How to Forgive Your Father’s Betrayal
So You Can Have More Love in Your Life Now
Did you know that if you are angry, un-forgiving and resentful of your father you are actually hurting yourself? Think about it for a minute. Who holds that anger in their body and mind? You or him? This energy becomes toxic to the person feeling it and usually shows up as depression (which can be anger turned in on oneself) or a high level of anger toward others (those who you love and don’t deserve it) or as sickness (the anger creates stress within you and all kinds of blockages). How can you truly accept yourself as a good man if you hate the very man that gave you your life? How can you allow men who are honorable to cherish you as a partner/woman if you don’t trust them at your core?
I know this very well because I was so angry and un-forgiving of my father for shooting and killing my mother in 1995. I didn’t consciously know this at the time because I was in denial as a coping mechanism. I shifted from loving him and missing the father I believed I had before my mom’s death and hating him and wanting him out of my life. Because I was unaware of my full level of bitterness, I fell into a depression. It was easier on my nervous system to deny my feelings of rage—or so I thought. I gained weight. I felt apathetic about most everything. I put a wall up between me and almost everyone. At the time, I had no conscious recognition of what I was doing to myself. I wanted to be ‘nice’ instead of being ‘real.’ It took a great toll on my body, self-esteem and relationships.
Are you “numbing out” because you don’t want to face your anger or deep feelings of abandonment about your father? Are you over-eating, over-working, addicted to something that takes your mind off of your pain? If so, now is the time to get real, go deep, take responsibility for the way your life looks now, so you can start receiving the love you crave as a human being and that you deserve.
Here are two tools to help you start moving from un-forgiveness to forgiveness:
1. Start with self-forgiveness. When I hated my father, I hated a part of myself. Not only because he gave me my life, but also, because I somehow felt that because I trusted and loved him at one time, that meant that I was stupid and therefore, not to be trusted in making decisions. My anger at him turned inward and developed into mistrust and anger at myself.
During my Graduate Studies in Spiritual Psychology at The University of Santa Monica, where I earned a Master’s Degree in 2001, I learned a simple tool to help me to love and to forgive myself.
Here’s an example of what I wrote to bring about self-forgiveness:
I, Brenda, forgive myself for judging myself as stupid for trusting my father to do the right thing.
Then I reframed this judgment into a positive statement:
The truth is that it is perfectly okay to have loved and trusted my father.
I repeated this until I believed it and it took the edge off.
This is the format to use:
I,_______, forgive myself for judging myself as_________.
The truth is________________.
2. Free form writing. I didn’t write for three years after my mom died. I kept all the angry thoughts, delusions and dark fantasies in my head. It was the most detrimental and darkest place I have ever been in my life. One night when I couldn’t sleep I started putting down on the page all my rage, fear, and grief. This truly was the start of my feeling good again.
Set time aside to write out your emotions. Put on some soothing music. Write until there is no more to write. And if it is really dark, go ahead and throw it away. Just get rid of that energy. You’ll be surprised at how much better you will start to feel. Or, if you haven’t been in touch with your feelings because you’ve suppressed them; give yourself permission to have them surface in your journal. Are you angry that your father abandoned you? Are you angry that he left? Cheated? Whatever it is, I encourage you to give those feelings and thoughts a voice. You can start experiencing more love in your relationships now, if you are willing to do the work to let go of the past. Get present and find freedom. Stay present and live free every day.
Coaching Challenge: Take an honest look at your life. Which relationships are working and which aren’t? Why? Are there any unconscious beliefs in charge of your life, or is your present-minded, whole self in the lead? If it’s the former and there are negative beliefs, do the work to bring awareness to them. This present, mindful place is where you need to be in order to bring lasting change into your life.
Above all, be kind to yourself while you do this work. Is there something nice that you can do for yourself today? What’s stopping you? Go for it right now.