As I sit in the warm Texas sunlight listening to my Dad, I can’t help but smile.
I finally see my Dad as human, and I love him even more because of it.
It feels like it’s been a hundred years since we’ve done this. Of course, that’s crazy, because I’m only 36—but it feels as though it has been a lifetime. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent much of this lifetime being a right little jerk who couldn’t pull my head out of my ass long enough to see what was really going on around me.
I was relentless. I was a blamer.
All the sh*t and chaos of my life was someone else’s fault for 34 years.
Mostly, it was my Dad’s fault.
Until one day, I finally got over myself and learned how to forgive.
Starting with myself—which then filtered down to being able to forgive others.
My head has been forcibly removed from my a**, and my vision unclouded by my self delusion. I see the big picture. He never deserved my blame. Sure he’s not perfect, but last time I checked, neither am I.
No one teaches us that valuable lesson early on. Or at least no one taught me. Maybe we wouldn’t understand it. Maybe we have to come to the understanding our own way, via our own path.
I feel that, at a young age, we find that putting blame on others is easier— because if we don’t know how to take responsibility for ourselves, how can we? We can only do the best we can, according to what we know.
And that statement profoundly helped my forgiveness practice.
I grew up with this idea that if I could just be perfect, then my Dad would love me. But I created that idea. No one ever told me I had to be perfect. I just took the high standards of my household, and the gruff nature of my Dad to mean that I wasn’t good enough.
I created that story and chose to hang on to it my whole life—which created my impossible expectations of myself and everyone around me.
I couldn’t stop being obsessed with myself and my needs long enough to see that my family around me was human too, and that we were all struggling with our own pains. As an empath, I was too busy drowning in everyone’s emotions because I couldn’t understand they weren’t mine.
I could write on and on about the things that caused me to carry around an inferiority complex my whole life—-but the fact is, none of that matters anymore.
None of my childhood woes and scars make it okay to still be walking around as an adult blaming everyone else for what I am not capable of.
I now make the choice to no longer cling to the identity of “I can’t do that.” I choose to stop blaming and to take responsibility for what I am going to be in this life. I believe that any of us has the power to do that. On a daily basis we can make this choice.
Regardless of what has happened in our lives—what has scarred or traumatized us—we can choose to live on or to give in to being a victim.
I looked at my own actions and saw all the wrong choices I had made. I saw myself as I was living, a replica of the man that I swore I would never be like.
Now, I am proud and honored to be my father’s daughter. Once I stopped being a right little git at 34 years old, I was able to see his qualities instead of focusing on everything he wasn’t.
I truly believe that when we come to a place of acceptance and love for ourselves, we are able to see the beauty in everyone else, flaws and all.
At one point of my life, I think my Dad and I didn’t speak for at least two years. I was running the streets and he wasn’t tolerating it. Now, I sit and have coffee with him, and we talk like people. There is genuine love and appreciation for each other. It’s beautiful.
He smacked my head into a wall once and dragged me out of the house to a detox—which I ran from in my socked feet in mid-winter. Now we take the boat out and reminisce about the days when we were all afraid to talk to him and I was a lost soul finding my way.
It’s a truly beautiful thing to find forgiveness inside ourselves, which we can then turn outwards to forgive others. We can forgive for all of our hurts we once thought were so unforgivable.
This happens when we decide to take our power back. When we look within to see where we have erred in our own lives. Holding on to hurts and wrongdoings is like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die. It does nothing for us.
In getting over myself, my entitlement and my need for outside validation I have found a beautiful place of love and contentment to live in. Once I finally learned to accept what I had and appreciate it, instead of wanting what I didn’t have, I found out I had the Dad I wanted all along. I was just too blind to see it.
My path to forgiveness simplified:
1. Get over ourselves.
Who do we think we are, anyways? Examine that
2. Grow self-esteem, practice estimable acts, service to others, humility.
When we love ourselves we see the futility of anger/resentment. Esteem grows with esteemable acts. And don’t tell anyone what you did.
3. Self-care- teaches us we are worth it too. Act until we believe.
What do we need today? Rest? Food? Yoga? Breath? Time alone? We must care for ourselves first to care for others.
4. Look at my own behaviors. Own my actions. I made mistakes. I did what I knew how. So does everyone. Wow. Who am I to judge them and not me?
When I own my behaviors I can forgive others for theirs. I can only have power over myself.
Look at what we have instead of what we wish we had. I promise there is beauty right in front of us!
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Ann Worner/Flickr