Forgiving My Father: How My Son’s Unconditional Love Convinced Me To Embrace My Dad
By TIKEETHA THOMAS
I never wanted to admit that I was one of those women who had daddy issues. I think it was because I was afraid to be labeled. To know and accept that there was something wrong with me. But, I did admit it. I admitted it at the conclusion of my marriage. Not that it was a lightening bulb that went off and said, “Hey there lady, you got daddy issues!” No, that wasn’t it. It was my ex telling me in a hurtful outburst that he wished that he had never married a woman who had unresolved daddy issues.
My parents separated when I was nine years old because my dad was a violent alcoholic. My childhood memories are filled with dresses, flowers, bee stings and kisses. Imbedded in my spirit are also the memories of bloody noses, black eyes and broken furniture. It wasn’t a relationship fit for a woman or her children. But, it was my reality.
Many years passed and my dad chose to not be a part of my life. He literally abandoned me. I went through many failed relationships and suffered sexual abuse at the hands of men. I was a broken woman. I didn’t trust love. I didn’t want love and I was fearful of abandonment. Men couldn’t get close to me because ultimately I believed that they would leave. I always left first.
Life has a way of coming full circle because at my lowest point in life, I had to reconcile with my dad. I was freshly separated and hating men. When I saw my dad that evening it was not a look of love that I gave him, but a look of apathy. I wanted to show the man who had deserted me that I was just fine without him. That life moved on and he missed it.
The conversation was strained and difficult and I had realized that my dad had no recollection of the horrors of my childhood. Alcoholism had destroyed his memory. I stood in amazement. I said, “Dad, I love you. I always have and I’m willing to build a bridge one brick at a time so that you and I can have a relationship.” He smiled and said, “I would like that baby girl.”
I kept that promise of trying to build that bridge when I visited him for Mother’s Day last month. I brought my 7-year-old son to meet my dad. It was an unsettling feeling for me. Would he abandon my son like he abandoned me when I was a child? Would my son like him? There were many questions floating around in my mind, but I let them fall by the wayside and pushed forward with an introduction. We got out of the car with my hand clasped tightly around my son’s. My son saw my dad sitting there and ran to my father and wrapped his arms around his neck and said with enthusiasm, “Grandpa! It’s so nice to meet you. I’m Brennan.”
And just like that the wall that guarded my broken heart shattered. My son smashed down that brick wall with his sheer love and acceptance of the man that had abandoned me 30 years ago. He just loved him. He was excited to have a grandfather. It was as if the entire world was made right by knowing he had a grandfather. How awesome is that?
My son reminded me that I had a father. He was alive. He was here and he wanted to be a part of my life. It was my son’s unadulterated love for this total stranger that allowed me to forgive. To forgive the man who had abandoned me and just love the man standing in front of me. Broken pieces and all. I was no longer seeing the missed birthdays, graduations or wedding day. I was seeing my smile reflected in his face. The twinkle in his eyes that matched my own. The hands that used to rub my head every night before bed.
Forgiveness is free and I chose to forgive and love the father that God gave me. Love him for who he is today and not for who he was or wasn’t yesterday. I can’t change the past, but I can build a new future with the man who I have always loved and the son who made it all possible.
Tikeetha Thomas is a full-time working mom with a seven year old son who is the apple of her eye. She resides in Maryland and when she is not working and catering to her little boy, she is busy working on her first novel. You can follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/mskeeinmd or read more about her life at her blog, A Thomas Point Of View.
Originally published at mybrownbaby.com on July 7, 2015.