How One Diary Entry Became My Road Map To Freedom And Love

A tale of forgiveness.


"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
-Mahatma Gandhi

I would like to share with you how I was able to change one relationship by putting another one to rest. It's a tale of two men, one past, one present—my father and my husband. It's a journey back in time and an examination of events as reality, not perception. And it's a journey that allowed me to unleash profound freedom and love.


It is not easy to see reality. We experience everything in life through a filter; I call it "a view of life." My "view of life" during childhood was not very pleasant.

Yelling, shouting, and tension were an everyday part of my growing up. There were no bloody fights, just flying dishes in the kitchen, showing a forceful interaction between my father and mother. In my eyes, my father was my hero and he couldn’t do anything wrong. And I was his shining star. Through my child's eyes, he was right and my mother deserved all the blame. He was a good father but a lousy husband, which I only discovered later in my adulthood. My love for him made me blind. Behind the sweet and affectionate father, there was a wounded and angry man.


My relationship with men was colored by how disappointed I later became with my father. I decided that all men were untrustworthy.

Recently, I found a diary that was written by my father 60 years ago. He has been dead for 28 years.  Here is what I read: "It was a very hot day; a day when I didn’t want to do hardly anything. I didn't even want to go outside, but needed to go to the store. Seemed like the wind moved to the North. My skin burned from the heat.

It was an ordinary day, but something was different. I smelt it in the air. Everything was quiet. The city was empty, even the animals found shelter in the shade. I couldn't wait to get home. When I did, the door was wide open.

'Mother, where are you?' I shouted and almost cried. There was no answer. I ran upstairs, than back downstairs and went outside. I saw nothing except a cloud of dust. It was left by a car that drove off.  I thought I was losing my mind. Where was everybody? I knocked on the door at our neighbor’s house. There was no answer there either. I went back to the house and turned on the radio.


'Hitler has attacked Poland,' the voice said. I couldn't believe it. I felt a sharp pain in my chest and I listened more carefully. '...the government sent hundreds of people to support our leader's action. These excited people are ready to leave the country at 4 o'clock. We wish the best to our heroes,' the voice continued. I couldn't move. 'My father, where is my father?' I screamed. Then I remembered the voice on the radio. They are going to leave the city at 4 o'clock. Like a maniac I drove to the train-station where thousands of women and children were waving and shouting good-bye to the people on the train. It was slowly rolling out. I recognized my mother in the crowd. I caught her eyes and she nodded.

I knew my father was on the train, too. I never saw him again."

As I read the diary I sobbed uncontrollably. My father's old man died in the war. He also fought with Germans himself, later in the same war. He was captured by Russians and held for 3 years after World War II ended. He had his own rough childhood and a young adulthood that nobody would envy.

I had been justifying my own pain and disappointment by making him the wrongdoer. He was a good father who had his own pain and he wasn't perfect in many ways. But he loved me unconditionally. I learned I could do the same for him.


When I was able to see my "real" father, not the one I put on the pedestal, I was left with naked reality, the full spectrum of his humanness. From that, forgiveness and love were born naturally. Completion allowed me to leave the past where it belongs. Free from the past and its interpretations and filters, the present has become an open space for new possibilities; freedom to trust and love in my own marriage.

"Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person's throat...When you forgive someone you certainly release them from will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation..."
-Paul Young