The Road Ahead
Forgiveness is a process. It takes time; days, weeks, even years. It is not easy either, but if it was easy then it wouldn’t be a process.
Once upon a time there was a little girl, seven years old. An only child with “young and fun” parents. She didn’t have a care in the world; her life was her definition of “perfect.” The only concerns she ever had were wanting a younger sister or brother and, if she was lucky, maybe even a puppy.
One sunny, summer day, the girl’s life changed. Her mom was sad and cried a lot, but she didn’t know why. When the girl asked what was wrong, all she got was, “you are too young to understand.” Well, moms are always right, aren’t they? (At least that’s what my mom always told me).
“Daddy had to go somewhere for a while, and it is not a good place,” her mom finally said. Well, she was right. Seven-year-old me did not understand what prison was or why my dad had a drug addiction. Eleven years later, I still don’t understand. Understanding is a process. But what I do understand is that addiction is a disease that an individual cannot control.
My dad, my hero, did not wake up one morning and decide to become addicted He has always been, and forever will be, the kindest, most caring human I’ve ever known. His heart is filled with unconditional love for others.
When I was eleven years old, I finally got to be with my dad again. There were no more metal detectors I had to go through to see him, no more time limits, no more four hour drives to see him. I was with him again, and I went straight back to being daddy’s little girl. I was still young and thought I knew everything, but I didn’t understand quite yet. My dad was physically present, but emotionally and mentally he was not.
Overcoming addiction is a process. Growing up with my dad in and out of my life affected me more than I realized, because I never truly accepted that my dad has a disease. I never knew what to tell my friends when they asked, “Where’s your dad? What is his job? Where does he live? Do you see him?” I usually lied and made things up so I didn’t get asked a million more questions that I wasn’t comfortable answering.
I also realized I struggle talking about it. Accepting is a process. As I have gotten older, it has been harder for me to deal with. I have started to think to myself, what am I so ashamed of? It’s not like it’s my fault this happened. This does not define who I am. I just never thought this is how my life would be, but who would? Everything happens for a reason. One wrong turn, an extremely long red light, a heartbreak, a broken friendship, everything we do, we do for a reason and is part of our journey in life.
My dad has hurt me, my family and others around him. It was not intentional, it is not what he had planned for his life, and it’s not his fault. I am upset, I am angry, I am hurt, but I am going through the process. I am understanding now. I am accepting it. No, I do not understand the exact reason why my dad has a drug addiction or why this caused him to miss so many birthdays, accomplishments, heartbreak, and many parts of my childhood. No, I have not fully accepted the fact that my dad has a disease that he will deal with the rest of his life. But I am going through the process of forgiveness. It is hard and emotional but it’s worth it.
If you are seeking forgiveness from someone, all you can do is be the best version of yourself. If you are struggling with finding the power to forgive someone, don’t be so hard on yourself. Live in the moment and take one step at a time. I probably will never be able to fully forgive my dad for the heartache I have been through. Even if I say I have, deep down the wounds are there forever.
Everyone forgives in their own way, their own time, and with their own process. What has helped me the most through this process was reminding myself to be positive. It has been the hardest challenge of my life. Sometimes I am weak, and that is okay. I remember a recent phone call with my dad when he was telling me all of his thoughts. He said, “I just lay here and look at the ceiling for hours without being able to fall asleep, and I think about all of the things I have missed out on in your life.” I was holding back every tear I had. I told him, “yes, you missed out on a lot, but how are WE going to move forward? How about instead of reminiscing on the past that you missed, lay there and think about all the time we still have together, all the birthdays I will have, and all of the memories we still can make.”
If you continue to look back on your past, you will never truly be able to move forward and live your life to the fullest. Instead of thinking about all the things that could have happened, think about all of the things that still can happen.
Once upon a time there was a teenage girl, I am now eighteen years old and I have a father who struggles with drug addiction. I got my wish and now have three brothers and a sister…but I am still in the process of forgiving my mom for not getting that puppy.