Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Forgiveness

I got a notice in the mail today about a certified letter addressed to my brother to be picked up at the post office. Upon recieveing the letter I realized it was actually addressed to my father who has been dead three years now. Enclosed was a large packet of legal documents related to some property my father jointly owned with his brothers up in New York State.

Sure that this was something that probably needed attention and not having a clue what to do with it, I called my cousin, Jessica, a social worker in New York State.(Social consciousness runs in the family) Jessica is the one that, when Dad decided to live out his last days back home, set him up on disability and medicaid, found him housing and when the time came, set up his hospice. I owe Jessica alot for being there during a time when I was so unstable. Because of her, my father got the end he wanted. And today, I decided, it was the comfortable end that he deserved.

I feel like, recently, God has been trying to teach me the lesson of forgiveness. The recent barage of personal assaults on all fronts have been, mislabled opportunties to turn the other cheek, to show some understanding and compassion, and ultimately, to forgive. Forgiveness is good for the soul. Its about reaching out to your fellow man, and drawing him close, though he would just as soon stab you, as hug you.

I've recently come to some conclusions about my Father. At the end of the day, he was a good person. He was kind, compassionate. He loved to help others. He was naive, easily taken advantage of. He loved animals. He was a kid at heart. I do believe he loved us, in his own disordered way. I don't think he knew how to express that love appropriately. My dad has his problems.He had no clue what it meant to be a father, or a husband. He needed help that he never got. He didn't set out to hurt anyone, not me, my brother, my mom. I think, like me, the only person my Dad ever intentionally hurt was himself. The more I think honestly about my Dad the more I see myself in him. The more I see the good in him. He wasn't an evil man, or a bad man, he was a sick man.

This whole situation with my brother has made me see "offenders" and "abusers" in a new light. Rather than letting a disordered behavior define them in my eyes, I need to see the whole person. I know my brother very well, much better than I ever knew my Father who was both emotionally and physically distant most of my life. I know that my brother is not a monster, or evil, or a bad person. I know that my brother is simply a victim of the same sad childhood as I am. He is no more a "pedophile" as the sum total of his persona, than I am a "depressive" as the sum total of my existance. Every human being is a rich tapestry of behaviors, characteristics, likes, dislikes, talents and experiences. To take any human being and judge him based solely on any one of these is wrong.

I have been wrong about my Father. It was so much easier to hate him, to vilify him and degrade him in my mind to match the level of hurt I experienced at his hands. But just like what I experienced by him is not the sum total of my existence, what he did to me is not all of who he was. I think I am finally ready to recognize the good person that lived with the pedophile and the abuser in the same man. I'm ready to forgive my Father, and let go of this pain. I'm ready to stop letting abuse define me. I'm ready to say, "I forgive you, Dad."

3 comments:

Debra Kay said...

Very well put. I read somewhere that forgiveness isn't saying "that was Ok" it's saying "it's over now". I still struggle with that in some ways. I was horrified to realize that the worst anger I felt was not towards my daughter's abuser but at myself for putting us in the situation (which I fixed as soon as I was aware of). And because of that self anger, I probably took a lot of crap from people I shouldn't have over the years. I can't honestly say it's completely gone yet, but I am working on letting it go.

Marie said...

I am so very proud of you Rach. I know that it is never an easy thing, and you did it in your way on your terms and in your own time. I am very happy to see you finally finding the peace in you that you want and deserve!

Panda said...

Forgive yourself first, Rachael. You didn't cause this to happen to you. And I know mentally you tend to beat yourself up. Bad things do happen to good people. But you are right, we should not define ourselves according to our diagnosis or what happens to us. We are who we are because of the spirit residing inside this body. Not what happens to or around the body. You have a good heart. And I'm proud that you are working through this. Keep it up. Blogs are great and I wish you the very best in moving forward in life and leaving the neurosis behind you. That was your life as a child. This is your life now as an adult. Good luck in Zacatecas!! Come and visit me soon!!! Hugs to Moxie!!