Anger and Forgiveness

I watched this video and it struck a note with me…

It may not hit you the same unless you know someone who ‘used to be’ more than what they are today.  I have not seen my father in almost two years.  Visits with him before that were maybe once yearly.  He has not met my youngest son.

My father chose drugs and alcohol over family.  He chose drugs and alcohol over almost everything else in his life.  While I have a handful of good memories about him, most are not.  I remember nights spent in terror as he yelled at and beat my mother.  I remember praying that he would just not come home for the night even at the age of eight. That we could all get some sleep and not worry whether he would kill my mother, or turn on us as well…Those are not pleasant memories.

My father is a subject I’d rather not discuss most of the time.  He never attended any school functions or graduations.  He was not at my wedding or the following ceremonies.  He didn’t watch as I became a mother and has never came to any of my children’s birthday parties. He was invited to it all.

I pretend that I don’t care. That I wrote him off long ago when he chose to make alcoholism and drug addiction the main priority in his life. But I do care. I still have the book of poems he wrote in his youth, and handed down to me as a teenager.  I see him every time I look in a mirror because I have his eyes, his nose…I have his temper, I have his passion for writing. And a love of music. But I do not have his addiction and that is forever what will set us apart.

angry

I will always wonder what he would’ve been.  I wonder if he ever really thinks of me and my children.  If he knows how much I loathe drugs. And that I really detest alcohol although I’ve tried it on occasion.  I have never liked it.  I wonder if the reason is that I know what it can do if you let it.

My mother didn’t deserve what my father turned in to.  But she is an amazingly strong and caring mother who has taught me to be kind, but not to back down.  She might have been hurt when he finally decided to leave us.  But truthfully, I was relieved.  I thought she deserved happiness and freedom.  I am overjoyed to have watched her get both.

It angers me greatly when people tell me I need to ‘reach out more’ or be more forgiving.  I have never turned my father away when he asks to see me, but I will not bend over backwards for someone who puts no effort into a relationship with me. He hasn’t picked up a phone to call me in probably a decade.  He’s never shown up to my house for a visit or even sent a letter.  I’ve heard of rehab and promises to change for years.  But I have no hope in change or patience left to wait for it.

And then I saw the video above and it brought back all the raw anger and hurt. Mostly the hurt.  We become angry because we’ve been hurt.  We stay angry by choice and unwillingness to forgive.  I’ve been angry for many, many years.  For my sanity, for my peace, it is something I need to let go of.

I cannot change the past.  I don’t know that I have the courage to attempt changing a future I feel is already set in place.  But if we don’t try, then how do we know?

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