I believe forgiveness is very important. In too many instances, people hold grudges and the inability to forgive ruins their relationships. I believe in saying "Forgive and Never Forget." You can remember the things that somebody did and know that they affected you without severing all ties with that person. From forgiveness we can learn and grow as individuals.
As I was growing up, my father was more of an idea than a real person. Since before I was born, he struggled with substance abuse. He was an alcoholic as well as a drug addict. You could say that his relationship with my brother and I was less than perfect. We were supposed to see him once or twice a month if that. When we were with him for the weekend, he usually ended up leaving us alone to go to the bar or to a friend's house. I remember even as a small child wondering where he was and thinking that if he died, we may not even know it. I went through a period of time where I thorough that maybe his addiction was my fault; maybe if I was the perfect daughter then he wouldn't have to do the things that he did. This was obviously not true but it was my way of putting the blame on myself and trying to mend the situation.
The last couple of years of my dad's addiction were the worst. The phone calls came less often and visits were few and far between. When I was fourteen, he got into some trouble and the judge gave him two options: he could go to prison for six years or he could go to rehab. Thankfully, he chose rehab. By this point, my family had lost hope and all faith in my father's ability to become and stay sober. No one thought that he was strong enough to stay sober for longer than a couple of months. This was the point when I had two options as well: I could hold everything he had ever done against him or I could learn to forgive him and give him my support. I chose the latter of the two. It was one of the best decisions that I have made so far in my life.
At first our relationship was awkward because we didn't really know each other. I started attending his Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with him every Friday night and truly became involved in his recovery. Our relationship grew and over the span of the last three years, I can truly say that I not only gained a father but a friend.
I will never forget the negativity that surrounded my father's addiction, but because I chose to forgive, I now have a wonderful relationship with a very good man. I support my father and am proud to say that I have been right there with him, and supporting him through every step of his recovery.