During one of my rare father-daughter moments with my dad, he asked me why my sisters and I were upset about him adopting an adult son in China. I told him that all us girls thought that he had gotten over not having a biological son, so when he told us about the adoption, we were hurt that we were not enough for him. He looked quite puzzled. Then he explained how he needed a “son” in China to take of family that was left there. It had nothing to do with us girls. He didn’t mean to hurt our feelings. But there was no apology for hurting our feelings. Basically, he didn’t mean it that way, so we shouldn’t take it that way.
Over the years, I’ve come to decide that it was his way of asking for forgiveness. I mean, he isn’t about to apologize, so I better stop expecting it to happen. It has taken me a long time to understand forgiveness as something I do for myself. When I forgive someone, I am no longer going to expect anything to make up for whatever hurt I experienced. I don’t feel like anything is owed to me anymore. What’s done is done, now it is over, we can move forward from this point on. That does NOT mean, however, that I forget what happened. Forgive and forget? That is for doormats. Forgiving releases me from heartache. Forgetting just gives license to others to abuse me repeatedly.
So I forgive my father when he hurts my feelings. That’s how we continue to get along. But I never forget, because how else am I going to learn how I want to be treated by a man?