Growing up had been challenging for me as I never had a relationship with my father. What made it difficult with my dad was the following:
– He wasn’t present at the hospital when I was born
– We moved as a family to Brazil and we left in 2 years time without my dad.
– We next lived in Sicily, Italy with his parents, my grandparents, for 4 years and he came once for a couple of weeks to visit
– We next moved and lived in Australia for 10 years where he was gone anywhere from 9 to 10 months of the year
-During our time in Australia, we constantly heard my dad saying we were moving to Canada and never could understand why
– My dad demanded our loyalty and wanted complete control of all of our lives, all of the time and and became irate when this wasn’t so or we questioned him
– My dad thought nothing of using his physical superiority to get his way and was verbally abusive to all of us on many occasions
– My dad used his physical force on me in front of others. On one occasion, I was completely embarrassed where I still recall this being the very first time I actually despised him
Over time, as I grew older, I resented my dad. I remember thinking highly of him when I was younger and slowly thinking how much I hated him that I wanted to get as far away as possible. A thought I still carry to this day was during high school as I went to school by train. When my dad was home, I would purposely miss the first 2 trains after school as I did not want to be home with him. Over time this became the norm for me as I wanted to be sure I was consistent whether he was home or not. This became my way of coping with the situation even if it was for an extra 30-60 minutes more without him.
Once we did finally separated in my late teens, and it ended on a very bad note where he was very very angry that 3 of my relatives had to intervene, I didn’t care what did or didn’t happen to him. I became very bitter and would be jealous anytime I would see any of my friends who had any kind of a relationship with their fathers. I carried this burden for approx 25 years.
I met Tina through our church in 2004. Over time, I became aware of the Lifeline program that Tina ran with her husband Ron and how it had helped numerous people.
I eventually ended up going to a Lifeline seminar in the summer of 2005 and that’s when it came out that I carried the bitterness of my failed relationship with my dad. I had a difficult time letting go and rationalized that I had a good relationship with my mother. Ron & Tina slowly had me seeing my father when he was a child. The question that was asked of me was, “Can you see your dad as a child? With everything you experienced with him when he was an adult, would he have done all of those things to you if he was a child?” That stopped me as I had never looked at it from this vantage point. It became clear to me that my dad was a confused adult and he obviously had issues in his life that he did not deal with. This next thought proceed from within me, “Who was I to hold all of those past grievances against my dad and how long was I going to carry them?”
I decided after the weekend that I would seek out my dad to reconcile. It was time to forgive and move on and see if there was any hope of reconciliation. I eventually connected with him in Jan, 2006 via telephone and I was very nervous. All I could remember was the last time and how bad it had ended. How was he going to react? Was he still angry? Would he lash out? And so on……..NONE of these things happened. My dad was excited to hear from me after all these years. I went to see him in 2008 and I learned that he didn’t think we would ever separate. He viewed his behavior as a bluff only to find out none of us thought of it that way. I also found out that he missed his family all those years, my mum, my sister. To this day I am the only one who has a relationship with my dad and I am the only one who does not carry any weight from the past.
By following the advise of Ron & Tina I was able to forgive my dad and have the heavy burden lifted from me for almost 10 years now. It was as if I was in a prison for approx 25 years and it would have continued to a life sentence. Don’t let that be you. Learn to forgive. Your life depends on it.
One final story I would like to share is when I went to visit my dad in 2008. My dad & I discussed a variety of topics as we shared a hotel room, he was quite open about his experiences and the topic came around to a son he had 2 years after we separated. I knew of him and nothing else.
My dad told me his first name and then proceeded to explain his difficulties with this next relationship. He eventually mentioned the last name of the boys mum and I asked him to provide me with his son’s full name. I asked him a few questions about him and realized I had been training at the same gym with my half brother next to me for approx 2 years and not knowing it was him. You never know what you will find out when you forgive……………..
Vince Schembri June 13, 2015