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How do you forgive abusive parents?

The opposite of love is not hatred. It’s ambivalence.

I want people who lived through abusive childhoods to know that it is possible to forgive. That doesn’t mean restoration is required. Some people remain dangerous to us, and we have to set limits and boundaries. But they can still be forgiven. It also doesn’t mean you forget. Recounting my childhood—and especially seeing how it affected me long into my adult years—could have led me to bitterness. But allowing that would have meant the continuation of the abuse, except the wounds would have been self-inflicted. I forgave Tom for what he did. I’ve forgiven my mother and I forgave my dad. But I’ll likely never have anything even close to a relationship with them again, this side of eternity. Tom passed away in 2019, and my father died in August 2022, as I was in the process of writing this book. My mother is alive, but we have not spoken in 18 years. I have no ill will at all. The opposite of love is not hatred. It’s ambivalence. If I found out she was homeless or hungry, I would make calls and make sure she had shelter and food. But the relationship is harmful to me and my daughter, and I have a duty to protect her, and myself. But I still forgive. I have to. Otherwise, all this is for naught and it’s just a different kind of captivity.
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Cover of the book "An Orphan in the House of God" by Craig Daliessio