Why I Forgave My Father and How It Set Me Free

“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” ~Bryant H. McGill

The day I chose to forgive was the day I became free

It happened on an ordinary weekday. It was just another ride on a crowded train. It’s been years since it happened, yet I can still recall the faintest details of that moment.

There they were, sitting directly across from me. She pulled out a small mirror and began to apply her lipstick. He playfully nudged her, causing her to mess up. She got mad. He laughed. She couldn’t help but smile despite her aggravation. She said, “Daaad, don’t do that.”

Before I knew what hit me, I felt warm streams of tears rolling down my face. I couldn’t stop them, couldn’t control them, and there was no way to hide them. It’s as if years of suppressed pain came swarming up my spine and took over all my senses.

This was the day I realized I really missed a father figure in my life. The funny thing is, I did just fine for seventeen years of my childhood until this very moment. This moment was the straw on camel’s back to my bottled up emotions.

A dark part of me wishes I could tell you a tragic story of how my father passed away at a young age and how I never got to know him. That didn’t happen though. And I think it’s one of the very reasons it hurts so much.

My father was alive and well. Still is. He simply had different priorities and was not the kid loving type. You see, he was “there,” but he was never there for me.

I got to see him on weekends from time to time, but most of our “quality time” was spent with him taking care of his personal errands and me waiting in the car.

Many times he canceled plans at the last minute, and sometimes didn’t show up at all. On birthdays he made a quick appearance to drop off a gift and quickly took off to take care of other more important things.

Sometimes he’d call and ask for my older sister, and they would chat for a while as I patiently waited for my turn to talk to daddy. Most times my turn didn’t come. I watched in hopeless silence as my sister said “goodbye” and hung up the phone.

It stung a little extra the day I overheard my mother reminding him that he has another daughter and that he should ask to talk to me too. To me, he was a mystery. A tall, manly figure with gold chains and strong cologne.

I remember looking up at him from the corner of the room, hanging on every word that came out of his mouth. I’m not sure if it was fascination or intimidation that drove this curiosity. Probably a little bit of both.

He was the life of the party. He drove an Audi in a town where most people walked, me and my family included. I was a shy little girl who wanted nothing more than to be loved by her big and strong daddy. I didn’t understand why he didn’t seem to care.

So there I was, a seventeen-year-old girl on a morning train trying to wipe the tears without smearing my mascara. It was too late, mascara was everywhere.  After this day, over the course of many years, I experienced a kaleidoscope of emotions. Mostly anger.

I hated him. I blamed him for not being there for me when I needed him most. Over the next few years I acknowledged a series of behaviors that were direct outcomes of my ”daddy issues.”

I was extremely insecure, which caused an enormous amount of jealousy that led to endless fights with my lovers. I sought out friendships with men, mostly because I needed their attention. I continuously victimized myself, and it was all his fault. I blamed that selfish, arrogant jerk who was too cool to hang with his little girl. 

Years passed this way. I dwelled. The anger and sadness resonated inside me. Tears came to the surface at every darn daddy scene in the movies. I pretended Father’s Day didn’t exist. I felt bad for myself every chance I had. It was exhausting. I avoided his rare calls and slight attempts to “build” a relationship. “It’s too late,” I told myself.

This went on for years. So much of my time was wasted on accusation, pain suppression, and avoidance. “This is just the way things are,” I told myself. I didn’t think there was another way.

Some say time heals all wounds; others believe it’s up to us to heal them. In my case it was a little bit of both. On my long journey to recovery, I did a whole lot of soul searching and self-realization. I began to slowly and cautiously unravel the layers of hurt and blame.

I consciously and diligently started working on improving my confidence, and with the help of a steady and healthy relationship with a wonderful man, I started to learn that not all men were bad. More over, I began to understand that men, just like women, can be wonderful, caring, loving, and supporting beings that make this world a beautiful place.

As I dove deeper into studying the human psyche I learned that all of our behaviors are taught, and if there is no positive influence to teach us right from wrong, there is a big chance we can go astray from what is right. My father was no exception to this rule.  

His father wasn’t nurturing or loving or any of the other things I wanted my father to be. He never learned those fatherly tendencies that I so desperately needed from him. While he certainly had an opportunity to change this pattern, as we all do, he didn’t, and for that I empathize with him.

