• Cristiano De Sade

You don't have to forgive your parents

Forgiveness is something that, when you do it, you free yourself to move on…OR NOT!





Psychoanalysis knows the joke that, after many years of analysis, only two topics remain, mom and dad. There is a lot of truth in this joke.


Parenting is one of the hardest and most responsible tasks in a person's life. Being a parent in the true sense of the word means being mature, committed, responsible, loving, sacrificial, selfless, and much more. This does not mean that parents should be without mistakes.


“We don't have to be perfect; we have to be good enough”,

as the renowned Paediatrician and Psychoanalyst, Donald Winnicott said.

Meaning, that we are aware of our mistakes and limitations, acknowledge them and try to correct them. Being responsive to the needs of our children, caring for them, loving them unconditionally and setting the necessary boundaries for them. Most parents do their best.



Reasons behind the inability to be a loving parent


Unfortunately, some unaware carrying generated traumas from their parents and society they were influenced by, which prevents them from seeing and feeling a child like a separate being. They see one as their extension, someone who will finally be able to give them what their parents couldn't give them, so they use a child as their narcissistic object. Furthermore, some never wanted a child. These parents understand the baby as an accident to them, and they blame one for destroyed their lives.

Every child (as well as an adult) deserves a parent he or she could love and respect.


“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you…”


reads the Fourth Divine Commandment, which is heavily internalized in our society. Some parents, unfortunately, find it difficult to respect. How can a child respect parents who are drinking, drugging, manipulating his emotions, beating him, humiliating him, sexually abusing him, neglecting him? Respect is deserved, not granted.



How it feels to be an abused child


The child is so dependent on parents that have to keep them in consciousness as good at all costs. This is his defence without which he would psychologically suffer. Many times, the child understands abuse and lack of love as they do not deserve it because they are not good enough or worthy of it. This extreme distortion of reality serves the child as a defence against the feeling of pure chaos. The child feels instinctive that he is unable to survive without parents. By understanding parents as good and self as bad, he gains a sense of control as he can always evolve and improved for what parents will love him. Such a child usually evolves in a person with low self-esteem. He takes a similar attitude as his parents used to, by ignoring true emotions, needs, desires. In the spirit of the fourth commandment, he tries to forgive and love his parents. No matter what. The brilliant psychologist and psychoanalyst Alice Miler write about this disorder in the book The Body Never Lies.



What are the negative consequences of abuse in adult life


Even though as an adult, he is trying to forgive, rationalise, idealise, minimise bad deeds, he can’t deceive his mind. The mind remembers everything and always tells the truth. If we do not listen to the truth of our once abandoned, neglected, beaten, abused mind, then the mind will start screaming. Ignored emotions will find another way out in the form of a variety of symptoms. It can be depression, anxiety, cancer, overeating, obsessive thoughts, chronic pneumonia and more could be enumerated.

Something that once served the child as a defence essential to survival becomes a major obstacle in adulthood. Adults no longer need parental love and care. As an adult, they can take care of themselves. They can establish friendly and intimate relationships. However, those people deprived of parental love during childhood are often still eager to stay around their elderly parents, even being dependent on them.




“the children understands abuse and lack of love as they do not deserve it because they are not good enough or worthy of it.”


“If I am going to improve love and respect them enough, take good care by being always available, then maybe one day my parents will finally notice me, maybe even apologise for wrongdoing all these years.”


This hope, which rarely realises in practice, prevents an adult from understanding the values and feelings of reality.

It would sound something like this:



“I'm sad that my parents couldn't love me. They never really wanted me. They deprive me of loving feelings, abuse and abandon. I'm angry at my mom for never protecting me. I feel disgusted at my father for beating me. I didn't have any parents; in an emotional sense, I was an orphan. I was only worth as much as my achievements were. For my parents, I was just a tool.”




The truth is liberating, no matter how cruel she is. Allowing yourself to feel a true emotion is therapeutic and far less painful than suppressing them. If not, your body will suffer for it. Alice Miller writes about people; abused as children, who were forcing themselves to forgive parents. However, they have always physically suffered. When they finally admit the truth, the symptoms slowly disappeared. I also make a similar observation in my therapeutic practice.



What is the path, when we finally acknowledge and allow ourselves to feel our true emotions


First, you will have to admit yourself that an indescribable injustice has happened to you. Allow yourself to grieve as you never had the parents which every child deserves. Lastly, learn have to live with emptiness and unfulfilled longings.

This sincereness demands tremendous courage; however, it also is the great assistance and helper for letting go. And if you accept that with all your heart, mind and soul…than, you will have all the power and excess of energy to take better care of yourself and strive for happiness and unconditional love. And maybe the most important to finally stop the intergenerational transmission of trauma.



This is a guarantee that Awakening Psychotherapy can help.


Note: In addition to Alice Miller's The body never lies, I also recommend Susan Forward's Toxic Parents to read.


 

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