Friday, September 2, 2011

The post where I reveal more than rainbows and butterflies.

This post may get wordy. I usually try to keep my posts short and attractive to the attention span of a busy blog reader. I also keep my post pretty rainbows and butterflies… not this one. If you care to read further, you may gain some insight on me that you I have never revealed. I am pretty sure that most people who visit this blog view me as an optimistic, crafty, tattoo loving, block-making, treat-baking Momma. All of which is true. All of which I would not trade for a million dollars (for real). But my life has not always been this way and sometimes I bury a lot inside myself and try to forget things in my life that have brought me here.

But the last couple of days gave been hard for me on the ‘forgetting’ front. It started with my newest tattoo:

My tattoo artist and I came up with this design as a memorial for my father. He was in the Air Force, so the propeller and eagle wings represent that part of his life. The ‘Forgiven’ was the message I would want him to see if he had the opportunity.

As I mentioned, I bury a lot. I am a master of not thinking about things that really bother/ have bothered me. I was in for a rude awakening immediately after I got my tattoo, jumped into my truck and looked down at it. I have not thought too much about my father since I left Maine after his funeral. The hours I was with him as he passed and then his funeral were the hardest thing I have experienced so far in my life. It was one of the times in my life where I cried often and freely… I let my emotions show. I was mourning for him. What he had lost in leaving this life. What he had suffered through during his life.

As I looked at my tattoo, it hit me: I had not mourned for me. For what I had lost. For what I never had.  I had engraved the “Forgiven’ on my foot with the sentiment that I had forgiven him. But, as the tears were rolling down my face, I realized that I had not.

I only met my father when I turned 18 and my mother revealed who he was and where he lived. My only memory of anything about him before that point was a test when I was a little girl to determine if he was my father. (For the record, my mother knew he was, it was just the first instance of many where he tested my understanding of what a bond between father and daughter should be.)

Our first meeting went so horribly wrong that I was pulled over by a police officer for swerving because I was crying so hysterically as I left his house.  My father was an alcoholic for 40 years of his life and I think that not only damages your body, but your mind and your ability to feel or be sympathetic of others feelings.

I am not sure why, after that meeting, I continued to try to develop our relationship… but I did. I never really tried to confront him about abandoning me or the effects that it had on me. In all honesty, when we met, the life he had lived had ravaged him so that I really thought any conflict would be a severe detriment to his health. Anyhow, I don’t think I would have gotten the answers I was looking for even if I tried.

I told my father, on his death bed, that I had forgiven him. I thought that was important for him to hear.  And now, as I really took time to let myself think about it, like I had not yet done, I knew I had lied.

I am not good at forgiving. I can forget (or at least suppress, at best) but I never forgive well. I think people with a religious background can forgive because they need to for some greater power. But I don’t hold those beliefs, so I can carry anger, sadness and bitterness with me indefinitely.

I am sad that I never knew the man that literally created my life. I don’t necessarily think that we have to like everyone in our family. I mean, it’s not like we get to choose them. But, I think that there is something innate where you just love them. No matter what they do or who they are.  And I am sad that he never loved me. He did not know me- even in all the time we did spend together, he never got to know me... the real me. The person I had grown to to.

I am angry that I will forever struggle with any relationships with men. I am angry at every man I know that deserts his daughter without any regard for her future well being and how deeply he is destroying her self esteem, her self worth. I am angry at my own husband the second he does not give our daughters every speck of attention they ask from him. I am angry when he does not overcompensate for my own loss.

I am bitter that I can not change, reconcile, or heal these feelings. That I feel as though I will forever carry this ache in my heart and this craving for the love of my father. Bitter that I might not be able to forgive and that these unresolved feeling are somehow affecting my life or my own daughters lives.

Ariana looked at my tattoo. “The propeller and wings are for old Grampy (forever deemed ‘old’ grampy because his life had aged him decades beyond his years, decade over their ‘real’ grampy: my step-father.) “But,” she asked “what does ‘Forgiven’ mean?”

My eyes were still swollen from the hours of crying. I was not positive what way to answer. Ariana has no idea about my background with my father. I had never wanted to give my children any preconceived (read: negative) ideas about my father. But I also did not want to lie. I said, "It means I want to forgive him for not being my father when I was a little girl."

