Forgiving, but not Forgetting
Have you ever had that moment that you’ve experienced something life changing? The ingredients: Betrayal. Deception. Dirty secrets. Do you forgive? You may not be able to go back after that happens.
It was the summer of ’07. I was lying by the pool relaxed. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face. My mom rushed over bawling her eyes out, frantic and confused. I will never forget that moment. The pain in her eyes. I had never seen my mom cry. Either she was distraught, or overly excited, but I doubted she was overly excited.
I couldn’t even get one word in, just barely a stutter. She kept talking so fast. Finally I got a sentence in. “Mom what is wrong?” I couldn’t even bear to hear the words come out of her mouth.
“Honey, your father…well-he… I can’t say it, it hurts too much.” I knew what she was going to say without her saying it. It felt like my world had ended.
How would feel being a 13 year old knowing your father has been having an affair for 4+ years? That the only reason you went to Florida was so he could see her? Or maybe moving to Tennessee to be closer to her?
All the father-daughter moments have ended. Everything changed drastically after that. I knew things would never be the same. I didn’t want to hear his voice. I knew in my heart that people make mistakes, that I had to forgive him. But I couldn’t, not now. After my mom told me, I felt my heart stop beating and my knees go weak. The dinners. Sunday night family nights. Everything. A blur.
A week later, I felt weird and uncomfortable, like I couldn’t get this siren out of my head. My friends helped me a lot, but there was that one day when everyone said the wrong things. I called my friend, Kylie. All she said was, “Oh I’m sorry,” like she couldn’t say anything more. I didn’t know what to do. None of my friends knew how I felt.
I just wanted to leave. Out of his sight and presence. He finally had to be forced out. He threatened to kill us all. I just tried really hard not to listen. My mom couldn’t take it anymore. She wanted out of the state. So, the next month we packed our bags and moved.
I had to leave during school. I didn’t have a chance to say bye to all my friends, leaving my past, hopes, and dreams behind. It was hard finding out about my father’s infidelity and my mom’s struggle.
The day I found out, it felt like a bowling ball had crashed down on me from the sky. I had to keep moving on and forgive him. To this day, I believe you can forgive people and move on, but also remember the day or moment they told you.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.