I want to expose myself and share a sensitive story from my personal life with you. Something not many people know about me. Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending…
When I was 25 I was angry about a lot of things. One of the biggest was my father…
He had cheated on his wife, my mother, and left her while she was pregnant with me.
I never knew him. He didn’t pay child support. Showed no care that I was even alive.
My mom was left to be a 20 year old divorced single mother…who amazingly made it work. She remarried and the man I’d known since I was about 3 years old became my Dad.
Unfortunately he had anger issues and being a step daughter was thrown in my face a lot. I grew up hearing how “the fucking step kid” ruined his life. He hadn’t chosen me, he’d chosen my mom and I was the baggage that came with it. I was called a “pinhead” and a “fat cow” so often I would have started to believe it – had I not rebelled in every way possible. I did however turn to food for comfort but that’s a whole other story.
I grew up to be strong, intelligent, and successful. Yet, at 25 I started to really look at the pain I was carrying due to the abandonment of my father. Instead of pushing it down and acting like it didn’t bother me (yet referring to him as hateful things like “the sperm donor”) I took a good hard look.
That year I had the opportunity to be enrolled in a life education program called Landmark Education that did exactly as it touted: it changed my life. I began seeing how our minds create our realities and that objectively things just are what they are. It’s what we make of them that causes pain and suffering, or joy and freedom. And it’s our choice. This was the beginning of my ongoing personal development quest.
After doing the Landmark Form I decided to forgive my father for being a piece of shit, and to forgive my step dad for being abusive and making my childhood hell. I set out to find my father using internet search tools. I had his name and birth date but nothing else.
It took 6 months to find him. If I’m honest a lot of that was my subconscious stalling. What would I say when I found him? How would I feel? Would it be overwhelming?
I made a few unsuccessful calls to people with his same name. Had almost given up (So I could at least say I tried right?) But then the day came when I had yet another name and number. I called, and when a man answered, I freaked out and hung up. I knew it was him. Now all those questions about what I’d say were super relevant and swirled in my head. When I got up the nerve I called again and told the man on the other end of the phone my name and that I thought he was my father.
In my head fireworks went off and time stopped. This was such a huge moment for me.
After a long pause he responded with heavy emotion that he’d always hoped he’d be able to talk to me one day. We talked for a few minutes (he had to get back to work) and I was able to tell him I forgave him. He apologized and we made a plan to meet.
Meeting him was crazy. I looked SO much like him. And I felt strangely comfortable with him. He had a fun-loving personality and was easy to get along with. We had a blast.
Neither of us was afraid to be who we were. I told him about my life, my beliefs, etc. He told me about his. He was a Republican and very much Christian, neither of which was me. The one thing we did see eye to eye on was about the importance of clean food. He was against Monsanto as am I and he understood the value of organic food.
At some point in the visit he became slightly over-bearing on the whole religious thing. Trying to make me watch a movie to enlighten me, to go to church with them, and telling me I needed to accept Jesus Christ as my savior if I was to go to heaven. I adamantly explained that I don’t believe in any one religion and that I choose to be a good person every day of my life so I didn’t understand why I would have to believe in what he told me to in order to go to “heaven.” I even educated him in that men don’t have one less rib from where God made Eve from Adam (yes, he actually believed that and had never thought to research the medical fact.)
By the end of the visit I was glad I’d met him. Glad I’d overcome everything inside myself to make the journey to find him, to visit him, and to show him who I grew to be in the 25 years of not knowing him.
But I also felt judged for not being a staunch republican. I felt judged for being overweight. And I felt most of all judged for my religious beliefs not aligning with his. I couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t accept me, despite how awesome I turned out with zero input from him. This was painful. A different pain than the unknown.
It was all such a gift though. I was freed from the anger, resentment, and what-if of the past. I also saw that this man, though jovial, was not someone I really wanted influencing my life. I felt extremely grateful for who I was; who I’d grown to be. And for the people who had helped me become this person – my mom and stepdad. I had never been more grateful of my family than I was now.
The pain of my childhood I could put in the past and see that it solidified me into the strong, independent person I am. I could appreciate that my father, my mom, and my stepdad had all done their best with what they knew, how they’d grown up, what role models they had, and the individual paths they were on. I finally understood the true meaning of forgiveness, and the freedom it brought.
I’ve yet to tell my stepdad about meeting my father, but I did call him one day and told him I loved him and was grateful for everything he did for me growing up.
I learned a ton about myself in that journey, and that was just the beginning!
I feel that relationships are assignments like A Course In Miracles tells us, and there are no coincidences. All the experiences leading up to then, and all those to follow, were meant to be. This was my assignment and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I strongly believe that the people that hurt us the most in our lives are our greatest teachers. For that we can be grateful to them. They are the angels that guide us to be strong, forgiving, compassionate, and all other traits we need to develop in order to fulfill our individual journeys here. This is true gratitude.
I believe now more than ever that self-love is the key to everything. To good health, good relationships, success, you name it. I never would have been able to make it through the hardships I have without a healthy source of self-love. I know who I am, I know why I believe what I believe and am proud of it, and I love the person I see in the mirror every day. I surely didn’t start that way, but I’m here now and I’d never turn back.
This is what I want for everyone. It’s not what happens to us, but how we move forward from there that makes a difference.
Love & Hugs,