Navigating Forgiveness and Breaking Cycles of Abuse: Reflections on My Mother's Passing [Trigger Warning]

Navigating Forgiveness and Breaking Cycles of Abuse: Reflections on My Mother's Passing [Trigger Warning]


Today marks the anniversary of my mother's passing. She battled pulmonary fibrosis and passed away on September 19, 2019. In her final days, she had come to realize the importance of setting boundaries with my sister, whom she had always manipulated and pushed around due to her drug use. It was a tumultuous journey for both of them, with my sister ending up homeless and grappling with her own challenges. During this challenging time, I took on the role of caring for my mom, even though my partner had lost his job and we were facing financial difficulties.

Little did I know that my partner, whom I had always trusted completely with our finances over the past ten years, would face serious allegations four years later. It is a shocking revelation for me to discover that he may be under investigation for charges such as sexual assault, embezzlement, and false imprisonment of a disabled person. The realization is incredibly painful, especially considering that while I was devotedly tending to my dying mother, he was misusing our money and my inheritance, all the while carefully plotting his deceptive actions. It's still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that this is the same person who, just moments ago, seemed caring and helpful as he assisted the undertaker in taking my mother out of her apartment on a gurney. The contrast between his facade and the alleged reality is truly bewildering and deeply troubling.

On the day before my mother's passing, I devoted myself to creating a lavish meal for her and her dear friend Mary. It was of utmost importance to me that my mother felt cherished and cared for in her final moments. I took great care in ensuring her comfort, providing her with the necessary medication, and gently assisting her in settling into bed.

During the night prior, a heart-wrenching discovery unfolded before me. I stumbled upon intimate text messages exchanged between my mother and my stepfather, revealing a depth of love between them that I hadn't been aware of. It was a painful reminder of the ongoing pattern in my life, where I was often forced to swiftly suppress my own anguish. This had become a familiar experience from the very beginning of my relationship with my partner, who had witnessed firsthand my ability to bury my pain. I had opened up to him about the assault I endured at the hands of my stepfather, seeking solace in sharing my anguish over my family's disregard for my suffering and their secret inclusion of him in our lives. He asked what I did to make him think he could do that to me. This was after the police had failed me when I reported him.

As the early morning unfolded, a loud thud resonated from my mother's room, jolting me into immediate action. Driven by an instinctual urgency to assist her, I hurriedly rushed to her side. Tragically, in the process, I inadvertently injured my already frail and broken leg, which had been weakened by the relentless demands of caring for both my mother and my partner.

This sequence of events encapsulates the tumultuous journey I have endured. In the face of mounting challenges, I summoned an unwavering determination to create a memorable and comforting experience for my mother. However, the weight of personal tribulations, coupled with the physical toll of constant caregiving, pushed me to the limits of my endurance.

My mother's passing was far from peaceful; it mirrored the chaos and drama that characterized her life. As soon as the rescue services arrived, I left the room and didn't even say goodbye. The memory still haunts me, and I haven't mustered the courage to explore what made her leave the bed that day, even though I still have footage from the camera I had set up to monitor her.

To understand my mother's struggles, one must know that she was the fourth child out of five. When she was just 11, her baby brother was tragically killed in a car accident. Witnessing such a traumatic event at a young age must have shaped her in ways I can only imagine. It wasn't until years later, during a camping trip where we tried psilocybin together, that all her suppressed memories resurfaced. Unfortunately, back then, psilocybin wasn't recognized as a therapeutic drug in our area, but it brought my mother a sense of gratitude and healing.

Looking back, I now understand that my mother's inability to let go of my abuser, who happened to be her husband, stemmed from her own experience of abuse at the hands of a family member. She spent her life trying to make her abusers love her, just as I and my sister have done. Just like myself, she was well known for her thoughtful grand gifts. Now, I have reached a point of forgiveness and clarity. It's time to break these cycles of abuse, regardless of whose feelings may be hurt. These individuals should not have hurt us, and they should not continue to carry our family's praise.

In those final moments, I was faced with the difficult decision of whether to perform CPR or not, as my mother had signed a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. It was not influenced by the messages between my mother and my stepfather; it was a separate and deeply personal choice. However, the haunting question remains: Did I make the right decision? 

