I will try and explain this as simple as possible. Basically my mum and dad split up when I was very young and I used to see him a couple of times a year. Things were great until I was about 13 and I wasn't getting a long with my mum so my sister and I moved away to live with him. I saw a completely different side to him during our time there. He drank and hit us and used to do the nastiest things someone could say to their daughter. In the end, after about 2 years, he chucked us on the streets and we had to move back where our mum lived. Since we moved back I have found out some awful things about him but I have been keeping in touch with him. I will never forgive him for the things he has done and will always hate him. I feel I need to put a stop to everything and say goodbye once and for all as he has not changed and I can tell and he doesn't seem sorry for what he has done. Should I put the fact that I cannot forgive to the side and try? Or should I stop speaking to him. I think either way, will be hard but I need to know what to do because my head is getting so messed up!
Dear Stacie: You didn't mention your age, but if you're under 18 please write me again. I'll have different advice. Several things come to mind for you. First, it is common that a child of an abusive parent will continue trying to get love and attention from that parent. Unconsciously we believe that if that parent finally acknowledges us and gives us the care we deserve, we'll finally be OK. You probably know already that isn't true. Your father has his own path and makes his own choices. Nothing you ever did was to blame for his horrible choices. And keeping yourself caught between "hating" him and "forgiving" him is a no-win situation for you. All you can do is see him clearly, grieve what was and what will never be, and turn your attention to making yourself and your life healthy. Remember that whatever we give our attention to -- positive or negative -- becomes larger in our "reality." Why not contemplate a third choice? Don't take any more actions in the outer world to contact or stay in touch with him. Just let him be. And, at the same time, don't give him anymore of your power by having strong emotions about him. Spend as little time thinking about him as possible. Whenever you find yourself caught up in the past, force yourself to shift your attention to something healthier. Something pleasant. Something hopeful about yourself and your life. I'm sure that sounds like denial, but some constructive denial can help shake us out of the "either/or" patterns we're so fond of. Because whether we're thinking about what that person did, and how much we hate him, or how much we'd like things to be different, we're still stuck in the same old, negative pattern. Nothing good can come from either end of that negative pattern. Forgiving him might happen at some point, but you've got a lot of anger to work through before that. Take charge of your life, your emotions and your future. Don't let him contaminate the future as he has the past. And the only way he won't contaminate it is if you make other choices -- focus on better things -- and refuse to slide back down into the energetic manure. I was very angry at my father for years and years for similar reasons, and the only person who was really being harmed by all the strong emotions I had was me. I haven't forgiven him, but I no longer spend much time thinking about him. Who knows what I'll choose later? And only you know what you want the rest of your life to be like. Now, having said all that, I think you need to talk to a counselor. If you have limited resources, check out the Mental Health Center in your town. They usually offer a sliding scale. Bless your heart. Things will get better.