I forgive my Father for years of emotional and psychological abuse and all the complex insidious ways that abuse splintered my sense of confidence and my capacity for self love. I forgive him for treating my Mother like his property, like a mechanism there to be at his undivided service. I forgive Him for being so broken that I, his youngest daughter, was seen and experienced not as something or someone to unconditionally love, but rather as a threat to his access to love, nurture and attention.
I forgive my Mother for enabling this behavior — not just enabling it — but at times even fostering it. I forgive her for choosing often to tend to his cries and needs over mine. He was and is the more needy child. I forgive her for not loving herself enough to walk away, for seeking comfort through food. I forgive her for spending decades talking about leaving without actually doing so. I forgive her for leaning on me as a sounding board.
I forgive myself for writing these words which I know will cut through their hearts, should they read them. I forgive myself the selfishness of speaking my truth. I forgive myself for the cowardice of not speaking my truth sooner. I forgive myself for internalizing the broken patterns of my lineage, for finding creative and unique ways to make their suffering my story. I forgive myself for not being more healed already.
I forgive myself for being quiet and introspective the past few months, for not honoring my commitment to self to write daily, weekly, monthly. It’s not for lack of trying or absence of things to say. I sat down so many times. I wrote words on the page. I started things, but could never seem to finish. My mind was foggy. The path forward unclear. I forgot the wise words of the dear Mary Oliver “the only life to save is your own”.
I forgive myself for needing to learn the same lessons over and over again. I forgive myself for not responding to the miracles of life with unencumbered joy. I forgive myself for being encumbered and imperfect. I forgive myself for struggling to find and hold self love.
On Father’s Day this past June, my husband and I learned we were expecting our second baby. For a woman who had multiple miscarriages and was seemingly only able to get and stay pregnant by way of fertility drugs â€” the surprise and ease of this news of baby 2 felt like magic dust, felt like forgiveness, felt like healing. For a few short weeks, I sailed in bliss and the muted hum of fear that I miscarry again. I remember seeing that plus sign on the little stick in the trashcan and thinking — I’m not broken after all. Thank you, God, for this gift, for un-breaking and forgiving me.
But lightness quickly faded to dark. As in my first pregnancy, I found myself hugging the toilet, vomiting, scared, resentful. I was back in that animal body, a primal place far beyond my logical control; a place I deeply resist going. At the core, more than anything, I was so disappointed in myself. Why wasn’t I better at being pregnant? Why wasn’t I one of those women overjoyed and glowing with the blossoming life in my belly?? How after everything I’d been through already could I be anything other than awash with gratitude?? How could I raise a healthy, happy baby unless I could see the beauty in my experience?
I tried to rationalize these negative thought patterns, to override them with clear and sound logic. Logic told me no one really feels good while staggering through waves of intense nausea and tossing their cookies for hours on end. I reminded myself it’s possible to be overjoyed and also to feel like shit. I knew the waves of hormones coursing through my body were in fact taking a toll on my thoughts and feelings.
The wise me told the wounded me:
“You’ve been here before. This will pass. This is ok.”
The wounded me had a much different response:
“Bullshit,” wounded me said. “You’re broken. Accept it. You’re not healed enough to have a baby. Not only are you vomiting like crazy, you have no patience for your baby now. How will you mother two?? You’re like your Father, a mess of PTSD and depression.”
The dissonance between these two voices — the stark polarity between them — this is a window into the tension stirring within me.
I’m four months pregnant now and I think — I pray — my nausea is starting to subside. I think I’m beginning the journey back from the depths of some dark, complex crevasse of hormones and emotions, fear and doubt. I feel hints of myself, the more balanced parts of me, returning. I feel compassion for the dark parts, for the fact that mental illness, depression, anxiety run in my bloodlines, and dominate our society.
I recognize and own that years ago, I set an intention with the universe to heal, to live my purpose, and to help others through my own experience. I was young and naive when I made that pact. I both knew what it meant, and didn’t have a clue. Here I am now at least two decades later, and I see and feel how that intention set the stage for everything and continues to. I embrace why I the path less traveled makes all the difference.
Hope is returning to my cells as life returns to spring after winter. My limbs tingle, my heart flutters, my head aches. I’m coming back from a depression hangover and fumbling to love and forgive myself through it.
Part of me says wait — wait to talk about things till they make more sense, till the story is more linear, till you are more clear.
The other part, the hopeful part, says — no more waiting.
Someone needs to hear today, right this very minute that they are not alone, that they are not broken. Im writing for, you, dear someone; for all of us hurting and needing and hoping.
