One of my children once yelled at me, “I can never count on you!” in a moment of that wrenching transition that emerging adulthood is. I was shaken to my very core because it was an old pain from my own early life and something I had worked and sacrificed to not repeat. Since then I have thought often of the need to fully confront and release the past in all its imperfection in order to navigate our future.
It is said that what we don’t forgive our parents for we continue to stumble over, we will do to others, we will perceive others doing to us, and we will hear our children accuse us of.
I’ve been able to trace a pattern of feeling unsupported through at least 4 generations of my past and it probably extends further. My grandmother’s mother died when she was 16 and I know she felt abandoned. My mother was estranged from her mother her whole life. And although I was always supported, there were imperfections in my youth and adult experience that I took longer than I would have need to have forgiven – just forgiving life.
The feeling of loneliness and the thought that our lives had been unsupported were not our true realities, but that fact does not stop us from feeling or thinking them anyway. The problem is that we build our lives on what we feel and think, not what is.
On the other side of that forgiveness is appreciation for the stretching and the faith that grows within us toward life and people and our own capacities, a greater capacity for empathy and connection, and a boundless hope in the divinity of the human soul – all human souls. Forgiveness of people and situations and life is a doorway through which we walk into a better world as more empowered beings.
Our relationship with our parents is our first in life, our foundation, and the strength of that relationship can be augmented even late in the game through forgiveness, the great AS IF. All things can be as if they had been perfect all along.