Sustaining HOPE from Forgiveness

By Latonya Brown

The dictionary defines hope as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. It also defines it as a feeling of trust. When I think about the word hope it allows for me to reflect on when I first found hope along with forgiveness. From age eight to twenty-five I spent my life filled with anger, hate, and a loss of hope. I didn’t trust everyone.

I grew up with a mother who was addicted to drugs. From my understanding, she started doing drugs when I was two years old and it just spiraled out of control. I was a misunderstood child who had experienced emotional and sexual trauma. Because of my behaviors like fighting and cursing people out for talking to me, I was labeled as bad. As I grew older, I started to hate my mother. I hated the fact that she wasn’t a mother to me and was not there during the times I felt like I needed her.

She ended up moving to another state where she continued to do some of the same behaviors she had in the previous state. The behaviors led to her getting arrested and having to serve a little time in jail. Once she was released, she ended up in a release program.

At the age of twenty-five, I started attending church and building my relationship with God. One Sunday during a service the pastor said that so many times we hold on to pain and hurt while the people who hurt us are living their lives and at times, they don’t even know the hurt they caused us. That spoke to my heart. This overwhelmed my spirit.

Later that week I called my sister and asked her if she could speak with my mother and ask her to add me to her visitation list. She did! And I decided to go see her. I walked in the door, signed in and everything in me wanted to fight her when I saw her. The first words that came out of her mouth were “Hi, what do you want?” I snapped, I started cursing yelling and screaming at her. I left and when I walked out of the doors of the building, I got a huge sense of release. I felt it fall off at the door everything I have been holding in for the past twenty-five years.

Once she was released, she started to change her life. She got married, worked off and on, and tried to reach out to me here and there. I asked if I could come and ask her some questions. She said yes, Once I arrived, and asked her the questions. I realized that she could never have been a mother to me because she never had one. Nor did she know how to be one. I realized for years I punished her for something that she truly didn’t know how to be. We would have never had a mother-daughter relationship, but we were able to have a relationship. At that moment I learned forgiveness. I learned to have hope. I learned that people could change, and healing begins when you start to forgive.

Stemming from being raised in a dysfunctional environment. La Tonya knows the pain of growing up with a mother addicted to drugs. She has experienced emotional & sexual abuse. Growing up in that environment made her take a stand on her life and future regardless of how the world saw her. These experiences would have broken the souls of most people. La Tonya walks you through her journey with her relationship with her mother and how the one she felt hurt her the most was the one who healed her the most by sharing her truth. Brown was encouraged to break the cycle and make a difference. La Tonya has had many accomplishments, Receiving two college degrees. LaTonya is the founder and director of Leading Ladies incorporated (an empowerment program for teen girls), Healing from Trauma to Triumph series, and Val’s House Inc. (Sobe living house for women) La Tonya’s creativity knows no limits. She has defied the odds and continues to strive for newer heights and help the community. Come along and walk with her on her journey of truth, love, and forgiveness.