I’m sorry he didn’t get to feel the love and admiration I felt for him. I’m sorry he wasn’t there to rejoice in my accomplishments. I’m sorry he wasn’t the one to show me how amazing a father’s love can be. I’m sorry he missed out on a life long connection with a caring and loving soul he himself created. I’m sorry he missed out on so much love.

Today, as I watch my incredible husband play with my son, my heart smiles. I cry happy tears that he will never feel the void that haunted me throughout my younger years. He won’t have to wonder why his daddy isn’t there, why he didn’t call, or when he’ll see him again.

The presence of his parents’ love will teach him that life is full of loving and caring people who come together to grow and foster unity in the safety of their loving home. He will know love the way he’ll know his name.

This part of my life taught me that while hardships are inevitable, the way we respond to them is up to us. For many years I chose to feel hurt instead of learning to forgive and looking for the light.

I chose to blame instead of seeking understanding. I felt anger instead of compassion. I chose to be a victim instead of becoming the victor. I sought happiness in others, not realizing that it has always been within me; I simply didn’t know where to look.

Today I wish my father well. I hope he lives out the rest of his days surrounded by peace, love, and kindness. The day I chose to forgive him was the day I set myself free.

About Alyana Moalam

Alyana Moalam is a writer and a poet. Her writing is dedicated to spreading the message of love, peace, and unity. She created in an effort to make the world a kinder and gentler place. Though her writing, she hopes to inspire others to learn, grow, and contribute to the good in the world. Connect with Alyana on Instagram at or Facebook.

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  • Courtney

    Simply beautiful. Be at peace always.

  • Forgiveness is so important.
    It is hard though.
    Specially when the person is like you said alive and well and doesn’t make amends or even attempt.
    Like you I did focus on finding a partner who would have these qualities so I wouldn’t repeat the cycle. Focusing on my future and creating my own home has also healed and set me free. I forgive but I also recognize I suffered. The adult me can love little me.

  • RT

    Thank you for sharing your story Alyana and it’s wonderful that you found a loving husband who makes such a difference. My father too was never there for me. Growing up I always remember that everything was about him and we were rarely shown any affection or respect. There were five siblings. He was extremely strict and bad tempered most of the time. And it wasn’t till I married that he admitted it was the only way he knew to control us because that’s how he had been brought up. I use to be angry when I was living at home but I promised myself when I married I would not take “who he was” with me and I didn’t. I learnt to accept that’s who he was and refused to lose anymore energy in trying to get the love and respect (and support) from him. I am 56 (separated) and my father is 86 and he is still the same person. I actually feel sad for him not realising that by choosing to remain the same person, has made him miss out on so much love from all his children and grandchildren. But making the decision to no longer allow “who he is” be part of me, stopped the heartache inside. It’s made me realise what I needed to focus on, my life and happiness. And I do! xo

  • Nicky

    Reading this article, and the comments below, has made me reflect on something that I have always known, but usually sweep under the carpet. My dad was there physically but not mentally. Always behind a newspaper, not talking or sharing, unless to tell us off. My mission, when I was a little girl, was getting him to notice me, accept me and love me. i did everything, even thinking that if I were more like a boy, like my 2 brothers, he might relate to me more. I used to follow him to his rugby matches. I think a part of me denied my femininity for a long time (believing I was ugly and flawed in some way) while simultaneously constantly seeking male approval. Having a lot of boyfriends, as well as male friends. I started to rebel in my late teens, knowing that he would never change. Used to feel tearful when I saw my friends or cousins cuddling and laughing with their dads. Made many mistakes, till I got to my mid twenties, and got married (something i said I would NEVER do) My dad had always seemed so miserable and there was often tension. I assumed he just wasn’t happy, and that that was what married life was. So I vowed I would not get married or have kids (I have 3 now, and we are very close) Strangely enough, in recent years, my dad has warmed up. Still a bit disconnected and can never discuss feelings, but generally more affectionate. He’s now in his seventies, and I am 51. Somehow, I find this warmth harder to understand than his distance. He will always be a mystery to me, but I still love him dearly. He has alzheimers now, and I feel I will never get closure. I had wanted to talk to him, now he’s more open, to get to the root of why he was that way. But it’s too late. I can only give him the love and acceptance that I felt he didn’t give me. One more thing: oddly enough, my friends have often told me that my dad was always very proud of me, and when I wasn’t around, he sang my praises. But he could never show it. They love us, but are so disconnected from their own feelings, they just can’t show it. But, if we learn from this with our own families, then the patterns will not be repeated. Thank you for this amazing article. It really touched me.

