As I became an adult, there was one thing I was most adamant I would never do: become like my mother.
Oh dear God, PLEASE don’t EVER let me become like my mother!
And for the longest time, I was real clear on all the ways in which I was never. ever. going to be like my mother.
I probably don’t have to tell you that it didn’t quite work out that way. As each subsequent Fourth Step peeled away the layers of denial, I was both humbled and horrified to recognize all the ways in which I had in fact repeated many of my mother’s destructive behaviors that had been so hurtful to me. They were just dressed up a little differently.
Fourth Steps have always been a part of forgiveness for me. Seeing the same defects in myself, and recognizing how I got them, allows me to recognize that others probably came by those behaviors honestly, too. It allows me to have compassion.
But there’s another piece to this.
I had spent so much time focusing on my mother’s defects that I failed to recognize her gifts.
It was in the midst of a bunch of fallout from my mother’s destructive behavior that I began to see the other side.
I was hosting one of the speakers at a Twelve Step convention and I shared with her all the somewhat traumatic and totally draining things I had just been through with my mother.
The speaker said back to me, “Wow, I’m so impressed by the grace you carry yourself with through all this!”
And that’s when it hit me.
That grace the speaker had complemented me for?
I got that from my mother.
From that point on, I could no longer pretend that my mother was as totally awful as I believed she was.
Later, a program friend suggested I make a list of all the qualities I received from my mother.
Turns out, it’s not just grace. I got creativity, a love for cooking, a knack for decorating, a love of the flamboyant, a gift for speaking and writing, an ability to dress stylishly.
The defects that were passed down? Sure, I’d like them removed.
But with this list, I could no longer aspire to be nothing like her for if I did I would lose so much.
This recognition, too, did heaps to heal my resentments.
One of my sponsors just asked me to make a list of the gifts I got from my whole family. I started that list today, and it’s been hard to come up with, but I’m asking my Higher Power for the willingness to see them.
Keep me in your prayers on that one, and now, I’ll ask you the same: What are the gifts you received from the person you’ve resented the most?
Share your experience, strength and hope in the comments. I read every one.