"When you forgive, you in no way change the past -- but you sure do change the future." -- Bernard Meltzer
I've talked at length about my biological father's choice to leave before I was born as well as the repercussions his decision has had on my life. In the past year, I've heard thousands and thousands of stories from other fatherless sons and daughters, single mothers and fathers and even some from the fathers themselves. With each and every story, I hear anger, sadness and pain. I hear about the lack of self esteem, the shame and the trust issues that so often come from parental abandonment. I see a whole lot of people holding on to a whole lot of hurt. The most transformational thing that I've done for me, besides realizing that it had nothing to do with me (Thanks, Ms. Oprah and Ms. Iyanla), was to forgive him. While a year ago it seemed like it was an impossibility, forgiveness has been the key to setting me free.
How can a child forgive a parent that's abandoned them -- a parent that they may have never even met? How could they forgive an act that is probably the worst thing a parent could do to a child? I had the choice to hold it in my heart and carry the weight, or I could forgive him and let the pain and negativity go. I chose to forgive him. It wasn't easy at first. I had held the anger and pain inside of me for so long that it was poisoning me. All of that changed with small steps that turned into large steps that turned into a sprint. I began to think of my father as less of a ghost that haunted me and more as a flawed man that I wouldn't allow to hurt me any longer. It took time and patience, but I stuck with it. Then one day, I was actually able to say the words out loud and with nobody else around: "I forgive you, father."
I haven't forgotten what he's done or the choices that he made. It doesn't excuse them or lessen their impact, but it certainly helped me to see that someone that could do that to their own child had to have issues that I couldn't even begin to imagine. In fact, I hope he works out those issues for himself, because someone who can abandon their own child must be one tortured soul. As for me, I no longer have that weight upon my shoulders every day. In forgiving him I released that pain, anger and negativity that was taking up so much space and that has left a whole lot of room for love and happiness and joy. What more can I ask for?
Kyle has appeared multiple times on the Emmy-winning Oprah's Lifeclass series on "Fatherless Sons" on OWN . His song, "A Letter 2 My Younger Self (Fatherless Sons)," is available as a free download and the music video is available on YouTube. He is writing his first book, MAN UP! An Action Plan for Fathers in conjunction with Fatherless. Check out the Kyle McMahon website for more information. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.