So many of us believe we’re not worthy of forgiveness.
We struggle to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made with our children;
The moments we lost control,
The awful things we blurted out.
My eldest was born when I was 18.
I was an 18 year old troubled, homeless teen with a history of trauma and no idea I was autistic.
She came in at the back end of my drug and alcohol addiction
Her arrival was in the last years of my self harming
For just over a decade, it was just her and I.
She did not get the best of me.
Between each of these lines, I sit and pause,
Staring off into space, remembering.
Remembering painful, difficult things.
I was not present.
I tried to be.
I lived inside of my own head, always worrying, always anxious,
In and out of burnout.
I would yell at her in the car,
I didn’t lose my patience because I didn’t have it to begin with.
I never imagined I could love someone or something so very much
But I didn’t know how to parent.
I couldn’t regulate myself emotionally
I self loathed and self hated
And internalised turmoil
And it spewed out into my relationship with my child.
I grieve over the pain I caused her.
I will forever be working on self forgiveness.
It took me sixteen years to understand her
To know she is autistic.
It took me another two years to understand myself
To unravel the depths of my dire need for control.
To not want her to suffer
To not want her to be hurt
To not want her to live with the trauma
That I did.
I was so desperate
I couldn’t cope with her changing from being my little girl
To being a teen,
To becoming an adult.
The loss terrified me.
I often tell her that I am so sorry.
I’m so sorry I didn’t know then what I know now.
There are moments I agonise over it.
The moments where she has told me how it causes her sadness
To see how loved and unconditionally accepted her siblings are
When she did not have the same me; the same Mother that I am now.
It is so incredibly painful for us both.
And I know that we are not the first in our family to experience this.
But we are the first to end it.
Not knowing who we are
Our divergence, our needs
Telling our children we are sorry feels risky to many parents
There is a deeply instilled belief that we give up our power
That they’ll take advantage.
That bullshit destroys us.
Those are the same ideas,
Social and cultural constructs and conditioning
That cause this trauma.
She says she forgives me because I’ve learnt about myself
I work on forgiving myself.
Because the energy we produce in self loathing
Is what we take into our relationship with our babies.
It’s what harms and continues to purge trauma into our connections.
When we know better, we work on doing better.
When we know who we are, we work on loving ourselves.
We practice extending to ourselves the same compassion, understanding,
And unconditional acceptance and love
That we extend to our children.
I will say sorry to her for the rest of my life.
And I’m okay with that.
I will support her in all the ways I can
And I make amends in other ways too
By carrying this message into my work with families
By letting go of abusive systemic parenting approaches
By holding space for adults, for parents
Who need to be loved
Who need to be forgiven
Who need to understand themselves.
Our children need this.
Our children need the best of us and we rob them of this
When we sit around self loathing.
We must love and forgive ourselves
In order to make amends to our children.
Image: Fi Mims Photography
We hate spam and promise not to do this to you. We will also never share your details with anyone.