On Forgiveness

September 4, 2012 5:03 PM

On forgiveness

I gave my father a call when I was driving home after work the other day on my Blue-tooth, as I thought I’d check up on him. He sounded happy to hear from me, but I could tell he was lonely. (He was now alone in the house as my mother had left him after many years of marriage.) He said some things that surprised me as they were words I do not often here my father say. I am not close to my father, or for that matter anyone in my family. I try to be a good son when I can, but I must say that I can be a better son by visiting my family more often. On closing our fairly brief “catch-up” conversation, he asked me if I wanted to see “a movie” sometime. I don’t think he has ever said those words to me in my life. Yet another indication that he is lonely. He also closed the conversation by saying “ I love ya buddy!” My father very very seldom says those words.
My lack of visitation to my dad’s house is something I am aware of and it often taunts me. Even though we live in the same city, I travel a lot to and from work, I have been keeping to myself much these days and do not extend myself out for social occasions much. I think the Harry Chapin song “Cats in the Cradle” tells my story with some degree of accuracy. I know that on some levels I miss him, but on others, there are times when he is a painful person to have in my presence.

He has probably caused me more grief than I let myself remember and on reflection I believe that it adversely affects me to this day. I sometimes wonder if these emotional qualms I have stem from a “learned helplessness” caused by his brutish outbursts on me when I was a child. Fearing not to act in a way to upset him, often left me in emotional paralysis. I sometimes wonder if I suffer still from those times that he demolished my personal well-being, evaded my personal space, and obliterated my self esteem. I have tried to forget many of those issues I encountered in the family, but there are times when they resurface again in a flash-back memory that randomly enters my mind.
I sometimes remember the things that my father would do to me that was very emotionally painful for me. He also would behave quite miserably in front of my friends, or just within the family when we were all under the same roof.

I know that most of these painful events were many years ago, and he has become much more behaved these days. It is the memory of these episodes that haunt me. These events and memories have created a huge barrier between us, an immense distance that became further and further apart as he chose to behave without any thought of just how his behavior effects others. I remember that his demeanor and treatment of others must have been inconsequential to him, for by no other reason would a good person be deliberate and act in this way if they knew how they are perceived. There is also the theory that he was simply just sadistic, and liked to cause others pain, discomfort, and like to humiliate them. Alternatively is his lack of being able to connect to others in a meaningful way. On some levels I think he was not completely aware of how he behaved around us. Ultimately this does not excuse him, but it did make me angry when I would explain to him how his poor behavior effected us and he would reply that he does not remember those incidents.

Not acknowledging those events is probably the most hurtful, since one cannot validate the experience, therefore it cannot be discussed any further. The apprehension comes from what is best stated in an old Japanese proverb: “Forgiving the unrepentant is like drawing pictures in water.”
I do love my father, and wished he was a better father to me, my brother, and my mother. He is not the worst father, but is certainly not the best either. The early days were probably the most memorable and left an indelible mark on me. I myself have my personal challenges when it comes to parenting. I have learned much on my observations growing up with friends who were parents long before I made the decision to have a family myself. I am not aware of any parent who does not make a mistake or two through-out their parental pilgrimage.

I know in my life that I must let the parts of my vexatious past go. I know that I must take ownership of my situations, learn from them, move on, and get over the unpleasant experience that employs negative energies. Forgive those who have harmed me, and let bygones be bygones is often asserted when advise is cast. Unfortunately forgiveness is not an easy process to undertake when one has been so hurt. But there is something about the process of forgiveness that I cannot deny; forgiveness is not purely altruistic in that it achieves other conditions that are self serving, and maybe even self preserving. It benefits the person that is transacting and initiating the forgiving.

To forgive is not for the “sole sake” of relieving another of their guilt, but rather for the “sake of the soul” that had been perpetrated upon!
For your own peace, one must forgive to allow their soul to heal from the inflicted wounds. Putting to rest the needless anxiety that aggravates the mind for as long as you allow it to have a presence in your thoughts is a result from the non-attachment. Forgiveness therefore is to free one from what has been binding it to the turmoil it is trying to escape from. It has been my experience that reason alone sometimes does not help since it does not embody and assimilate the emotional connections and feelings to that of the intellect.
Consequently, in completely forgiving someone, you are able to overcome, and put the past in the past without re-living it over and over again in your memories. One must have a connection of reason and an emotional understanding for the process to be fully realized. The heart and the mind must work together in unison, along with the desire to carry forward.

I would be foolish to say that this is an easy thing to do. I would be even more foolish to state that I have accomplished such deeds when it comes to my own family. I have forgiven others in my life, and allowed myself to move on. I also have been deeply injured, and when it comes to question of whether or not I have forgiven my father for the scars that were placed in my memory all those years ago, I struggle to find a complete answer. I am working on this and my intent will align with my actions once I make the true connection.

One thought on “On Forgiveness

  1. Hi Dean,

    This landed in my inbox yesterday, but appears to be an older post.

    In any case very poignant.

    I could not agree more that forgiveness is one of the most difficult things for us as humans.

    If we are able to acheive true forgiveness around any given circumstance it is indeed one of the best things that we can do for ourselves.

    I am very much into Buddhist philosophy these days. One of my favorite quotes of the Buddha is “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” However letting go is indeed very difficult.

    Peace to you my friend,

    Like

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