Forgiveness

Some very bad things happened to me when I was a child. No, that’s not accurate. Some very bad things were done to me when I was a child. The majority of it, I lay at the feet of my mother. But not all of it.

From what I’ve been told, my mom wouldn’t allow me to have any contact with my biological father, Elbert, although that’s not what the court papers told her to do.

Mom never missed an opportunity to tell me what kind of awful person he was. Mamaw Goldie often told me those were mostly lies, though, and to pay it no mind.

By the time I was a teenager I decided to send Elbert a letter, mostly out of curiosity. I was nothing at all like anyone else in my family and I wanted to know who I was like. Why did I love to read? Why did I remember almost everything I read? Who did I look like?

Eventually we ended up meeting and spending some time together. Elbert had his own family by then. I didn’t fit there. There was no place for me. I was resentful of his new family. I really don’t know what I expected from him.

During this time I didn’t ask him about the early years. I never asked why he didn’t come for me or try to see me. I just left all of that neatly packed away. Our communication sort of fell off for a number of years and picked back up again several years later when I was an adult.

And finally I did ask. I couldn’t not ask. I was a mother. I’d been divorced. And nothing and no one would’ve ever kept me from my child. I had to know how he just forgot about me, his firstborn child.

He didn’t really answer me. There was something about how the courts were different back then. (But you didn’t even try!!) Ultimately he ended up apologizing and I said I forgave him.

Now, a few years later, circumstances have changed. I’m on Facebook. He’s on Facebook. I’ve seen posts from other girls thanking him for being there for them, for being like the dad they never had. And I want to ask him, “Why couldn’t you be my dad?” He makes impassioned posts about his pro-life position and how people shouldn’t have abortions and I want to scream: “Hypocrite!! You didn’t raise the baby you made!”

And if that was the worst of it, maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be so bad. But he knew who my mother was and he still left me with her. For ten years (I was two when it started.) her third husband molested me. And that’s just the beginning.

Now my father wants my forgiveness.

I’ve always had a vast capacity for forgiveness, believing we forgive for ourselves, not for others. I do still believe that. The small child in me is hurt, though, and needs time to work through and try to understand this. I cannot forgive him today, but I am working on it.

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