I left it at that. Later, Colb asked, "Did it help? Do you feel better now that you have that tattoo for him?" 

No. It really doesn't. Not yet. It has helped me realize I have not dealt with anything near what I need to... but it is a painful reminder of that fact at this point. 

And that is me with a little less rainbows and flowery tattoos.


  1. It's okay to feel the way you do. Maybe one day you'll be able to look down at your tattoo and believe it as the truth. Hugs!

  2. It is okay not to forgive. When you are ready you will, and if you are never ready, then that is okay to.

  3. Forgiveness is a process, and it takes a long time of grieving all you have sacrificed and lost and mourning for those losses that occured at the hands of someone who has wronged you or deprived you of what you deserve.
    It's an experience. Not a moment. Not a word.

    Forgiveness is allowing yourself to feel everything you need to feel. Giving yourself permission to cry for the little girl who never knew her biological father. To grieve for the young woman who met her biological father. For the woman who tried to build a relationship with him.

    Forgiveness isn't quick in coming. And that's okay.

    You won't forget. Every time you give the girls every thing you have it's because you know what it will cost them if you don't. Every time you give your husband more than you think you have, it's because you know your marriage is worth so much more than the sum of its parts. Every time you take a moment for yourself, because you know that it is You at the core of your own wellness and contentment. You and the support of those you love and fight to keep by your side.

    You are doing a really good job.

  4. You're brave to let us see your vulnerable side. Unressolved relationships will always haunt us, won't they?....even though we know that we turned out ok. Your post made me think about the tough decisions parents make to protect their children from bad people. It also made me think about the special relationship between Dads and Daughters. (I like that website) The girls are so fortunate to have Colby. Your bio-dad missed out on a good thing.

  5. I wish I had some sage advice about how to forgive, but I'm still unable to forgive my own father for the same. I guess what I try to remember is that everyone is flawed, and as hard as it is to believe, everyone is a product of their own experiences that brought them to where they are.
    And I bet that as angry as you might have always been with him, he was likely even angrier with himself... and even if it wasn't quite 'forgiveness' from you, the acceptance and caring you showed to him in his later years probably taught him a thing or two about what real love and commitment is. And what a gift to him that was.
    Just give yourself the same acceptance and realize that you don't owe him anything more, but when forgiveness comes, you'll have peace.

  6. I've always found that forgiving and forgivness is more about me and not so much about the other person. It helps me move forward in life and live the way I want to. May you find peace.......

  7. This post has hit close to home. I'm living a similar situation. I never got to know my father. What I do remember was of him being an abusive alcoholic and addict. My mother left him when I was 4. I saw him a handful of times growing up. Despite all of that, for some reason I love him and miss him. Unfortunately he was murdered several years ago. He never got to meet his grand children or see his son as an adult.

    As for forgiving, I'm not sure that I can. I can only accept and move on. I wish you luck on your path and thank you for the post.

  8. I'm so sorry. I too, had a rough relationship with my dad, though very different circumstances. When I found out he was dying I made sure to confront those disappointments, and ill-feelings regarding his actions (or inactions) with the thought that it would help me after he died. While it did help, getting it off my chest and knowing that he knew just how much he'd hurt me, he's been gone almost 4 years and I can't say I've really forgiven him. And I guess part of it is because he didn't seek it. He was sure to tell me he was looking to right things with God, but not with the people he had actually hurt. Kind of made me more mad.

    You'll find a way to truly forgive him in time, I'm sure. This time for yourself, rather than him. Forgiveness doesn't happen over night. But don't be too hard on yourself in the meantime.

  9. forgiveness is hard. i'm not there yet either. there will always be a void. and thats hard to get over!

  10. Wow, that must have been hard! That was a lot of truth and I bet it all needed to be said. Congratulations on starting the journey. Know that we are all here to listen and hold you up when you need us. All of us have had some grief and we are all sisters of yours in your healing and working through it all. I hope you don't stop keep moving forward, you are doing a great job. Good luck and know that it is the best thing to share, we are here to listen and rock you when you need it.