The theme for this month’s #1000Speak post is one that I feel completely unqualified to write about. Forgiveness.
It’s not something I write about often (or that I’ve ever written about here at length), but the reason I feel unqualified is because I believe that there are, sometimes, things that you just can’t forgive or forget.
My parent’s divorce was complicated by my father’s bitterness. He is a passionate person, and could not forgive my mother for not “trying”, in the same way my ex is unable to get over the fact that I left. The truth is, in both cases, my mother and I tried as hard as we could for longer than we should have. We both gave of ourselves to men that took and took and took, and never returned. The end of both of our relationships with our husbands was inevitable. And, similarly, the amount of conflict that followed our breakups was also inevitable.
I had been very close to my father when I was a child. He was, for the most part, a good father. He encouraged my creativity. He made opportunities for us to learn and grow and discover the world. As happens in some families, when my sister was born, he took over primarily for my care. As my mother bonded with my sister, he took on bonding with me. We had a similar mindset. We laughed at the same jokes. We both had a creative flair.
I’m sure I had seen elements of his bitterness prior to my parent’s split when I was fourteen. I don’t know how aware of it I was at the time. I was just starting to come out of my cocoon. Emerging to find out who I was going to be. Testing my wings so that eventually I could leave the nest. And, as most teenagers tend to be, I was focussed on myself.
Despite my parent’s divorce, I did try to have a relationship with my father after his divorce. My sister, perhaps wiser than me at the time, quickly refused to continue her exposure to the bitterness that flavored our every interaction with him. Each visit was tainted. He spewed his bitterness of our mother. Burdened us with his issues. He was unable to let go and climb out – eventually finding a woman who was similarly “afflicted” by her divorce so they could live out their bitter lives together.
He also made it clear to both of us that he was focused on me – to the exclusion of my sister. He thought that since they had two children, I should come live with him, and my sister would stay with my mother, and wouldn’t that be perfect. My mother refused. She knew that if we had any hope of a relationship that my sister and I needed to grow up together. Still – it had it’s effect. My sister and pay lip service to our relationship – but given time and distance, it really doesn’t exist beyond a couple visits a year.
With my father though, at the time, I pushed for more contact. I was the chosen one. He needed me. I would help him through it.
He was late, forgot my birthday, more than once didn’t even show up. He drank. And drove. And lied.
I forgave. I tried harder. I involved him. Invited him. Almost begged to have him in my life.
I did realize eventually that he was beyond help. It wasn’t fixable. I couldn’t make him be what I needed any more than I could be what he needed. I cut off contact just as I started my relationship with my husband – ironically starting the same cycle all over again – trying to fix something in my husband that I hadn’t been able to fix in my father.
In our thirties, my sister reached out to my father as my Gran got sick. She has reached her own forgiveness, settled for herself something that I am both unable and unwilling to do. She spends time with him, not a lot – and he’s still abusive – but she feels the need to let her children know him.
I don’t feel the same need. Even as I write this I feel no emotion. I’m just done. I’ve outgrown it. And even twenty years since we last spoke – I can’t see myself changing my mind. There are some things that just can’t be forgiven.
I don’t know how much of a #1000Speak post this was. But there it is. My feelings on forgiveness – are forgiving myself for giving up. There are times when things will not change no matter how much you try. And I think you need to forgive yourself – for letting those poisonous relationships go before they consume you.
000 Speak is an international blogging movement to add compassion to the world. Every month on the 20th, each blogger who contributes has a different take on the month’s theme. January’s theme is forgiveness.
Image Credit (Edited): Supertrooper / freedigitalphotos.net
Follow Live by Surprise on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Bloglovin
Hugs, Liv!!! Thank you so much for sharing this honest truth about yourself, your dad, your ex. Like the others say, forgiveness is for the person who is doing the forgiving…that you found a way to forgive yourself and find peace with how your relationship with your dad ended…that’s so awesome. I also agree that there’s nothing to forgive yourself for…to preserve your sanity, safety, soul…you had to do what you needed to do to live a loving life. We can’t change the people who hurt us. <3
No, we can’t indeed.
Forgiving yourself for giving up is a major step – and it might even be enough in your case, as it was in mine with my father. Forgiveness is for the forgiver, not the transgressor. It’s for you to find inner peace & move on. You’ve moved on. But forgetting isn’t really part of the equation either – you never forget & thinking that you should be able to is why so many people have trouble forgiving.
