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Love Beats Hate: How to Have a Happy Ending

February 27, 2011

(This posting is my contribution to the Love Beats Hate event. Visit to connect with a whole slew of writers blogging about the power of love.)

Once upon a time there was a woman, a teenager, and a preschooler.

They were part of a fun family. There always seemed to be lots of love shared and lots of good times.

One day the preschooler let the woman know that the teenager was doing bad things. If you make a list of the three worst things your child could tell you, what the teenager was doing is probably on that list. The family was ripped apart. The teenager went away for several years. The preschooler struggled with feeling safe, and the woman wrestled with many internal demons.

For a while she was consumed with rage. Then she was devoured by guilt. She then grieved at the loss of her baby’s innocence. And much of this was laced with feelings of hatred. Sometimes she found herself awash in all of these emotions and more… mostly very negative emotions. The struggle to forgive, the fight to love was losing ground. The inherent wrongness of the situation was overshadowing what really needed to be done.

It was easy to get lost. Broken trust. Immense betrayal. The realization that all she had been seeing was a sham. The teenager was someone she had seen grow up… since younger than her now-preschooler. Someone she had always loved… until now?

As time went by and she often felt consumed by hatred of what had happened, anger at the teenager, sadness at the horrific turn her life had taken, paranoia that something similar would again happen within the family, her life lost its joy. Then someone told her something that completely opened her eyes and turned her around:

Hatred is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

You can substitute other things in for “hatred”… ‘failure to forgive’ and ‘resentment’ immediately come to mind. Once you wrap your brain around these words, it all makes perfect sense that the way is love.

After the teenager had been in a program for a few years, it was time for the woman to visit and participate in the treatment. It had been years since they had seen each other. The teenager, who was now a young adult, read aloud a letter. In it egregious actions were acknowledged, heart-felt apologies were tendered and a summation of the few years’ hard work was given. Forgiveness was mentioned.

“I don’t know if you will ever be able to find it in your heart, nor am I in a position to ask it of you, for I am the very definition of ‘monster.’”

“No,” the woman said gently. “What you did was monstrous… but YOU are not a monster. I do forgive you… though I’ll never be able to forget. I love you. I want you to succeed.”

The welling tears, which had been held back by the thick fringe of lower lashes, burst their constraints, spilling down the cheeks below and dripping off of the jaw. The woman began to cry, too. She asked if she might be allowed to hug the teenager and was told “yes.” The two embraced for many minutes… years of love exchanging between the two of them, years of wounds being healed. It was hard for them to let go. It was as if they were clinging to each other for their very lives.

It was a pivotal moment in the teenager’s treatment and healing. Being offered and receiving the woman’s love would be the tipping point. Without it, progress would slam to a halt and the healing work for all parties could only grind along at a maintenance level.

If she hadn’t shown love to the teenager… if she hadn’t dug down deep and found the power of love and forgiveness… there would have been no further healing. There would have been no hope… for any of them.

XLMIC is the stepmom of 6 grown children and mother to 4 young children.

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