We worked our way through much of the awkwardness of the first day together by sharing some laughs and reminiscing about good memories.  In some ways, we nearly picked up where we left off 12 years ago.  We were finding our way to comfortable ground.  (Later, we admitted to each other we’d both been extremely nervous about the outcome of this visit.)  I believe the genuine desire of understanding and reconciliation we both had made all the difference.

Surprises Ahead…

With some apprehension, I invited her to my counseling appointment coming up that afternoon.  This was something I’d always imagined, but never thought would actually happen.  She paused only a moment and surprised me by saying “Yes! I’d like to do that.  I’ve wanted to for years.”  This was just the beginning of her surprises.

I suggested we sit outside at a park and talk before the appointment.  We found a riverside park whose loveliness contradicted the ugliness we were about to discuss.  Cautiously, I directed the conversation toward the dreaded subject of dad’s abuse.  Mom didn’t waste any time asking for details.  Her questions were direct and specific.  It was apparent she needed my answers to take in the reality of what happened to me.  She didn’t mince any words and even used language I’d never heard from her before!

There was no hesitation in believing what I had to say this time.  (Mom explained her transformation later at the counseling appointment, which is the subject of a future post.)  When she’d had her fill of asking questions, she began sharing her own memories that tied in perfectly with some of the instances I had described.  Her experiences with dad were different from mine, but they matched the core of his cruel and controlling personality.  This seemed to help her connect the dots fairly quickly.

This was what I’d hoped for all along, but wasn’t really expecting.  I cried several times when answering her questions; it was very hard for me to tell her.  This was partly because of the life-long message I’d been given Not To Tell and partly because I could see how difficult it was for her to hear.  She alternated between anger and shock.  She was determined to hear me, though, and we persevered.

Therapy Through Rocks…

At one point, she abruptly said “You know what I’ve heard is good therapy?  Throwing rocks!”  So, she suggested we trek down to the river and throw rocks while telling my deceased dad what we thought of him.  I’ve worked through so much of my anger at him it didn’t really feel necessary for me, but I recognized this was a new experience for her.  It was also an incredible opportunity for me to process with mom.  There was considerable healing in throwing rocks together and hearing her freely express her anger.  Not only did she believe me, but she was outraged at him!  It was surreal to say the least.

Healing Rocks

Mom chided herself several times during her visit, and kept asking “How could I have let this happen?”  Her remorse was genuine and my heart continued to soften because of it.  I tried to explain that abusers threaten their victims into silence and are clever at covering their tracks.  She continued to berate herself even after I told her I understood now that she’d done the best she knew how. (Another future post)

Forgiveness at Last…

Towards the end of her visit, I shared with her that because of how healing our time together had been, I was no longer angry with her.  I had finally forgiven her.  She was relieved when I told her and I marveled at how far God had brought us.  It took a lifetime to prepare for that single life-changing week, but I will forever be grateful for the ripple effect of throwing rocks together.

Casting Ripples for Healing and Forgiveness

What ripple effects have you started or received?

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