I pay my taxes, donate to charity, volunteer my time and go jogging regularly with my dog.
My family is healthy, I have been blessed with wonderful opportunities and I always smile at those less fortunate.
But I’m not perfect.
I try to take a little time each week to meditate and reflect on that week, give thanks to those who have helped me and most of all be grateful for all that I have been given.
Throughout my life I struggled with communicating forgiveness, not just to others but mainly to myself. Being able to forgive myself for decisions that I may have made, people that I may have wronged or paths that I chose to walk down.
We have a tendency to wish others to forgive us first, a “you go first” kind of attitude. And admittedly, I felt the same for a long time. In my mind things seemed ok, but it was getting the courage to put yourself in the vulnerable situation to ask for someone’s forgiveness.
I usually post thought filled and inspirational posts on Sunday, respectfully named my ‘Soulful Sunday’ posts. I know today is Thursday but after coming across this letter, I did not want to wait. I was touched with the amount of courage and strength it would take to write this, and the strength that it takes for me to forgive sometimes. It actually brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of situations in my own life, and I knew I did not want to wait to post it. We all have our faults and this seemed appropriate for this topic:
I do not even know where to begin, but let me first start off by saying that I love you.
Throughout your life, you have gained an accurate portrayal of much of my life, although accurate, I can now say it is not something I am proud of. If I may, I would like to take this opportunity to give you a small window into my own life.
I was born in a small city to a poor mother and father who struggled to make ends meet for much of my childhood. I had minimal role models of parents. I grew up in a time when there was no such thing as hatred, now I know better. I struggled to find a place to fit in, find myself, understand why I lived on scraps and broken shoelaces for so many years. When I was in my early teens, the answer came from the brotherhood.
I now cringe when I say that word. Brotherhood. Looking back, I struggled to find acceptance and family. What I ended up getting was betrayal and bigotry. My whole world changed and I felt as though I belonged. It brings tears to my eyes now realizing the pain I caused on so many families, families just like yours.
When your mother was born, my whole life was consumed in being the father for her that I never had. Your mother is so much stronger than I could ever be. She rose out from the beliefs that I had and saw such beauty in everyone all around her. In so many ways I can see how she saved me. I was so in love with her, in my eyes she could do no wrong. Nothing about her was ever out of place. My life was complete with my little girl.
When you were born I felt so abandoned and betrayed. How could my beautiful, perfect little girl create something all for herself? Something that she loved and cared for more than me? Something that was against everything that I felt was right. I became selfish and self consumed. I vowed that I would never forgive her, for not only having a child but having a child with a black man. An act punishable beyond measure.
My hatred festered for 18 long years after that. Years that caused me illness, pain, grief and near death symptoms. Years that aged me threefold.
And then one evening, I woke up, in the middle of the night and started to cry. And let me tell you, your grandfather is not a crying man. But laying in the hospital I realized I had nothing. Everything that I had once had, was gone. I cried for hours realizing how selfish I had been to myself and how unfaithful I had been to others. It was at that moment that the pain and hatred I had felt for others had caught up with me, and turned on me. I felt gut wrenching pain and nausea, instant headaches and tightness in my throat and chest. Pain from all of the anger, loss and loneliness I felt from not only my own parents, but your mother as well. Pain from all of the unresolved bitterness and abandonment that I had felt since I was a child.
I thought I was going to die.
But, I didn’t.
It was that moment that I knew I had to forgive myself. I did not want to continue living the way I had been. If I did, it was going to kill me. I had to forgive myself so that I could forgive others and finally so that others could forgive me. The anger that I let build up for so many years was so entirely thick that it did not allow for others to forgive me or for me to forgive them. All that was around my heart was hate and anger. It festered like an infected wound, growing, festering larger and larger and more rancid each day.
And the infection of that wound had finally seeped into my soul.
But I had to let that go. I had to let that wound heal. I had to forgive myself so that I could allow others to be angry at me, ask for answers. To those who needed closure and to those who needed me to allow them to let me go. I had to forgive myself for all those that I had hurt and allow myself to be criticized and be vulnerable to those who meant the most to me.
My daughter. And you.
And I want you to know, that I have forgive myself for all the hate and anger I caused myself. It has taken a long, long time, but I have. I forgive myself for the anger I held onto, the guilt and blame I placed on others and most importantly And I forgive those who gave up on me when I would not let them reach out to me.
And with this forgiven, it allows me to apologize to you, wholeheartedly for any and all pain that I directly or indirectly caused you. You are my blood and a beautiful young man.
I love you.