My friend was eating homemade-white chili, still in his work clothes, as he skimmed a sports report. I was on the couch, legs folded on top of each other, complaining about my father’s lack of sensitivity to my sensitivity, as I picked at my nails.
My friend turned away from the glare off his computer screen, set his fork against the edge of his plate and said, “My father used to hit me when I was younger, did I ever tell you that?”
I remember I had to look away from the pain on his face. My friend went on to explain that his father had anger problems because his grandfather had anger problems. Neither his father nor his grandfather understood what they were angry at. “I would just shutdown whenever he came home because I never knew what would set him off,” he said.
“Do you love him?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Is that ok?”
I nodded, yes. “Love is complicated.”
The father my friend had as a child is different to the father he has as an adult, however the ghost ships of his past still sail into his present.
“Will you forgive him?” I said.
“I wouldn’t know how to,” he replied and went silent.
Hurt people hurt people; love is complicated. There were many things I could have said to ease his grief, but instead I just stayed in that silence with him, instead of filling it with words, while he finished his dinner.
It’s inaccurate to think because some love has a messy history, or smells damaged on hot days, or tastes like bitter on certain bites, that it’s not worth holding belief for. When you can forgive those that hurt you the deepest, that is the most powerful form of retaliation, because it releases you from the anger they left you with.
To those also dealing with complicated love, see past the act of what they did or didn’t do, and see straight into their inner wounded child. I can imagine you’ll find that person has been in a great deal of pain for a long time. Forgive them, because we all need it to heal.