In society, we are made to believe that we MUST love our parents. Regardless of what they do, how they act, who they are. Some would even argue that unconditional love is love that does not have to be earned; conditional love is love that must be earned?
What if I don’t love them unconditionally or conditionally?
My step father was, for all intents, a chaotic man. Full of anger, abuse, and control. Mental and verbal abuse. He has contributed to many of the exiles I have today. He instilled the worse characteristics in me. Hasn’t cared for me when I was at my worst. So, do I love this man?
In a counseling session a few weeks ago, we were using DBT to uncover an exile that was suppressed by my stepfathers influence on me. It’s heavy shit. I made the comment: “someone must be blamed but it can’t be him because I love him.”
Then my counselor asked me, “Do you love him?” and I paused in silence. Looking at her like she was insane. Like it was the MOST bizarre question to ask a daughter of any parent.
Then she asked, “How do you know you love him?”
Mind blown. Like the ultimate “a HA” moment. I don’t love him. What I felt in that moment was hatred. Anger. Betrayed. I felt like up until that exact moment in time, there had been a physical presence of a man who treated me horribly.
So, what happens next?
I have learned through spirituality to forgive him instead of placing hate or blame. I have learned that I cannot control him; I cannot change the past; I am not responsible for his actions. I have learned to accept that God has given me struggles and I couldn’t be prouder to overcome them. I became a better person by confronting my exiles. Due to faith and hope and strength.
The guilt of not loving a parent still crosses my mind from time to time… after all, don’t we have to love our parents? Or am I allowed to feel empowered that I conquered that exile and it no longer has control of me.
I choose empowerment.