I am a person that believes in forgiveness, no matter who you are or what you’ve done, not just those that we feel are worthy of forgiveness. And I know I too mess up and seek that from others. So, if I want that from people, I know I should be able to do the same for them.
There are people in my life I still have a hard time fully forgiving. I have let go enough that I want them in my life and that just the thought of losing them tears me apart. And most days, things seem fine. But there are days when I realize the hurt is still there. How do you let go completely? How do you make it so that when the bad memories resurface, you’re not filled with pain and resentment?
I am nearly 37 years old and most of the things done to me were many years ago and yet when the memories make their way to the forefront of my thoughts, the pain feels new. I hate that the anger and hurt still exist within me. I have been praying, talking with God, for years and asking for healing. I wonder sometimes though if the pain will live with me forever and that is not something I want. I want to let go.
My parents tore my life apart from an early age and throughout my early adulthood. My dad preferred alcohol and secluding himself over bonding with his family. He has hurt many over the years, not just me. Many still cling to their anger and sense of betrayal when it comes to him and wonder why I don’t fully do the same. And I think they assume it’s just so easy for me, that I hold him in some false sense of being. I know what he’s done and the pain he’s caused. I am not blind. Some forget that I too suffered because of him.
He called me names, often insinuated that my mother cheated on him and that I wasn’t his daughter – though he always refused every offer to get a paternity test done, threatened my life more than once, put me down, didn’t contact me when I was with my mom – not even on OUR birthday, and just made me feel outright unloved. He seemed to feel zero shame for what he was putting me or any of us through. I still find it hard to understand him sometimes.
Though he sort of explained his behavior towards me and apologized when I was 21, things have have never been easy between us. I did reach out to him a few years ago, because despite everything, he is my dad and I love him. But, I must admit, I find it hard to write to him because when he does write back now and then, his letters are filled with anger at the justice system, family not being there, and life in general. He has burned so many bridges and hurt so many people and sometimes I wonder where his sense of humility is. I feel torn between being there for him and just walking away sometimes. I love him, so much and I have had horrible nightmares about losing him, ones that leave me in tears. But then, the past comes back to me sometimes and I feel so hurt still. Again I ask, how do I let that go?
My mom and I are in a wonderful place these days and I thank God for that. Our story isn’t any easier, in fact I think it might be a bit more difficult. When I was little, she and I were close. But then, when I was about seven or eight, things began to feel strained. I remember how often she made me feel alone, whether she was home with me or left me with someone else so she could go out. The worst was when she was in the same room with me and yet I felt so alone, it was like she was gone anyway. We’d gotten to a point where we no longer connected.
And when I was 10, things really took a turn for the worse still. She met a man at the State Fair, where she’d decided to work for the summer, so she could make some extra money. I know we needed it, she was raising me alone. When she first introduced him to me, I wasn’t sure what to think and then, I thought perhaps he could be a good guy, after all my mom liked him. In very little time, she had him move in with us. Months later is when things went terribly wrong.
He began to molest me and I finally got the nerve to tell my mom, after some time. She told me she’d confront him. In the end, it didn’t do any good and he kept doing it. After awhile, I told her again and still no change. The last time I told her, I was 13. She told me that if he did it again, he’d be out. Yet things still didn’t change and I’d had it. So, I wrote about what I was going through. A friend I had made while riding the city bus to school had noticed me writing it and saw how upset I was. She asked me what was wrong, so I showed her my notebook. She told me I needed to get help, only I didn’t know where to start. So when I was at school, a classmate also noticed I was upset and asked me what was wrong. I was surprised, she was someone I didn’t talk to much and yet, I showed her what I’d written on my way to school. She told me we needed to go the school counselor, so I went with her. I showed him what I’d written and by the end of the day, I was taken from my home.
I stayed with a friend and her family for a couple of days and then I was put into foster care. My mom had been given a choice the night the cops got involved and she chose him. He was arrested, but after he was released until the trial, she let him live with her. I felt so betrayed and part of what still sticks with me is that her mom looked the other way too. She was sexually abused by my grandfather and my grandma didn’t do anything. She wasn’t there for my mom or my uncles when they needed her and now my mom was doing the same thing to me. My mom still hasn’t totally let her pain and anger go either and yet she was able to break my heart. It’s still a sore subject between us, what happened when I was a teenager. She didn’t know how to be there for me, I get that more now than I did back then. Mental health issues run in my family and I know how hard it can be some days to be a good parent and even tougher still when your child is going through it too. But, the pain I feel over what happened is still so real. And like my dad, I have nightmares about losing her and they hurt me every time. I cry at the thought of losing her. She means so much to me, more than I could ever say. I want to let it all go, all of it, but I don’t know how to fully do so. How do you it? Is it really possible for me to not feel the pain anymore?
And, another thing I wonder about sometimes is how can you be overall be so very happy with your life the way that it is and yet still miss parts of the past, especially parts it feels like I shouldn’t? How does one put the past where it truly belongs, in the past, and leave it there? I know we all remember things from our past from time to time, there’s nothing wrong with that, unless one is still trying to live in it. The good and the bad, it’s done and I don’t to dwell on it. The pain exes caused me and that I caused them, the good times I had with them, the friends I left behind and the ones who walked away from me, the mistakes I made with my son and now the fear I’ll let my baby down too, and so on. I want to live in the here and now while I am here to live it. Any advice? How have any of you let go and moved forward?
I feel so horrible sometimes that I still struggle with this, with the anger, the pain, and the inability to let it all go. I know I am only human and shouldn’t beat myself up, but sometimes it’s so hard. I love my family, all of them, and no matter what any of them has done or I have done, I just want us to be close. I want to remember daily that I am not the me I once was and that I am doing the best I can to not repeat those mistakes, especially the ones I made regarding my son. I want to show him constantly that I am here and my baby who will be born in April that I am going to be there from the beginning. I want my husband to know that I am trying the best I can to support him, be a good wife and partner, and that no matter what, we’re in this together. I want my friends to know that I am here and will do what I can to be a good friend and hope that they will do the same for me. Life is about today and making each one we’re given better than the last, about loving and being loved. I just struggle with dealing with things sometimes. I know we all do and I am not alone in this. Blame it on the hormones or just thoughts that have haunted me for years, but I needed to get this out. Any wisdom or thoughts are welcome and appreciated.