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On Forgiveness

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My father has always been the hardest person to apologize to because what seems like a plea for forgiveness for what I have done always feels, painfully, like an admission of failure. “I’m sorry” never springs from my lips the buzzing of “I’m sorry I’m not perfect” in the back of my mind. I know he doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but I have always tried too hard to please him in every way, in hopes of coming as close to the unattainable perfection as possible.
I grew up hearing whispered stories about my father’s first years in America, when he lived on borrowed money, worked in the nearby restaurant at night, and studied on full scholarship by day. He was my hero for his self-sacrifice and talent, and the perfection that I saw in him drove me to push myself towards that forever unattainable status. He was the reason I thought my life was a piece of an ongoing fairy tale when I was younger—a story where my father, the protagonist, got everything he deserved in the end, and my mom, my sister, and I were parts of his happily-ever-after.

I think my father, too, thought we lived in a kind of fairy tale, but where my story carried wonderment at the possibility of such a perfect ending, his story weighed heavily with the knowledge of just how much work it took to reach the point where he could finally be satisfied with the life that he has provided for his family. “No pain, no gain” has always been his motto, and the words are inked all over his blueprint to a happy life, which he has constructed on foundations of academic and extracurricular excellence. My dad thus has high expectations of me; behind his assuring advice of “Just do your best!” always hides an expectation that my best should be the best, or very nearly so. I don’t remember ever feeling oppressed by my father’s expectations, though. The reality is that my expectations of myself have always been very much the same as my father’s – or even more demanding – because, as much faith as he has in his blueprint to a happy life, I have more.

My faith in his blueprint is not blind, though. The years of blind faith flew far into the past in early middle school, as I watched the yellow light that had made my father my glorious hero drain from his skin, dripping from his fingertips like wet paint onto the floor. It had always been inevitable – human beings are not gods, and I should not have held him up so high, but how was I supposed to know? All too suddenly, I began to see the times when he would refuse to admit he was wrong, when he yelled at my mother while she cried, and when he lied. For months, I reveled in his weaknesses; I was terrible and cruel, hungrily peeling at his fading silhouette, half out of anger, half out of disbelief that he could really be just like the rest of the world. For a while, I didn’t know what to do with myself because the one person I saw as perfect proved to be just a façade. My father had not done anything, but, at the mercy of my realizations, I felt as though he had somehow betrayed me and committed some horrible, unforgivable act.

Somewhere in the past few years, though, I’ve realized that there is nothing between my father and me that needs forgiving. He is and has always been human. He is imperfect – but so am I. How can I blame someone for being flawed when I am, as well?
If anything, I have come out of the years loving and trusting my father more than ever for the same reasons I had once felt almost ashamed of him. Perhaps his fallacies make him a lousy deity, but what my father has managed to achieve in his lifetime makes him one exceptional human being. Our relationship has inevitably changed with my realizations but, if anything, we have grown closer; he is approachable now because I know that he is not invincible, and I don’t have to be either.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Lucy C. said...
Aug. 11, 2010 at 7:09 pm
funny, how much it takes for people to understand basic human truths.  this article is really well written.  parents really are the ultimate heroes. 
 
DiamondsIntheGrass This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 11, 2010 at 7:15 pm
i love your work.  you verbalize what i have always thought.  i would lov eit if you could take a look at my work.  i only have one article, but i have a lot pending.  please read? thanks.
 
DiamondsIntheRough replied...
Aug. 21, 2010 at 10:04 am
I love your work, it is absolutely amazing. 
 
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