It would be wonderful if my adult child would take a more forgiving view of my sins as his mother. I hope one day he gains insight, learns compassion and grows in understanding about the importance of forgiveness.
I recently pondered this conundrum when I suddenly realized that it wasn’t so much that I needed his forgiveness but that I needed my own. I needed to forgive myself for mistakes I’d made, to look at my own ‘stuff’ and work on healing on a deep level.
I made many mistakes as a young mother. There were ballgames I missed, parent/teacher meetings that I was unable to attend. Because I felt guilty about mistakes I’d made and wanted to make up for my past failings, I tried too hard when there were challenges with my son and daughter-in-law. I accepted unfair treatment and wanted to be loved and appreciated too much. I have to forgive myself for allowing myself to be so mistreated and for not loving and appreciating myself enough.
Yes, I was and am still an imperfect mother – but my love for son was, is and will always be perfect. Self-forgiveness is the wellspring for all forgiveness.
When we learn to forgive ourselves, it is easier to forgive others. We become more allowing, more compassionate and loving.
Our time on this tiny, spinning planet is short. Every sunset is an ending, every breath brings us closer to our last. Each day I have left, my intention is to convey kindness, gentleness and forgiveness. If my adult child won’t communicate with me or forgive me, then I have to let it be for now – I forgive him. More importantly, I forgive myself for past mistakes and accept myself as I once was and as I now am.

You cannot travel back in time to fix your mistakes, but you can learn from them and forgive yourself for not knowing better.

~ Leon Brown

4 thoughts on “Self-Forgiveness”

  • My first wife and I were divorced almost 20 years ago. I later went to live in another country to be with a woman and am very happily married. Two of my children stayed to live in their birth country and one came with me and is now an adult and close to me and the stepmother.
    I became a grandparent almost ten years ago and manage to keep in touch with the child and parents.
    But the other son suddenly stopped communicating with me and his siblings several years ago. I only managed to find out how he was by the sparse contact I have with his mother, my ex-wife.
    I continued to send him greeting cards on his birthdays and at Christmas, and the occasional letter, but they were unanswered.
    I was told three years ago that he had emigrated and married, and upon asking for his address his mother gave me a mailing address. I continued with birthday, Christmas, Wedding Anniversary cards etc. but was still reliant upon her to tell me if he had received anything I sent to him and his wife.
    Some night I spend in a dark place, lying awake and wondering how he was, finding news that was current for where he is living, and hoping that he was happy and safe. I could not cut him off.even though sometimes it seemed like I was going to have to face up to the fact that he wanted nothing to do with me or his siblings. But I kept faith in him because I could not conceive of anything less than what I was already doing.

    Just one week ago his wife wrote a brief note to me to thank me (for herself and on my son’s behalf as well) for the cards that I continued to send. i haven’t replied to her yet because I haven’t figured out how to do that. i know I will figure it out soon (the next day or so); it will not be long, but just a paragraph or two. I will try to keep it light and grateful, and try to convey my love for him (and his wife too). It will be baby steps because I can’t risk what connection there now is.

    i still miss the contact with him and regret the lost years more than I can say. I am now much older and wiser but cannot escape the fact that my years here, however many there are, are fewer and fewer. Many of my acquaintances have passed on and my health is less than good.
    But I feel like a heavy boulder has been lifted from my shoulders. That is more than i can express.

    • Thanks so much for writing! I understand the ‘dark place’ you have experienced and the pain of not knowing whether your child is safe and happy. I’m glad your son’s wife has been kind enough to reach out to you and this could very well be the bridge needed to begin healing. Your plan of responding in a lovingly detached and grateful way is perfect. You must have done a lot of work already to be able to respond in such a wise and compassionate manner.
      I hope that you will soon have some communication with your son and again with your daughter-in-law. I wish you many blessings and I hope you will let me know how things progress.

  • Hi Marlene – I think your letter is a good idea. I’ve been thinking about writing one to my son also, which I will save for him, (or not)… I’m glad you’re realizing your value as a mother and grandmother! Good to hear from you and keep me posted!

  • When our estrangement started with our son about a year and half ago, I started a letter to him so that he would hopefully someday understand my feelings in this situation. I now copy your insightful posts to this letter. Although he might never read this letter, it has helped me with self-forgiveness, forgiveness, letting go of the anger, dealing with the disappointment and valuing myself more knowing I was and am a good mom and gramma.

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