Relationships are not easy.
Every day we cross paths with different people. Some of those people have been around for as long as we can remember, and the relationship is easy. And then there are those that are around for only a season of our lives. It’s these tricky short-season relationships that can sometimes cause us pain and bring us down.
In my case, the person that came into my life for a season happens to be related to me. It doesn’t matter how far I run or how much I hide the pain – the sad memories can find me.
Those memories come to me in the most unexpected moments, like at my child’s birthday party. Those memories can take over the most joyful moments-and they will eclipse them.
It’s not a secret that my father and I aren’t close. We haven’t lived in the same house, or even the same continent for over 25 years. Since he left my family when I was 8 years old, I have only seen him a handful of times.
The truth is, we are related by blood, but we are two strangers in the world. Strangers that happen to have a backstory.
I have felt guilty many times for even having any negative feelings towards him. “People go through worse things in life and you are caught up in this”, I have heard that same thing over and over in my head. The thing is that childhood traumas get rooted deep in my mind.
I realize I don’t need to justify my feelings; I just need to work with them.
So I’m choosing forgiveness. Despite past traumas, despite being let down as a child, I’m deciding to forgive.
Forgiveness is such a heavy word. It holds too much power on itself. I have known in my heart for a while now that I have been working on forgiving my father for those heartaches.
Previously, I dealt with my pain by ignoring my father. It was much easier to hit decline on the phone call and to block his messages than to deal with the feeling of abandonment that still haunted me as an adult.
Last year I made the conscious decision to write him a letter. I knew that putting my thoughts on paper would help me heal. I worked on it for weeks before I felt like it was ready. I told him that I forgave him. And I knew that I also needed him to forgive me for ignoring him when he tried to mend the relationship. Before I had thought his efforts were too little too late, but in my journey to forgiveness, I knew that I needed to accept the olive branch that he had extended to me.
Here is what I learned in my journey to forgiveness – forgiveness is not a straight path. There are going to be setbacks, and the worst memories will show up out of nowhere. I might relive the pain over and over again.