It always strikes me as somewhat odd, the way people will ask me how I forgave my father for all the harm he caused me. They don’t realize that forgiveness benefits me. It gives me the freedom to live my life the way I choose and not be chained down by the past child abuse I suffered.
Forgiveness has always come natural to me. I’ve always said that God gave me the gift of forgiveness so I would be able to share my stories and help others in need.
Another thing people don’t realize is that forgiveness isn’t needed for all aspects of my father’s personality.
I loved my dad. He spoiled me, took care of me, and always signed his name “Your Bear of a Father”. This was the father that needed NO forgiveness. He always had my best interest at heart. He was the one that always introduced me as “His Baby Girl”.
(Yup, thats My Dad in 1974. Look at that happy smiling friendly face … Who would have ever thought … that a monster hid underneath?)
Then there was this opposite side of my dad. This is the one that needed forgiveness. He was not a nice person. He called us names, and beat us. My brother Mike seemed to get the worst of the deal. There is a scapegoat in every family and Mike was it.
This isn’t to say that I was home free, I’ll never forget one night when I was 14, I wasn’t feeling good and was telling my mom I didn’t feel well enough to do the dishes. My dad came barging into the room and slapped me across the face so hard, that I went flying over the coffee table.
I managed to get up, in a tremendous amount of pain, went into the kitchen and began doing the dishes as I was crying. My mom walked in and asked me how hurt I was. I told her. She then told dad, to take me to the emergency room.
I’ll never forget the ride to the hospital. My dad stressed to me “Do not tell the doctor I hit you!” This was in 1974 when child abuse was not talked about. To me it was a normal way of life and I never would have thought of telling anyone.
It wound up that I had broken quite a few ribs. Good girl that I was, I said that I fell while playing outside.
Forgiveness didn’t really help my dad. He was the twisted mixed up person he was until he became very ill prior to his death. I often wonder what happened in his life to make him the way he was. Why did he choose to act the way he did?
Forgiveness didn’t come easily either. I don’t believe I totally forgave him until after his death. I’d also like to mention that as he lay dying of cancer, he did ask me and my siblings for forgiveness.
When I tell people of my past – they often ask if my dad drank. The answer is NO. There was NO substance abuse whatsoever. I only saw my dad drink alcohol about 3 or 4 times in my entire life. He was just a very mixed up person.
Many people tend to link child abuse with substance abuse. Though they often go hand in hand, it does not mean that child abuse does not happen in so called “Good Homes” and it also does not mean that all children that reside with parents with substance abuse are abused.
If you suspect any child id being abused, please notify your local Child Protective Services agency.