Reminds me a bit of myself and my family
My father and I have never had a great relationship. By that I mean we actually had a pretty terrible one.
My parents separated when I was quite young. They lived on opposite sides of the state. My father would come to our house for the holidays, but when he did, things didn’t always go smoothly. I remember screaming fights late into the night. I remember being so young and not being able to understand the things that were happening.
I remember wishing that my father was around more.
As I grew older, things didn’t change all that much. My parents officially got divorced. I spent every other weekend and six weeks of the summer with my father. Which meant my sister and I spent a lot of time with our grandparents because my dad worked long hours.
When he was around, it always seemed like he was trying to buy our love. He bought us hamsters and cats, model airplanes and video games. I loved these things, but I always longed for more. I wanted his approval. I wanted a father that would be around for more than just the weekend. I wanted a father who didn’t drink when he was around his children.
I wanted his time.
“Give me a reason for everything you’ve done. Tell me this one thing, did you ever believe in me?”
The years passed, and I became bitter. I resented him for taking me away from my friends for the summer. I resented him for making me quit basketball so I could see him on the weekends. We fought more. He drank more. I just wanted to stay with my mom all the time. He blamed my mom for making me feel that way and took it out on me. The fights and the drinking were wearing on me.
I was being emotionally abused, and I wasn’t aware. He would tell me one thing but tell my family another. He turned a lot of my family against my mom and me. I became depressed. I pulled away from my friends because they didn’t understand what I was going through. It seemed as though they had perfect families. I, on the other hand, was struggling. I still had to visit my dad, but those visits were filled with yelling matches and panic attacks.
I stopped wishing my father was around more. I wanted nothing to do with him.
“I’ve spent too many nights waiting for you to come back around, to come back to this town.”
The next five years were filled with family fights. They were filled with bitterness and resentment, anger and pain. I would forgive my dad, only for the cycle to start all over again. I wanted nothing more than for things to be normal. I wanted the pain to go away. I wanted a “normal family.”
In the past few years, things started to change. I’ve grown up, and I feel like with that, I matured a lot. I am stronger than I once was. I am able to acknowledge the pain that my dad caused, without feeling bitter or angry.
Recently, my father wrote me a letter. He admitted that he knows he caused me pain. In a roundabout way, he apologized. He explained himself, and admitted that he is hurting, too. I can see now that my dad is broken, just like me. We are all broken in some way.
I’ve started to see things from his point of view. I’ve started to reach out to him when I know he is struggling. I started to make some changes in the way that I think.
“And I know that you’re broken. And I know that you’ve given up. And I know you are scared.”
I responded to his letter. I told him I forgive him. I forgive him for all the pain that he has caused. I told him I understand that people make mistakes. I told him that everyone is broken. I told him I want him in my life. I told him that I love him.
There is no doubt that my dad and I still have some work to do. The past isn’t erased, but the future can still be built. It’s not perfect, but now I call him just to talk. I made plans to visit him once the internship is over. I am willing to put the past behind me and try to build a relationship with him. All I can do outside of that is hope he is willing to continue to do the same for me.
“You’ve given every reason for all the things you’ve done. So could you honestly tell me that you’re still sorry? Oh, I meant every word I said.”
Forgiveness isn’t an easy thing, and it doesn’t always work. I’m prepared to give it a chance. I now have relationships built on trust and honesty. I have people in my life that know about my past, and they stand behind me no matter what. If forgiveness doesn’t work, I have my community to back me up.
I guess the moral of the story is this: things can change. Things can get better. Pain can ease over time. It is possible to let the past go. It might not seem like it in the moment, but it can happen. Try to believe it. Try to believe in you.
Spring 2012 Intern