Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An Answer from "the Parent" and My HP

So "the parent I hardly knew" has turned down my invitation to see me. I do not know his real reason, perhaps it is the one he gave me. What I do know is that despite all my stepwork and therapy, I got angry. But only for about a half hour. It didn't take me long to realize that what I was really feeling was hurt, the hurt I never felt as a child when he left. I was angry then, too, and continued to be angry for a very long time. Unlike this time when I called my sponsor, then I called a good Al-Anon friend to get together for coffee. Afterwards, I took care of myself by going to the grocery store and buying the healthy foods my daughter and I had put on our menu for this week. (We're dieting for a wedding we're going to in Hawaii.) By the time I got home, I was okay. A bit exhausted, but okay. And I slept great. Thanks to the tools I've gotten from Al-Anon.

One of those tools is prayer, which I found myself doing while driving to Starbucks to meet my friend. I remembered the spiritual awakening I had at our state convention over Labor Day weekend. It was one of the Ah Ha! moments we get after an excrutiatingly difficult time understanding something, even something as simple as what I heard that day for the first time, although I had known it for a very long time. I had just heard that my father had decided not to go to my niece's wedding because my mother was going to be there, whom he hadn't seen or spoken to in almost 45 years. He said he wouldn't be in the same room with "that woman." Which I find strange since he was the one who had had the affair with his business partner's wife and caused both marriages to crumble.

Anyway, I was in crisis mode because now I had to decide whether or not to see him outside of the wedding. (I had no inclination that he wouldn't want to see me.) I had a couple of other items on my plate, too, so I did what I've been told to do - I called my sponsor. After she let me scream and yell and stamp my feet, and after we had discussed pros and cons for a while, she said something that I know I had heard many times before. I had also applied it to other relationships in my life. She said, "You do know that you can forgive the person without forgiving their behavior?" "No," I said, "we're supposed to forgive people just as God has forgiven us." Well, we talked about the Lord's Prayer and our past religious beliefs for awhile and then I went home.

Later that night, while listening to an AA speaker, I suddenly had a vision of my father. Because I really don't know him well and have spent so little time with him, I had equated his behavior to who he was. Suddenly, he separated from his behavior - he went to the left and his behavior went to the right (not pun intended). I could suddenly see him as the sick, suffering human being that he was, apart from his behavior. And I knew then that I could forgive him without forgiving the unacceptable behavior that continues to this day. And I recalled what my sponsor had said that day, what the Lord's Prayer really says. It does not say "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive the trespasses of others." It says "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." I had been trying to forgive my father's "sins" because to me, he had been his "sins," when all I had been asked to do is to forgive him.

Some people say "forgive and forget," but I never want to forget my own trespasses, even though I have forgiven myself as has God and others. I would lose the humility I have gained from looking at my part in order to clean my side of the street. Which is what I was attempting to do by inviting my father to breakfast this weekend, giving him the opportunity to meet me face-to-face perhaps one last time. Giving myself the opportunity to forgive him even if he should not say what I want to hear, that he is sorry for everything. I really doubt that will ever happen. I doubt if I will see him again. Both my sponsor and therapist have told me to consider emotional divorce. I don't quite know what that will entail, but if my HP leads me there, I will follow. It may be the way to put this original resentment to rest.

Although I have to say that since yesterday, when my blood boiled and I wrote a nasty email in reply to my father, deleting it rather than sending it, the pain in my body seemed to leave. It seemed to be the exorcism I needed to finally let go... one last time. Oh, God, please let it be so.


At Tuesday, September 26, 2006 9:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your pain,

and your recovery,

Anonymous 12 stepper.....

At Friday, September 29, 2006 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Christine said...

I had a resentment toward my Mom for many many many years. It was when I met with her and made amends for my part, for not being the kind of daughter I should have been that I found relief. The Step work works...

At Friday, September 29, 2006 9:15:00 PM, Blogger Gwen said...

Thanks for sharing ~ healing seems to take so long. Little bits at a time. Keep up the prayer ;)


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