People can forgive toxic parents, but they should do it at the conclusion—not at the beginning—of their emotional housecleaning. People need to get angry about what happened to them. They need to grieve over the fact that they never had the parental love they yearned for. They need to stop diminishing or discounting the damage that was done to them. Too often, “forgive and forget” means “pretend it didn’t happen.”
I also believe that forgiveness is appropriate only when parents do something to earn it. Toxic parents, especially the more abusive ones, need to acknowledge what happened, take responsibility, and show a willingness to make amends. If you unilaterally absolve parents who continue to treat you badly, who deny much of your reality and feelings, and who continue to project blame onto you, you may seriously impede the emotional work you need to do. If one or both parents are dead, you can still heal the damage, by forgiving yourself and releasing much of the hold that they had over your emotional well-being.
At this point, you may be wondering, understandably, if you will remain bitter and angry for the rest of your life if you don’t forgive your parents. In fact, quite the opposite is true. What I have seen over the years is that emotional and mental peace comes as a result of releasing yourself from your toxic parents’ control, without necessarily having to forgive them. And that release can come only after you’ve worked through your intense feelings of outrage and grief and after you’ve put the responsibility on their shoulders, where it belongs.
Stupid Things My Brother Has Done
So today I was talking with a friend about accidents and injuries and we got to talking about our accident prone brothers. I’ve actually had a similar conversation with my family and my sister and I decided to document “the stupid things our brother has done.” Ultimately, though my brother is only 12, he has had plenty of accidents to go around so today I feel inspired to share that list with you guys.
1. The Slice and Dice- So this incident is the first accident I remember my brother being directly involved with. When my brother was about one and a half, he managed to climb onto our kitchen table while my parents were out of the room. When I turned to see what he was doing, I saw that he had a pair of large, very sharp, scissors in his hands and he was opening and closing them with a maniacal look in his eyes. I ran over to him and told him to hand over the scissors because I didn’t want him to cut himself. He then closed the scissors and I grabbed the blades in an attempt to take them from him. I’m sure you can guess the rest from there. My brother thought, “Oo a hand, let’s see how much damage I can do,” and he sliced my hand open. My dad didn’t take me to the hospital for several hours because he didn’t think it was that serious. I still have a V-shaped scar near the base of my left index finger where I had to get 12 stitches.
2. The Black Eye- The next accident, if I remember correctly, happened not too long after the first. In fact, the next three accidents after this one all happened within the same year as these first two if I remember correctly Anyway, my brother was standing on my parents’ bed as the sat watching TV. His bottle was sitting on the dresser next to their bed and as he reached for it he slipped and banged his forehead on the corner of the dresser. He had a gash above his eyebrow and the blow cause blood to rush and settle around his eye, resulting in a black eye. Now, when he raises his eyebrows, you can see a dent where he hit his head all those years ago.
3. The Big Blue Cast- A few weeks later, my mom was drinking an Ensure out of a can. When she was done with it, she put the empty can on the floor next to the couch. My brother, being the curious and thirsty child that he was, decided to pick up the can. He sliced his finger and blood started spurting everywhere. My mom said she was sure he struck an artery because blood was streaming like a fountain. I was at school at the time and I got called to the office. When I came, I was told my mom was coming to pick me up. A few minutes later, I saw my mom bursting through the doors. Her shirt, which was one white, was now soaked in blood. I just stared at her in shock and asked who died. Ultimately, my brother didn’t do as much damage as my mom had suspected, but they put a cast on his arm so he wouldn’t mess with his finger while it healed.
4. Stitched Up- If my stitches weren’t enough, by some sort of karmic vengeance, my brother had to get stitches too. My mom was drinking a cup of grape juice (hmm…trend?) when my brother decided he wanted some too. My mom put her cup down on the counter to get my brother’s sippy cup. Apparently my brother was too impatient because he decided to grab my mom’s cup. This was before he knew how to use a real cup though so My mom said he splashed juice into his face, got scared, and dropped the cup. She said it all happened like it was in slow motion but she couldn’t do anything to stop it. The cup shattered and my brother stepped backwards onto a piece of glass. I think my parent still have that shard in a plastic baggy somewhere… (weird…) But my brother had to get the glass removed, a tetanus shot probably, and stitches. He had a black eye, a cast, and stitches in his foot all at the same time. I’m pretty sure they knew us in the ER.
5. The Boy Chin Wonder- I’m not entirely sure when this happened in sequence with the previous accidents, though I believe it happened some time close to when he got the black eye. So my brother was toddling along with a bottle of milk in his mouth. He tripped and slit his chin on the edge of the bottle. Now he has a scar on his chin. (Why does my brother have so many drink related injuries?)
6. He Believed He Could Fly- So this is something that I actually don’t remember happening, though the rest of my family remember it vividly. The reason it’s odd that I don’t remember is because apparently I was the one who saw it happen. I’d beg to differ though the story sounds vaguely familiar and is totally something that would happen to my brother. So when my brother was 5-8 we lived in an apartment on the first floor (thankfully). My brother’s dresser used to be leaning on the wall under the window in his room. Apparently my brother was standing on his dresser wrapped up in a blanket acting like a hooligan with my sister. I guess I told him to stop and get down because he was going to get hurt and, like always, he didn’t listen to me. Low and behold, he falls out the window. Luckily for him there were bushes outside so he didn’t get hurt and he just came around to the front door and I let him in. My mom yelled out, “Who’s at the door?!” and I just said, “Isaiah…” and proceeded to tell her what happened.
7. Bad Backs Are For Young People Too- Last year my brother was pogo-sticking and slipped and hurt his back. My dad freaked out and ran to pick him up despite my mom’s warnings that you aren’t supposed to move people with back injuries. My dad doesn’t do well in crisis when it comes to me and my siblings getting hurt, which is funny because he is a police officer and was a Marine. Anyway, my mom said, “We need to take him to the hospital!” but my dad just sort of sat there and stared at him in shock haha. My mom just told my dad, “Ok when you’re ready to go, you let me know.”
8. Pinky Pains- So I don’t really remember how this happened but I have two theories that sound equally plausable and equally familiar. My brother does jiu-jitsu and he also likes to pretend he can skateboard. Either he got hurt at practice, or he fell of his 20 dollar spider-man skateboard and hurt his pinky. He complained about the pain for about a week before my parents finally took him to the doctor…(that’s a record though because it took them about a year to take me to the doctor after my dad fractured my pinky toe) I think they said his tendon got all jumbled in a ball :/
9. Banned from Biking- I guess this brings us to this year! This year my brother was banned from biking because my mom said he doesn’t know how to ride. My brother bikes to school with his friends and on their way home they do tricks. Apparently my brother went over a bump or a pothole or something and totally wiped out. he banged up both of his elbows, hit his head (though he was wearing a helmet…I think) and hurt his hip. Though he was in pain, he rode to the school where my mom works down the street to tell her what happened. She told him to let my sister ride his bike home so that she could drive him and he could rest but he said he was ok to ride. He was wrong. About a block from the entrance to my housing complex, he was rounding a corner to cross the street and he wiped out again. My mom said he didn’t just wipe out but he laid there like he couldn’t get up. She freaked out because a car could have come at any moment. She drove up to him and pulled him up put him in the car and told my sister to ride his bike home. After taking him to the doctor, it seems he had a concussion and possibly a fractured hip.
So yeah, he’s okay now… though I’m not sure for how long… He is seriously soooo accident-prone! These are only the major incidents! And only the one’s I can remember at that. I told my mom we need to buy him a plastic bubble to live in so he’ll stop getting hurt.