Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Therapy Thursday: First Forgive

pocket therapist front cover small.jpgI have decided to dedicate a post on Thursday to therapy, and offer you the many tips I have learned on the couch. They will be a good reminder for me, as well, of something small I can concentrate on. Many of them are published in my book, “The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit.

Mother Teresa once said, “Whatever our religion, we know that if we really want to love, we must first learn to forgive before anything else.”


My best friend, Beatriz, taught me that same lesson 15 years ago when I read aloud to her on the phone the letter I wanted to send my dad: a list of all the important events in my life that he hadn’t showed up for and why that was wrong. Granted, I had good reason to be hurt, and it may have been appropriate to send the letter.

But it wouldn’t have helped me love him any better.

“I don’t think that letter is going to do anything but make him feel guiltier than he already feels, and then keep you that much more out of his life,” my very wise friend told me. “Why not make a list of all the things you love about him? Why not forgive him for the mistakes in the past? Why not tell him that you love him so much and want to have a better relationship with him?”


So I did that.

I told him all of that.

And he cried like a baby, and embraced me in a gentle way I had yet to experience by my father. He also apologized, with undeniable sincerity, for some of his immature and selfish choices throughout the years. As I did.

And then I had three more months to love him before he died.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Shelly

    I found out that the first person that I had to forgive in order to actually love was myself.

    Once I could do that, I was able to forgive others even without them knowing, and then love them with the love of Christ.

    My therapist gave me these words of advice which I adhere to when someone is being difficult and really hard to love. “Everyone is doing the best they can at the moment with the knowledge and experience that they’ve had”. (including me) My mom reminds me, “Hurting people, hurt people.” Neither one excuses the person’s behavior but it helps with understanding and empathy on my end.

    Taking every situation to God after venting in my journal (and sometimes with a loved one who won’t add fuel to the fire) is a practice that I try to keep.

  • Mike,

    I will always love this story, Therese. It’s an inspiration for all of us to take the first step to seeking a loving closure with our parents. I’ve learned that sometimes for whatever reason people can’t do that but it is never too late: even after the death of a parent, we can be still and say the loving words and think the loving thoughts that will heal us. Thanks for another beautiful post.

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