Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ugly Truths: The Aftermath of an Abusive Parent

What would another layer of forgiveness look like? It's 2 am and the world is quiet enough, the dark a welcomed comfort for deep thoughts. I finished reading L'Engle's A House Like A Lotus. It was one of the books that we weren't allowed to read growing up. Mom deemed it as having too many adult themes.

I'm struck though by Poly's journey towards forgiveness - not only of Max but of herself. I wonder what it would look like to forgive my father. To stop carrying the hot and cold rage towards him. To no longer cower in fear at the thought of what he could do, might do even now.

I have this illusion that it would be easier to forgive him, easier to let go of all the injustices, if he was no longer part of my life, whether through choice or death. It's not an easy thing for me to admit, that I still wish my father dead. He's proven that he's not going to change. Every time I start to hope that it's going to be different now, something happens to prove that while it's milder than it was when I lived under his roof, he will never stop seeing me as his possession. It's part of why I hate those teachings that children are a blessing from the Lord. Children are people, not things, not possessions to be handed out like fucking trophies to those who magically got it right. And I'm side tracking here, avoiding talking about this the way that I need to. I do that too often. I wander. I don't like to admit that about myself.

I have this illusion, this fantasy really that if only he was dead, gone, that it would allow me to finally grieve and would provide some kind of closure. My therapist suggested today that maybe I'm still wanting that relationship I never had with my father - there's truth to that, much as I don't want to admit to it, I want that relationship, the one I read about in books, or see in the lives of friends - that relationship where I am seen and celebrated for who I am, where love no longer means control or perfection. But I'm realistic enough to recognize that I'm not going to get that from my father. And while yes God can be that in a person's life, He's not that in mine, nor do I want Him to be that. My associations with the very idea of a parent is a painful one. There is nothing redemptive about seeing God as a parent. In fact it's that idea that makes me struggle with what a healthy relationship with the Divine could mean in my own life.

At the same time though, I'm drawn to the idea of a father. Someone who has got my back, who loves me, champions me, invests in me. I have that with women, which in and of itself is a miracle. I think I will always want what I never had.

I'm not holding onto relationship with my father in hopes that he'll change, so why am I hanging on? A piece of it is that right now it's less fearful to deal with him on the rare occasions that I have to, than to deal with the fallout from complete removal of him from my life. I'm terrified to let go, to disown this man who has brought me nothing but pain. I'm exhausted from being the "bad" daughter and frankly I wish one of my siblings would disown him first so that I don't have to be the one that breaks this new trail.

Removing him from my life however doesn't remove the lies he taught me or heal the wounds he inflicted. A sincere amends from him wouldn't be everything that I need either. This leaves me back in the place of wondering what would another layer of forgiveness look like here and now. I want freedom from all the threads of him that keep me tangled up and stuck. Therapy is helping with that, all the reading that I do helps, writing my truth - I have a toolbox full of tools that I'm using.

And I'm wondering how forgiveness plays into the mix. Because I think for me it needs to be a piece of it. All I know to do is to continue to walk in the direction of my healing. I can't make myself stop hating him. I don't act on my hatred, but it's still there. I've read the clich├ęs and the books. I've heard that I need to let go and let God. But there is something mystical about forgiveness. Something of the Divine, of a Higher Power. Something more than just a formula to follow, an exercise to complete. This something else is going to have to kick in because in and of myself I cannot let go of my hatred. I no longer seek vengeance but that's no longer enough for me.

I know the right Christian answers here. They fall flat. I'm not wanting to dissect the mystical, yet I feel like there's something I need to do to help me continue to move forward. I just don't know what it is.


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