It’s been almost two months since I’ve seen or physically spoke to either of my parents. To say that putting them on a “time out” for awhile was the most difficult decision I’ve ever made, is an understatement. The pain and trauma of having to realize that my parents are not on my side, and that at the core, only care about what other people think of me, has put a strain on my relationship with them that I don’t think will ever be forgotten. People keep telling me that I need to forgive them, that it will set me free, and while that may be true someday, I don’t think that pain will ever go away.
And when you think about forgiveness, it’s an odd beast: it’s a thing that you’re supposed to do, because that’s what society tells you to do, but it’s an incredibly painful and vulnerable process. Berkley defines forgiveness as a, “conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” Get that: it is a conscious, deliberate decision, whether they deserve it or not.
And what if you don’t feel like they do? For example, it’s hard to imagine forgiving the cheating ex-boyfriend that left you for a chick that matched his “true ideals”; I feel like part of the heartache is always wondering if it was something to do with you, if you were to blame.
But the reality is, forgiveness is not about the other person, it’s giving yourself permission to move on; you can’t force it, it has to come with time and proper processing.
I know that as of right now, it isn’t time to forgive yet; I still have a lifetime of memories and lessons to process: my parents divorce and subsequent nasty custody war, my mom’s co-dependence, both of my parents’ low-key racism, antiquated beliefs on marriage and the woman’s role in it, is something that I’m trying to separate from, but after 30 years of hearing that your opinion is wrong, and theirs is right, it’s a slow process.
My parents tried to control every aspect of my life; my father blatantly, and my mother by planting little seeds of doubt. They both used their powers of guilt and shame against me for years. After all, I am the oldest child, and was raised to be an obedient people pleaser, so it was easy for them.
Good things are finally starting to happen though: my “fiancé” and I are finally planning our wedding, engagement photos, etc. and I could not be happier about planning it with him. I’ve also reconnected with some people that I’ve loved for many years but had disconnected with. We have a brand new (to us) beautiful apartment in which we finally feel like we’re home (even if it is on the third floor).
I love my parents, and I miss them, but for the first time in years, I feel like I have room to breathe, grow and excel without fear of disappointing them.
I also feel like I can finally be myself instead of having to pretend to be the daughter they wanted.
I am a Phoenix, a lotus flower, and a survivor.