My Dad Had An Affair And I Can't Forgive Him
I am now eighteen, just graduated and I now go to college. When I was 14 years old, my dad's secretary came up to me and told me she was sorry for breaking my family apart. I knew what she meant already, so it wasn't really news to me.
I didn't tell anyone till I met a girl who moved to my town. She went through the same thing as I did. So when she told me what her mom did to her dad, I told her what had happened in my family. We became super close and two years after I met her, I got the guts to ask her out.
Now, she seems to be the only thing that has any meaning in my life. I just don't care about anything. The only time I'm really happy is when I'm with her. Before my parents' split I was a genuinely happy kid. Anyone who knows me would say I'm still a happy guy, but they don't know how pissed off I am when I go home everyday.
I know I'll never forgive my dad for what he did to my family, but I really want to get over it and stop it from ruining my life. How can I do that? Just forget it ever happened? Everyone always tells me how much I am like my dad and that scares me. I hate that people see him in me. What he did still affects my family. I'm from a small town where gossip is big. People know what he did and that I am the spitting image of him. My little sister is 15 years old now and she still comes to me crying about something my dad said to her. I try to help her the best I can but I am no counselor. I just want to know how I can get over this and get on with my life.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hell, and thanks for telling your story here. It sounds like you have a little bit of a relationship addiction going with your girlfriend. It will never work to love someone more than you love yourself.
Take a look at these quotes on relationships. Also, this page on forgiveness might be of help.
It will also help you to try this exercise for letting go of your parents, now that you're an adult:
1) Write down all of the ways in which you are like your dad. Look at that list and ask yourself if there's any of those qualities or behaviors you want to keep. In other words, choose what you like from the list, if there's anything there that you like.
2) Then write down all of the ways you are different from your dad. These are the things that make you unique as an individual. Look at this list, and choose what you like from it.
3) Make a third list, that includes only those things you like from the above two lists.
Now repeat that entire process with your mom, and combine the two lists of the things you like and choose for yourself.
Next, picture both of your parents in front of you. Thank them both for all of the good things they've done for you, leaving nothing out. Then tell them both about the things you didn't like. Get it all out, and write it down--but picture their faces while you're writing. Now tell them, "I'm not your little boy any more. It is time for me to take charge of my life and make my own decisions."
I do not suggest you say these things directly to your parents. This is just for you.
Focus all of your time and energy on creating a good life for yourself. You can do this.
My very best to you,