Illness Doesn’t Justify Forgiveness

Not for me anyway.

I’ve come to realise that just because I’m “ill” doesn’t justify my actions in certain situations, and therefore doesn’t warrant forgiveness for them either. But, this post isn’t really about me – it’s about my real Dad.

Now, if you know me you’ll know I don’t talk about him. At all. I dont talk about him because I genuinely dont feel the need to, and it feels like a pointless waste of my time and energy. To say I’m not harbouring any negative feelings about him would be a lie, I am very much. I have a lot of anger towards him thats kind of buried deep down, and my problems with him in my childhood probably do account for a lot of my adult complexities that have since been intensified by my recent Mental Health difficulties. At least, so my therapist told me – but maybe that’s typical “on the couch” shit.

My father left when I was two, having already been having an affair for three years in secret and very nearly persuaded my Mom to have a termination when she was pregnant with me because he just couldn’t be assed with a third child. He and my Mom got together when they were 16, and they had my oldest brother at 18. I guess it’s not to be unexpected that he felt like shit had hit the fan at such and young age with three kids and an inability to want to settle down. Now, I’m not saying he HAD to stay with my Mother. I’m against the whole idea of “staying together for the kids”, but at the very least you step up to the plate and look after the not one, but three lives you managed to create. He was pretty shit to my Mom for a long time, and us in turn. I didn’t have any contact with my father until I was seven, which continued sporadically until I was ten. He was at that time a heavy drinker and drug user and was just as unreliable as that would suggest. My last contact with him was when I was 13.

However, the man who I refer to as “Dad” isn’t my real father. His name is Phil, and he’s ten fold the Dad my biological father could and would ever be. He came into our lives when I was four, and I love and respect him more than anything. I think it takes a hell of a lot to take on what he did with us, and I don’t know what we would have done or where we would be without him. I’ve said it many times over the years, but I can never thank him enough – not just what he did for us as kids, but for making my mom so unbelievably happy. My surname is my Dad’s, although he and my Mom aren’t married. It’s the third surname I’ve had to date, and I’m incredibly proud of it. My dad is American, although his grandparents were Swedish, so a lot of my time growing up was spent travelling back and forwards between the States and Sweden. His side of the family are all from Long Island in New York, and more specifically if you know your boroughs – Queens. I call then the Goodfellas due to their endearing Long Islandite accent, something I always pick up whenever I go back. He wasn’t always here, he did and still does work incredibly hard and is based out of a University in New York, but he always made sure we were happy and everything was okay. If anything ever was wrong, he would drop everything to be with us.

At the end of last year I received a letter in the post from my real father. It was a bit of a mystery at first as to how he had my address in London, but I soon found out it had been through my maternal Grandmother who has always kept in touch with him over the years. I don’t hold this choice against her. It took me quite a while to actually open the letter; I really didn’t want to. I knew it was from him by the handwriting. I just didn’t see what he possibly had to say to me after all these years, and after all the times he has physically passed me in the street at home and pretended I just didn’t exist. If you’re thinking, “Oh maybe he just doesn’t recognise you now” – I’m my father’s double. Yet, I just couldn’t throw it away somehow. I kept staring at it all the time, kind of stuck between not wanting to open it and not being able to throw it away. I didn’t see how anything in that letter could be of any use to me or him; he had his chance as far as I’m concerned.

In the run up to Parker’s death, he had asked for our father to visit him. He wouldn’t say what exactly, but said he had some things he wanted to say and I guess it was closure for him. Yet, as usual, he failed to do anything. I just cannot understand the mentality of knowing your child is dying, and not going to visit him. He didn’t attend his funeral either, but in a way I’m glad because I think it would have just angered me. Whatever Parker wanted to speak to him about died with him.

My father’s letter was about his failings with us, particularly me, and with himself. he said he was sorry for everything, and sorry for the things he did – again with me – during his period of heavy substance abuse. It was also about illness – my father had found out he was terminally ill and wanted to make amends, somehow. He asked if when I was next visiting home perhaps in the next several months if we could meet; he was proud of me, he said, and wanted to meet the young woman I’d become. I threw the letter away. Today I found out that my father died two days ago.

I’m not upset. I’m angry. I made my peace with my lack of relationship with him a long, long time ago. I also made my peace with how he treated us as family, his reckless abandon, and the things he did to me a long time ago. I genuinely have no view on it now, and when this aspect of my life came into conversation with my old therapist she told me that I was in a very psychologically healthy place with it all. Through the years, I’ve just accepted it. But now? I suddenly have these overwhelming feelings of anger. Anger towards him, everything he has done and anger towards him dying.

Part of me thinks that this is just typical behaviour – Arndt Wassermann causing me shit since 1990. How dare he just die? Does this mean that I hadn’t actually come to terms with things after all; that I wasn’t expecting him to actually die, and that I wanted the upper hand finally by not keeping his letter and taking him up on his offer? Does that make me a terrible person? I honestly don’t know what to think, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time with my court case on Monday. I only have so much mental energy and capacity for big things right now, and I don’t think I can split it between these two.

I’ll most likely be at home by the time his funeral comes around, as in Sweden it’s normal to wait three weeks between death and funerals. I won’t be going, that much I am certain of. You might be thinking that seems really fucking harsh – but no, it’s not. The man doesn’t mean anything to me and one guilt tripping letter does not account for his behaviour and fourteen years of totally ignoring my existence. I will not apologise for me views around this, nor will I be made to feel guilty for them either. I was doing fine with all of that before he decided he’d throw a shitting spanner in the works with his letters and his dying.

I know my older brother, Stellan, will hold the same view. At the end of the day, I have a Dad who I adore entirely and some stranger who created me won’t change that for anything. Maybe I’ll write more on this another time as I’m quite literally just typing as the thoughts appear, and I know most of it is probably nonsense, but for now it has felt good to clear my head and rationalise my thinking that I could tell was beginning to snowball.

 

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