Forgiveness isn’t divine

I meant what I said in my last post – I really am moving on from the drama of my father. (Okay, okay…I’m starting to move on.)

Of course I’m still thinking about it; one forgets these things as easily as one walks into Mordor. During my daily perusal of Dear Wendy, though, I came across a link to a Slate post by Emily Yoffe, the site’s current “Dear Prudence”.

She starts, “What do we owe our tormentors?” What follows is a discussion, with references to several experts and studies as well as anecdotes of famous family issues, about the difficulty in letting go of these kinds of relationships – as well as the danger to the victim of not.

One of the things I haven’t mentioned on here, but have said more than a few times to my mother, is that a big reason I initially held back from sending a “kiss-off” letter was because I couldn’t bear to have it on my conscience if my father suddenly decided to make good on the threats of suicide he’s made for as long as I can remember. I know in my rational mind that he is a troubled and ill and self-centered man, and that regardless of his own justifications the decision to take his life (or not) rests squarely on his shoulders.

However, I have to contend with a strong emotional core. When I went to the police in 2004 and my parents finally separated for good, I struggled for years with feelings of guilt that it was my fault, not his, that our family was torn apart. It didn’t matter that I could see (and was living) the positive changes that night brought to us; inside, I blamed myself for not keeping quiet and wondered if my mother and brother blamed me too. It’s a twisted, vicious cycle, and not one that I want to jump into again.

Yoffe says, that’s okay. “Sometimes the best thing to do is just close the door.” I couldn’t agree more…but I will admit that it’s so nice to see someone else saying it too.