Nancy Drummer (not her real name) is a wife, mom of two, and grandmother of seven. She shared her story exclusively with FirstforWomen.com. You can read the first part of her powerful story about her childhood here
Things grew worse shortly after I turned 12. That's when my stepfather started sneaking into my room at night. I didn’t tell my grandparents because I was afraid I’d never see them again if they’d confront my mom and stepdad. So I quietly endured what he dished out for months.
I was so happy when my mom found out. I thought for sure she would take my side and send my stepfather away. But that's not what happened. She took me for a drive, down rural roads as she screamed accusations at me, things like how I had hurt her, how I wanted it. Over and over again. I wanted to jump out of the car and run into the woods where I could just die in a safe place.
The abuse stopped, but there was always tension in the house. And things didn't get better with my mom. One night when I was 19 my mom and I had a horrible argument and she insisted my stepdad hit me with his belt. He did. That night I came to the conclusion that I did not have to go through this any more. I packed up and left home, even though Mom became hysterical and begged me not to leave.
I met the man who became my husband less than a year after that and we married a few years later. We had two kids. While I was raising them, there were many times, I thought, Oh no, I'm becoming my mom. I remember one time when our son was a teenager, ready to graduate from high school. It had been a struggle, but we had put together the money so he could go on his senior trip. Just days before he was to leave, I learned he had loaned the money to another student, and that student had not paid him back. I lost it! I yelled at him, told him he didn't care how hard his dad and I had to sacrifice for him just to give it away. I went on and on.
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Another time my daughter was having a tantrum in public, and I got frustrated because I didn’t know how to calm her down. Instead I felt like I wanted to shake or hit her. Thankfully, I was able to control myself enough to talk my daughter down.
Looking back now, I think I was so worried about doing things right that I held back from enjoying myself with them. I really thought if I did crazy fun things with them like my mom did with me, I would become like her and go to the other extreme.
Sadly, for much of my life as a kid and an adult, I believed my mom didn't love me--that I wasn't good or perfect enough, that I was unlovable, a mistake. In my 40s, after my kids were grown, I started having debilitating panic attacks--even though on the surface my life was wonderful. I went to therapy, I took medications, but the attacks intensified. Every time I went in for an appointment it felt like an old wound was opened up, the scab ripped off, and when I left the office, I left with an infected open wound.
Then I read a couple of books by Neil Anderson. When I came to the parts about forgiveness my life changed. I realized I hadn't forgiven my mom and stepdad. I hadn't forgiven my dad and grandparents for not rescuing me (I didn't even know up until that point that I harbored those feelings against them). I had to acknowledge the hurt someone had caused and how it made me feel, and then release that hurt to God, for Him to take care of.
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I sat down, wrote out a list (it was pretty long). And one by one, I gave my hurts to God. It was something I did for myself--and it was between me and God. But the feelings of forgiveness followed. Within weeks, I went from having six attacks a day to none. I didn't need anti-anxiety medications anymore. I was free from my past for the first time in my life.
But even more importantly, I now realize Mom always loved me. She undoubtedly had some kind of personality disorder. If she had lived in another time when mental health services were more available and not as taboo, I think she could have gotten help sooner. Now she’s getting help, but she still has fears and regrets.
That’s why I tell everyone that the most important, life-changing piece of my life is true forgiveness. When I forgave Mom, it was the most healing event. Forgiveness opened the door so I could really love my mom as she is, not as I wanted her to be.
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