Why we share even the painful stories (Excerpt #3 – Forgiving our Fathers and Mothers)

We’re still putting our feet up —it is summer after all – skimming without hurry through Leslie Leyland Field’s book, “Forgiving our Fathers and Mothers.”

If you missed the first couple of excerpts, they are here and here.

This is Leslie’s reason for writing about all this in the first place, her reason for telling stories that are not always pleasant or easy.

“I tell them this because I want them to write about things that matter rather than things that are trivial and merely entertaining. But there are deeper reasons as well. When we run from our stories, we are running from our very selves, and we run great risks  … Our memories from the very underpinning of our identities, even “the texture of our souls.” … The price of forgetting is a life of repetition, an insincere way of relating, a loss of self ..  (P. 12)

And here, a few more thoughts for this August day, thoughts from a few pages of not only Lesley, but Dr. Jill Hubbard, a compassionate psychologist who partnered in the writing of this helpful read.

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Perhaps these fathers and mothers would give a nod to wanting and loving their children but are deeply mired in their own unprocessed, unresolved past. They simply are not adequately emotionally available for, or capable of, parenthood … Often a parent’s own history of abuse, harshness, problems and disappointment overflow to the children. Unfortunately, many of us repeat even the most harmful of behaviours modeled by our parents – unless we recognize and confront them. (p. 15)

[These two friends] helped each other to not alone, to bear the unbearable, to and to take one more step forward on the path to healing and forgiveness. To be completely known by others and still completely loved fosters deep and lasting healing. (p. 16)

It does not matter one story measures against another. We’re not competing for badges.(p.25)

We abhor the wrongs, we confess the wrongs. We remember the wrongs. We remember now what was done, because we will not know the right until we acknowledge the wrong. (p.30)

No matter the reason, I was left with the damage and the cleanup … Siblings raised in the same environment often report different perspectives concerning the same experience. Personality type, disposition, age, and degree of exposure all play into outcome and impact. (p. 36)

Some kids handle family dysfuntion by acting out. They become the ones who externalize family pain, often compounding their already difficult lives. Others “act in” – they internalize their pain and appear to be okay. They are peacemakers instead of pot-stirrers. But don’t be fooled. The “good child” rarely escapes childhood scar free. (p. 36)

Until we name what has happened, we cannot get the perspective to move through it … confession takes courage … Unfortunately there is no getting around our pain; we must go through it to get to the other side – where true freedom exists. (p. 37)

“It was not until my life was more than half over that I cared or even dared to see this: my siblings and I were not the only ones lying wounded on the side of the road … we [with our parents] are all both victims and perpetrators of our human condition and thus our human frailty. When we can see ourselves in our humanness and then offer that same perspective to others, even our parents, we bear witness to each other’s lives, to our stories, and to our purpose and place in history.” (58)

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“What is hell?” Father Zossima asks in The Brothers Karamazov. “It is the suffering of being unable to love.”

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