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Learning to Forgive
Christopher B.
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Every time I would see my mother we would always argue. She would bring up things that happened in the past and throw them in my face. I found it hard to forgive her for the problems we had in the past that led me to end up in the Spofford Detention Center. My social worker, Ms. Davis, knew my relationship with my mother was not good and urged me to go to therapy. Ms. Davis wanted to see us get along better.

I didn't want to go to any ''stupid'' therapy to talk about the problems I had with my mother. I felt I would be wasting my time, because my relationship with her wasn't going to get better.

Ms. Davis told me I had to go therapy because it was part of my ''service plan'' while I was in the system. I felt like I was being forced to do something I didn't want to do. But I finally decided to go to therapy because I didn't want to end up going to another group home.

Afraid to Trust

I started going to therapy on Saturdays at Rainbow Services on Third Avenue in the Bronx. Ms. Smith was the name of my therapist. I could see that she had a nice personality from the way she spoke to the kids and their mothers. We spoke briefly in her office for the first time. She was very patient and I felt comfortable talking to her. She explained that she wasn't going to try to rush me into expressing myself about my problems with my mother. She wanted me to get to know her better before I started confiding in her.

I didn't like talking about my problems with anybody. I felt like I couldn't trust anybody. I had been hurt a lot by many loved ones who were supposed to be in my corner when times got rough. They let me down big time by misusing the trust I had in them.

By going to therapy each week, I started to express myself better. I took my time telling Ms. Smith about my problems to see if I could trust her. I told her it was going to be difficult forgiving my mother because I was still carrying so much anger.

A Mother's Anger

My mother always tried to call me at the group home. I would tell the staff that I didn't want to speak to her. She would leave messages for me to call her. I didn't want to have anything to do with her. I had been making it without her, so why did I need her now? When I saw her on the streets in Brooklyn, I would walk past her without saying anything.

The reason why things got this bad between us was because my mother treated me the same way my father treated her. My father mentally abused my mother. He would always try to belittle her every time they argued. I always felt my mother acted out her anger towards me because my father treated her badly. I always found it harder to get along with her than my sisters did. She always treated me differently from them. She went shopping with them and spent time with them. I reacted by spending a lot of time away from home to avoid her.

When I went to therapy one Saturday, Ms. Smith wanted me to talk about what happened to cause me to end up in a Detention Center. I told Ms. Smith that one night my mother and I got in a huge fight when I came home very late and disrespected her by talking back to her. I told her that my mother got real upset and that she tried to hit me with a chair. When I blocked it with my hands, the chair fell back on top of her. She then tried to hit me on the head with a glass vase. My sister's boyfriend got in front of me and blocked her swing with his hands. My mother cut his hands so badly that he had to go to the hospital for 100 stitches.

I started getting upset while I was telling my therapist what happened to me. She stopped me for a minute so I could calm myself down. I was very emotional and frustrated while talking about my problems.

When we continued, I told Ms. Smith how my mother came to court and accused me of cutting my sister's boyfriend with a piece of glass. She also told the court how I hit her with a chair and how she had to go to the doctor. I was locked up in Spofford for two weeks before going upstate for one and a half years. I felt one and a half years were taken away from me for no reason.

The First Step

Ms. Smith told me that I had to learn how to forgive and release the pain inside me. She said the first step in forgiving someone is to really mean it from the heart. I heard what she said but I didn't know if I was ready to make that first step. I didn't know if I was ready to open up my heart to my mother and forgive her.

image by Nicole Rice

I left therapy that day feeling like a better person. I finally got the chance to release some anger by talking about my problems. During my ride on the train I was thinking about my mother and what Ms. Smith said about forgiving. I knew everybody makes mistakes and they deserve a second chance.

A New Understanding

My mother called me around seven o'clock that same night. Lisa, one of the staff workers, asked me if I wanted to speak to her. I took the phone and I told her that we needed to talk things out. My mother agreed and she sounded very good. She wanted me to come to the house after school.

I went to see my mother the next day. I wanted to talk to her about the problems that we had. I realized as I got older that I was at fault for some of the problems because I never listened to anybody and I wanted things to be done my way. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself because I ended up in a Detention Center. I wanted to tell her how sorry I was that I didn't listen to her, and that I disrespected her by coming home any time I felt like when I was living with her. I wanted to tell her how I felt about her as a mother, and how I wanted to start a new relationship as mother and son.


She was cooking dinner for my two sisters when I walked in the kitchen. My mother asked me how I was doing in school and in my group home. I was nervous to be under the same roof with her, because this was the first time in two years that I was able to come home to visit. I didn't want the same thing to happen as when the cops had to remove me from my house. I went into my big sister's room to talk with her until my mother was finished cooking dinner.

My mother called me from my sister's room to have dinner and talk with her alone at the table. She told me how sorry she was for coming to court and seeing me end up in Spofford. She said she was hurt by the way I was treating her that night. I told my mother that I forgave her and I wanted to start a new relationship with her and just move on.

Better Communication

I could see tears running down her cheeks when she told me I was the only son that God gave her and she loved me tremendously. I stood up to hug my mother because I knew she really meant every word she said.

My relationship with my mother is much better than it has been in the past. We are able to communicate better and get along well. I can go to the house any time I want and eat. I can go home on weekend passes and I spend all the major holidays with her.

The reason why our relationship has changed is because we both realize that everybody makes mistakes and deserves a second chance. I had to realize that I couldn't just blame my mother for what she did. If I had listened to her when she told me to come in the house early, she would have never been put in a situation of being worried and angry about my disobedience.

Therapy Helped

I'm glad my relationship with my mother has gotten much better, but we still have problems. I'm able to deal with them better and talk about them without holding any negative feelings inside. If it wasn't for therapy, my relationship with my mother would still be the same. I just wanted her to love me the same way she loved my two sisters.

My mother and I started going to therapy together to try to prevent what happened in the past from ever happening again. It was hard being in therapy with her because I was afraid that she was going to get mad if I said something she didn't like. My mother is the type of person who gets offended easily and is not afraid to defend herself. When I was in therapy alone it was easier to express myself and the room was less tense, but eventually I got used to being in therapy with her. We spoke about the problems we had in the past. I felt wonderful on the inside because we were able to communicate and be in the same room together.

I feel our relationship is better, but I wouldn't want to destroy it by rushing home before I'm ready.

I want to take it slow in developing a good relationship with my mother. But if something terrible happened to her health and she needed me at home to take care of her, I wouldn't even think twice about packing my bags and going to be by her side. I love her with all my heart, even though we had a lot of problems in the past.

Are you a caring adult looking for more stories to help your youth? Go to HeretoListen.org, a resource for the front-line staff in schools and community based programs to help teens who are struggling with difficult emotions.

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(FCYU-1996-03-13)

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