Tuesday, April 20, 2010

true forgiveness is hard.

during my work hiatus (i totally think that's what i'm going to start calling it)... we all know that i've been work on my spiritual insides. i've been reading books and trying to meditate more. i'm really trying to take significant and meaningful time for myself, my soul, connecting with the world around me... just trying to regain balance and inner peace. (i sound like a total nutjob don't i? why do i share this shit with you guys?!?!)

i know that i need to work on forgiveness. true forgiveness. i realize that the anger and hurt that i hold onto, only ends up hurting myself. i'm the one who has to suffer with those emotions and live with them on a daily basis. they don't just go away in an instant.

i have to learn how to forgive those whom i have felt hurt by. betrayed. stabbed in the back. abandoned. the one that is the hardest and the toughest is my dad. i don't post much about the fact that i don't have a relationship with my dad anymore, but it is something that crosses my mind almost daily. especially when i go to weddings and see the father of the bride so happy for his daughter.... i instantly remember that my dad chose not to go to my wedding. and it's not that i'm angry about that. it's just sad.

i'm not sure how to forgive him. maybe forgiveness comes with the realization that all of his choices and actions are his to deal with and not mine? even though they affect me, maybe they only affect me because i allow them too? fuck, i'm not a robot with no emotions or feelings. so i'm trying to sort out how to truly forgive. and move on. and then what? if you still don't want to have a relationship with your own father, does that mean you haven't truly forgiven him?

i don't know.

and what if i don't have to forgive? i mean, i'm not angry anymore. i don't have feelings of hatred or anything like that. i don't wish bad things for him and his new life. i'm not cursing his name everyday or anything. my feelings are definitely more sad and hurt than any other emotion.

maybe i'm going about this all wrong. does forgiveness only come when you are angry at someone? what if you're not angry... then what do you have to do? accept? move on? let it all go?

i guess i feel unresolved. like it's this issue that hangs over my head and heart like a tiny black raincloud that until it's fixed, it won't go away. but i'm not sure how to go about fixing.. or if that's what i want.

this is all purely selfish in a way i guess. i mean, i want to feel better. i want to accept and move on and move past so that I can feel okay. i want to do what needs to be done so that i can heal. i need to mend.

i'm just not sure how.


Audrey at Barking Mad said...

Forgiveness..true forgiveness is a journey and not a single step. I think a lot of people confuse it with forgetting. They aren't mutually exclusive but I don't think I need to tell you that. You can forgive but nothing says you have to forget...sometimes remembering keeps us from getting hurt again.

I had zero relationship with my biological dad. He bailed when I was 3 and then showed up when I was 18, newly married and hugely pregnant and talked about himself for nearly 5 hours. I talked to him maybe a handful of times from that time in 1988 to 1997 when he died. I didn't even know he died until a year after the fact. I didn't feel sad...not really. I felt, well maybe I did feel sad that he never took the opportunity to know his daughter and be a part of her life.

I hadn't even really thought about him until I read this post and realized that I did give some thought to him at weddings and wondered what it would have been like to have someone walk me down the aisle. Having my step-dad, someone who...well nevermind that...but it wasn't the same.

You don't have to want to have a relationship with your dad in order to forgive him. You can give yourself permission to let go of the baggage, the anger, and hurt and then let him deal with the rest and shoulder the burden of the realization that his actions and choices have consequences. Put the burden on him sweetie, and then maybe you'll be ready to move toward forgiving him.

Forgiveness is a really freeing thing. Not too long ago I wrote about forgiving the man who hit and killed my son...


Becky at lifeoutoffocus said...

if you figure this out, pls let me know. i struggle with this too daily.

Jill said...

To add to Audrey's fine comments remember this. You don't have to like someone to love them Jenn.

It too me 59 years to figure that out. But emotionally I was letting it cripple me and it does affect you everyday if you don't let go.

If you take the emotion out and it is possible for us crazy Virgo's to do that what do you have left. The opposite of love is not hate its disinterest. You have reached the disinterest part and all that is left is taking out the emotion and letting him be who he is. Not who you would like him to be but who he is.

