Forgiveness


I’ve often wondered what compels me to write. Is it to live out a kind of fantasy through the character’s lives, to reach out to others, to create, or is my subconscious trying to work through issues in my life that I otherwise haven’t had the ability to mend on my own? In Bye, Joni Weaver, a manuscript I’m currently revising, I found myself writing a father/daughter dynamic, which is weird, because I know nothing about father/daughter relationships. At the age of three my father shoved me off his lap and curtly asked my mother to keep me from climbing up there again. Something inside of me was so very hurt. Strange that I climbed up there anyway, as my father very clearly was not the type you’d want to snuggle up to. But some unknown childish urge had made me do it anyway, and then suffered the consequences for said urge. 

Let me tell you about my father. He was tall. He had dark hair and ice blue eyes. He was very religious and would use the bible as his excuse and reason for most judgements and punishments—and there were many. Almost every day we were lined up on the hall stairs and interrogated for little crimes such as getting fingerprints on his bible or scratching a favorite record. If we didn’t admit to the crime, he’d punish us as a unit. Upstairs, we draped ourselves over the edge of a mattress, while he gave us a very thorough spanking with a leather belt. I remember thinking how unfair it was, because I hadn’t done the crime—none of us had. But, of course, you wouldn’t say that to a man with a belt in his hands. You said nothing; you didn’t even cry.

One time when my sister and I were sick from the flu or the chicken pox, I can’t remember which, he showed up after years of not visiting, and crept into our room. He was there to annoint us. Sick, I lay in that bed in that dark room, and watched this man that I no longer knew—perhaps never knew—and felt fear at his approach. He bent down to rub oil on my forhead, mumbling prayers—the kind of prayers that were never a comfort. Not in his voice; with his intonation. I grew mad. My father was afraid we’d die, and he had to bless us first. My father. The man who called me a devil because I sometimes danced in circles.

When he died a few years ago, I couldn’t go to his funeral. My siblings went to his house to clean all of his things but I, the youngest, couldn’t do it. I was terrified. Seeing my father’s things was the most horrible, terrifying thought in the world, and I couldn’t do it. I’ve felt guilty over that decision, but never really sorry. Somehow I knew what I was capable of, and saved myself from something that might undue me in ways that weren’t fixable.

So now, back to writing. It’s kind of funny how our subconscious works, but much of what I write involves some sort of family problem. There’s the mother/daughter dynamic. And the father/daughter dynamic. I realized after a completing scene in Bye, Joni Weaver, that I was working out my problems through writing. That I had found a way to have a father—in the only way I’d ever have a father. Through fiction.

Today, as I’ve pondered over this, I spoke to my father through my thoughts, and I told him that I forgave him for what was done. It isn’t fair to hold him to this earth with my unresolved issues. He needs to be happy up there, you know? I want him to be at peace. We all deserve that after a long, difficult life. Who knows why he did what he did, but it’s over now, and I forgive him. I also told him that I will continue to work out all issues through my writing.

And that’s it. This is the post I was going to write today, but I ended up with the one below which is much more positive, but rather shallow in comparison. And I’m telling you all of this because you too can forgive and let go, and find ways to heal through your art—wahtever it may be.

Peace

Comments

  1. I am not sure that everything and everyone should be forgiven. I think we can move on because of, or in spite of, and it doesn't always have to do with saying to those who have harmed us that all is forgiven. However, whatever gets you through the pain and makes you whole, Amy, is what you should do. He is gone and can not hurt you anymore. You can breathe out now; you can move away from your past.

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    1. So very true, thank you for your beautiful words. One thing I haven't gotten yet to is the forget stage, from the rest of the saying: forgive and forget. That always seemed like ridiculous advice!

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  2. It always saddens me to read about such people (parents). I had such a wonderful childhood, and somehow always imagined that everyone else's was the same. I agree with Arleen, one should not forgive simply because we are instructed to do so; certain behaviour (especially towards children) is unforgivable.

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    1. That's part of my motivation to be gentle with my kids so that they can grow up without fear. But I do 'raise my voice' every now and then : ) And always feel horrible afterwards.

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  3. Both of my parents were kind loving and supportive to all of their four children. However, my father's father was a difficult many, who distanced himself from his children -- particularly my father and was hyper-critical and dismissive of him. Fortunately, for me and my siblings, it instilled in him the idea that he would be the kind of father he wished he had had -- and he managed to do that very well! It seems to me that you have faced down the horrors of your father and his shadow and can now be free of him...

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    1. Thank you. It sounds like your father was lovely! That's wonderful.

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  4. Someone once said to me, "everyone should be over their parents by age thirty." That bounces around my brain a lot; for better and worse I think they'r always with us. My father had a terrible childhood and I believe he wanted to be a father, except he became very ill and needed his strength to stay alive. He was a remote person most of my life, and I was the oldest of four. We just move on, and keep or reject or come to terms with them and us. I wish all parents could be what we want. It does provide a wealth of writing material, however.

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    1. So true. It doesn't help to look back too much on the troubles of our childhood, like you said. What's done is done. And yes, the best thing is to use it for writing and not let it ruin our actual lives. Thank you!

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  5. Amy, my heart ached so much for you when I read your blog. I think the comments made are all wise. I think, too, that while you can make a conscious decision to forgive someone, it doesn't/cannot go hand in hand with forgetting. It releases you from pent up anger and holding on to grudges which spoil your life. You put it in a 'nutshell' in your second to last paragraph. There will be many people who will identify with your book and I'm sure it will help them too.

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