I know that forgiveness is the action verb when it comes to love and have spent years trying to learn the mysterious path that leads one to the freedom and peace that comes from forgiving. As with most things, we think we understand how something works, only to have life throw us another event to test us, to see what we really have learned.
I grew up in a family that defined dysfunction. I experienced the insanity and violence of divorce, long before it became socially acceptable, and was driven to my work because of the destruction that it wreaked in my young adolescent life and to my idea of family. In the following years, my personal study was to understand how families worked and making relationships that would fill the abyss that was left in my life after my family imploded.
Money was one of the primary energies that drove the insanity in my family. Nothing was ever given without guilt, shame or jealousy. I have spent years working on healing my relationship to money and much of it has happened with my business. So it was a risk to go back to my father to ask for help. I was clear enough to say prior to my request, that whether he said yes or no, that what was most important was that I didn’t want to feel bad about myself for asking or have the request come between us.
For a brief moment, my father was able to step up and choose me over money. He said he would help and even encouraged me as I was working to find the real funding I need to grow the business. I celebrated the shift in our relationship even more than the financial help. But then, things reverted. He couldn’t part with the money and instead of just saying no, he twisted his discomfort into his familiar old attacks on me. I know the things my family have said to and about me over the years bear no resemblance to who I am, but I still have to work to extricate their arrows from the old familiar wound sites.
Things degenerated quickly and each time I spoke with him, his attacks dug further back into a history that only holds painful memories for everyone. By the end, all of the small gains we had made in recent years towards each other were lost, all over a check that was never even written. I am overcome with grief and guilt for the asking. All the old vestiges of anger and abandonment that attached to my relationship to money are screaming at me now. Anger feels easier to manage then self -deprecation, but actually I want none of it.
I have no more time to spend on this relationship to money and I am way too old to be spoken to with vile disrespect. My forgiveness may never reach my father’s heart, but it is the only thing that will free my own. Thankfully, I find it is easier than I imagined to let go of the needs that brought me to this place. And rather than the shame of asking I am satisfied with clean, empty hands and a heart that is whole.
His attacks hit their mark. Of course I am equally sorry for all the ways that I could never open my heart or my home to my father. I am sad for the daughter I was never able to find but heartened recently to know that she is still in me. I am regretful too for all the meanness that has been exchanged between us. But I am happy too, that it was so easy to choose forgiveness both for myself and for him.
In the brief time that is left to us on this planet, I will choose to remember the moments when he said yes, when he moved towards me with compassion as well as the moments when I was able to show up. One evening last spring, we were seen dancing in the street together. Throughout life there have been these golden moments of tenderness and togetherness that have taught me what forgiveness looks like. This is all I have time for now, this work to hone in on the goodness with the courage and heart to choose only love.