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A Woman Alive

November 5th, 2013

The Forgiveness Factor

By Diane

Forgiveness is not an easy thing for me.  In almost every case forgiveness involves letting go, taking responsibility and forgiving yourself – all three areas where I often struggle.  And sometimes in the midst of my anger or frustration I can get so caught up in holding on to the blame and the guilt that I forget what is on the other side – I was reminded this weekend.

DadandGangIt was parent’s weekend at Syracuse University this weekend –my first ever as it is my daughter Jesse’s freshman year.  I know this event certainly held more excitement for me then it did for my daughter and I was so blessed to be accompanied by my 80 year old Father, Jesse’s Grandfather.  We had a beautiful weekend and I loved watching Jesse and my Dad hang out together; my Dad divulging stories of his college years and giving advice, sharing the football game (Go ‘Cuse!) and Jesse proudly introducing her friends to her fabulous grandfather!  I was grateful for every moment.

So what does this have to do with forgiveness?  If you had known me ten or fifteen years ago you would know that I barely ever spoke to my Dad.  I was angry.  He was an alcoholic for most of my growing up. He had divorced my mother and married a much younger woman and started a new family – one I was never invited to be a part of.  My father was quite successful and moved with his new family to Connecticut – leaving my mother and I behind in Ohio.  Even before that I had never felt comfortable in the skin I thought my father wanted me to wear.  And when I tried to please him I failed miserably.  I spent most of my twenties and thirties angry, blaming my dad for my confusion and for anything that went south in my life – my father was the perfect guy to blame.

About ten years ago my father almost died.  When he was told by the doctors that he had to 100% stop drinking or he would die I have to say I really thought he was going to die.  But he did not. He stopped drinking. He built a new life and in the midst of his healing and transition I moved to New York City where I was now 45 minutes away from Dad.

It started slowly this process of forgiveness.  It took many years.  There were a lot of discussions.   A lot of open and honest sharing.  There was a tremendous amount of soul searching on my part, acknowledging where I was responsible for the breakdown of our relationship over the years.

But here is the amazing thing.  Somewhere in that process I forgave him, and I also forgave myself.  I let go of trying please my Dad and began to just love him and accept him for who he is – his faults, his strengths – all of him.  And I began to see that he loved me too, that I had always been his daughter.  And the more I opened up to him, was authentic and real with him, the more he did the same.

And here we are today.  The love and bond we share is unbreakable BECAUSE it is built on forgiveness, acceptance and authenticity. And because of forgiveness we have created a new legacy of healing in our family and given my daughter a great and lasting gift – a relationship with her grandfather.

Thank you Dad.  I love you.



4 Responses to “The Forgiveness Factor”

  1. Marcia

    Bravo, Diane.
    Being real…for ourselves first, is the way to be real, and seen, by those who matter to us. This journey is for finding deeper self-love and and acceptance…

  2. Diane

    thanks Marcia – so much. And you are one who is so powerful in this journey to be real! Love you and miss you!

  3. petee vusvunis

    A beautiful story. Being angry is wasting precious time. But on the other hand it takes time to heal the deep wounds that happen in our innocence. We end up blaming ourselfs and not letting go of the pain. The wonderful thing is your able to give your daughter a grandfather because why should she suffer,she had nothing to do with the past. So Happy for you being able to miove on. I know it wasn’t easy.

  4. Diane

    Thanks so much Peter! Your kind words mean a lot to me! Anger can be so hard to let go of – but when you do the rewards run deep:-)