Forgiveness is something that has been on my mind lately. Valentine’s Day just passed, and my dad sent me a text while I was at work that day. It read, “Happy Valentine’s Day. Love you.” It took me by surprise. That was the first time he’d tried contacting me in weeks, and the time before that, he had had my phone number blocked.
My initial reaction to the text was uncontrollable tears in my eyes. Then I tucked my phone away, unsure of what to say in that moment - and unsure of what to say until I sent him a response the next day.
Soon after that, however, came a flash of anger. Who does he think he is? Aren’t I worth more? Doesn’t he know it’s going to take more than that for us to have any kind of genuine relationship? What an insult to my intelligence and my development - to think that I’d be clinging to my phone or computer, aching for any sort of contact from him.
But I didn’t reply. I had to let it process for several hours until I finally said, “I’m worth more than the occasional text. Communicate with quality and sincerity or don’t communicate at all. Love yourself and then maybe I can feel your love and believe it.”
He didn’t reply, and I knew he wouldn’t. I didn’t get any sort of satisfaction out of it either, contrary to what he must have been thinking.
I’ve still been mulling over it, and finally realized that I have not fully forgiven my dad. And I suppose there is really no such thing as a partial forgiveness. I’ve wrestled with it - am I ready to really forgive him? How do I go about doing it? Do I tell him? What do I gain from not forgiving him?
I am realizing that putting off forgiveness gives me a false sense of power. I gain nothing - nothing positive, anyway. All I get is a wrenching anxiety that creeps up out of my subconscious and plays out in my daily, conscious life. I attract those that I am familiar with - whether I realize it or not. I believe I can heal those who desperately need it, when in reality, I can only guide them to themselves. I cannot reach inside and mend all the pieces back together - just like no one could mend all of my pieces but me.
I can’t do that for my dad either, and I am now beginning to accept that. His emptiness, his disconnect from himself - which disconnects him from everything else - his thirst for power and status to mask his great weaknesses - none of these are a reflection of me. None of these are things that I can do anything about.
In realizing his humanity, I forgive him.
Some flaws are more deeply entrenched in some than in others. Some may stay stagnant for decades, constantly running and crashing into themselves. Some may hold onto pain because it is all they know and all that they have built their entire identities around.
My father is my father, but he is no deity. Like all of us living, breathing, mortal humans, he is on his own path. And on mine, I see now where I have to transcend my own anger and hurt and look to see… he, too, needs compassion.
In loving myself enough to know that I must set my pain free, I am able to love him too.