The more life experience you have the better. I look at it now as he was a teacher for me. He taught me what distrust was and how it screwed up family life for all of us kids but he was and is who he is. My teacher, not of what I want but what I don't want for me.

J from Ireland said...

I'm sorry Jen but I am of no help to you, I am as bad myself. I look forward to reading the comments here, maybe learn something myself.
Audrey at Barking Mad, what a wise woman she is!

mamabird said...

And sometimes there are other options that help one respect themselves as well as let go of the hurt without saying "it's ok, go and hurt me some more" as my father has often done. I highly recommend this book that my counselor had me read while I was dealing with some huge stuff regarding my father.


Alison said...

I think the only way to rebuild your relationship with your dad is to see him and talk to him. Even though his actions started this whole thing, I do believe he's hurt and sad just like you. You were so close, Jenn, and you know it's killing him to not be a part of your life. He went about things the wrong way but he's still the same person. Your relationship will probably never be what it was, but I know you'd feel better knowing there is some relationship.

Getting in touch with my dad after his shenanigans was the hardest and best thing I ever did.

Jenny said...

I just wanted to share something that I read often . . .

We must forgive those who hurt us. The reason is simple: Bitterness and unforgiveness are claws that set their hooks deep in our hearts; they are chains that keep us held captive to the wounds and the messages of those wounds. Until you forgive, you remain their prisoner.

And ...

Forgiveness is a choice. It is not a feeling – don’t try and feel forgiving. It is an act of the will. We acknowledge that it hurt, that it mattered, and we choose to extend forgiveness to our father, our mother, those who hurt us. This is not saying, “It didn’t really matter”; it is not saying, “I probably deserved part of it anyway.” Forgiveness says, “It was wrong. Very wrong. It mattered, hurt me deeply. And I release you."

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who's father was a truly terrible person.

She came to the realization that she forgave him, but she would never forget, and had absolutely no contact with him again.

I think you can forgive the actions, and maybe even the person. You can choose to let go of the pain and hurt and emotion. But you don't have to have an emotional relationship with them once forgiveness is accomplished.

Family is harder than any other part of life.

Amanda said...

I like these kinds of posts from you...

I didn't speak to my dad for 4 years. From age 27 to 31. I got married during that time -- not only didn't he come to my wedding but he didn't even know who I had married. I stopped talking to him because I couldn't deal with hearing what a shit-tastically horrible kid I was anymore. I was done and I walked away.

I remember on 9/11 -- I had all of the thoughts that everyone had but my biggest one was "I hope that my daddy calls me to see if I'm ok - something like this has to make someone forgive someone" - but he never called. (Even typing this brings me to tears)

Then my cousin was getting married so I knew I would see him at the wedding. I didn't want her wedding to be about the fact that my dad and I had a sucky relationship -- for the bride, for her mother (my dad's sister) or for him or me so I emailed him and we reconnected. We had dinner twice before the wedding. He met my husband, I saw the home he had been living in for years. We went to the wedding and it was awkward but it was nice to be with him again - I guess mostly because he was being nice. He asked me to dance at one point and said 'we should talk about everything that happened." I said "no, it's in the past, let's just move forward."

And we did.

I have the relationship now with my father that I always wanted. He did some horrific things to me when I was a kid but they are done and I can't change them. I understand why he did but I don't forgive him -- not totally. He was responsible for those choices and decisions. But now he's a great dad. Sometimes he'll dip his toe into the territory of the past and I'll remind him that we don't go there. It is done. I think he stays in the present because he knows that I will walk away again and this time it would be forever.

It is hard -- there are times I want to demand from him to take back the past. To not have said and done the crappy things he did but time doesn't work that way. It isn't possible. A lot of therapy, a lot of meditation has helped but it isn't perfect. I still have a lot of self-confidence issues because of it -- it isn't gone from my life but I have tried to integrate it to be a part of my life that made me who I am today and that's a pretty good person.

I'm getting married this summer and I am truly grateful that my dad will be there to walk me down the aisle and to dance with me. Probably more grateful than I would have been if we had a great relationship from day 1 because I know all too well how it can be.

Love and peace to you, my dear. It isn't easy.