Jun 17, 2011

This was an article that I originally wrote for BlackGirlSingular.com over a year ago. I decided it was time for me to revisit the post and maybe expound upon it a little further.

With Father's Day around the corner, I feel this is the best time to discuss an issue that a lot of us think about but few of us are willing to verbally address. The issue is that of forgiveness and not just forgiveness in general, but forgiveness of your father. As the issue of absentee fathers continue to plague our community, I feel it's time we deal with the psychological effects that this phenomenon has dealt to the offspring of these men.

The absence of a father in a child's life, whether it be a male or female child, is a hole many find impossible to fill. It is that hole that cause many women to seek love in the arms of many different men because they themselves never felt that love from the first man who was supposed to love them. And so, they follow a destructive path in hopes of finding the love they should have received at home. It is this same hole that darkens the spirit of boys who eventually become men. This hole in their spirit causes them to act out in violent and destructive ways because they are not equipped with the tools to be able to express the frustrations they are feeling about not having their father in their life.

Sure, there are other factors to contribute to why these things happen, but we cannot lessen the importance of a father in a child's life. A father serves as his daughter's 'first boyfriend' and as his son's standard of 'manhood'. So when he is missing, these lessons and teachings become obscured. Trust me, I realized there are men who try to step up and take the place of the missing father, but for many people the hole in their heart is in the shape of their father and he is the only person who can fill it. This is not to minimize the great work these men do, but we have to realize that a father's love is not an interchangeable piece that can be filled by any man's love. It is a special and sacred love that many who've never felt long to feel.

It is this longing that leads to frustration and resentment towards an absentee father. This crippling disdain that some of us carry for our fathers manages to immerse itself in all facets of our lives. Some of us will develop trust and abandonment issues, have problems with commitment, and our idea of worthiness will be all but non-existent. We lock ourselves in a purgatory of self-pity and hatred because we can't get over the loss of not having our father in our lives. And yes, I mean we. We are the ones that built that wall around our heart and refused to let anyone else in. We are the ones that barricade ourselves in the dark room of solitude in hopes that no one's love will ever reach us. Although the actions of the absentee father led us to the room, it was us who decided to make that room our home.

So in your mind I'm sure you are asking, "How do I leave the room of abandonment?" Trust me when I say that the answer is simple, but the actions required are going to be some of the most difficult things you ever had to do in your life. You see, the answer is forgiveness. 'True' forgiveness can heal and change you if you give it a chance. I was raise to believe that forgiveness was something that you did for yourself. Forgiving a person who has done wrong to you has nothing to do with that person, but rather it is the only instrument that can free you from the bondage of pain that person's transgression has placed in your life.

Trust me, if anyone understands that forgiveness is hard it would be me. It took me twenty one years to forgive my father for not being apart of my life. It was a conscious decision on my part that allowed me to take that step forward. I was sitting in my apartment having a conversation with myself and the words, "Don't you think it's time to forgive your father already," came spilling out of my mouth. I don't know where the words came from. Maybe it was something divine. Who knows? All I know is it was one of the most freeing things I've every said to myself.

I mean let's be real. How was my resentment towards my father benefiting me? The only thing it had done was fundamentally change who I was as a person. I use to be a loving and caring person, but the older I became the more harden I'd become. I was getting to a place where I couldn't even trust a man let alone love one. I expected every man to let me down because my father had done it so what was stopping the next man from doing the same. I was dying a slow and painful death and I didn't even realize it.

While I was holding on to all this resentment and anger, my father was going on with his life. It was I who was crippled by his actions not him. He had placed me in a box by abandoning me as a child, but it was I who chose to remain in that box by not forgiving him. Although the lid on the box had always been open for me to climb out, I chose to remain inside because I refuse to let my anger and resentment go.

But that day in my apartment change everything for me. Calling my dad to tell him I forgave him was one of the most liberating things I've ever done for myself. It freed me to be myself again. Trust me, I know that forgiving someone is not the easiest thing and I'm not asking you to forget what that person has done to you. But I'm asking you to forgive that person because it's not his/her life at stake, it's your own. You have given this person power over your life that they don't deserve. It's time for you to take that power back and reclaim your life.

You have to forgive your father if you every hope to move on with your life. That hole in your soul may never be completely filled, but at least you'll be able to leave that room and become that person you were meant to become. Holding your father accountable for his actions is not a burden you should have to bear. Allow yourself the ability to enjoy life's freedom by letting go of that thing you never had any control over in the first place. Now, go get yourself some therapy and keep it moving.


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