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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009


"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Forgiveness is my key to healing from childhood abuse

By Britta Anderson

December 11, 2008 | A wise person once told me when your life is difficult, write about it. So that's what this is.

I grew up in southern Utah in a somewhat typical Mormon family: lots of kids, pets, soccer league, the whole deal. To others in the community, we were a perfect family. But they only saw what we displayed.

I grew up in a home that had secrets. When I was a girl, almost every night as I would drift off to sleep, I would dream of running away or else peacefully drifting off to sleep and having my spirit quietly and calmly exit my body. There were a lot of moments in my growing up years when I wasn't sure if I wanted to live another day.

So one might ask, why would I have these thoughts and how does it apply to my home having secrets? I grew up with an abusive mother. Because of this, I have scars that won't ever fully go away. But I'm not sharing this about my past to receive pity. I'm sharing this so those who have also experienced similar pains will see that they can move on and they can forgive. I understand that we all have our own difficult past, and that I had it better than a lot of other people out there. But this is my story.

My mother used to throw these raging fits. When she'd get into one of her "moods," it was best to avoid her as much as possible. She would swear, throw things, hit, and tell me and my brothers and sisters how worthless we were. There were times when she would even grab my throat and choke me. She would blame us for her problems and for why things didn't work out in her life like she wanted them to. There were many times when I felt I wasn't wanted.

I was the youngest in my family, so by the time I got to high school, it was just my brother and I left at home. My mother, still unable to control her fits, had less people to take it out on, and since my brother was handicapped, I got the brunt of it. She would call me a bitch every day and tell me that I was fat. This resulted in me having a poor self image and eating disorders. I would do anything and everything to gain at least a little bit of approval from her.

When I left home for college, my relationship with my mother was in shambles, and I was a mess. There were many times when I would just crumble into a ball on the floor and cry uncontrollably. I couldn't deal with my past and I feared what I would become in the future.

Through the advice of my roommates, I sought counseling. That's where I found the key to recovery. Forgiveness.

I had to forgive my mother for everything she had done to me. For the times I thought she might take my life. For when I was so emotionally battered from her that I couldn't look people in the eye. For all the times she told me that I was going to fail.

This, above everything else, truly saved me. I began to understand and see my mother as a woman with severe depression, anxiety, and other disorders, who didn't realize at times what she was doing. I saw her as a woman who received the same treatment when she was a child and didn't know what else to do. I decided that I wasn't going to let the wrong actions of my mother decide how I was going to live my life. I wanted to be my own person, independent of her hurtful words and deeds. I wasn't going to let the actions of another burden me unnecessarily. Why carry rocks in your sack when they can only hurt you?

One huge step was realizing that I had always known that my mother loved me and that I did have good memories with her. When I look back at my childhood, I try to remember my mother on her good days. The ones I believe were the real her. She would take me to the local doughnut shop on occasion and tell me not to let my brothers and sisters know. It was years later we discovered that she did this with all of us. It was her way of letting us know we were special.

Every day I take one more step toward recovery. Although I still struggle with my own self image, I look at where I've been and how far I've come. I see success. Now, instead of living a life of secrets, I live a life of truth. I try to help others who are struggling find the way to peace and joy, like I have. That is my formula for healing. Forgive, then go and help others do the same.


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