Thursday, April 26, 2012

Forgiveness can take time... and that's OKAY

Something happened today that triggered something in me.

I put so much pressure on myself to be forgiving, loving, accepting, compassionate... and you know what? Sometimes I'm just NOT.

Sometimes I have to simply be ANGRY or NOT forgiving or NOT accepting. I've told myself that I should allow these hard feelings because they are human and there's not a damn thing wrong with feeling them. I've said over and over that I refuse them, hide them, try to spiritualize my way out of letting them happen.

But I have felt and allowed them before...

Allow me to share a little story of forgiveness.

*****

If you were to look back at the diary I started at age 7 or 8, you'd see "I hate Daddy" scribbled on nearly every page.

I did hate my daddy. And to think that I began feeling that at the age of my youngest daughter makes me feel very sad. As the oldest child, he was really hard on me. I never felt that I was doing anything right. This continued long into adulthood.

As a young adult, my father left my mother for another woman. I was disappointed, angry, annoyed, pissed off and devastated. How could he?? The worst part was that, through it all, he acted very much like he was the victim in the entire scenario.

I didn't speak to my father for well over a year.

In fact, he kept reaching out to me. He wanted to be there for me. He also wanted me to listen to him and take his side. I couldn't do it. My mom was my best friend. She was the one who was suffering and alone.

The woman he married began to make little snide and snippy remarks to me when I was around. I got the feeling that she was jealous because he was working so diligently to gain my attention. I recall falling at a skating rink for my niece's birthday and spraining my wrist. I needed to go to the emergency room as my wrist had swollen 3 times its normal size. She walked up to me as I was being evaluated by the skating rink personnel and said, "Anything for attention, huh?"

......

I have to pause because... WOW... recalling this time in my life feels so familiar to me. I'm feeling this same sense of disappointment, anger and devastation at so many people in my life right now. I have taken, literally, the same course of action as I did then: no longer speaking or really associating with them.

Also, the way my dad's wife was treating me at that time in their relationship seems very similar to the way my ex-husband's fiancee feels towards me now.  I remember thinking, "What have I done to her? SHE'S the one who stole my daddy from my mom!"

......

My relationship with my father wasn't fully recovered for years. He was in my life, sort of. He still called, checked in, sent cards. We still saw him at holidays and visited occasionally. To me he was a nonessential part of my life..... until my own separation and divorce.

Again he wished to "be there" for me. Again, after explaining the breakdown of my marriage, he reiterated his victimhood during the breakdown of his marriage to my mom. Again, I was furious. Again, I lashed out to him and refused to speak to him during the most difficult part of my life.

Then, over the course of months and into years of learning to forgive myself and my ex-husband our shortcomings and our failed marriage (still a work in progress by the way), I found that I naturally forgave my father as well. Just in time for him to be diagnosed with cancer and die shortly thereafter

I watched my dad's wife care for my father and her own father in her OWN HOME as they both lay dying. She lost her husband and her father within 2 weeks of each other. My eyes opened to the amazing woman she is and her heart opened to me.

My mother and father remained best friends until the day he died. He loved her still and wasn't scared to show or tell her that he did. 

I've since learned so much about my father, my mother, my family... that I wish I would have known sooner. I miss my dad. I can't tell you how much I long to have him to talk to.

My point is.... I found forgiveness. We ALL did.

I hated to feel all of the fury and frustration and disappointment that I did for so long. I hated to feel lonely when I was with my father. I hated to see him hurt because I couldn't find a way to just let. it. go.

I couldn't force it. I couldn't make it happen. Forgiveness happened when it was time. Maybe I was more open to it. Maybe perceptions needed to change. Maybe there needed to be a space for it in all of our lives. Maybe the planets needed to align just so.

Maybe I need to quit making myself feel so bad for not forgiving right now. I want it, yes. I want an end to the anger, yes. But I can't force it.

Again, I'm reminded to allow.

*****

A Course in Miracles says our only function here is forgiveness. Perhaps all relationships offer us opportunities to fulfill that function. In every relationship... an opportunity to forgive. No matter how long it takes.

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