I Don’t Know How to Forgive My Mother

12 February, 2021
Q Assalamu Alaikum.

I recently got divorced from a man who was emotionally neglectful towards me. I didn’t think much of it while in the marriage, but upon divorcing and coming back to live with my mother, I realized I stayed so long with him because he behaved so much like my mother!

It felt comfortable to me and I stayed with him for 5 years. Allah gave me the strength to finally leave, only to go back to living with my mother who is exactly the same.

Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to show emotions. When I cried I was told to shut up. When I got angry, I was told I didn’t have manners and was told to suck it up.

My mother chose the men in her life over me, her only daughter, over and over and over again. She never asked me how I felt, why I was crying, she never made me feel better and it’s triggering living with her because my ex-husband was exactly the same.

I get so angry when I try to open up to her and she just dismissed me. I get so angry I start to hate her and I don’t even want to talk to her. All she’s ever taught me was to hate myself, stuff my feelings, to people please and to beg for attention I never get. I’m so resentful of her.

I know I have to forgive her, but I don’t know how. I’m messed up and now I’m afraid I’ll pass this onto my daughter. It’s a cycle that I feel I can’t break. I don’t have any other support. No friends, no community, nothing.

I feel like Allah swt just wants to see me suffer internally with no hope and no healing. I want to stop being co-dependent but I don’t know how. I want to move on from my mother and my ex-husband, but I can’t (financially not stable).

What do I do? How can I start being normal again? How can I learn to love again when the person who I needed the most when I was a child, betrayed me. Over and over again?

If my own mother doesn’t care about me or my feelings, who will aside from Allah? Don’t I deserve love? Connection? Genuine friendship and care? I feel like this is a test beyond me and I can’t cope. Jazakallah kheir

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Please be aware if you are still healing from your divorce then it is possible your currently intense emotions towards her are not 100% about her.

I encourage you to seek out personal counseling so you can work on these emotions in a safe and therapeutic environment.

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I encourage you to determine at least 3 positive coping skills to help you during this time. Coping skills are essential tactics you use to cope with negative emotions and stressors.

Work on building a new social support network.

Work on building your independence.

Focus on self-love, not external love.


Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatuulahi wa barakatu.

Thank you for taking the time to trust us with your concerns and write in. It is my understanding that you recently divorced from a toxic marriage, and are now living with your mother again.

During this time being back with your mother, you realized that the reason you chose an emotionally toxic man was due to this being the example your mother provided in your youth. In other words, emotional abuse and neglect is your comfort blanket because it is what you were raised with.

It is also my understanding that you wish to forgive her, to ensure this cycle does not continue and move forward in your life. 

To begin with, please take some comfort in knowing you absolutely can heal from this inshallah. You can create a much more positive home for your daughter where emotions are met with respect and understanding. It takes bravery and personal insight to be able to recognize this type of toxic behavior

I Don't Know How to Forgive My Mother - About Islam

I encourage you to be aware that it is possible you are displacing emotions from your divorce onto your mother. I am not excusing her behavior towards you, and you are correct that it is unhealthy.

However, please be aware if you are still healing from your divorce then it is possible your currently intense emotions towards her are not 100% about her. They may entail feelings about your ex-husband which are not fully resolved combined with your feelings about her. 

Healing 

Sister, healing from divorce takes time. No matter what it is he did or did not do, it is in your best interest emotionally to forgive and move on with your life. Holding onto negative emotions towards him will only continue your own hurt.

I encourage you to seek out personal counseling so you can work on these emotions in a safe and therapeutic environment.

As you mentioned growing up in a home that did not encourage healthy discussion over emotions, counseling can help in showing you examples of how to express emotions and understand them better in others. 

You can also consider having your mother attend counseling sessions with you. Your mother may not realize how negative her reactions are, or the impact they had on you. A counselor acts as an unbiased mediator to help you and her navigate this in a respectful way.

Your mother may have had good intentions and felt she was helping you to grow stronger but didn’t realize her behavior was hurtful and negative. If you don’t feel comfortable with in-person counseling, you can consider online counseling. 

