I am at a stage in my recovery where I do an inventory of my life and my character. It is a painful process but hopefully pain will continue to bring about the change that I want. Soon it will be time for me to make amends when I can to those that I’ve hurt. There are some that any attempt at contact would just refresh pain and anger so I decided to write letters and think of ways that I could make amends at least to the honor the love I’ve received that I betrayed. I imagined having to talk to the fathers of women I’ve hurt… and it was scary but I came up with the following.
A letter to the Fathers of the women I’ve hurt…..
I have let you down, you trusted me with the care for your sweet daughter and I let you down. As a father of a daughter myself I know the work you have put in to raise a confident and caring daughter. I have done things to erode that confidence and jade that care in your daughter.
I made her feel like she wasn’t enough, or wasn’t good enough, I made her feel like it was her fault that I always needed attention from other women.
I took a beautiful lady who opened her vulnerability to me and even though I thought I could give care and help in many aspects of life, I didn’t honor her or the work you did to build her into the amazing woman that she is.
Where she gave me trust I gave her lies.
Where she gave me faithfulness I gave her nothing to have faith in.
I justified what I did because I didn’t physically cheat, but I was not true to the love that I received. The love that you taught her how to give and how to accept was thrown out because I refused my responsibility as a man.
I always tried to do good things, fix sinks, hold hands, make diner, mow the lawn, bring coffee in bed, I bought thoughtful and unexpected gifts so that she would know how much I loved her, I always wanted to be her prince charming and her champion. But I failed, I always did bad and thoughtless things that would make her question my love. The good things could never make up for the bad… this I know now.
I wanted to protect her as you did and make her feel safe, but ended up failing to protect her from myself. Now I worry that she won’t feel safe loving anyone again.
I never wanted to hurt anyone, there is a monster in me that was put there as a child… No excuses though, even though I hoped it would go away a part of me knew it didn’t.
I failed you and I failed your daughter and I failed myself.
I am sorry that I was careless, selfish, manipulative, and controlling.
Sorry doesn’t count for much though, so I choose to make amends.
While there is nothing I can do to take away hurt, disappointment, or fix a broken heart. By making amends I can at least keep from doing the same thing again.
I committed myself to God, I gave my life to Christ and was made brand new.
I stay in His word and spend every morning reading scripture.
I joined a new church full of people willing to help me heal.
I joined a recovery group to talk to other men like myself and support them as they support me as we become new men together.
I pray every day for God to heal my heart and take away my lies and make me a man who only needs truth. Before I pray that though, I pray to God every day that he will bring healing and peace to the heart of your daughter.
A line from one of my new favorite books comes to mind. The narrator speaks to the namesake of the book and tells her profound words. When I think of the women in my life, in so many ways this rings true…
“The idea of you is part of my mind, you influence my likes and dislikes, all my, hundreds of times when I don’t realize it. You really are a part of me.”
-From “My Antonia” by Willa Cather
The Recovering Monster
I know the above letter may sound like I’m beating myself up, as I wrote it I kept feeling like I was diminishing what I had done wrong. I’m no bashing myself or wallowing in guilt. I’m writing to keep myself out of denial, and to keep from becoming ‘comfortable’ in my recovery.
Now for contrast…. a letter to my abuser.
I hate you, I hate you…. yet my heart breaks for you.
You took so much from me, my innocence, my trust, my safety. You saw a need in me and you took advantage of it and manipulated me for your pleasure.
Worse is what you taught me. Manipulate, lie, cheat, keep secrets, that’s how you live and stay safe. You taught me to fear the truth, because you made me feel like no one would like me if they knew truth of what happened.
You ruined every relationship I’ve ever had before it even started.
Or did you?
You made me hate my 11 year old self that allowed this to happen. You planted in me a desire to destroy a part of myself, to punish myself for what happened.
You set me at war with myself, like there were two of me, one battling for good and the other to do bad.
I have to tell myself, try to convince myself that what you did to me wasn’t my fault. But the idea still sits in my heart, that somehow I did something to encourage you.
I’m so mad at you because you still have this power over me, you are still a weight on my heart.
Or are you?
I thought I understood you, thought it had probably happened to you so I told myself that I forgave you.
But did I?
You shoved anger into my heart so deep that I don’t know how to dig down to let it out. Angry at you, and angry at me.
I have used that anger, focused it, but the anger has used me, continued to abuse me.
Because I let it.
As much as I hate you I still love you, as much as I hate myself I love me.
You made me a victim, but for all these years I let myself be a victim. A victim is never at fault, a victim can always blame someone else.
I choose to be a victim no more and to destroy the power you have over me. Not through revenge but through grace.
I chose to honestly and at the depth of my heart forgive you and pray for your soul. I chose to love you and hope that you found forgiveness for yourself. I choose to be a survivor. A survivor accepts responsibility, a survivor doesn’t blame but learns.
Sincerely and with love
I am work every day, and I hope that this work will bear the fruit of redemption and change, to be one clear man, who needs only truth to describe himself. As I think of working and toiling in the hopes of bearing fruit I’m reminded of John 15:4, 5, and I pray to remain in Jesus so that my recover will be fruitful.
John 15: 4, 5. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”