I am a movie freak. I love action movies, I love suspense, the thrills, the laugh and don’t even get me started on movies filled with drama. It’s like I live for the drama.
There are some movies that make me cry, some that make me question my life choices and others that challenge or inspire me to be a better person. So, I am very selective when it comes to the kind of movies I want to watch unless of course it’s comedy or drama.
However, there is a particular movie I watched titled “I Can Only Imagine”; a Christian movie (that I will recommend for everyone), I watched it two months ago and I must admit it did a number on me. It really hit close to home. It gave me courage to share this story with you. This is not (to borrow a friend’s line) “feed into a disturbing gender stereotype about men and fathers”, no, this story is how I overcame my bitterness and anger towards my father and how I manage to forgive him and myself.
Hopefully, some of you will be able to relate.
You know the saying about how a father is a girl’s first love and/or hero. The first man to tell her how beautiful and smart she is. The first man to tell her how much he loves her.
Your father becomes your “go to” man when you have a terrible day, your best friend, the man you go to when you need dating advise. A father is a girl’s protector, the one man she can trust and be herself around, but unfortunately that is not my story.
I never had the privilege of having a father figure in my life. My mum passed away during childbirth. So, it was just my aunt (mum’s sister) and my grandmother (mum’s mother) who took turns in raising me.
Growing up, I wasn’t really enthused to know the whereabouts of my father because my aunt and grandmother never gave me reason to want one. They did such a great job but it got to a time when my curiosity took the better part of me and I just wanted to know. Is my father dead or alive? In my mind, I had the “perfect” image or story of who my father is. At age 25, I had grown tired of those imaginations and I just needed to know.
I went to my aunt one day and asked, “Is my father dead or alive”?
For some reason she wasn’t surprised when I asked but she calmly asked me why I was asking her?
I replied, “Why shouldn’t I?” “I am old enough to know who and where my father is”.
Then she told me how my mother made them promised not to tell me anything because she didn’t want me to see her differently.
Hearing her words at that age filled me with mixed emotions. I was sad because of the mention of my late mom. I understood because I get my family wanted to protect me and also angry because I felt at that age I was old enough to know the truth and make my own decisions or judgments about my father.
I assured her nothing will make me see my mother differently. Although I never got the opportunity to know her for myself, judging from all the wonderful stories they told me, I knew without a doubt she was an amazing woman.
They told me everything about my father. Apparently, my dad was a married man when he met my mum. They both attended the same SHS, so they met during one of their old students association meetings. According to my mum, she liked my father for his free-spirited nature and they quickly became friends. My dad wasn’t struggling in his marriage, nope; in fact he was a happily married man. Loved his wife and children but something about my mum drew him to her.
My aunt told me how they never planned on having an affair but did happen and how my mum got pregnant. They also told me my dad suggested an abortion since he didn’t want to lose his family and reputation. My mum wanted to keep it. The idea of breaking such news to his family was difficult for him, a risk he wasn’t willing to take, and so they parted ways. She never heard from my father.
After hearing the story, I wasn’t sure what my next move will be. Do I look for him or do I let sleeping dogs lie. A part of me wanted both but I felt I needed to give my father the chance to tell his side of the story. My mum had her family representing her in that regard and besides I needed clarity. I wanted to know for sure, if he really didn’t want me. I can understand him looking out for his family but after all these years, wasn’t he the least bit curious about my mum and whether or not she actually went through with the abortion? I didn’t want to draw into conclusion till I had listened to his side. I managed to get in touch with him.
I remember the day I met him, he got to our meeting place before I did. Seeing him sitting there and lost in his thoughts, I could tell he was really nervous. i wanted to forget about everything and leave but I was already here, better get on with it, right.
As soon as he saw me, he had a nervous smile on his face. I didn’t need anyone to tell me he was my father, I could tell just by the resemblance. He asked me about school, work, friends and family. I told him about my mum’s death and that was when he told me he knew about it and was even at her funeral. And that it was at the funeral he knew my mother never got rid of me. He told me how thankful he was that my mother didn’t as he was proud of the woman I had become. He kept tabs on me.
