I’ve had an incredible life growing up. I never had to watch my mom worry about money. I got to go to other countries and places that kids could only dream about online. And I never felt like I took that for granted. I was always grateful and thanked God for my life and my experiences.
My dad had enough money to spoil my mom and I. But he was never around. To be fair, they were divorced. It’s not like he lived with us. It’s not like I expected him to be in my house everyday.
But he lived in different cities, and eventually, a different country. As I got older, I equated all of the money and things that gave me an incredible lifestyle as him trying to buy my love. I didn’t want that to equate to love for me. So without using these actual words, I hated him. But then I felt guilty for hating someone that I was (1) supposed to love and (2) that was giving me things that I enjoyed.
So eventually, I just became numb to it all because it didn’t make any sense. I decided that I had no feelings about any of it. I told people “you can’t miss something that you never had.” I thought I had a picture of who I didn’t want to be. Someone who made promises they couldn’t keep, and someone who made selfish decisions and pretended like they didn’t actually effect anyone around them and stayed distant so they didn’t have to face the consequences of their actions.
Fast forward to adulthood, I’m 26. It’s been 3 years since my dad died. And it’s taken me this long to realize that if I’m being honest, I never actually mourned his death. I didn’t cry when he died, but at that point in my life… that wasn’t necessarily abnormal for me. I used that same phrase, “you can’t lose something you never had.”
But God has a strange way of teaching us about ourselves. And he sometimes takes years or lifetimes to teach one lesson. Without even realizing it, I subconsciously taught myself some of his same behaviors and tendencies.
I’ve put myself in countless situations and unintentionally acted in the same ways that I used to hate. I’ve avoided confrontation because I didn’t want to face any feeling of uncomfortableness or negativity. I subconsciously taught myself to run when I didn’t want to face or be unselfish enough to face my actions. I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do, and either pretend it really didn’t effect anyone else because this is my life or ask for forgiveness later.
The difference between what I can see in him and myself is that, he never acknowledged that there were errors in the way he was acting. And while acknowledging this in myself has taken years, that’s what I’m doing, if for no one else, but for myself.
So it’s been 3 years today since my dad died. And I finally can say out loud that I forgive him, because I ask the same thing from others of myself. And because God has forgiven me over and over and over. My dad may have not taught me unconditional love through his actions, but in reverse, he taught me how I want to love others.
Loving the people around us doesn’t mean that we will never make mistakes, but love means being humble enough to be a person that can admit when they’ve made mistakes and put in the work to show accountability. So I’m thankful for the life I’ve had, and I commit the rest of my life to holding myself to the standards that I didn’t see growing up.
Even though this isn’t the tribute that most people dream of, it’s raw and it’s real. And it’s taken me 3 years to comprehend. So I love you dad, not because you deserve it, but because none of us deserve it.
Rest In Peace, dad.