It may seem at times like I go much easier on my father than my mother when it comes to the past. This may seem unfair because after all, he contributed to the discord, violence and disharmony at home when I was a child. Both parents were alcoholics while I was growing up.
There are 3 reasons for this:
1) my father tended to lash out on an equal opportunity basis. As a kid, while that’s still difficult to deal with, it’s a bit different than having a parent specifically single you out for lashing out as my mother did. The former makes you feel unlucky to have caught the attention of the person lashing out, while the latter makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you specifically and it has nothing to do with luck or chance.
2) My father made an authentic apology as part of his amends step when he got sober and involved with AA. He actually changed his behavior after. My mother’s closest attempt at the amends step was to say, “as the child of an alcoholic, I know how hard it can be”. Even her amends step was all about her. She made some surface changes, then went back to scapegoating me. At the time of her amends step, I let her back in to support her sobriety. Letting her back into my life was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life. At one point, I thought, well at least I tried everything I could to make a mother-daughter relationship work. But I have since come to a fuller realization on how damaging it was to continue the relationship and the price I’ve paid for the additional years of emotional abuse. If I had to do it all over again, she would have NEVER been allowed back in my life after the first estrangement.
3) She continued the abuse. Sure she didn’t pull the occasional physical abuse (different than physical discipline) once I had my own place and could get away, but she continued the emotional abuse until she cut me off from contact 2 years ago. My father, in contrast, stopped any emotional abuse once he got sober.
So yes, I do “judge” them differently. But only because of the different ways they behaved towards me.
Honestly, it’s just a lot easier to forgive someone and move forward when the person shows remorse and makes real amends and changes. While it’s possible to do so with someone who doesn’t, it takes a lot more work and energy and is a lot more challenging.