One day as I was reflecting over my life as I often do, I was immediately submerged in a sea of peace as I thought of the new and refreshing relationship I have with my father.
I thought of the many adults who, to this day, have unresolved childhood traumas and estranged relationships with one or both of their parents.
Unresolved anger towards parents is harmful as the same destructive anger I once carried towards my father.
However, the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation fills me with hope.
In celebration of this shift in my life and the healing that flowed afterward, I’ve decided to co-author a piece with my father, William Brown, briefly detailing our relationship in hopes that it will encourage reconciliation for others:
One of my fondest memories involved picking Whitney up for one of our weekend visits. She was just a little girl at the time. Although she should have been secured in a child seat in the back, I had her buckled in up front next to me. Shortly after we departed her mother’s home, she looked up at me with the innocence only a child can possess and said, “Daddy, I love you.” Who could have imagined that, in less than a decade, that warmth and tenderness would turn into an anger that’s almost inconceivable and indescribable?
I recall many times over the years trying to understand how I got to this place where rage controlled my thoughts and lava flowed through my veins.
Unresolved anger towards parents
That’s the question I asked myself time and time again.
- My dad was (and still is) a great father. By no means was he absent, and he always provided for me.
- I was burdened with seemingly elusive reasoning for my inconsolable grief; a burden no child should have to carry.
- As a teenager and even into my early twenties, I constantly rewound the VCR tape of my life to the beginning, hoping to stumble upon a logical explanation for why I fought so hard to hold on to my anger. Each time, I landed on the same scene . . . a little distorted with age, but perceptible nonetheless.
I wasn’t more than five years old.
- There, in the center of my pink and purple Pocahontas-themed bedroom, I shrieked and cried at the top of my lungs, “I want my Daddy!!” Frustrated and perhaps at a loss for what to do, my mom called my dad. As she tried to hand the phone to me, I began to roar.
- Obviously, I spent too much time watching Lion King, but that’s neither here nor there. In the same way, Simba longed for Mufasa’s presence after he died, so I longed for my father, and a phone conversation would not fill that void. I needed to be held, to rest my head on his chest with his heartbeat assuring me that everything would be alright. I didn’t get that.
- I believe that the seed of resentment and unresolved anger towards my parents especially my father was planted at that time and, while it would take many years to mature, it rested patiently in the soil of my heart and mind waiting to be watered by my tears. With each shed tear, my heart grew more bitter, and my thoughts, like the concluding scene of a hopeful movie, faded to black.
The longer that I live the more that I recognize and understand that there is not a single, solitary thought that is void of significance. Certainly, some of our thoughts have tsunami-like effects. Whereas other thoughts may have such subtle effects that they are almost imperceptible. Nevertheless, each thought, like a ripple from a rock thrown into a body of water, will make its impact.
For years, I allowed small “what ifs” and assumptions to take residence in my mind.
- “Does he really want me?” “He’s not around more because . . .” I didn’t ask for the truth because I was afraid of it.
- What if my negative assumptions were true? How would I ever recover?
- Instead, I filled in the blanks with the worst-case scenarios, a miserable multiple-choice test.
Those small thoughts manifested into a mental health crisis from which I am still recovering, though successfully.
Oh, how I wish that I could take hold of today’s youth and impress upon them the importance of taking control of one’s thoughts. I am reminded of Chapter 6 verse 6 from the Bhagavad Gita. It states, “For those who have conquered the mind, it is their friend. For those who have failed to do so, the mind works like an enemy.” My thoughts propelled me into taking part in helping to create a brave, brilliant, and beautiful being. Yet from the same mind thought emanated that created conditions of confusion, pain, guilt, and turmoil.
I was a prisoner in my mind and unknowingly held the key for my release.
That key was forgiveness. I could let it spring forth from the well of love I had for my father, though, heavily guarded by pride.
- I don’t fault the child version of myself for how she felt. I believe her feelings to be valid and, in a sense, warranted.
- However, as I grew and became wiser in lessons of life and love, I did take responsibility for not asking the important and heavy questions that plagued me.
- I held myself accountable for choosing rebellion instead of seeking understanding. As aforementioned, my father was a great dad who loved me.
- He always said I was the apple of his eye. He made every effort to make things right, to open the door of a relationship that I locked and secured with military-grade defenses.
- The offer of reconciliation was presented and, for many years, I declined. I was hurt. The pain lasted so long that it became my comfort, as it does for so many.
- I was so used to pain (from other situations as well) that the thought of healing seemed impossible, and therefore, pointless to pursue.
But after much prayer from those who knew and loved us both, things began to change. Thank God! Things finally began to transform.
I am eternally grateful that both Whitney and I had somewhere deep within us thoughts of love for each other. Through our hurt, pain, disappointment, anger, and confusion we have cultivated thoughts of trust, healing, reconciliation, peace, joy, and most of all love. Each one of us has more power to manifest that which we desire than we can ever imagine. Don’t give up! No matter what your failures or shortcomings may be, in the words of the great poet Edgar A. Guest, “Don’t give up, whate’er you do; Eyes front, head high to the finish. See it through!”
I’m glad we didn’t give up.
One of the greatest blessings God has given me is the relationship my father and I share now.
It is a beautiful story of how love conquers all; how the light of love can illuminate the furthermost corners of darkness.
It is a tale of how any root of bitterness, no matter how deep, can be dug up, making room to plant new seeds of hope and opportunity.
If I am blessed to see my elderly years, the days when I parade my silver crown with pride, I am assured that one of my greatest memories will be the day my dad and I reconciled. The day I was able to return to that little girl who looked up to say, “Daddy, I love you.”
And still…this day and forevermore…
I love you, Dad.