If you missed Bethany’s Story Part 2: The Divorce, be sure to go back and read it so you can fully understand today’s portion of her story. The divorce definitely affected Bethany’s relationship with her mother. Bethany has some heartbreaking memories of her mother’s standards for her while growing up. We will hear about just a few of those sad memories from Bethany today.
As many do, Bethany had a habit of biting her fingernails and the skin on her fingers. She remembers her mother saying hurtful things to her about it.
“She used to say, ‘Look how ugly your hands are. Now you’re going to get cancer. You’re disgusting. No man’s ever going to want to put a ring on your finger.'”
Bethany’s mom would punish her for biting her fingers by putting mercuricrome on her fingers before she went to school to keep her from biting them. Mercuricrome is a bright orange substance that tastes very nasty. Embarrassed of her bright orange fingers, Bethany would just bite it off anyway.
Another way her mom punished her for biting her nails was by telling her that her hands were too ugly for jewelry. Bethany had a beloved jewelry box with ballerinas on it. One day, as punishment, her mother took the jewelry box away and Bethany never saw it again. Until..Bethany and I attended a party at Bethany’s mom’s co-worker’s house. Bethany saw her beloved jewelry box in the lady’s house. Her mother had given it to her co-worker’s daughter. Bethany was devastated! I could see the hurt of her heart through her teary eyes that day. Mind you, Bethany was in her mid-thirties at this time. The pain of childhood memories does not always go away just because you grow up.
Even through her pain, Bethany defends her mom a little..
“I don’t think she meant to be mean. She was just so bothered by me biting my fingers that she did what she thought she must do.”
All of her mother’s efforts were to no avail. Bethany still bites her fingers as an adult!
As Bethany remembers her relationship with her mom, the memories continue to flood in…
One year for Christmas, Bethany asked for a beautiful purple sweater that she had seen at her favorite store at the mall. It was one of the only things she asked for. Her mother bought it for herself instead.
When Bethany would talk to her father about the way her treated her, he would say, “Your mother’s jealous of you.”
She even overheard her little brother say to her mom, “Mom, why do you want to be like Bethany all the time?”
Bethany always felt like her mother was in competition with her. Her mom was jealous of her relationship with her father. After all, she WAS Daddy’s girl.
Her mom was also jealous of Bethany’s friendships. Bethany never remembers her mother ever having any friends-ever.
After the divorce, things got worse. Her mom constantly told her how she was just like her dad. And then in the next sentence she would say how much she hated him.
“She must hate me, too.”
Bethany’s mother kicked her out of the house, as mentioned in Part 2. Her dad came to the rescue. Then she and her fiance’ lived together with her dad. All this time, her mother criticized and condemned her daughter. Bethany’s little brother ended up living with their dad too. Her mother’s anger, pain and judgmental attitude drove everyone away from her. How sad.
When Bethany gave birth to her first son, her mother started to come around. Even so…
“She wasn’t there for me like I thought she should be. She was just starting her life with her new husband. She said no to me a lot. (About babysitting or helping me with the baby). It would upset me.”
Her mom would say, “Well, your father and I never did anything without you kids.”
“That’s why you and Dad are divorced,” Bethany would say back.
Bethany’s relationship with her mother continued to be strained throughout her adult life.
“It wasn’t what I would expect from a relationship with my mother.”
“I feel like we both wanted it and tried at times, but it wasn’t working.”
There was too much left unsaid between them.
Once Bethany rededicated her life to God, things began to shift inside of her. She attended a Bible study on “The Bait of Satan.” It was all about offense and unforgiveness. She recognized that her problem with her mother might be unforgiveness. Bethany is not one to make a spectacle of herself or be the center of attention at all. But, one day at church, she was undeniably compelled to go to the altar. That day was a turning point for Bethany in her thought process regarding her past hurts and anger, specifically with her mother.
“Going to the altar was not an option. I had to go. God did a work in me that day.”
Some time after, Bethany attended another Bible study. During this ladies Bible study, the subject of forgiveness came up again. She was flat out told that her problem was indeed, unforgiveness. She was advised to write her mother a letter, saying everything she wanted to say. Writing things down and getting everything out of your head is very helpful and therapeutic, by the way!
After much hesitation and resistance, Bethany finally wrote the letter. She wasn’t sure if she would ever give it to her mom, but just writing it down helped a lot. She prayed about what to do with the letter. Not long after, an incident arose between Bethany and her mother. Her mother treated her like a child in front of others at church. That was the last straw.
Bethany stewed for a few days. Finally, she texted her mom, “We need to talk.”
Bethany never gave the letter to her mom…she didn’t have to. In a phone call, everything came out. She says, “There was no meanness, no anger, no fighting.”
“I just poured out my feelings. I brought things up from my past that I had never talked about.”
Her mom broke down, cried and apologized for the first time in her life.
“She came to the realization that she needed to forgive my father. I wanted her to have freedom, too!”
“I was amazed that I was able to say the things I said and remembered to say them (without the letter). I know that God was completely in charge of the conversation. I know that chains were broken that day for both my mom and I. We have both gone to another level in our relationship with God.”
Bethany’s mom has completely rededicated her life to God and her marriage to her current husband has improved. “She has let go of Dad, finally.”
“My relationship with my mom is great now. I really wish we could have been like this long ago. I feel like we missed out on some good times.”
Are you dealing with unforgiveness in your life? Maybe you don’t even realize that there is a problem.
Bethany’s forgiveness experience was a gradual process. You must first identify the issue of unforgiveness.
“I didn’t think I had a forgiveness problem. But, I was still holding on to the hurt and pain from my past.”
Here’s Bethany’s advice on how to confront someone who has deeply hurt you.
“First, get your relationship right with God. Get your heart and your attitude right. Then, pray about when and how to confront the person.”
Is there a relationship in your life that is strained due to past hurts and betrayals? Be encouraged by Bethany’s story. There is hope. Forgiveness and restoration can be found!
For more on my own personal story of forgiveness, click here.
If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.