The Sad List A Father Carried Around For 15 Years & How His Son Forgave Him

"I don't think I get to judge it," Logan Cohen explained.

son forgiving father seb_ra / Getty Images Pro via Canva

If you are anything like me, you know that families are not always positive, loving, and filled with our "ride or die" people. Some families are woven with pain, conflict, and, ultimately, forgiveness. 

Author, therapist & trauma coach Logan Cohen can relate. He grew up with a mother who inflicted profound emotional abuse upon him, a story he tearfully revealed in the YourTango podcast Open Relationships: Transforming Together


Cohen opened up about his father, burdened by a list of reasons to stay, and shared how he found the strength to forgive despite so many years of witnessing and experiencing her abuse toward Logan. 

This poignant tale unfolds against the backdrop of Cohen's mother's cruelty, revealing the transformative power of forgiveness and the enduring bond between father and son.

RELATED: What It's Like To Be Raised By An Abusive Mother


Why Did Cohen's Father Stay With An Abusive Partner?

For Cohen's father, the decision to stay was not just a matter of commitment; it was a silent pact with himself, inscribed in a list he carried for 15 years. 

"He carried a list in his wallet at all times of reasons to stay and reasons to go. He was close to leaving several times," Cohen explained.

Each entry on that list represented a plea for endurance — a plea to weather the storm of his wife's abuse, to hold fast to the fragments of their fractured family, and to find solace amidst the chaos that threatened to consume them.

Cohen's mother, a figure shrouded in darkness, wielded words like weapons, inflicting wounds that scarred more deeply than any physical blow. Submission rituals dominated her behavior as a way to control her environment and the people around her. 


Cohen stated that his mother also had multiple diagnoses, like bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.

@healinghumanity777 Story time with @Andrea Miller from @YourTango #storytime #trauma ♬ original sound - Logan Cohen

Her abuse was a constant presence in their home, a toxic cloud that poisoned the air they breathed and the relationships they held dear. Yet, in the face of such relentless cruelty, Cohen's father normalized the behavior, accepting it as an unavoidable facet of their reality.

Cohen said, "She had a miserable life. I grew up being her primary emotional companion and I got so burned out on it. I realized that empathy toward her subjective worldview was dangerous. I didn't empathize with how she saw things because they were weaponized a lot."


But for Cohen, the weight of his father's silence was too heavy to bear.

RELATED: What It's Like To Mourn The Death Of My Abuser: My Own Mother

In a moment of courage born from years of silent suffering, he extended the olive branch of forgiveness to his father, offering his father a lifeline in the midst of their shared turmoil. 

Cohen revealed, "It started with 'Why? Why did you partner with her?' Then it got more into 'Why did you stay?'"

It was a testament to Cohen's resilience, a refusal to be defined by the pain of the past, and a beacon of hope in a world fraught with darkness.

A list of reasons to stay or leave 

And then Cohen's father revealed the list he had carried with him for so long — a litany of reasons to stay/go, etched into the very fabric of his being. Each entry spoke volumes of his enduring love for Cohen's mother, his unwavering commitment to their family, and his silent plea for redemption.


"It was a constant juggle between trying to figure out what the right thing to do was. In the end, he just ended up doing what he knew to do well as a provider and work a lot," Cohen discussed his conversation with his father, "He still wonders if that was the right choice."

In that moment of vulnerability, father and son stood on the precipice of healing, their hearts vulnerable amidst the wreckage of their shared pain. And as Cohen looked upon the list that had shaped his father's existence, he saw not just a catalog of grievances, but a testament to his father's strength — a strength forged in the crucible of adversity, tempered by the fires of love and sacrifice.

As Cohen answered when asked what he thought of his father's decision, "I don't think I get to judge it."

Cohen never reconciled with his mother but did forgive her, "I forgave her in what I think forgiveness should actually be. We never reconciled. Anytime I would try to have a real conversation with her about stuff it would end in power control tactics."


In the end, theirs is a story of redemption — a story of a father and son who found the courage to confront the demons of the past, to embrace the light of forgiveness, and to forge a new path forward, hand in hand. 

And as they embark on this journey together, they carry with them the knowledge that no matter what trials may lie ahead, they will face them as a family, united in their shared humanity and their unwavering belief in the power of love.

RELATED: My Mom Chose An Abusive Man Over Her Own Child


Deauna Roane is a writer and the Editorial Project Manager for YourTango. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.