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Some people blame others to avoid responsibility. Sometimes others ARE to blame. But I’ve found that even though you should not always accept the blame — or at least not all of it — you can always try to find your own culpability in any situation, no matter how big or small, and accept that.

Besides, you can’t count on changing the other person or people — you can only change yourself really, and so finding those areas of a circumstance you DO control gives you a fullness of your empowerment to help, even if only in small ways. And maybe those ways turn out to be not so small.

Not focusing on those who may or may not take responsibility for their role makes you look inside yourself, and grow.

Enough of the abstract preaching. My daughter is mad and hurt from a physical reprimand I gave her (I actually slapped her face for the first time in 10 years) and she may or may not accept why I did it, or understand how hurt I am and why. Specific people in her life have played a major role in enabling this problem to occur, maybe even causing it out of selfish intentions. I can be angry about this, and often feel that I am the only one taking responsibility for and dealing with their own mistakes — I allowed this all to happen as well, even if I felt my hands were tied. But feeling blamed for the whole thing makes me want to focus on blaming them even more. After all, I have the right and reason to feel that way. But that is hardly a good thing to do.

And it is so hard to let go of that sense of injustice, yet knowing it is in no way constructive to dwell on it. I cannot expect other people to change to what I think is the right thing to do, or be too sure of what is in their own hearts. It is so hard not to judge or not want to make them realize the harm they themselves have done, but the more I let go of that feeling, the lighter my soul feels. To put it in spiritual terms, when I let go of the perceived causes of my hurt feelings, let go of pointless blame toward others — and especially myself — God healing can reach my heart.

So I am exploring ways I can make a difference. I am seriously looking at how I can change my relationship with my daughter. Yes, I am constrained by circumstance and lack of co-parenting support, at least as I see it. But on a positive note, I did what I had to do over the years — making sure above all else she had access to me as her father to protect her and give her a set of values based on love — without too many negative repercussions. I gave up some level of respect by being Christina’s friend, and I swallowed a lot of hurt many of the time when she treated me disrespectfully because of reasons both within my control and without.

I wont go into the details — and some of you know way too many of them — but I am finding strength from my weakness. I am reading and thinking, and praying, and much wisdom has come to me in my time of need. For every part of pain and worry I lift up and let go of, I am rewarded nine fold with healing perspective and new understanding. In desperation, I have thought about so many things I haven’t before, in order to accept the circumstance and find ways to make it turn out alright for Christina and myself.

I have found others to talk to about these things. Just for self-assurance, I have discussed the situation — in all its ugliness — to the people closest to me, especially those who have experience with parenting. I am still healing from emotional abuse related to my fatherhood when Christina was small, and in times exactly like this, I need to find confidence in my parenting for Christina’s sake and not just mine.

I have written letters and notes to Christina, her mom and stepdad, a hypothetical counselor, etc. with no intention of wver sending them, just as an exercise of exploring my own feelings, what I believe and want to believe, what I want to say, what needs to be said, and what should be left unsaid. It’s even making me think deeply about my own communication skills and patterns, and what Christina needs to hear (and not hear) from me.

And if there are any other parents, especially non-custodial parents out there who wouldn’t mind chatting with me, drop me a line.