Too often, a father’s addiction can contribute to the development of a substance use disorder in the child. Not only is there a genetic component to addiction disorders, there is also often an environmental component – a double whammy for a child who grows up watching a father who is struggling with addiction.
For adults who are working to overcome that addiction, it can make it hard to forgive a father for that dubious “gift” of addiction – especially if he missed Little League games, family dinners, and birthday parties, and did so many things that were embarrassing and physically or emotionally painful as well.
For all who have or had a father living in addiction, however, forgiveness is a critical piece in recovery. Every day is a good day to either begin working on that process or check in with yourself to see how you are progressing toward that goal.
Whether or not your father is alive today or cares about how you feel about his choices in life, forgiveness is a huge part of your recovery. Residual anger and bitterness, feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem triggered by being neglected by a parent, or a sense of self-righteousness (as in, “I deserve an apology! I demand reparations!”) is not going to improve the situation, make you happy, or help your recovery. In fact, holding onto these feelings may actually serve to trigger relapse instead. Everything you can do to let go of these difficult and painful emotions will help you to move a little bit closer to balance in your recovery.
When it comes to forgiveness, it is often easier said than done. If it is not even an easy thing to get to a point where you can consider forgiving someone for past harm done to you, it is going to be that much harder to let go. Depending on your past relationship with your father and the current circumstances, there are some truths that may or may not be useful:
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