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Forgiving My Father

Forgiving My Father

There is no deeper wound than abandonment by a parent. After 10 years, I wanted to heal.

by Anonymous

Every year on July 22, I celebrate my birthday. I might get together with friends, or perhaps go away on vacation. There's only one thing I know for sure. On July 22, I plan to call my father so he can wish me a happy birthday. My dad knows it's my birthday, and I know he wants to talk to me, but he is unable to call.

Growing up, I went to a private school on scholarship. Most of the other kids' parents were successful in business, and could afford the tuition. My mom was a housewife, and my dad a carpenter -- when he went to work. There were many times my father was out of work, putting an even bigger financial strain on the family. Not only did we not have money, but we were also trying to "keep up with the Schwartzes." It was hard to understand what was going on in my father's life, and why he was unable to provide the life we wanted. The life I felt I deserved. I was angry and upset with my father for not properly providing for us. I blamed him personally.

As a child, I didn't know why my dad was in and out of the house, and at times he was out of work and just "not around." I know my family was trying to protect my innocence by not explaining things to me, but by not being told what was happening, I could not understand the situation. In the absence of any information, I just thought the man didn't care. Little did I know that he cared very much and simply was unable to do any more than what he did.

Maybe I am unworthy of being loved?

By the time I was old enough to comprehend the truth of the situation, I had convinced myself that my father was a terrible man who didn't love me, didn't care about me, didn't want to be a part of my life. And I thought to myself, perhaps this was because I was un-lovable? I thought, maybe I am unworthy of being loved or cared for?

I looked at the man who "made me feel this way" and blamed him for everything.

My mom and dad divorced, and as a pre-teen, I moved in with my grandmother and cut all ties with my father.

Letting Go

As I grew up, I began taking classes and reading books about self-improvement and self-empowerment. A recurring theme seemed to emerge: Fix the relationship with your father.

I was stuck in the "daddy doesn't love me" syndrome, which affected my everyday life, and all of my relationships. I knew the answer was to get over the past, and go see my father.

One of the hardest things in life is change. To be where I am is a lot easier than to implement a big change. It's just easier to go on with the hurt and pain with which I am already familiar and accustomed. To change means hard work. It means getting past the past. It may be over, but in my mind it still is very much there. To go see my father and let go of the anger and hurt was a big step. Perhaps I could just go on and forget about it.

After a slew of failed relationships, I realized I was unable to have a healthy relationship without it, and I decided to make that big step.

It wasn't easy to even find my father after all those years. I almost gave up, as the search proved to be an additional difficulty in this already pain-staking process. It would have been so easy to just stop, and go back to life as it was. But I knew I would never be able to truly go forward and let go of the past, without healing this wound.

New Light

After almost 10 years of no contact whatsoever, I went to see my father. On the way there, I envisioned the fight we would have. Perhaps I would put the blame in words, to finally express how I felt all those years. Maybe he'd have things to say to me as well. I might leave in a huff and never go back. In my mind, the possibilities were endless. And none of them were all too pleasant.

As I entered the house where my dad lives, I got the answer to a lot of my questions. My father lives in a nursing home, for the mentally ill.

He shuffled toward me and gave me a weak hug. Then we sat and talked. It was a simple conversation, no more than the level of a small child. But my healing was in that meeting.

There was no fight, no blame, no hurt. Just two people, who have love to give and desperately would like to have it reciprocated, both open to the possibility of having a new relationship.

Those years of blame, hurt and pain… all for nothing.

All those years of blame, hurt and pain! They were all for nothing. I had brought upon myself feelings of resentment toward my father, and feelings of insecurity within myself. If I had only been willing to open my eyes and see what was really happening, I could have spared myself years of hurt and pain. There is no deeper wound than the abandonment by a parent. But I was not abandoned. If anyone did the abandoning, it was me.

I now saw my dad in a whole new light. A man who gave me life, and then tried to cope as best as he could. And maybe life would have been better if I had been able to support him through his illness.

My dad was sick. And though it would be egotistical of me to think I had the right to be angry in the first place, I forgave him. I let go of the past, and recognized that it was what it was, and there is no way I can change that now. All I can do is make a new start for myself in this moment, with a pure forgiveness, from the heart, for any old "hurts."

I knew I had made mistakes as well. Perhaps all these years would have been different, if I had seen the whole picture long ago. If I had accepted my father for who he was, and who he wasn't. If I was able to look past my selfishness and realize that in a family, it's not just the parents who provide for the children, it's a team effort. I apologized to my father, and he forgave me with pleasure.

And I realized that this might even be harder than forgiving him. I began the road to forgiving myself. Realizing that the only way to make up for all those lost years is to do what's right in this moment, and avail myself to the relationship I never let us have.

Choose Life

In the Bedtime Shema prayers, there is a beautiful passage about forgiveness: "Master of the universe, I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me... whether he did so accidentally, willfully, carelessly or purposely."