Coping Skills and Self Care  

I understand divorce and facing childhood concerns are difficult.  I encourage you to determine at least 3 positive coping skills to help you during this time.

Coping skills are essential tactics you use to cope with negative emotions and stressors. Here are a few examples you can choose from, feel free to come up with your own. 

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Reciting Quran
  • Nature walks
  • Cooking a favorite recipe
  • Taking up a new class or hobby
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Petting an animal

In addition to coping skills, you should utilize self-care to help boost your mood. Think of self-care like making yourself a priority and treating yourself better. Here are a few examples of self-care. 

  • Take a relaxing bubble bath with favorite scented soaps or bath bombs
  • Make adequate sleep a priority
  • Eat a healthier diet and try to exercise on a regular basis
  • Schedule “me time” every week that no one can interrupt where you can be alone in your thoughts and do whatever makes you feel good. If this is difficult with your child, include her in it
  • If you enjoy having beauty treatments or any of these type of spa activities, then seek them out

Support Network

You mentioned not having a social network currently to help you at this difficult time. No problem, you can begin working on this. It could even be considered part of your self-care to seek out a healthy relationship.

Think about hobbies you enjoy and find a local meetup group that engages in them. For example, if you enjoy photography, look up photography meetup groups in your area and find one that appeals to you. This can be a fun way to meet like-minded people. 

If your mosque has a group for women your age, you can get involved and make new friends in this manner. Sister, there are groups specifically for divorced women which may also provide you with a new friend that deeply understands your situation. Inshallah if you want to grow your social support network, you can. 

Stop Co-dependency

You mentioned wanting independence. My dear Sister, becoming independent following a divorce can be very beneficial, especially if you never lived independently before.

Please do not seek out any romantic relationships for a while as you heal and move forward. It can too easily pull you back into dependency on someone else while you are not done healing. 

It requires financial independence to go on your own, which is not an overnight process.

To begin with, assess your personal finances. Ensure you have a checking as well as a savings account, and make a commitment to save money every month. If you don’t already have a job, then seek one out. 


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Once you have a regular paycheck, make a list with the local average rent, average utility payments, insurance costs, average grocery budget in your area and child-care payments.

Please take some comfort in knowing that as an American, you are entitled to help from the government if you need it. These include free or low-cost insurance programs as well as reduced childcare costs.

You can also be eligible for food stamps to help you purchase groceries. Contact your local DSS office for information. They can let you know what you qualify for and how to obtain those services. 

I will speak to you from personal experience to inspire you. I divorced my first husband and spent years alone with my daughter. It was one of the best times of my life.

My daughter and I grew very closely bonded as we were a united small team. It also taught me that I can always stand on my own. 

Love 

Please understand, it is better to learn how to love yourself before you try to love someone else again in an intimate manner. Take this time to focus on you, your daughter and healing with your mother inshallah.

If she is not open to counseling or talking about your emotions in a healthy manner, then the most you can do is make duaa for her and move forward in obtaining your independence.

Your happiness is in your hands, Sister, not in hers. As you identify your positive coping skills, work on self-care and strive towards independence; inshallah you’ll find a greater love for yourself. 

To summarize your next steps forward:

  • Consider personal counseling as well as counseling with your mother
  • Work on forgiveness. A counselor can help you in this
  • Identify coping skills as well as self-care actions
  • Work on building a new social support network
  • Work on building your independence
  • Focus on self-love, not external love

As always, please make frequent duaa and ask Allah (swt) to help you on this path. May Allah (swt) heal your heart and guide your steps,

Ameen. 

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Monique Hassan
Monique Hassan graduated with honors in 2012 with her BSc in Psychology and a minor in Biology and is certified in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. She has years of professional as well as personal experience with trauma, relationship struggles, substance abuse, identifying coping skills, conflict resolution, community outreach, and overall mental health concerns. She is a professional writer specialized in Islamic Psychology and Behavioral Health. She is also a revert who took her shahada in 2015, Alhamdulillah. You can contact Sister Monique Hassan via her website "MoniqueHassan.com"