Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cultivating Confidence-Kristin's story

I grew up in an abusive home. My mother was the abuser. I don’t think she ever intended to be an abuser; she’s not a mean spirited person by birth. But she is a troubled person with a lost soul and an inability to cope with life’s stresses. She had a rotten childhood and I’m sure struggled with her own self esteem issues (in fact, I know she did). But the difference between me and her is that alcohol was her coping skill and I chose forgiveness. As an adult, I feel sorry for her, but there was a time I also felt sorry for me.

Growing up with a mom who is an alcoholic does tremendous damage to a young girl’s self esteem, not to mention the fact that the one woman in the world who is supposed to be your role model is absolutely incapable of fulfilling that role. I never felt like she really accepted me or loved me for who I was. I was too fat – she doesn’t like fat people. I was clumsy and awkward. I had glasses and acne. And, I had a broken heart. She probably has no clue the extent of the damage she did to me because we just don’t talk about it. It’s still a secret to most of people in the town where I grew up. But, when I found myself going down the wrong road, making terrible decisions, and putting my life in danger, I made the conscious decision that my life would be different. I would not be a statistic. I would not repeat her mistakes and end up with a miserable regret-filled life.

I had a few great close friends that I could confide in, and through the grace of God I was also provided some adult women role models who are strong, caring and loving, who provided the guidance and support my own mother could not. I had my dad too, who I am close to, even though he was a total enabler for my mother’s addiction. Through therapy I learned to accept myself. But the one key for me to move forward was forgiving my mother. Now, I didn’t say I have forgotten all that I went through. But it’s a lot of work to carry around anger, resentment and sadness, and I just don’t have the time or energy to waste on those emotions. I wrote her a card telling her I forgave her, and never gave it to her, but that was enough – I got it out on paper. Do I like how I grew up? No. Would I change it if I could? Yes. But, you know, it shaped me into the person I am today. It’s through those experiences that I learned what NOT to be. I learned what kind of mother I would not be to my future children. I learned to work through difficult situations and cope with the stress in a healthy way – not by drinking myself into oblivion. I learned that you create your own happiness. I learned how to trust in God. But most importantly, I had to forgive to let go. And I vowed that if given the chance, I would get it right with my own child.

I have a relationship with my mother today, and it’s amicable, but we’ll never be close. We don’t have the kind of relationship that some of my friends have with their mothers, which I do kind of envy. But, now it’s my turn to live up to my promise to God. I have a beautiful, amazing little girl who has changed my life and made me realize there are no limits to the amount of love I have for her. I would do anything for her. I would die for her. I will choose my words wisely and never put her down or ridicule her. I want her to be strong, independent, and confident in herself. I will always lift her up. Even though I was terrified to be a mother, I am proud of myself. I am not perfect, but I am doing my absolute best to lead her down the right path and give her a strong foundation for creating her own happy, fulfilled life.


  1. Very powerful story, and lovely photographs of a strong, beautiful woman!