DEAR HARRIETTE: My father has been dead for many years. I feel ashamed that it is only now that I have been able to fully forgive him for how mean I thought he was when I was growing up. He criticized me for every little thing. It was horrible, even though it did propel me to succeed. Just the other day I was talking to my sister about my dad, and it turns out he had been bragging about me for years to everybody who would listen. He never told me he was proud of my accomplishments, which have been many, but apparently he was quick to tell others. I appreciate this fact, long after he’s gone. How can I deal with the guilt I feel for not being able to forgive him while he was alive? -- Forgiving Daddy, Washington
DEAR FORGIVING DADDY: You are facing a huge hurdle in your life’s evolution. Forgiveness is perhaps the hardest action one can undertake in life. It requires you to surrender completely and allow your heart to open. It requires you to have compassion for yourself for holding on to bad feelings for so long and for the object of your criticism -- your father.
Keep reminding yourself you did your best at the time, and today your best is showing you another way to look at the past. Here is where faith can come in. Ask God to give you the strength to show yourself compassion at this pivotal point. You may also want to get professional counseling to help you talk through your bevy of feelings and release old pain.