usual good post .
Stella ><

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
26th Nov 2013 (#)

Good morning, Stella; thank you for adding this comment. I believe forgiveness is often confused with weakness, yet our strength lies in forgiving, and as the article points out and you reinforce, this does open the doorway to letting go and being open to receiving forgivenss. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
2nd Dec 2013 (#)

Thought provoking and frank share, Marilyn, thank you. I try to let go past hurts though they visit me at times but I just waive them away. They re-enforce my resolve to live an upright life. We can forgive but tough to forget. If we don't forgive we might hurt ourselves more - siva

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
2nd Dec 2013 (#)

Good morning, Siva; thank you for always adding value to my articles. You are correct, we might hurt ourselves more by not forgiving; carrying a grudge is just too heavy a burden for this lifetime. ~Marilyn

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