I don't know how long it took, reaching this epiphany. I just know that I'm grateful I've arrived.
Growing up with an absentee father was hard – is hard. The emotions that resulted from the void he left are even harder. I can't count the instances I got my hopes up for quality time only to be let down, the tears I've cried for blaming myself for his absence, and the years of anger that festered within me from not letting go of the hurt.
Even in his absence, my father has had overwhelming control of my life and a strong grip on my emotions. I would walk around mad at the world for promises he failed to keep. No more waiting for him to pick me up for the weekend, no more depending on his financial support that would never come.
I wanted out, but his power kept me in. I felt trapped in my anger, my bitterness, my heartbreak.
After years of enduring disappointment after disappointment, I knew I needed to move forward and forgive him for neglecting me, but forgiving someone who continuously hurts you is a hard thing to do. I wanted to let it all go but I felt like he owed me. No, he owed my mom and me. It was his fault that I blamed my mother for them not staying together after my birth, and that everything she did to compensate for his absence was never enough. It was his fault that I didn't appreciate the family that was present in my life and instead chose to dwell on his abandoning me. It was his fault that I grew up with long lists of insecurities and longing to be anyone but me. It was his fault that I compared my incomplete family to two-parent households that I perceived as whole.
School was my escape from this reality. I focused on being an exceptional student in and outside of the classroom. But even with all of my accomplishments, the fact that I had a living, breathing father who denied me a place in his life made it difficult for me to be genuinely happy.
Some self-reflection finally led me to realize that I could no longer let him control me. By choosing not to be a father, he found his way to forget about establishing some sort of relationship with me, so I needed to do the same. It may not be ideal for some of you reading this, but I came to the conclusion that it was better for him to be removed from my life completely than for him to show up at his convenience.
It's been three years since I last saw my father and although it bothered me for a while that he made a choice to ignore my existence, I'm stepping out of hurting and into healing.
I have to let go of him in order to be a better me. I can't keep looking back on what I think I may have missed. I used to believe that my life would be better if he played his role the right way, but for all I know my life could have taken a turn for the worst with him in it.
They say a father is supposed to be a daughter's first love. This wasn't my reality but I can finally fix my mouth to say, I'm OK with that.
Lessons on Forgiveness: How I Forgave My Father and was Set Free Indeed