A daughter finds love and forgiveness for the man she tried to “hate away.”
It has been some time now since we last spoke, and I am beginning to become painfully aware of the distance between us. I just want you to know that I miss you sometimes, and when I do, I become overwhelmed with lingering thoughts of regrets about everything that was left unsaid between us. But by far, my biggest regret – and lesson learned – is how this daughter could hate her father so much, and unknowingly, at the same time, could also love and need him more than anyone.
I’m certain you already know that I blamed you for most everything, but not without warrant, and NEVER out of a sense of entitlement; it’s hard to believe you are entitled to anything, when you – well – just aren’t. I mean, low self-worth will do that to a person, and having a dad, when you feel as though you don’t; that shit just messes with your head. The bottom line – you never could or would be the father I so desperately NEEDED you to be; bottles and pills tend to change the priorities of a person … even a dad.
I was naïve to believe that my many attempts at “hating you away” could somehow fill the bottomless pit of emptiness that comes from not having a dad you can count on. Grief and pain haunted me, disguising itself as chronic anxiety, associated with the ultimate loss of you to a disease I never understood.
These days, I hate the disease even more than I hated you. You were never there – and always there. I ask myself to this day, how can a man be standing right in front of me, but no longer be him? This continues to confuse me, and weigh heavy on my mind, body and spirit. It was, and still is, incomprehensible, even despite the knowledge-base I have around this disease now. In this case, logic does not prevail, nor does it take the pain away when you lose someone you love to substance abuse.
Where does one find their resolution to such a loss? Well, I’m still working on that one, and I am grateful to have found some solidarity in forgiveness, ultimately in the work that I do; helping others afflicted and affected. Sadly, though, I laid many geographical and emotional miles between us, and now, more than twenty years later, I finally get it, but unfortunately – it has been way too long, and I am, in true Melissa fashion – way too late.
So here I sit, having arrived on the other side of the pain, more miles between us than this human heart can seem to bear, and you, well you are gone now, torn away from the physical world before I ever had the chance to be old enough to know “better.”
Your “baby,” as you so affectionately called me, was only twenty-seven years old when you left us. Now forty-eight, I get it, Dad. I get you. Better yet, I see you, as if for the very first time. The light is shining down upon you with such clarity; it is, and you are, warm and inviting. It’s nice.
I, my dear father, was wrong, and I am sorry for that. Love and forgiveness are messy, and vulnerable, humbling, emotional and physical journeys, and not for the faint at heart. I would not have learned these painful, yet crucial life lessons if it were not for the hardships that you faced, and in turn I would not be the woman that I am today. Now that’s what I call perspective! This is not to say that I wish to perpetuate unhealthy life experiences, to the contrary. This is yet another life lesson, and one that I have been committed to changing, by “breaking the cycle.” It has gut-wrenchingly taken me over twenty years to “learn my lesson.” I love you Dad, and I always have.
I don’t know how I arrived at this place of love and forgiveness, but I’m sure glad that I did!
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