Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lori Chose to be Estranged From Her Dad

Today’s blog post is from a woman who read my blog and is interested in the topic from the point of view of a child who chose to stay away from her father. Living with an unstable father, suffering from his bad choices and chaos that ensued, she made a difficult decision to protect herself and her family. As she wrote to me, “I’m always hoping my dad will wake up, but just when I think he might, he gets right back to his old antics.” Here’s Lori’s story:

People often mention troubled children, yet, there also quite sadly exist troubled parents. I myself have had to deal with an unstable father throughout my childhood and made the tough decision in my 20s to no longer have him in my life. The factors that influenced this go far beyond my parents’ divorce, my father’s infidelities, and alcoholism. Those were merely symptoms of the broken man I could no longer deal with. After years of therapy and determination, I can now say I harbor no anger or hate for him; only pity and forgiveness.

I’d like to point out that my belief in forgiveness means that I bear him no ill will and wish him no harm. It does not mean that I find his behaviors to be right or okay, and it does not mean that I wish to let him back around me to commit the same offenses. Forgiveness in my mind is releasing that person from destructive thoughts while still keeping yourself protected through setting boundaries. I do not hate him; I do not trust him, either.

Until the age of 18 I was a victim. From that point on, I knew I finally had the control and freedom to distance myself from my father’s toxicity and manipulation. It was difficult and scary, but worth it. The specifics of my struggle are not essential to my message; someone always has it worse than someone else, yet what we all have in common is the power to move on.

I know people mean well when they say they hope we can work things out and that maybe one day I’ll want him back in my life. What they don’t understand is that this person is ill, broken, and keeps repeating their same destructive patterns.

Sometimes in speaking with certain people I get the sense that I’m being judged for my decision. It’s been implied that I don’t really understand the impact of my decision and I’ll regret it. What they don’t realize is to come to this decision I’ve already had to accept the situation and mourn the loss of a caring, safe parent that I never had and never will be able to have.

1 comment:

  1. This essay really resonated with me. It was necessary to dissociate myself from my family because of my mother's continuing abuse, my father's complicity with it to avoid being a target of her abuse, and the failure of anyone in the family to stand up for my right not to be abused. If forgiveness is defined as in this essay, one could say I "forgave" my parents a long time ago. I never had ill will towards them. But I think that the concept of forgivemenss lets them off the hook too much. I think about what I could have attained professionally if I had parents who paid for my college education and contributed to my living expenses during postgraduate education, and if I had a family that was not throwing its turmoil onto me while I was in college. The damage is there every day of my life. It wasn't just the passive lack of resources. It was also deliberate destructiveness and action in opposition to my talents. And the writer is correct. There are people who are very judgmental about the issue of leaving a family and there are people who are very judgmental about the choice to be single and live alone.