For years I tried to escape from my past. I knew I was angry with my mom and dad, and if I could just stop spending my time and energy being mad at them, I would probably be happier. I would complain about all the reasons I had to resent them, and a lot of the reasons were good! But I would go on and on about what they had done…or didn’t do…or should have done. I spent years trying to convince everyone that my mom or dad was the bad guy and the world should cut me some slack. I deserved it after all, I was the victim.
And then a few friends started responding to what I was saying; they said something that I thought was very rude at the time.
“You’ve got to get over that.”
How am I supposed to get over it if he deserves to suffer? He DESERVES for me to send hate vibes, he deserves to have me talk bad about him all day long. He deserves to be forgotten on his birthday and he deserves to be remembered as the worst human I’ve ever met.
A wiser person once told me “Having resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Wait…Does that work? Cuz I’ll try it.
I spent so many years being angry at the people I thought had harmed me. Ruined me. Set me up for failure. Embarrassed me. And then came the day when I decided I’d had enough. My life wasn’t getting any better and I knew something had to change. I listened to people who had been in my shoes and had recovered from the pain. For a long time I just listened because I was too afraid to share my story. And then little by little I began to open up, have courage, and be vulnerable. I told bits of my story at first because I was too afraid to say everything. I didn’t trust anyone because I thought they would use my secrets as weapons against me, especially my friends. So I would give a bit of my truth and prepare for a negative reaction. I expected to be judged and avoided.
Instead I got no reaction, or I got a ‘thank you’ for being vulnerable. The next time I ran into a confidant, there was no recollection of my secret, like I thought there would be. I thought I would be able to see my shame and my history on their faces. It was as if it had gone in one ear and out the other. I wasn’t judged by my past and I wasn’t put into a category. I was loved and accepted.
Over time I unpacked my stories and my shame. As I became lighter and lighter, my resentments toward people began to float to the surface. I was still angry at certain people and I heard those resentments kept me in a “sick” mindset.
Ok, so I have to forgive.
Because I had tried EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD, I decided to try prayer. It was difficult at first because it turns out I didn’t really believe in God. I felt like…like I had to give something in order to receive blessings or have my prayers heard/answered. Eventually I learned God is not religion. You don’t have to pay, you don’t have to suffer, you don’t have to be punished. God just loves and performs miracles. Praying to a Higher Power allowed me to take the burden off myself. Over time I came to believe that something more powerful than myself could handle this life better than I could. Praying to your Higher Power is like having a conversation with God, and meditation is where you get all the answers. Prayer allowed me to see my parents for what they really are: human.
I realized through meditation and prayer, the people I’m angry with don’t feel bad. They don’t even know I feel resentment towards them! Dad is just sitting home, doing his thing, unaware of the fact that I am so so mad at him and I feel like he ruined my life. He is just a human. There were many years, about 30 to be exact, where I never crossed my dad’s mind; he did not think of me once, because I wasn’t born! However, not a day has gone by that my father has not existed in my world. Think about that. Before you came along, your mother did not think about you. She had her struggles, joys, pain, and her life and she did not think about you once, because YOU DID NOT EXIST. But you’ve always known your mother. We forget that our parents were humans before they were our parents.
Humanizing my parents helped me to have compassion for them. When I began to see them as simply humans, just like me, I could see how they would make a mistake. I could see how they tried their best, even if their best was horrible. And I could begin the process of forgiving them for their trespasses. The path has not been easy; there were times I would remember something my dad had done and rage would flood my body; but remembering that he is just a human, and was once a child who had also been hurt by his father, helped me to soften just a bit more each time.
Forgiveness has been difficult for me, it is definitely a practice. For the longest time I thought those who hurt me, deserved to suffer. So I would sit in that painful moment, I would seethe just thinking of them, but they never came for their reckoning and I realized I’m just sitting here wasting my time, causing myself more pain.
I haven’t seen my father in six years, the photo I used for this blog was taken the last time I saw my father. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again, even though he lives in the same state as me – but I’m still going to forgive him. Because I’m ready to live my happy life. Being angry is just too much weight to carry around. It’s too heavy and I don’t want to carry that load anymore. I know I don’t have to and now I know how.
I don’t forgive to make the other person feel better or let him off the hook. I forgive because I don’t want to waste my life in pain just to be a martyr for a ridiculous cause.