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...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Really Letting Go

There are levels of letting go. I've recently let go of my blood father even more, meaning I've forgiven him more. How can this be? You either forgive someone or you don't, right? Well, you begin to forgive someone when you make a decision to do so, but forgiveness takes time. It takes practice. It is not a one-time event.

Recently, with more compassion for myself, realizing that God truly loves and cares for me, unlike my parents did, I made the decision to give my life and will over to God. Really making this decision took a lot of trust, something I lacked because of my childhood, because I married an alcoholic.

Really knowing that God forgives and loves me has helped me to understand that he/she also forgives and loves my blood father. He, like me, was a tortured soul. Since I haven't seen him in almost a decade nor talked to him in almost two years, I do not truly know what's going on with him now. I am only assuming that he is still suffering the way I used to suffer.

I previously conceived compassion for him because he was kicked out of his home at the age of 14 by his alcoholic step-father. But that only made me wonder more why he was able to turn his back on me as a child. Didn't he know how important it was for a child to know his/her father? His father had died when he was the same age I was when he left me. Maybe he was just repeating history...

So I fast-forwarded to a different time in his life, when he hadn't seen me or talked to me for six years, when my step-father had filed to adopt me. That must have hurt him deeply. He did hire a lawyer, but he had no chance since the judge was a personal friend of my new dad's family in a small town where who you knew and who you were were everything. So he didn't show up at the hearing himself.

He told me one of the last times we talked that he had receipts for the child support checks he sent me. So why didn't he present those as evidence at my adoption hearing to prove that he hadn't abandoned me? I don't know the answer. My mother is not known for telling the truth. I was told my father did not write to me, did not send me money. He says he did. How awful that must have been for him to not hear back from me, to know nothing about me.

And even though I wonder why he didn't try harder, why he didn't show up on my doorstep and demand to see me, why he didn't show up at that adoption hearing, I can only imagine how much pain he was in to have lost me and my older brother, even if it was due to his own behavior. I know he hurt because every time I've seen him since then, since meeting him when I was grown, he has cried when we part.

So he must still be hurting at the age of 80 because even though he sees my brother regularly he hasn't seen or talked to me in a very long time. That, of course, is mostly his doing again. He turned down an invitation to have breakfast with me when I was close to his home for a wedding. That was his choice, but it must still hurt. I, of course, wasn't hurt. I was more relieved because, honestly, I don't like him. No one likes someone who feels sorry for themselves and can't own up to their own faults.

But I can feel for him even though I don't like him. I can look into his tormented mind and heart and realize that he may die never seeing his daughter again. And I can truly forgive him, letting go once and for all the core resentment I held against him for changing my life forever by running off with my mother's best friend, his business partner's wife. That was a very, very long time ago.

And now that I have grown children myself, I know that parents are never perfect. I just received a phone call from my oldest who just wanted to chat. I can't imagine calling my blood father to do that. How sad for him. How sad for me. But I can still forgive him the way my children have forgiven me, even though I've made my amends and he never has. I can still let him go, realizing that he hurts, deeply, and may never get out of that pit.

I thank God that I've gotten out of the pit of self-inflicted guilt and self-pity and that when I'm drawn like a pin to a magnet to that deep hole, I have the program tools to keep me above ground - the most powerful being forgiveness, especially when the offender is neither repentant nor present. To pardon is to pardon oneself, too, for we have all been imperfect. So I am finally free, or at least more so than I was last week and certainly most of my life.


At Friday, April 18, 2008 10:19:00 AM, Blogger Syd said...

I never had the chance to make amends to my father when he was living. I loved him dearly. I made my amends later by writing him a letter. It was a great freeing moment. Like you say, our parents are only human and have failures like the rest of us.

At Wednesday, April 23, 2008 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Serenity girl said...

Wll done, letting go can be hard.
You have done so well.

What great tools we learn from Al-anon.

At Friday, April 25, 2008 8:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coming out of lurk mode. Thank you for sharing this! I really enjoy your blog.


At Tuesday, May 06, 2008 2:34:00 PM, Blogger ThisJane said...

i cant wait to get where you are.


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