Forgiving past may be harder than it seems


Nathan Mills, Editor-in-cheif


My dad sent me a Facebook message this week.

For most people, that probably isn’t a big deal, I guess. Heck, most people probably don’t even have their dads on Facebook.

My dad only contacts me through Facebook. Before that, he never reached out to me at all.

I didn’t meet my dad until I was almost 18 years old. 

Since then, we’ve spent time together maybe twice, and he sends me the ocassional Facebook well-wishing during holidays or on my birthday. Other than that, we don’t speak.

I expected the message to be one either wishing me happy holidays or a congratulations on my marriage. 

Instead, what I got was something along these lines: “My mom has cancer, and now I regret never being there for you. Forgive me so we can have a normal father-son relationship.” 

I feel for him. Although my mom is still alive and in great health, I can only imagine how I’d feel if she was staring at such a diagnosis.

At the same time, all I keep thinking is that he wants me around when he needs me, but where was he when I needed him?

Is that selfish?

I really don’t know if it is. I feel like some would call it selfish, but I feel like nothing was given to me and, as such, I don’t owe him anything, especially compassion.

To this day, I’m not sure he and I will ever be able to have the sort of relationship he suddenly wants. I’ve wanted it in the past, but that’s in the past, dead and forgotten.

In recent years, I’ve learned that I don’t need him or his approval to achieve any success in this life, and as such I’ve all but let it go.

He wants forgiveness and for us to be some sort of fixed-up-but-still-fractured family, but that can’t happen, at least not entirely.

I forgive him for what he did to me. I’ve been over that for a long time. People make mistakes, and one can’t let the baggage from another’s mistakes weigh them down.

What I can’t forgive him for is what he’s done to the rest of the people around me. I can’t forgive him for my nephews, because I sometimes don’t know how a grown man is supposed to play with young boys.

I can’t forgive him for my mom, because she had to do the best she could for me on her own, something no woman should have to do, but it makes them the strongest women in the world.

I can’t forgive him for my wife, because I’m terrified to have kids. I don’t know if I can be there for my kids as a father because mine was never there for me. 

I don’t know what it is to get a hug from your dad, and I’m scared I won’t know how to hug my own kids.

It’s weird, something like this coming out in a college paper. I’m aware, and I certainly don’t mean to air out my dirty laundry.

Writing about it is just cathartic in some way, maybe because I know I’m not the only one out there.

Dozens, maybe hundreds of students at Southern come from single-parent homes, and they harbor all the same feelings as I had growing up. 

They know what it’s like to shun and be shunned.

I know I’m not alone out here. I just wish telling my dad he wasn’t worth my time didn’t make me feel that way.