How I Forgave My Father For His Cruel Words — And Stopped Letting Them Haunt Me

Breaking a pattern of generational cruelty benefits everyone.

little girl cuddles her dad DinaUretski / shutterstock 

When I was just a little girl there was a time I made my father mad. He responded in anger: "You should have never been born!" 

Perhaps none of this would have been quite so bad if my dad had immediately apologized and said, "Oh Kathy, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it." 

But that didn't happen. He went on about his merry way leaving me to ponder if he ever really loved me at all. 

In all of these years, my father's words have never ever left my mind. 


They stung and they devastated me to the core of my being. How do I fix this? How do I let it go? 

How do I move on and find a sense of peace? 

RELATED: 4 Subtle Ways Childhood Trauma Affects You As An Adult (Even If You Think You're Over It)

On a quest for perspective and emotional peace

When my father told me I should never have been born, I remember thinking maybe he was right.

"Does anybody love me?" I thought. "Am I worth loving?" 

How does a young child live with and process such hurtful words?

As I grew older, I had plenty of time to think about why he may have said such terrible things. 


Most of us understand that it can be extremely difficult to move past words spoken in anger or frustration. 

We cannot take these words back. 

We cannot make them disappear like they were never spoken in the first place. This is one reason why it is imperative that we think before we speak. 

We need to pause when we feel angry or frustrated before blurting out hurtful words that linger in our hearts and minds for a lifetime.  

When I took a moment to put myself in his shoes and look back at his life, I found empathy in understanding his emotions and why some things transpired as they did. 

I'm not making excuses for him, but I am willing to acknowledge that his own upbringing was heartbreaking, too.


My father passed away in 2009 and even though I am now considered just beyond middle age, there are still moments when those words echo in the depth of my heart.  

His words have shaped me into the woman I am today

But they do not need to define me in every way for the rest of my life.

RELATED: How To Let Go Of The Past & Overcome Trust Issues Caused By Emotional Trauma

The emotional cycle — trauma begets trauma 

My father was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1927 to a single mother. He died in 2009. To the best of my knowledge, I don't believe that he ever knew or met his biological father. 

His mother was very secretive. I feel confident this was because of the stigma attached during that time to giving birth out of wedlock. 


When he was only 2 years old, his mom left him with close friends as she embarked on her journey to the United States. She wanted nothing more than to become established in hopes that she could one day give her son a better life.

When he was 7, his caretakers brought him to the United States to be reunited with his mother. 

You can imagine the upheaval he felt because he lost her once and now he was losing his "aunt" and "uncle" to be reunited with his mother — who by now had become a stranger. 

By the time they were reunited, his mother had married. He also now had a half-sister. 

That in itself would have been very traumatic. He would not have remembered his mother from when she left him at only 2 years of age.


We can imagine that instinctively he would have abandonment and severe trust issues. Psychologically, the years between ages 2 and 7 are critical milestones when it comes to child development. 

These years lay the foundation for one's future. They set a blueprint of life that has the potential to affect us forever.  

RELATED: 11 Signs You Were Raised By A Bad Mother Or Father (And It's Affecting You Now)

Trust is a casualty of trauma

The relationship my parents had was often strained. I dislike referring to our growing-up years as dysfunctional but, in many ways, there truly is no other term that would describe it any better.

I'm not saying that my parents did not instill incredible core values. They were both hard workers and they always wanted what was best for us. 


They did their best to guide my brothers and me by making sure we always understood the difference between right and wrong. 

Unfortunately, trust was something that was not always present. 

The trust issue had a trickle effect — because of what my father said, I often questioned whether someone could ever truly love me.  

I believe this is something that I've dealt with for my entire life and while there were times when it truly was warranted — there may have been times when I should have given some people more of a chance.   

I have found that once someone has broken my trust repeatedly it is difficult to believe they ever truly had good intentions.  


I realized that in order for me to have healthy boundaries, I needed to let go of this hurtful part of my past. 

But I needed it to shape me into who I am as a person — as a daughter, sister, mother, woman, and friend. 

It also played a huge part in my work as a spiritual intuitive and life and relationship coach. 

As with all things, these are a dynamic part of my life lessons and while they have hurt me to the core of my being, they also help me to show others the importance of moving past difficult situations or circumstances.

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With time and perspective comes forgiveness

I forgave my father long ago. 


I genuinely believe that his own issues with anger and resentment were present because of the hurt that he felt from being abandoned.  

I realize that when my dad acted out it was only because he felt like he was not in control. 

My dad could have made other choices and eventually he did get a handle on his anger issues. 

He was much more patient with my children, which is pretty typical for grandparents. As they say, with age comes wisdom.

He was wise and in spite of what he said, I know that he truly did love my mother, my brothers, and me, as well as my own incredible children. 

When I became a parent and my children were growing up, he was a significant part of our family. He showered us (in his own way) with love, devotion and attention.  


As we learn and grow in wisdom, we have the ability to view love and compassion on a much deeper level. 

We also realize that no one is perfect. We are all human and we all make mistakes. 

These circumstances — and our responses to them — shape who we are. 


Life lessons mold us, and we have the ability to grasp them for all that they are when we are ready to acknowledge that forgiveness and grace come to us through the gifts of compassion and wisdom. 

As we age, we discover and appreciate the importance of forgiveness and empathy.

RELATED: Why Forgiveness Is One Of The Most Powerful Things In This World

What I've come to understand over time

I don't believe that my father ever meant to intentionally hurt me. 

At the time he hadn't yet acquired the ability to process his own emotions in a healthy way. He wasn't ready to acknowledge or accept why his mother did exactly what she thought was best for him at the time.  


I believe with all that I am that she had his best interests at heart. While I am guessing that he had to deal with his own issues of forgiveness, I believe that as he aged, he was more fully able to see his own circumstances from a different perspective.   

Perhaps the only way to find true forgiveness is to place ourselves in the other person's shoes. 

Empathy and compassion can lead us in the right direction when we take a moment to look at someone's life from their perspective — and not just our own.

RELATED: How To Accept Your Parents For Who They Really Are — And Love Them For It

Kathy Thielen is an energy healer and life coach who focuses on happiness, self-care, psychic healing, and relationships.