Editor’s note: This column was originally published in 2020.
Dear Annie: My mother separated from my father when I was 3. She left my father, who never came looking for us. She later married a wonderful man who loves me more than anything.
When I was 15, a family member was able to get in touch with my biological father. The next day, he changed his phone number.
Recently, I did a DNA test and was able to connect with a cousin. I’ve been told that my biological father has since remarried and has two children. She gave him my number, and he has reached out to me. He wants to meet me but has no intention of telling his family about me.
I’m hanging onto this hatred and wondering if that is why, at the age of 40, I still can’t see past the worst in men. Do I live with this anger or do I move on? – Stuck in Anger
Dear Stuck: Living in anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It is understandable that you are angry with your biological father. He sounds like he was an unhappy man. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, not the other person. Try to see that your biological father was very limited in the love or support that he could give you. This had nothing to do with you and everything to do with his limitations.
As for your anger with men, try putting your attention on the wonderful men in your life instead of those who aren’t present. Case in point: the man your mother married. You said that he loves you more than anything. That type of love between a daughter and stepdad is so beautiful. Focus on that, and you will be much happier. If you need help in letting go of the anger and hurt of your father’s abandonment, then consider seeking the help of a professional therapist. There is a kindness about your letter, and kind people let go of anger.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Shepherd With a Lost Sheep,” who feels that his adult daughter is not making good life decisions, reminded me of my own daughter, “Jane.” Jane easily graduated with honors from college, but like “Shepherd’s” daughter, she has never been employed in her educational field and worked only at fairly menial jobs. In addition, she has been divorced twice and had several questionable live-in relationships.
What I didn’t know for many years, and what “Shepherd” may not realize about his daughter, is that Jane had a mental illness. She was able to function marginally OK for daily life, but she could not make the best life decisions.
Even though she took the initiative to see numerous mental health counselors, and did her own exhaustive self-study, it wasn’t until 25 years after college that her mental illness finally reached a crisis that resulted in getting the help she needed. I recommend “Shepherd” contact his local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which has exceptional programs for the loved ones of persons with mental illness.
NAMI and my counselor have helped me to understand and cope with Jane’s illness and how to properly assist in ensuring she gets the help she needs. I now accept that Jane is doing the best she can, and we maintain a wonderful relationship. I wish the same for “Shepherd.” – Dad at Peace
Dear Dad at Peace: Thank you very much for your letter. I am delighted that you are able to maintain a wonderful relationship with your daughter. So much of having a good relationship with others stems from understanding where they are coming from or what they are going through. I have a feeling your letter will help many readers.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology – featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation – is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.