Do you hold grudges, or do you believe in forgive and forget?
I don’t fit under either of the two cute little categories that WP decided on when they put out today’s Daily Prompt. I bet most of you don’t either. Rarely can we apply ourselves, as humans, toward reacting in the very same way to a specific comment or act, or even an unspecific comment or act. So much of how we react depends upon the person in question, and also, if the act was perpetrated against us, or another person. Because of this, I’m going to focus on one person for the purposes of this post.
Growing up, I saw very little of my father, the one I refer to on this blog as “Dad.” My biological father. I think he tried the best he could to love me when I was young, but he wasn’t able to be consistent. You really must be consistent with young children, especially if you are a parent. So, not showing up to pick me up for the weekend, cancelling plans at the last minute, not remembering my birthday, being passed out drunk when my sister and I were over for Christmas (just tiny little kids, at that). Thirty-two years later, I have forgiven him for all of that. The anger and the hurt and the even sometimes, hatred, fell away when I realized that, by being angry with him, by holding that grudge, I wasn’t allowing myself to move forward.
So I forgave, I found compassion. But I didn’t forget. Thinking about those times still makes me sick to my stomach, and even now, when he is running a few minutes late, I’m convinced he’s not coming. So no, never forget. But I forgive…over and over and over. So much that others in my life question why I do. He became much better about things around ten years ago when he married my stepmother, but he has regular lapses in the behavior you would expect from a father.
He acts like an ass, he says something judgmental, it appears that he does not have the feelings and emotions of a human being. All those years of hurt come back, and I feel like I’m six years old again, looking out the living room window for the car that would never show up. I don’t hold a grudge, but there’s a big part of my heart that remembers, can’t forget.
I realized not long ago, that sometimes I will have to tell my dad how to act. For years, he would never call, but I would check in with him a few times a week. I finally told him how much this bothered me, that he could never be bothered to give me a ring and I felt like I was doing all the legwork in this relationship. As Dad often gets, he was baffled. Had no idea.
I’m telling you, Dad does not have the normal emotional make-up of a human being. He can be very distant and he goes through phases where it seems like he’d just as soon throw you in front of traffic than give you a hug or talk about the weather. And maybe it’s this lack of humanity in him that makes me forgive him over and over. I truly believe it’s possible that he just can’t help it. His love, however inadequate at times, is the best it is ever going to be. His follow-through sucks sometimes, but it’s getting better.
I think his wife helps him with that a lot. Actually, I know she does. I don’t know how many times he has acted truly cruel, and then called back an hour later to say he has talked it over with his wife, and realizes now that he was very wrong. She’s good for him, keeping him honest and accountable. I don’t know if I’ve ever thanked her for that, for making my dad a better man, but I should.
After this last rough patch, we hand lunch today. It went really well. He was in a good mood and was chatty and told me how great I looked and how proud he is of me for all I am doing with work and taking care of DSB, and that’s how it should be. It isn’t always, and I had to go a one month span without seeing him seemingly to prove a point, but we’re back on course again. All is forgiven. Again.
So DSB and the Queen and all my other supporters out there can keep shaking their head, knowing it’s only a matter of time until the next go-round. Me, I’m going to embrace the fact that he’s my dad and he’s still on the planet and I’m going to keep forgiving every dumb thing he does. Because I truly do think he’s oblivious, and I truly do believe he’s sorry when he hurts my feelings.