He just couldn’t show up (Photo: Getty Images/iStock Photo).
Sometimes I hear people hoping to reconnect with family members who are at best useless and at worst cruel or offensive, and although I sympathize with them, I cannot identify with them.
Jack, which is not his real name, wasn’t cruel or offensive. He wasn’t addicted to anything and he wasn’t criminally negligent. He hasn’t joined a sect or killed anyone (as far as I know). He took offence at not coming, and it was only a matter of time before I finally lost interest.
Now that I’m an adult, a reunion is possible. I’m friends with his sister on Facebook. I know where to find him on LinkedIn. He sometimes appears on special occasions, but although many people have a primary biological or sentimental desire to meet the man who is their father, I feel nothing of the kind.
There are a limited number of times you can be frustrated by someone standing in front of the part of you that is so cold and dying. It is partly self-preservation and partly liberation.
Research carried out by Stand Alone, a charity that provides support to people separated from their families, has shown that one in five families in the United Kingdom can be affected by alienation, which means that up to 12 million people can be affected by alienation.
In addition, 8% of respondents said they had severed contact with a family member, suggesting that around 5 million people in the UK actively choose to divorce, as I have done and still do. It’s not as unusual as you think.
In a way, I’m thankful I learned to let go early. Some people waste years with unworthy people to whom they feel morally or biologically obligated.
So I want to share my story with you and tell you Don’t do it. For many people, alienation is the norm and should be treated as such.
From time to time people try to convince me to give Jack another chance, with those old clichés, but he’s your father (so what?) and you’re not curious? (not really), but instead of convincing me, they just annoyed me until the subject changes.
Forgiveness can be good and healthy, but it can also be poisonous and debilitating.
Fatigue is probably what I would choose if I tried to express the feeling behind this random alienation in one word.
When I was a kid, I was excited when he showed up. An electronic card here, two minutes on the phone there, but nothing.
This kind of alienation is completely embarrassing, even boring, but after years of exposure to breadcrumbs I was bored too. As far as I know, that’s enough to end our relationship.
Maybe it is also because there is no puzzle to solve, no missing piece that would give a little more meaning to my life. It’s not that I was adopted or that my father’s identity was a big secret that had to be revealed – I know too well who he is and what he does, and I was disappointed.
Do I need therapy? I think so. Do I need him in my life? I’m not gonna do that.
Although I’m happy to say that few people have tried to make me feel like I have to go back to Jack, the subtle social pressure is always present.
There is a comforting Oscar bait in the movies when it comes to giving parents a second chance. There are old innocent phrases like blood is thicker than water or family is everything.
He even stands there with his jaw clenched and his shoulders bent forward while I type this.
But that’s not necessarily the case.
So I repeat it for all those who feel compelled to find someone who doesn’t deserve it – you don’t have to do it.
Don’t be discouraged from contacting someone if their absence makes you desperately sad or dissatisfied. I can’t be the one to tell you who to have in your life. Nobody can, that’s the point.
You decide who you want to have around you and what you spend your emotional energy on. Of course, sometimes you need help to understand, but if you let guilt or social pressure determine who you let go back, you don’t take care of yourself.
Now I could easily say something tired, individualistic and too simple, like you don’t owe anybody anything or that you have to take care of number one.
Instead, I would say that forgiveness can be good and healthy, but also poisonous and debilitating.
Read more: USA
All you have to do is make sure that you choose the people in your life for the right reasons, and that those reasons are yours and not someone else’s.
At this point I am satisfied because I know that I appreciate myself enough and that my time is precious enough not to try to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it.
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