The Baggage & Motherhood Guest Writer’s Series gives a space for moms around the world to share their story of what life has thrown their way and how it has impacted them in their role as a Mom. This post by Lauren Stepek, Forgiveness Will Set You Free, is about forgiving her mother in order to be the best mom she can be for her own daughter.
All of the posts in this series touch on the real life struggles of bringing your “stuff” with you to your most important job: Motherhood.
Forgiveness Will Set You Free
Sometimes it feels like a dream. It feels like I was living someone else’s life. They say trauma can do that to a person. It can distort memories and make you feel as though you fabricated events that actually happened.
What I know is I did not fabricate was my mother’s mental illness. She was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder in her young adulthood. She struggled to medicate properly, and as a result, she led a very unsettling life.
I want to start off with this very important fact because it played a major role in my childhood experiences. She was unable to make coherent decisions for the good of herself and her family. Unfortunately, because of this, my siblings and I suffered.
I witnessed her in multiple abusive relationships, both physically and mentally. I witnessed an unmedicated mental illness that resulted in addiction. I witnessed a messy divorce, family feuds and custody battles.
By high school, I decided to live with my grandparents. At that point in my life, I was filled with resentment, anger and bitterness. I tried to forget everything that happened and focus on normal teenage life.
But this is the thing about childhood trauma and experiences…they shape who you are and your actions before you even realize it. Even if you try to forget, your subconscious doesn’t really allow you to. I found myself in a toxic relationship that lasted 5 years. I was heading down the path my mother took of unhealthy relationships, selfish behavior and less than stellar choices.
It wasn’t until halfway through college when I started to really wake up. I have always been a smart girl and never got into too much trouble, but my codependency was starting to get the best of me. I had to make a conscious decision to do better. To be better.
The weight of the anger was getting so heavy, and at the time, I wasn’t sure what it was that was weighing me down.
Then my grandmother died.
My grandmother played a major role in my life and was the only form of stability I had growing up. I felt lost, scared and heavy when she died.
I realized at that moment, I needed my mother.
I made the decision to let go of the past, the hurt and the mistakes my mother made. I realized all of that resentment was holding me down and preventing me from reaching my full potential.
How can you love yourself or anyone else, if you are holding onto so much anger? Anger takes up space in your heart and leaves no room for anything or anyone else.
My grandmother dying opened my eyes to what I needed to see. My mom is now medicated, and she is trying. She is a flawed human, but aren’t we all? I held onto the pain of my childhood because I couldn’t put myself in her shoes. I couldn’t see how it must feel to constantly be in a battle with your own mind. Bipolar Disorder is a brutal disease and it is not easy to live with.
Once I grew up and understood this, I felt light again. My mom and I are now closer than we have ever been. And even though she has her good and bad days, I am able to navigate through my feelings towards her, and separate the past from the present.
Now, as a mom myself, I strive to be the best person possible for my daughter, but I know I will still make mistakes. My main goal is to teach her forgiveness. I don’t want her to feel the resentment and anger I felt as a child and a teenager.
We are unable to control everything that happens to us, especially during childhood. What we can control is how we respond to the trauma. We can get help, we can seek support and we can forgive.
Lauren is a registered nurse, wife and a new mom. She runs the motherhood and lifestyle blog, A Whole New World. You can find even more of Lauren’s journey on her Facebook page.
I want to acknowledge Lauren and her strength to share a glimpse into her life as a child with this post: Forgiveness Will Set You Free. No child deserves to experience the struggles that Lauren did, but the reality is many children do. Those children may have grown up into the moms that read this blog. I hope that if you relate to Lauren’s story, you are able to do as she did by finding the courage to look your past in the eye and the power to move forward with forgiveness in your heart.