The Unforgiven

“What Ive felt
What Ive known
Never shined through in what Ive shown
Never free
Never me
So I dub the unforgiven”

– Metallica (rock on!), “The Unforgiven”

He might have actually gotten me. I mean, I think he did, at least got me good enough to make me think about this for hours,

Possibly days.

Forgiveness was the topic in therapy today.  I am very good, I think, at forgiving others. I achieved great things in forgiving my Dad, even my daughters father. I dont hold any negative emotions, grudges, etc. against them. I can see their  human-ness. We have talked, shared, they have apologized. They arent monsters. They did not intend to hurt me. They just did   what they could given what they had. End of story.

Same for others. Even in my marriage and the troubles I have had there. I am good at accepting the faults of others, again, their human-ness. My husband may argue I carry grudges at times. I would tell him to look at himself and consider the possibility of projective identification.

But me?

Forgive myself?

Whoah. Thats an entirely different story.

How can I?

How can I forgive myself for surrendering my daughter to adoption?

I mean, like, who DOES that? (Hundreds of us obviously).

I can talk to another mom and I dont think badly of her. I feel, hurt, sad. I want to hug her. I want to tell her its okay. I understand. But me? Tell myself the same thing?

Uh, I dont think so. I just cannot.

It doesnt matter that I was in a maternity home.
It doesnt matter I was lied to.
Coerced.
Intimidated.
Threatened with lawsuits.
Shamed my parents.
Had no home.
No job.
No money.
Was only 17.
No knowledge of the process.
No legal consultations.
No objective third party.
Never told of revocation.
Never told of other options.
Primal wound? WTF is that?

It doesnt matter.

And why doesnt it matter?

Because of that deep dark feeling I had the entire time. I KNEW in some dark recess of my heart and soul, in some cell of my brain, that what I was doing was wrong. I knew it was not what I wanted to do. Yet I did it. I allowed them to take my child.

Something was terribly terribly wrong with the agency. With the situation BUT I DID NOT QUESTION IT. I did not voice it.

How many times have I said being ignorant to the law doesnt make you exempt from it. I comitted a crime and I must be punished.

Its unforgiveable. Truly.

But you know. I dont want this monkey on my back anymore. Its killing me. THe weight of my lack of forgiveness of self is crippling me and other relationships. I just cannot go on like this.

So, we discuss it. How do I do this? Does it really matter? Its not like when I am angry at others. I am only hurtng myelf.

WRONG, he tells me.  I am also hurting my daughter and my two sons.

Huh? What? I dont..oh, sheeeet, I get it.

I am teaching them, even if indirectly, that if I can never be forgiven for my mistakes they can never make or be forgiven for theirs. They will learn from me that you can never forgive yourself.

Guh. Shit. Had to use the role model card against me. Had to pull THAT out.

But, but, no, see, isnt forgiving myself like saying its okay? Condoning my behavior? Its not okay. It will never be okay.

“In the absence of self forgiveness, you run the risk of:

  • Unresolved hurt, pain, and suffering from self-destructive behaviors.
  • Unresolved guilt and remorse for self-inflicted offenses.
  • Chronically seeking revenge and paybacks toward yourself.
  • Being caught up in unresolved self anger, self hatred and self blaming.
  • Defensive and distant behavior with others.
  • Pessimism, negativity, and non-growth oriented behavior.
  • Having a festering wound that never allows the revitalization of self healing.
  • Fear over making new mistakes or of having the old mistakes revealed.
  • Being overwhelmed by fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of non approval, low self-esteem, and low self worth.”

Oh, shut up.

14 Thoughts.

  1. Good post Suz…forgiving oneself is the hardest thing to do. It acknowledges a wrong that can never be righted. It doesn’t necessarily free oneself of the consequences of the “wrong” done, but it does allow oneself to grieve, to learn, and to grow. I doubt you would ever be totally pain-free from the decision made to relinquish (might not ever want to be either).
    BTW: I listened to the show! Good to hear your voice. You articulate verbally as well as you write! I hope that more than just a few young, pregnant women were listening. Let me know if you need any assistance up here in neighboring Wisconsin.