When he gave me the opportunity to ask him whatever question (s) I had, everything I planned, the lines I rehearsed went out of the window because I broke down and began to cry, “Why, why did you not want me?” I can understand you’re a married man and you didn’t want to jeopardize your marriage by being with my mum but I needed a father. It was tough growing up without one. I didn’t feel important because my father didn’t even want me”. It affected me. You have no idea what it is like to not have a father. Every night I cried myself to sleep. There were days when I will comfort myself with the idea that maybe you’ve passed away too that’s why you couldn’t come for me”.
I slowly wiped the tears and I calmly asked, “So I guess my question is, why did you not want me?”
Then he said, “I am so sorry for asking your mum to abort the pregnancy. When she told me about it, I panicked. The first image that popped up in my head was that of my wife and kids and they were all I could think of. I am sorry for not thinking about you. I admit that I was selfish not only to your mother but to you as well. When I heard she passed away during childbirth, I blamed myself every day that it affected my marriage. I wanted to be part of your life but I had to think of my family. Everything about you reminded me of your mother. I know because after her passing, I managed to get all the information I needed about you, so I kept tabs on you.
You are a strong woman. I know this because you took that from your mother but I am not that’s why till this day I still haven’t been able to tell anyone about you. I wish I could be in your life but I can’t. It hasn’t been easy, my wife and I. We’ve been through some tough challenges in our marriage till recently when we decided to give our marriage a second chance. I guess what I am asking from you is, can we keep this relationship between us? Can we let sleeping dogs lie? I would love to be in your life but I cannot disappoint my family again after what we just went through”. I am truly sorry for everything and I do hope you understand the situation. No need to dig up the past especially when it’s been more than two decades. I am willing to support you financially if you ever need it”.
I didn’t know what to say or how to react so I simply nodded. At that moment, I was angry with my mum for allowing herself it be knocked up by a married man. How could she have been so blinded by love and especially by a complete coward who wasn’t even worth it. But you can’t fault someone for being in love. Love makes us do the unthinkable. So I can’t judge her for it.
After that encounter, I became a complete different person. For a whole year, I was filled with bitterness. My mum died because of this man. It affected my relationship with men. I will date guys, make them feel good about themselves and then hurt them. Not sleep with them but make them fall madly in love with me and break their hearts. It was childish, I know but that was the only escape from my pain. Breaking their hearts gave me great satisfaction. Having them beg me made me feel powerful, in control and also wanted. I loved every bit of it.
My father didn’t want me. That was my excuse for every stupid thing I did.
Every time I went on my knees, I will ask God to strike him (my father) dead. There were times I even promised to serve him for the rest of my life if He did. Every time my phone rang, I wished it was some news about him dying. I lived for that news. After all, when he’s gone the world won’t miss him.
I prayed to God to give me long life enough to witness his death so i can rejoice over it. God owed me that. He deserved it, he robbed me of my mother’s love. Then one day, the call came. My father had indeed passed away. I was told on his death bed, he confessed everything to his wife about my mum and i. He asked his wife for forgiveness but didn’t ask to see me because he knew I didn’t want to see him.
I finally got what I wanted right. That coward is finally dead. My prayers have been answered. So why couldn’t I rejoice? Why couldn’t I jump around in excitement? Because at that moment, I got mad because it took him dying to man up. So what now? Do I ask God to bring him back? Hell no, I wanted this. No, I didn’t. What if he died because I insisted on it and God granted me what I asked for. No! He didn’t die because of my prayers, God doesn’t kill people right. My father died because…because…..because….. That night I cried like never before. I had killed my father.
My pain & guilt drew me closer to God because i couldn’t live with bitterness, pain & guilt any longer.
Hearing he confessed changed something inside me. I wasn’t bitter anymore because I realized someday we will be judged for our actions. He will be judged for his and I mine. And one of the things I knew he will be judged for was how he handled the gift (ME) God gave him. I left the judgment to God.
I was uncertain about a lot of things but one thing I was certain of was the fact that I didn’t want unforgiveness to be the reason I end up in hell.
And so, one night I went on my knees, cried out to God and asked Him to forgive me for everything.
Sometimes, the idea of being a Christian is all good till you’re forced to forgive someone for something they never want to admit or accept because of their pride or arrogance but in my father’s case their cowardice.
A line in the Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive me as I forgive those who trespass against me”.
My only regret was giving my father the impression that I could never forgive him.
It’s been two years since he passed away. I moved on. I am at peace now. God helped me in that regard.
By Geraldine Amaning
The writer is a producer at 3FM