My recent post called Family dealing with my mother and my grandmother started me thinking about my father again. I’ve talked about the psychological abuse by my father as well as his physical abuse of my mother. If it weren’t for his insanity and abuse then I wouldn’t have been in my grandparents home where I was sexually abused almost daily for nearly 7 years. If he hadn’t threatened my mother with kidnapping me then I would have been allowed to make friends and leave the yard, thereby building my self-confidence and perhaps giving me the courage to tell as well as limiting opportunities for abuse.
About two years ago I began feeling depression creep up on me again. Something was eating at me, but I didn’t know what. After several weeks of fighting the depression, it came to me in a dream. I dreamed of my father. It was another week before I began to figure out what I needed to do. I needed to forgive him for everything he put me through in my childhood. I needed to forgive myself for hating him for so many years. I had to ease the conflict inside of me.
Once I made my mind up, I couldn’t wait. I called my mother to find out where he lived. I found myself at the door of his apartment, starting at 6 dead bolt locks on his door. Did I mention that he’s a paranoid schitzophrenic? I knocked for several minutes before he answered. He looked genuinely thrilled to see me. I didn’t know how long that was going to last because my forgiveness came with me detailing all of the wrongs I felt he handed out to me (at least some of them).
We sat at his small table, in a barely furnished apartment. There was so much clutter and junk around though, that you didn’t really notice the lack of furniture. I looked him straight in the eye and said “I forgive you for all of the things you did to me when I was a kid, and I forgive myself for hating you for it.” I felt a weight lift from me that I didn’t even realize was there. I’ve heard people say that, but I never understood just how real and physical it can be to unburden yourself.
He, of course, denied everything. He said I was brainwashed and that he never did anything wrong. But that was okay. I expected that and it didn’t matter. I know what he did and I know why I felt the way I did. This was for me, not for him. And I told him so. He said he was glad I felt better, even though I was wrong. I just smiled through my tears.
After I left I considered trying to rekindle a relationship with him. But, I’ve never been stupid and forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. I’m not a big one for repeating past mistakes if I can help it. So I just let it go. As it turned out, within 6 months he and his girlfriend perpetuated the drugging and rape of my mother. I suppose it’s true that a leopard doesn’t change his spots.
The forgiveness I granted on that day still holds. It was mostly forgiveness of myself for hating him so desperately that I wished he would just die on more than one occasion. At this point I would like to see him punished for what he did to my mother, but that is out of my control. It is her decision to have him in her life, even on the fringes. I can’t force her to make healthy and safe choices, and I’m not going to try.
But since that day, I have at least one scar that doesn’t burn anymore. And with that small measure of healing, I feel hopeful that somewhere in my future there is more to found.