I’m in high school and my Mom and Dad got divorced a year ago because my Dad had an affair. I’m so mad at my Dad for doing this to my Mom. Things have been really hard for her. I know I should want to spend time with my Dad but I don’t. We’ve not been close since this all happened and I feel sad and angry that I’ve lost what I used to have with my Dad through all this. I especially have a hard time visiting Dad when his girlfriend is around. They live together so it’s hard to see him and not her but seeing her always reminds me of what they both did to my Mom. Will things ever get better with my Dad and how do I get over being angry with him?
Tough stuff, but life does at times hand us challenges that seem almost insurmountable. It is sad that your Dad chose to cheat on your mother. Even though divorce can be hard, it is more so when you have this betrayal to deal with.
Three things come to mind as you work to repair the damage that was done to your relationship with your Dad. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Focusing on your life.
Acceptance of what is, can often be the hardest thing we have to do. You can’t change what has happened. Life isn’t fair. People don’t always consider how their actions will hurt others. You can’t go back to the way things were when all was good in your family. You have no choice but to accept that your parent’s relationship ended in this difficult way.
In moving toward acceptance find things that help you. Is there a saying you can repeat in your head that helps? Does it help to journal about your feelings or talk to your friends? Does it help to keep busy with school, sports or work activities? Only you know what will help you calm the feelings of anger and move you toward acceptance.
At some point, you will want to look within to forgive your Dad. I’ve done a lot of reading and study on forgiveness. What I have found that can work as a stepping stone toward forgiveness, when it just seems so hard to do, is to start with compassion. Compassion is a feeling of sympathy or understanding for how and why people act like they do. Was your Dad unhappy in his marriage for a long time? Was your Mom unhappy? If you put yourself in his place, why do you think he broke up the family? Is there any little piece of why he did this that might make sense to you? Look for that small something that will help you understand why your Dad did this. It can be a stepping-stone to forgiveness.
Hard as this is for you, keep your focus on your life. It’s not your job to mend your Mothers broken heart. It’s not your job to repair the trust that your Dad messed up. Yes, you are a part of the family dynamic with your parents, but keep the focus on living your best life.
As best you can, look forward and not backward. Moving forward is also all about looking for the answers that will help you. Search the Internet, talk to your friends who’ve been through what you have, or get help in any way that you can. And, yes, things will get better in time.
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• What do you think will help you release your anger toward your Dad?
• Are you spending more of your time focusing on your life and moving forward, versus rehashing the past hurts?
• Has this upset you enough that you need counseling or help to stay away from hurtful or harmful things such as drugs and alcohol?
• Where can you find it in your heart to accept and forgive?
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