By: Gabriela Yareliz
Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are often avoided by people who have experienced childhood trauma. Some people have experienced pain caused by one or both parents, so they distance themselves from the holiday and deeper yet, from the person it celebrates.
Father’s Day isn’t a holiday I like to embrace. Sometimes, it feels like these holidays remind you of everything you could of had but didn’t. That’s hard.
Not to delve in too deep, but I have had a roller coaster ride of a relationship with my father. At times, it felt like the relationship was so strained it was nonexistent. There were many many years where my father chose not to be a part of my life. And this was painful. I experienced that feeling of rejection, a lot.
What I think is important to carry with us is that every difficult thing we face in life presents us with an opportunity. Will we internalize the trauma and let it drag us to the bottom of the ocean or will we use it to solidify the foundation of our worth and the direction in which we are choosing to go. These are the questions posed.
Relational trauma can leave us with a distorted picture of ourselves. What broken relationships do is they act as a shattered mirror. We look at ourselves in this crazy and broken mirror and can be alarmed and disoriented with what we see.
My relationship with my father has taught me many things, over time. It made me really aware of the love I wanted in my life; the type of man I wanted in my life. I also made the decision to throw away the shattered mirror that was left for me. And this has been a process. I decided to replace that broken mirror with a good mirror. A mirror where I see myself clearly and see myself as the worthy child of God that I am.
I heard Sophia Roe speak on fatherhood, feminism and hate. She spoke about how many broken relationships, especially father relationships, turn women into insensitive women who hurt men around them and see people as dispensable because that was how they were treated— furthering a cycle of trauma, harm, insecurity and instability. Sometimes, this looks like a woman who bounces from relationship to relationship, and other times, it looks like a woman who isolates herself behind her walls. These attitudes are often passed onto children (and the cycle goes on). I found this to be really profound, especially when she said that when women behave in these ways— when they leverage power, emotionally hurt others and withhold vulnerability— they are just like the fathers who hurt them and who they claim to hate so much.
For those of you who don’t know, Sophia comes from a turbulent childhood. I admire her a lot because she is a whole person who has chosen to love people and love the world around her despite everything she had to navigate. She spoke about her own relationship (or lack thereof) with her father, and said, “It’s very important for me to have the power of knowing I forgive him because now I know I am ready for love.”
On this Father’s Day, and every day, I want to choose to rest in forgiveness because then it means I am ready for love. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget what you have lived through or what was done to you. Nope. There is no forgetting. We have lived this life and cried those tears of blood.
There is power in not forgetting, though. Not forgetting means we remember what not to do. Remembering our pain can transform us and make us intentional in how we lead with love.
Remembering the things that have hurt me remind me of the type of person I want to be; the love I want to pour out and leave with others.
My relationship with my father taught me the love I am worthy of. I have forgiven him, and I keep the memories and hurts as a map to where I want to go. I made the choice to throw out the mirror he left me with, and with my own mirror I can see clearly. I see myself. I see strength. I see love.