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
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
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