Day 04 – Something you have to forgive someone for.
Stick with me on this, I promise the questions later on in the month are a bit happier. Since I don’t currently harbor any unforgiveness, I’ll talk about an experience in the past.
I had to forgive my birth father for leaving me. I know that sounds all emo, but as a child I really had terrible mixed-up feelings about the whole situation. One of my little regrets in life is that I never got up the courage to ask my Mom more about him before she died (I always thought I’d have more time with her).
I don’t know a whole lot about him. I know his name. I initially thought he lived in Ohio (where I was born) but now I’m not so sure, as evidence points to her maybe getting pregnant with me while she was in Florida. So any real leads I might have been able to develop are pretty much gone. All I really have is his name penciled in on my birth certificate, the knowledge that he left my mom when she was pregnant and her words, “he was an asshole. Don’t ask me about him, it will upset your dad.”
But I was so angry at him as a child. Especially when stuff was tough – when my dad yelled at me, when my step-sisters made me one of the least popular kids in middle school (honestly they didn’t have to work hard at that, I’m kind of a nerd), when I was lonely and searching for meaning. I didn’t understand how someone could leave me before even getting to know me. I wanted to know what parts of me were from him – I’m the spitting image of my mother and can’t pinpoint a single physical trait I could attribute to the other half of my genetics. I’m grateful for that, but it also made me that much more curious.
I harbored a lot of unforgiveness at him for a really long time. It seemed like the majority of men in my life left when stuff got difficult – whether emotionally, physically or mentally. He was the same. I didn’t like it, I didn’t understand it, and it made me angry at him.
So… how did I forgive him? Honestly, it was at a Christian girls camp. I know how hokey this is, trust me. But one of the themes of the camp was forgiveness and they encouraged us to write a letter to a family member that had hurt us. I wrote to him. I told him how angry I was that he left, how I was mad that I would probably never meet him and how much I thought he would regret his decision to leave if he knew me now. And as hokey as it is… over time… it helped. I wrote him that letter, and then another, and another. I told him all about my life, the school I was going to, the classes I was taking, the loves of my life, my family that I had that I loved.
Eventually the anger faded. So did my desire to meet him, though. I mean, don’t get me wrong, if I was contacted by him now I’d probably do anything in my power to meet him. But I doubt I’ll go searching for him anytime soon. My dad, even though the ending of his life was tragic, was an amazing father to me. He loved me as if I was one of his own and I never felt left out of his affection. He raised me from 2 years old to be strong, ethical and to work hard for the things in life that are important to me. I wish so much he hadn’t lost sight of his own lessons, but that’s a different topic for a different day. He was an amazing father and I did not really feel the absence of a father’s affection. I guess that made not knowing my birth father bearable until I could get through the anger.
Sometimes I do wonder about him. I had promised myself I wouldn’t look for him until my Dad was dead, because I couldn’t bear him to think I was trying to replace him. But now… now it just doesn’t seem like such a big deal. I guess time helps with that.