There is an incredible power in forgiveness. I discovered that my forgiveness toward my father was an amazing opportunity for me to open myself to the possibility of meaningful relationships in my life. Without this, I was stuck on a merry-go-round of blame and anger.

With the power of forgiveness, anything is possible.

But with the power of forgiveness, anything is possible.

Shortly after I re-opened my relationship with my father, my life dramatically improved. My relationships were on a deeper level, and they took on more meaning. I was able to relate to people with a basis of trust and openness.

The commandment to "honor your father and mother" always had seemed to me like a one-sided deal. But now I am able to experience the benefits of this crucial part of my life. By deciding to accept my father for who he is, and who he isn't, I am able to accept others, including myself.

Now, I call my father on a regular basis, and visit him quite often. I take him on walks and sometimes we go out for dinner. I check on him to make sure he is getting along with his roommate, and that the nurses at his home are taking good care of him. God has given me a special challenge, and I am up for it. I choose my life exactly as it is. I choose my dad exactly as he is. And every day is a new opportunity to make choices in life. Today, I choose to utilize the power of forgiveness.

As I walked away from writing this article, I wondered how to end it. I flipped on the radio, and this song was playing my barest thoughts:

"I don't wanna be angry no more. It's just another heartache on my list. I don't wanna be lonely anymore."


Published: June 11, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 115

(102) Healing, December 2, 2013 6:28 PM

II believe it is good fr you to let go of the hurt by assisting others with love as best you can. Get up go and do positive things bringing healing to your life. Forgiving helps to heal the pain and deep wound. Keeping it inside digs whole deeper. Begin to close the wound with forgiveness and healing.

(101) Anonymous, May 24, 2013 6:15 AM

I have forgiven....

I was in a situation that my dad was in and out of my life because of alcohol and drugs. I thought many times that there was something that I could have done to change him but there wasn't. I felt alone because he was missing in my life and many times mad, I was a kid that just wanted that love and attention. But I am no longer upset, I have forgiven him and I am at peace. I know that he has always loved me but his addiction did not allow him to accept his responsibility of being a parent, i knew if he was there he would have been a great father since I hear so much about how people loved him! But now he has passed away and I know that he is now in peace. Love you Dad! The little time we had together will always be cherished :0)

(100) John, April 4, 2013 9:24 PM

I wish I haven't met you

My father left me and my mother when I was 1 years old. He was gone haven't heard a word or where about him. At the time my mother was too young to take care of me, and my grand mother raised me. From no where when I turn 16 I had a phone call and saying that he is my father. I was excited too meet him, it took us 2 more years to meet him for the first time. It was the most emotional moment of my life. Little I knew about him, afte spending a couple of month my dad stops talking to me for no reason. I do not know what I have done to him, and whenever I tried to talk to him, he will ignore me or walk out off the house. All suddenly we don't talk, we don't say hi, we become completely strangers. From there I start to feel depressed, and sadden that I wish I didn't meet him, or seen him. Now I am 25 years old, I have a girl friend, probably getting married soon, sometimes I felt ashemd to tell my girl friend about my father, it is just sad and depressing, and I wish I would know what I have done to him to ignore me like this. I am his only son, and I do not want anything from him except, just to be my father. :(

(99) Anonymous, February 12, 2013 1:59 PM

When I first read this article, I thought It's very similar to my situation. My father split with my mom when I was 2, and ever since I only met him very few times in my life. I'm 19 now and I can't help thinking of the last time I saw him 2 years ago when I went on vacation to his place. Memories of that event will never leave my mind. I found out my dad is a drug addict, and I spent my 'holidays' 2 months to help him in a clinic, even though this wasn't fertile, while he didn't want to help himself as the doctors said . My father has a lot of money and he never ever helped me or my mother financially, because he prefered to spend them on drugs. I tried to help him even though he never helped me, he never cared. Only thing he did was blaming my mom for everything, lying and trying to brainwash me when i was younger. Right now I study, and I can barely afford a living cause my mom's salary is very little for both of us and I work myself, and my dad still doesn't want to help. What hurts the most is that it's his choice not to help me. He's not mentally ill, I wish he couldn't help me, but he can. He just doesn't want to help his child. I can't be in a relationship for a long time because there's something missing inside me and I don't want to make anyone feel the way I do, I am sad and I can't hide it, I doIn't want to see people or go outside. I have anger issues ever since I was 13 and many fights with my mother which I now regret. I only wish I could erase the past and let go of the pain, be balanced and stop having these emotional breakouts. I wish I could go out in public, with friends around me and be a happy person.

jasmine, May 15, 2013 12:34 AM


Im so sorry for that you are the he is sick a person that uses drugs most of them would never get out of that just by the grace of God You know why you have to forgive so you can move on and can have healthy relationships with others Ask God to help you forgive him that's what you can do And just try to find people that you can relate with God bless

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