  • Alyana Pali

    Thank you dear Courtney

  • Alyana Pali

    I couldn’t agree more. I find most important things in life end up being the most difficult challenges we have to overcome. I love that your adult you loves your little you. I might borrow that saying 🙂 Thank you for your comment.

  • Alyana Pali

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Isn’t it amazing how much of our lives are spent on repairing the broken pieces of our upbringing? I sometimes imagine what our world would look like if all of us were brought up in an emotionally healthy environment. I bet there would be much less wars 🙂

  • Alyana Pali

    Hi Nicky, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m happy to hear that you are breaking the cycle too! If I can be honest, it was very difficult for me to write this article. It was a bit scary to share such deeply personal experiences but what motivated me to go for it was the thought of how many people out there may relate to my experience. So many. Too many.

    I firmly believe that sharing, talking and understanding our pain is the best medicine. Thank you for your comment and happy healing!

  • Shanker

    Hi Alyana,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m curious to know how you could love your father. How you could forgive him, as I don’t find this process in the article.

    I read your article because I’ve also suffered with an unpleasant father. I’ve hated him too. Later on, thanks to a good couple who heard my feeling and acknowledged them, thereby healing me. I realised that my hate towards him is actually my hating the financial dependence on him. Further, his father had been even more cruel to him. Though I could pity him, and forgive him, I never felt any affection to him.

    I always wonder how people talk about ‘forgiving & loving’. To me, a person who has harmed you can be forgiven if you understand the situation but ‘loving’ him/her looks like a self imposed torture.

    Now, what is your take on my view?

  • Amanda Metzger Blue

    Hi Alyana, I’m interested to know if you shared your forgiveness with your father? The article didn’t sound like you included him in your revelation. I love the authenticity in your writing and your story resonates with me as I had a similar experience, but my father died.

  • SkyDriver

    Wow, thank you so much for this post. It taught very important things about love and forgiveness, and was written in a beautiful way. I hope you and your family can heal further together 🙂

  • Alyana Pali

    Hi dear, I love my father the way I love my fellow brothers and sisters of this world. I respect our differences, show kindness and do my best to understand where they are coming from. Once we truly find understanding, our experience no longer has to be personal, it is no longer about us. Only then can we detach ourselves from the hurt and move on to our own healing. The level of love or affection you choose to share if completely up to you and you alone.

    Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story.

  • Alyana Pali

    Hi Amanda, I chose not to share these feelings with my father. I realize that we cannot change the behavior of others. Only we ourselves can bring about change from within. Therefore I cannot fix or change my father, he has his own path. I can only focus on healing my own wounds so that I do not hurt all the people in my life that I love so dearly.

    I’m sorry for your pain, I promise you can overcome it.
    with love, alyana

  • Alyana Pali

    Thank you for reading my friend, and for your warm thoughts and wishes.

    With love, Alyana

  • RT

    Thank you for your reply Alyana and I totally agree. I feel many parents do not realise the impact their actions can have on their children as they move on and become adults in their own lives. And just because we don’t show it, it does not mean it has not affected us. And it is sad when another has done a bad thing and then you learn it stemmed back to their upbringing. I promised myself when I became I parent, I would never allow my children to go through what I did. Both my children (25 & 29) are showered with lots of love and support and no matter what, I will always be there for them. And they know and feel it and that’s really important to me. xo

  • Shanker

    Thanks Alyana.
    One more point, I want to share my view on getting hurt. I believe from my experience that I get hurt by others only if I feel ashamed by their action/inaction/comment. Otherwise, I won’t. For example, what if instead your close friend, your parent/teacher has made those (hurtful) comments. Would you have still felt hurt?

  • Alyana Pali

    I agree, I think every hurt or anger we feel ties back to some sort of insecurity or pain we are trying to hide. Thanks for your thoughts, I invite you to stop by my blog, sign up to the newsletters so that we can stay in touch and continue these kind of meaningful and soul searching discussions! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

    Meet me at

  • Shanker

    Thanks for your invitation Alyana. I’ve visited your blog site, and have even read an article there. It is interesting!

  • Elisa Hastie

    This article holds a special place in my heart. I forgave my father after years of carrying around pain and anger like an old suitcase. It is still one of THE best things I have EVER done for myself. Thank you for sharing.