My chest pounded and head felt heavy. I watched the anger rise and reminded myself to do nothing. What had fighting with my father ever achieved? Nothing. He was himself. Always was. He never saw his need to please others. He never understood how he sometimes put me, his daughter down just to please someone else. He had never understood how I felt as a child when he compared me to someone else in front of them, praising them and putting me down. He did not understand how I felt now as an adult, when he put me down in front of my husband. He never understood how he made me feel when he chose his self-image over my self-respect.
The thoughts ran crazy. They came one after other. Today I saw them pass by. I felt them. Standing up, I walked away. I did not want to yell at him or fight with him. I had spent all my teenage years fighting with him. Since his heart-attack a few years, I was aware of how vulnerable he felt. A single man, he had spent decades since mom died alone. And since my grandmother died, he was literally alone.
But it was time. I was tired. My unloving thoughts about him were keeping me in hell. I had to choose God. I had to remember my holiness, so I could remember his. We were all children of God. Why did I forget that? I would be angry at first. Then, I would snap and shout back. Last, I would be consumed with guilt. How much longer did I want to play this game?
I washed the dishes. Watching the water run, I allowed my anger, my past, my painful memories with him to flow out. I offered them to the water and asked it to carry all my emotions away. If guilt was hell, what was its opposite? It had to be peace. I wanted that peace. I forgave him for being who he was in my eyes, an imperfect father. I forgave myself for being the imperfect daughter. Our real nature was beyond these identities. My holiness is my salvation, and I offered the same to him willingly.
Outside, Dad was watching his serial. “Do you want some buttermilk,” I asked.
“Sure,” he replied with a smile as though nothing had happened. I smiled back. Nothing had happened.