She wanted to die, until she entered a church by chance: "The words of the priest hit me right in the heart."
“Born one year after my brother, I was immediately rejected by my mother who had a grievance against daughters. She subjected me to many physical and verbal abuses. She kept telling me that I was a piece of trash to be run over in a gutter. I ended up believing it and accumulated failures.”
It is without anger that Martine L., a retired policewoman, relates her painful childhood with a truck driver father who was always absent and an abusive mother whose alcohol abuse made her drift towards more and more violence.
At the age of 16, the young girl was forced to work 10 hours a day cleaning houses to earn money for her mother. But just when she was becoming an adult, she had an argument that was much worse than usual with her mother, and she rebelled. In retaliation, she found herself on the street, and sank into alcohol, drugs, and sex.
“However,” she continues, “deep down, I had the desire to get out of it. Although God was totally absent from my life at the time, I believe today that my baptism, received at the age of 2 by pure tradition, gave me an inner strength.”
The state having granted her housing, Martine worked at odd jobs and studied by correspondence. At the age of 24, she managed to join the police force. She had the opportunity for a more stable life, which made her believe in the possibility of happiness. She fell in love with a fellow officer, got married, and buried her tragic past deep inside.
Saved at the last moment
However, the prospect of motherhood reopened her wounds. How could she become a mother when she had been so brutally rejected by her own? Two abortions and two miscarriages later, Martine divorced and found herself homeless for the second time, at the age of 42. “My life was a litany of suffering. I was broken inside … I thought that only death could give me peace of mind.” The day she decided to act, she forgot her service weapon at home. “It’s a matter of days,” she thought, determined to end it all.
Some mysterious force led this pure atheist to push open the door of a church. She found herself in the middle of a Catholic Mass, and a beneficent Presence came to counteract her plan.
“The words of the priest hit me right in the heart, and I collapsed in tears…” Moved by her distress, a parishioner came to offer her help.
Thus began a long journey of reconciliation with herself: confession, a 24-month catechumenate, confirmation, and a two-year journey within a Camille de Leilis Fraternity, under the aegis of the Community of the Beatitudes.
In order to heal in depth, she went to a session of “agape therapy.”
“I revisited my past under the gaze of the Lord, in an atmosphere of total benevolence. I was moved to the depths of my heart but overwhelmed by the power of fraternal prayer. Then came the day when the person accompanying me urged me to forgive my mother … I was at peace with almost every part of my life, except that one: I was bursting with hatred for the one who had done me so much harm.”
Forgiveness from on high
Torn by anger, Martine turned to Heaven for help: “In response, I heard a voice inside me saying, ‘I want you to stand up! Choose the path of life, by forgiving your mother. If you refuse this forgiveness, you will go astray on the paths of death that have marked your life since childhood.’ Seized by this warning, I entered the chapel and begged the Lord to put in my heart this forgiveness that I felt totally unable to pronounce. Instantly, this grace was granted to me, at the same time that a torrent of peace poured into my whole being.”
Following this decisive episode, Martine wrote a letter to her mother, who had died two decades earlier, and went to her grave to lay it down.
“Forgiving the woman who had been my tormentor opened a new path of life for me. And when the suffering of not having been able to start a family becomes haunting, I place this cross in the hands of Christ. He helps me carry it, because now and forevermore He is everything to me.”
Martine has shared her story in a book, “Le jour où j’ai pardonner les crachats de ma mère” (“The day I was able to forgive my mother for spitting on me,” currently available only in French).