After three difficult years, my daughter and I had reached a comfortable relationship again; then it blew up in my face. She accepted a friend request on Facebook from a family member from which we have been estranged for over 10 years. And the estrangement had solid roots.
But the big question really has become – what is forgive and forget all about when it comes to family? Not where my daughter and I are concerned, but where past hurts and wrongs dwell, moldering in the once forgotten past? We as humans move on quickly in our lives, and as Americans, we have a tendency to forget the past and its lessons to us. This has become in-your-face clear to me with this latest snarl in my life. And come on, let’s be honest, even if forgiveness happens, unless the initial problem is based on frivolous causes, we don’t really ever forget. I’d like to think that this is because the lessons learned and remembered keep us from repeating our mistakes – but truly, I believe what it is belongs more to the realm of what the mind does, and is capable of doing.
I am angry that my daughter opened herself up to a relationship again with this family member, particularly since she was present and aware of the problems that caused the severance of the kinship links. And I am hurt that my daughter thinks so cavalierly of my past pain and unhappiness that she is willing to rake it up again, and remind me once more of the suffering this family member caused. And I am bewildered, because I would have liked to think that my family ties that are intact and strong (or strengthening) are more important to my daughter than a distant (both in time and place) relative that she has not seen for 15 years.
My daughter’s point of view is that she is an adult and can do what she wants. Indisputably true. Yet does this give her the right to do things that cause pain to others, just because she is an adult? And why would anyone want to open their heart and home to someone who has lied to, cheated, stolen from, and abused emotionally and financially, an elderly woman?! Where is the benefit in doing that? To me, it would be like accepting someone into your home who has served prison time for a heinous crime. You can feel sorry for the person, and even want the best for them, but you wouldn’t expose your children, your marriage, your lifestyle or your security to such a person, would you?
I did not go into all of this with my daughter. I let her know, briefly, succinctly and quite gently that I was not sure how I felt about her choice in this instance. I protected myself on Facebook by blocking this person, so I cannot see her comments, or have any contact with her. And I have come to the point that I figure that if my daughter wants to open up her life to someone who is negative, conniving and, to use another family member’s term, evil, it is indeed her choice. MY choice is how I handle, and channel, my anger and hurt. And since a falling-out with my daughter might mean a decreased access to my grandsons, I have to factor that in as well.
Forgive and forget. I am struggling, every day, to become a better person. I have chosen not to forgive this family member her transgressions, but since they were not directly against me, I am letting them go – lifting them up to the universe for resolution. http://www.oprah.com/spirit/8-Ways-to-Forgive-and-Forget has given me some insight to this process, as have friends who have listened to me rant, rave, and cry over yet another tear in the fabric of the tenuous mother-daughter bond. I was wrong to judge my daughter’s choice, although I still believe that this relative is not a person I would accept or cherish in my life. Forgiving my daughter for the pain she visited on me may take a little longer, but it will come. She is precious to me, and as I get older, I value my children more and more. My son is simply the best son a parent could ask for, so I will bask in that relationship, and strive to bring more sunshine and light to my fragile relationship with my daughter. It is all I can do.