My mother had signed the DNR under the assumption that her passing would be peaceful, with a gentle release from her suffering. I, too, believed that her transition would be serene, guided by the DNR's intent, just like my father and grandfather before her, that I had experienced. But the suddenness of her fall and the chaos that followed left me questioning if I had honoured her wishes or if I had denied her a chance at life. The weight of that decision still lingers within me, a constant reminder of the fragility of life and the weight of responsibility.

The day after my mother’s passing, I sat at Bluewater Health at my aunt Linda’s bedside, where she had recently received a palliative cancer diagnosis. The next three days were spent there with her and my family, together also grieving my mom, while we comforted Aunt Linda until she peacefully joined her four days later.

As I reflect on my journey with my mother, I am reminded of the importance of forgiveness and breaking the cycles of abuse. It is a process that requires strength and courage, but it is essential for our own well-being and the well-being of future generations.


 I hope this letter reaches you in a place of eternal love and peace. I am sure it has because I am seeing all the signs I have refused to acknowledge my entire life. Since your passing, I have been reflecting on the memories we shared and the impact you had on my life. I want to express my gratitude for the unwavering love and support you bestowed upon me.

 You were my biggest cheerleader, Mom. You believed in me and constantly reminded me of my intelligence and potential. Your words of encouragement fueled my determination and shaped my self-belief. Your unwavering support gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams of being successful and becoming the person I am today. I will always cherish the moments when you shared your hopes and dreams for my future, instilling in me the belief that I could be anything I aspired to be.


I also want to acknowledge the challenges we faced in our relationship. There were times when your anger would manifest in hurtful ways, and it seemed as though a different side of you emerged. I now understand that these moments may have been influenced by a borderline personality dynamic. While they were difficult to navigate, I want you to know that I forgive you, Mom. I recognize that these behaviours were a part of your struggle, and I hold no resentment in my heart.


Growing up, I witnessed your interactions with others, particularly with men. I observed how you employed manipulative tactics to protect yourself and achieve certain outcomes. Despite this, I learned an invaluable lesson from you - the importance of honesty and speaking up against injustices. Your example taught me to be authentic and true to myself, even when faced with challenges. In a family where deceit and secrecy were prevalent, your influence guided me to be a person of integrity.


Taking care of you during your final days was not an easy task, but I did it out of love and a sense of duty. It allowed me to reflect on the complexities of our bond and the impact we had on each other's lives. Despite the pain we endured, I am grateful for the moments of connection and the lessons I learned along the way.


As I navigate my own journey, I have come to realize that the challenges we faced together were not in vain. I believe that the difficulties we experienced were, in a way, preparing me for the future. The tricks and tactics I learned from you, which were born out of necessity, are now helping me deal with my current abuser. In a strange twist of fate, it seems that the very skills I acquired from our tumultuous relationship are now enabling me to protect myself from his next move.

I want you to know that I forgive you, Mom. I understand that you were a battered woman, conditioned by the abuse inflicted upon you by “our” abuser, my stepfather. It takes immense strength to break free from the cycle of abuse, and I recognize the complexities that kept you bound to him. Although it was difficult for me to comprehend at times, I now understand that your actions were influenced by the trauma you must have endured.


Losing you has allowed me to reflect on the impact of abuse and the importance of healing and breaking free from its grip. It is a painful realization that I find myself facing another abusive situation now, but I am determined to draw upon the strength you unknowingly instilled in me. Your struggles have not been in vain; they have equipped me with the resilience and determination to protect myself and break the cycles of abuse.


Mom, I want you to rest in peace, knowing that I hold no resentment towards you. Our journey together was filled with hardships, but it has also shaped me into the person I am today. I will carry the lessons learned and the strength gained from our experiences as I continue to navigate life. We truly did grow up together.


Thank you for the many, many memories of love. I will forever cherish those treasures amidst the chaos. I love you.


With forgiveness and understanding,

Always your Kristie-Lyn   


***It is crucial to acknowledge the strength and resilience that carried me through these harrowing circumstances. If you find yourself grappling with similar struggles, I implore you to seek support from trusted friends, family, or professional counsellors who can provide a compassionate ear and guidance along your journey. Remember, you are not alone, and there are people who will stand beside you in your moments of need.

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