On forgiving and forgiveness.

Dear Coquette,

My dad had an affair with my mom’s (now ex) best friend, a woman who I grew up with as my “auntie.” It’s been about four years now and they are still together. She and I just cannot get along. We can be civil, but it’s really uncomfortable. I moved out of my dad’s at 17 because of it, and while I know it was the right decision for me, I barely have a relationship with him anymore. How do I make this work? I love and miss my dad but they are now a package deal.

You may love and miss your dad, but whether you consciously know it or not, you are also still incredibly angry with him, and you haven’t forgiven him for what he did to you.

No doubt you were a holy terror at 17, but so what? You were a teenage girl. You weren’t supposed to be the one who moved out, not like that. In essence what happened was that your father chose his new girlfriend over you after cheating on his wife, and to this day you resent the hell out of him for it.

A father isn’t supposed to choose his girlfriend over his daughter, and resentment is a perfectly natural reaction for that kind of betrayal. The thing is, you’ve projected all that resentment onto your “auntie,” so of course things are uncomfortable. She is living, breathing proof of your father’s rejection of both you and your mother. Unfortunately, that negativity will never go away until you acknowledge and then let go of the resentment you have for your father.

You have to forgive him. It’d be a lot easier to do that if your father would acknowledge his selfishness and apologize for his behavior, so you might want to gather up your thoughts and feelings and try talking to him. Take your time with this process. It’s heavy stuff. There are gonna be all kinds of emotions bubbling up and flying around.

Get all that stuff out, and then let it go. Once you come to a place where you’ve forgiven your father, things will automatically start getting better with his girlfriend.

What does the act of forgiveness entail? How do you know once you’ve reached that point? I mean, if you recall traumatic situations and painful memories and can remember how they hurt and angered you, can you still claim to have achieved forgiveness?

Forgiveness is the process by which you let go of anger and resentment. You will know you’ve reached the point of forgiveness when you no longer feel any anger or resentment, but it is not a process by which you forget that anger and resentment. To forgive is not to forget, nor should it be.

The very nature of forgiveness is the ability to remember how traumatic situations hurt and angered you without actually feeling any of the pain or anger.

That’s the peace that comes with forgiveness.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *