The Daily Press
Dear Annie: I lived a parallel childhood with the pain of an extremely abusive mother and a father who buried his head in the sand. I did confront him years ago about why he didn’t protect me, and he was thoughtful and then emotional when he replied, “I guess she treated me that way, too, and I was afraid of centering her attention back on me. I never thought about how hard that must’ve been for you.”
It was an unexpected answer, but an honest one and the key to moving forward with my dad and letting go of the anger and resentment.
However, I decided that bitterness, regret and anger were not going to hijack any more of my life. At one point, I came to a Y in my life’s path with regards to my mom. I could cut all contact and wash my hands of her. Or I could try to meet her as the adult strangers we were. I gave myself permission to choose either or neither.
I had to put the past in the rearview mirror. All the hurt, accusations, gaslighting, toxicity, guilt, shame, regret -- all of it -- because I realized it was still hurting me and only me. Once I was able to forgive her in my heart, I was able to make that decision wisely. I never imagined forgiving her, especially not after I had children and realized it was her dysfunction, her insecurities and her untreated mental health this whole time.
Seeing her as flawed, like the rest of us, doing the best she was capable of even after the torment and trauma of her childhood, I finally realized: I’m not a bad person. She was wrong. These realizations changed my life and had the added benefit of making sobriety a reality for me as well as finally breaking and scattering the generational trauma.
I slowly approached my mom like someone I was meeting for the first time, as a potential friend or acquaintance. Through years of positive interactions and healthy boundary setting, I’m amazed to say that she’s now one of my dearest friends and confidants.
I organized a trip this recent Thanksgiving to Orlando, Florida.
I rented a house on a lake with a huge outdoor swimming pool, barbecue pit and hot tub. I saved and worked extra and paid to fly my parents, my children, their partners, my grandchildren, my fiance and myself roundtrip.
My parents live in Florida; one of my daughters and her family are stationed in Nevada; my youngest adult daughter and I remain in Seattle. My folks had never met my grandchildren. First, there was comfortable distance when they moved away seven years ago. Then, after COVID and a three-year travel hiatus, I recognized that we hadn’t all been together in one space in over a decade.
It ended up being my dream trip. I got to live for one week with all the people I love the most, watching them love me and each other. There is hope, love and life on the other side. I can prove it. Signed with love. -- Second Chance Daughter
Dear Second Chance Daughter:
Thank you for your powerful letter. Your hard work of therapy, forgiveness and sobriety have all made your dream possible. You did that. I hope your story inspires others who are struggling to be brave and begin the path to healing from a traumatic childhood. When you are a kid, you don’t understand why your mom is acting a certain way, and you somehow think that you did something wrong. But now that you have forgiven her, you can see that it wasn’t you at all. What a moving story!
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www. creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators. com.