  2. This post made me smile, Suz.
    You’re getting it. Really. I could have written this post two years ago.
    Keep thinking about it, okay?
    The day I first agreed to forgive myself (and it’s a process, I think, not just a one-time thing…), but anyway, the day I FIRST accepted that I deserved my forgiveness was the start of a whole new life for me. Much freer. Much happier. Much more peaceful.
    And no, it doesn’t make it okay. And no, it doesn’t erase the past. And btw no, it doesn’t play into the agency’s hands (actually it works against them, because they cannot label you bitter–even against yourself–and dismiss your words that way, anymore). And no, it doesn’t lessen the desire to improve adoption laws.
    All it does is free up a whole lot of your energy for other things. And in the process, it teaches your kids that they don’t have to be perfect.
    Self-forgiveness is a very, very good thing.

  3. someone said to me once, imagine you are your child, that your child was going through this.
    Imagine you are someone you really love.
    What would you say to them?
    It helped me.
    That inner child stuff has never resonated with me, but that did. It put the right amount of distance between it.

  4. You are fabulous. This post has gotten me really excited.
    Not just the role model stuff. Because I can so easily go into more guilt and self judgment about failing as a role model.
    But the more we forgive ourselves, the more of our true selves we have to share with our loved ones. We are more present, with more energy and loving.

  5. I was an 18 year old loser who got pregnant and abandonned. I put up my firstborn up for adoption but have still felt like a total loser all my life. She found me and she is a screwed up, mental/emotional train wreck who blames me for all of her problems since i ‘GAVE HER AWAY’. She ended up with Very well to do parents and has a friggin trust fund and has never worked for a living and will never have to. Will I be forgiven for wishing we both would have died in childbirth??

  6. Sue – Gosh. I dont know what to say. Your pain, torment, anger, sadness, is so obvious in your words. I am so sorry for your pain. I wont say I understand becuase while I have a similar one, we are all unique in our paths and lives and what brought us to the horrors of adoption. I find myself wanting to try and help, to find a person, group, someone in ND that you can connect with. But thats the fixer in me. I guess I will just say I am thinking about you and am sad you are hurting so much.

  7. Suz,
    This is weird. Let me try this out. If I blow it explaining, I’m sorry. I REALLY think the world of you and your voice.
    If we can possibly forgive OURSELVES, I think we should. Or at least cut ourselves a very big break. I hope you (and I) can find our way to it someday b/c it sounds really, really nice.
    But I’m not so sure about the whole having to forgive OTHERS before we can heal stuff. I mean…it’s so Catholic…so bound up in religion. Just so assumed it’s gonna make us all better and poof, then if we don’t, all this bad stuff’s gonna happen. I’m just not so sure. But this is not to say I believe that NOT forgiving in the Big Way is the same as STAYING angry. Maybe there’s something in-between. A state yet unnamed.

  8. Nina – I understand your point but I think I disagree. I want to comment further but dont have time right now. I will blog about it later. For me, forgiveness has always been about me and for me. Not for others. In summary, I take a buddhist, not catholic, approach to forgivness.
    “In Buddhism, forgiveness is seen as a practice to prevent harmful emotions from causing havoc on one’s mental well-being.[2] Buddhism recognizes that feelings of hatred and ill-will leave a lasting effect on our mind karma and instead encourages the cultivation of emotions which leave a wholesome effect. “In contemplating the law of kamma, we realize that it is not a matter of seeking revenge but of practicing metta and forgiveness, for the victimizer is, truly, the most unfortunate of all”

  9. Last night I stumbled on blogs of adoptees and birth mothers and suddenly I was transported back to 1975. Whatever happened to the ‘happily ever after’ that everyone promised us?? All I see is pain, heartbreak and turmoil in all the blogs. I never thought my daughter would turn up and tell everyone in my family that I was a worthless slut (yes ..she met her birth father too). And dump on me that her adoptive family was ‘not perfect’ they got divorced when she was 8.and she was a miserable wreck all her life…but got to spend time in Europe and got a free ride to college and has never had to work in her life..and I’m supposed to feel bad..she has NO idea how shitty I’ve felt all my life anyway..Yes I need consueling …funny how everyone is there to listen to you until the papers are signed and suddenly you are left on your own…..Any good sites to recommend so I can vent there instead of your comment box?? I’m really sorry to dump on you since you are a stranger but the title ‘Unforgiven’ just is soo true…Thanks for listening…

  10. Sue – I am glad you came back. I felt so awful for you readng your words (having felt the same at one time or another). You are not alone in your feelings. Do feel free to write me privately at suz at ehbabes dot com. I might have some suggestions for you.

  11. Sue
    All I can really say is that my heart goes out to you. There is so much more but for here in this space that is all I will say.
    It is heartbreaking.
    MSP

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