Confessions of a creative mind….

On writing, reading and pretty much anything else

Father’s Day, and Forgiveness

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I didn’t call my dad. I thought about him a lot, though, and it was bittersweet, as most holidays are these days. Last month ticked off an entire year I haven’t spoken to either parent.
We’ve had periods of estrangement before, but this one has been the longest. There are a lot of reasons for it, some of which matter, some of which probably don’t anymore. But as I struggle with the guilt that comes with the recovering Catholic territory, I have found I’m learning valuable lessons on forgiveness.
I used to think forgiveness meant I had to suck it up, take whatever anyone felt like dishing out without question, and go back for more. I could never quite comprehend the idea of forgiving someone without actually being in their presence again, or telling them I’d forgiven them. And when I repeatedly completed this cycle, I never quite found the peace or happiness I’d been expecting–and most times, I’d be just as frustrated again soon after, when the subject of my generous forgiveness did something suspiciously similar to what I’d just “forgiven” them for.
Now I realize the concept is much different. I haven’t by any means mastered it yet, but I’m getting better at reconciling it. Forgiveness is for me, not them. It’s there to give me freedom, not give them absolution. If I forgive someone, they don’t even have to know about it. That’s a pretty big breakthrough. Now if I could just figure out how to do the actual forgiving part, I think I’ll be well on my way to healing.
I do hope my dad had a happy day yesterday. I’d like to think something was missing on his end, as it was on mine, but that’s something he needs to figure out. And maybe he has some forgiving to do as well.

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4 thoughts on “Father’s Day, and Forgiveness

  1. Hi Liz,
    A wonderful piece. I can empathize with the recovering Catholic part-it is worse if you’re Irish, a regular one-two punch-there is a very insightful piece in the latest Salon.com by John Manchester about his father William which you might want to read. I will stop short of saying “enjoy” but I think you will appreciate his thoughts.

    Best regards,

    Bob

  2. Hi Liz, I am just reading this now, truth be told I have read it 3 times and each time it moves me more. I hope you are well. Miss you!

    Glenn

  3. “If I forgive someone, they don’t even have to know about it. ” I love this. Great post in general and I struggle with the same thing…

    It’s been just a little over a year since I spoke to my mother (and here it is January 1, 2012 so I am reading this six months after you wrote it) and I have very similar feelings. And my father died a year ago, but my parents were divorced when I was three so the two events had no bearing on each other. Thankfully, I was not estranged from my father. This is the longest I’ve gone without speaking to my mother and I have to say it feels good…and very different from other times. It’s like I have some clarity that I’ve not been able to have before because of her filter over my life. I don’t hate her…in fact, I think I love her more than I ever have before, but a the same time, I am not ready to start back up with her. So have I really forgiven her? It’s hard to know.

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