Pregnancy is a lot of things, most of which make for crazy juxtapositions. For me, it is an uncanny collision of past and present, of co-dependence and independence, of wisdom and innocence. It’s about learning to be in the moment, in my body. It’s about learning to trust, to feel more than to think, to resist going down the rabbit whole of fear and manic perfectionism. These are newer skills for me to develop. I spent my childhood out of my body, adrift in the world of books and imagination. This was a gift, a brilliant coping mechanism that came with gaps desperately in need of being filled in — like learning how to stay present in the face of conflict, like learning how not to abandon others in the name of self preservation.
The universe just gave me the perfect opportunity to revisit all these memories, to deconstruct and reconstruct my relationship to trauma and my past. It gave me the chance to turn anger into forgiveness and heartache into hope.
My son and I and little baby next tucked safely in my womb just returned from over two weeks on my parents’ farm. It was a last minute trip that I both knew needed to happen and knew would be intense. Both those things proved to be true. There was something about being there with my son, pregnant, raw and vulnerable, attempting to navigate caring for him through morning sickness and intense emotions. Watching my parents do their same old dance with my dad’s untreated and undiagnosed depression and OCD and my mom’s relentless attempt to keep everything and everyone peaceful and happy, except herself.
I observed my son as he observed when my parents spoke curtly to one another. I noticed how he would become needier and more fragile. I saw myself in him and through him. I remembered how I felt as a child with no real outlet, sort of suspended there between them both longing to be seen and to be invisible.
I also recognized things about my grown up self which mirrored aspects of my mom and my dad — my tendency for obsessive cleanliness, my penchant for ensuring everyone else is happy. I felt both strong and weak, on the cusp of breakdown and breakthrough.
In the midst of this shit storm of human emotions, the solar eclipse happened. My sweet son upstairs, tucked in with his lovies, slept peacefully through the whole thing. The baby in my belly, conceived in this very space on our family farm, moved for the first time inside me. My parents, in the background, bickered straight through. My dad prattled on his soapbox ranting about how crazy it was for anyone to be an atheist in sight of something so incredible, all the while ordering my mom to do this and that.
I walked away from where they were standing right as the moon fully eclipsed the sun. Vultures swooped and cawed over head. Animals howled as the earth went suddenly dark. I looked down on the ground and saw my shadow flicker and fade. My body covered in goosebumps and tears filled my eyes. I was awash in a feeling so vast, so inexplicable and yet so entirely real. This feeling of being at home everywhere and nowhere. This feeling of knowing my place in the family of things (thank you again, Mary Oliver, for the perfect words). This feeling of completeness, of being at ease with the interplay between light and dark, between all that is beautiful and not in myself and in the world.
Per usual, I tried with all my might to hold on to this moment, to bottle up some little piece of the sacred. But it was there, and then it was gone, in an instant. But what remained this time was my ability to hold that magical, complete feeling with permanence. It was me, and I was it. We were one. I didn’t question what I’d seen or whether it was real after it was. I didn’t need a picture of it, or an artifact. It was right inside me.
What I’m trying to say here is that the intersection of light and dark, the crossroads where healing happens is all about surrender and forgiveness; how one gives way to the other. As I lay down my illusions of control and let go of the myths about how things “ought to be,” I am able to soften into forgiveness. I am able embrace myself and others, imperfections and all, and watch as a new opening emerges.
Like the eclipse, this new opening is greater even than my wildest imagination. In this space, I understand it’s not all about figuring things out and making everything right, or even simply making everything make sense.
It’s about showing up day in and day out whether we feel good or terrible, whether hope is easy to hold or feels as though it’s slipping through our fingers. I’m reminded that it was never about being good enough, let alone perfect. Nature, teacher of teachers, helps me see how beauty shines brightest when we allow for the dark and the light to do their natural, cosmic dance, when we stop running and resisting whatever is scary in ourselves and those around us.
This is the precise moment when we find the courage to say: “I love you. I forgive you. I’m okay.” And this time we mean it. This is when we begin to understand love is not a thing to be earned or bound up in conditions. There is not a child among us who came into this world unworthy of love. Rather it is the absence of that which creates imbalance and pain. As for me and my part, I choose love and forgiveness not because its an easy or uncomplicated choice; but because my happiness, my children’s happiness, demands I press on into the light.
This is Living Hope.
Micah Stover resides with her family in Portland, Oregon. She’s a coach, writer, mother, stepmother, philosopher and wife. She’s dedicated her life’s journey to the quest of knowing thyself. As a survivor of trauma and the child of a blended family, much of her work explores the relationship between adversity and resilience as well as the deep role that surrender and forgiveness play in giving rise to hope. When she’s not working or chasing babies, Micah enjoys reading, dancing and traveling. You can follow along with Micah’s journey at her blog: https://www.