How I Found a Positive in My NMO Journey and Forgave My Father
Last updated: November 2023
You must be thinking what good could come from getting a rare disease? Well, shockingly, one positive thing has happened to me after getting the dreaded news that I have a rare disease that could leave me blind. I gained a whole new perspective in life, and that’s to forgive and to not hate. I learned life is too short to hold grudges.
A rocky relationship
My father and I have had a rough past. I remember bits and pieces of him when I was younger, and some memories weren’t the best. I was too young to truly know what was going on with him and the issues he had. As I grew up, I grew bitter and resentful of the kind of man he was and how he wasn’t in my life. Once I knew what truly was going on, I blocked his whole side of my family out of my life. I had my mother and her side of my family, and it was all I needed. This was my choice and no one else’s. My mother never told me not to associate with him or his side of my family.
Building a bridge
Jump to my early twenties and I had been diagnosed with NMO. I knew he'd heard bits from closer family relatives that were in my life, and he began to reach out. I was still angry and bitter and very hesitant. Then one day he showed up at my job and I had no choice other than to confront him. He opened up about his past and his addiction issues. He was sober and had the help of a very special lady who had issues of her own. They worked their issues out together and became partners.
Was this worth continuing?
I entertained the idea of renewing our relationship to please him, and agreed to go to dinner with me. I also had the chance to meet his girlfriend. That was a huge step, and I didn’t think it’d really go past that. I was convinced I’d just go back to ignoring him and loving my life father-free. I had been doing perfectly fine all these years and he didn’t know who I had become, and I did it without his help. Why should I let him now?
He showed up in many ways
A while later, I had one of my bigger optic attacks and was in the hospital. My father showed up and supported me. This was a hard time, and I didn’t have the strength to dismiss him, and couldn’t really run blindly out of a hospital. He agreed to help and be the one to take me to all of my appointments and checks-ups after I was released, and I allowed it. I was allowing him to see me at my most vulnerable. This was strange, and I started to see a different kind of man; a man who showed concern and love for a son who he hadn't really connected with in over a decade.
I had a realization
This was the moment I realized life is too short to hold a grudge. He made mistakes because he’s human. We all have flaws and issues, and by that point, my being diagnosed with NMO led me to make plenty of bad life choices. I didn’t have the strength to hate. Hate is as vicious as a rare disease. It consumes you, and turns you into a disgusting monster. He wasn’t perfect, and neither am I. I started to really see that, and I also saw how hard he was trying to be in my life and gain my trust back.
Things have changed
Since he reached out to me, he’s gained my trust and my love back. Yes, he drives me insane and insists on making weird music videos of us in the car rocking out to classic rock or metal. Yes, he is loud and obnoxious, but that’s just how parents can be sometimes. It took me years to admit it, but he stepped up and is now a parent to me.
It took a lot to get us to this point
In March of this year I began to feel a whole new way. I received a call from his girlfriend who told me that he'd had a heart attack. This was a call I didn’t expect nor want. I truly felt like I was stabbed in the gut, as if it were my mother who'd had the heart attack. Luckily, he made it to hospital and is in recovery as I write this out. If it wasn’t for me being diagnosed with NMO, I’m not sure what kind of relationship we would have. But I’m glad we have what we have now. Life is too short, and he is a better man now.
A new perspective
Him having that heart attack introduced me to new emotions. I think people should stop with their anger and the grudges they may hold. Tomorrow might just be too late. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. People can grow and people can change. You just need to open your eyes to a bigger picture, and see it’s much healthier to forgive and grow. I forgave him, and I love him for all of his flaws and growth as a father. I love you, Pops, and please rest and get better so we can rock out when I come up to visit!
That is how NMO taught me to forgive.
How has NMO affected the relationships in your life?
Typically, how much time passes between attacks for you?