No. I don’t think forgetting should be part of the equation. Remembering helps us grow and learn – and not repeat our mistakes.
absolutely – and forgetting is an impossible goal, anyway. That silly ‘forgive & forget’ advice, though, is why so many people think that they cannot forgive unless they can forget – so they don’t forgive and all that does is cause internal anguish.
Forgiveness is for the person forgiving, and I think that forgiving yourself for letting go is brave and smart. So many people spend their lives chasing after the idea of a relationship that will never happen. You can’t change the other person, you can only choose to change how you react, and that’s what you did.
I did. Thanks Dana.
I think that this is exactly what 1000Speaks is about – telling the truth and telling it honestly, even when it’s not pretty. And also I’m so sorry that this is how it was for you and hope that in another 20 years, your story here will have changed, maybe, although I know that’s more about me than this so again will just say thank you.
I agree. There are some things that people do where they do not deserve forgiveness. It’s even harder when it is a family member who betrays you.
It is. They’re supposed to have your back. Thanks Marcia.
I think this is a #1000Speak post on forgiveness…you have forgiven yourself for choices you made that you felt guilty over. <3
I have. It’s the best I can do. Thank you.
I totally agree, Liv. We aren’t the popular ones having this point of view, either. When it comes to protecting self, then letting go is the only answer. I can relate to the Husband an father similarities. Sigh.
Here’s hoping that both of us are the last ones that are part of those cycles. Thanks Lisa.
I’m sad to read about your difficult family dynamics. Divorce is tough and children take on responsibility for what is not their fault. My parents divorced when I was 2 weeks old. I’ve never seen my dad and that pain impacted me for many years. I’m making peace with the past. One thing I learnt is forgiveness cannot be rushed.
Yes…I read your post today and I know you can relate to some of what I’ve gone through. Thank you for reading.
This is a tough read. I can see why you don’t go out of your way to forgive him. Forgiveness is a very personal thing. It is your right to give it or withhold it.
Oh man, I am sorry that you’ve been through all of this. I salute you for your honesty and your strength.
Man, forgiveness is freakin hard. Especially with parents. I just read Kristi’s post and now this, and I’m all mulling over forgiveness.
I was thinking today about someone in the blog world who wronged me.. and that I hadn’t thought about this person in ages.
It is indeed. Sometimes the best you can do is forgive yourself and move on. But don’t forget. Remember so it doesn’t happen again.
A tough read indeed, my dear, and I’m so sorry you went through such trauma with your dad, and that he was such a colossal prick to you 🙁 I don’t know that you need to forgive yourself for deciding to break ties with him. Perhaps you do if you felt guilty about it, but honestly, I think you’ve done what you needed to do for YOU, and set a boundary.
I did. Thanks Lizzi. It felt good to get it out.
You aren’t alone. Forgiveness is the hardest HARDEST quality to acquire…I don’t even know if quality is the right word, but hopefully you get me drift. You gave it your best shot though with your father, and sometimes you just have to “be done.” This was a powerful, authentic post. And sometimes just being honest with ourselves about our ability or inability to forgive is forgiveness in itself.
Your poignant post is difficult to read. I can’t forgive my husband’s ex, who did everything to minimize his existence in his daughters life. Long ago, he had forgiven his ex for having an affair and ultimately leaving the marriage, right after the death of his brother. My husband was reeling from the loss and she, a very wealthy women, went after him and his business, that she had no part of creating. While the ex and my husband had joint custody, there was always some reason that our daughter could not come to our house at the appointed time – a party on her side of town, a doctor’s appt that could have been scheduled anytime. My husband refused to let his ex deny access to their daughter and continued to stay actively involved and engaged throughout her life. I will never forgive the nastiness of my husband’s ex, gratuitously removing him for school lists and doctors’ emergency numbers. In retrospect, it shows how insecure she was about her relationship with their daughter which, ironically, only made their daughter closer to her father, a refuge from all the fighting at the mother’s home. Intentional meanness should never be forgiven.
It is ironic how their insecurity and their efforts to abate it actually result in the opposite effect. I’m going through similar things with my ex and my kids. You’re right though. Especially when it’s your own children – some things cannot be forgiven.