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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Forgiving Mother
By Joy Bach


I had come a long way on my journey to wholeness. Therefore, I felt ready to help others on their journey. When I had a chance to travel to Vail, Colorado to a single’s retreat, it seemed like a great opportunity to watch first-hand how the speakers reached out to the hurting people in attendance.

Our trip from Nampa, Idaho took us through Salt Lake City. The group wanted to stop in Salt Lake City to go to an amusement park. One of the “rides” at the park required that you all straddle a beam, one person in behind another. I was mortified. My mother would never have allowed such close contact in that position. I refused to go on it.

That reaction would surface again later.

At the retreat, I perused the schedule we received. My eyes caught the title “Inner Healing”. That looked like a good one. Since I had achieved my own “inner healing”, it would be interesting to see how the leader, “Glaphre Gilliland” got that message across to others.

The session was scheduled for an hour. I took a seat in the back of the room so I could observe not only her, but the participants. Glaphre began by talking about the different kinds of hurts we can have. So far so good. I could do that.

She had us close our eyes. I thought the closing of the eyes was a little hokey, but I did it. She drew us deeper and deeper within ourselves, drawing mental pictures of the ropes that bound us…cutting into our flesh and causing bleeding.

I knew I could never lead a session like this.

Then we were told to create in our minds the image of the person who had hurt us.

“Don’t open your eyes. But in your mind, I want you to turn around and see who it is that has you bound”.

I knew it wouldn’t be my ex or his mother. I had that covered. As I mentally turned around, imagine my surprise to see my mother standing there; holding the ends of some ropes in her hands…ropes that had me bound and bleeding.

This could not be. I had no problem with my mother.

Just as suddenly I recalled the incident in Salt Lake City, where I hadn’t joined the others in fun. Why? Because of my mother.

The dam burst and the flood began. Memory after memory of mother, always stern and judgmental, telling me what I was doing wrong. Vivid memories. Painful ones. They just kept coming.

Somehow I got out of that room and found a spot away from the crowd. I felt beaten and bruised. My mother!

I hadn’t arrived at all. I was just beginning…again.

Every where I turned, something reminded me of mother and her unyielding position of control and judgment. I was afraid to open my mouth. It might be mother talking.

Recovering from my new insights took many months. Two steps forward and one step back…and then sliding all the way to the bottom to start over. The thought resounded in my head…my mother.

Forgiveness is a strange process. There are many definitions of forgiveness. The one I heard the most was, “Forgive and forget”. Yet, how could I just forget the first 30 years of my life?

I envisioned traveling back to Kansas to confront my mother. The more I thought about it the more I knew it just wouldn’t work. She was in her 70’s. She had no idea she needed forgiveness. I would have to do it another way.

As each memory came sweeping through, I consciously chose to forgive. Some memories returned again and again. I still chose to forgive. Over the weeks and months, I made the choice to forgive repeatedly.

When my sister passed away, I traveled to Kansas to the funeral. I put an extra day in…a day to visit with my mother. We laughed together as we had some ice cream. I even spent the night at the home where she was living. We talked late into the night. For the first time in my life, I had an adult conversation with my mother…one where I felt equal.

I hugged and kissed her when it was time to leave. She had no idea the journey I had taken to be able to do that…and mean it.

That was the last time I saw her. When she died, I had no guilt, no regrets. I had forgiven.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/29/08
If this is a true story--thank you for being so transparent! If it's fiction--excellent job in getting into your narrator's head.

Good story, well-written and brave.
Beth LaBuff 02/29/08
Your story of your journey to forgiveness is amazing. It’s so wonderful you chose to forgive and as a result had no regrets after your Mom’s death. I can imagine that the journey is quite a process as described in your, “Two steps forward and one step back…and then sliding all the way to the bottom to start over.” Thanks for writing this. I hope it will help others.

Jacquelyn Horne03/03/08
Sounds like a personal journey of healing. Glad you made it to the end.
Holly Westefeld03/04/08
Thank you for sharing this compelling journey of living out forgiveness.