How do I forgive my father for leaving even though that was the best decision for him?
Forgive, Not for Him, But For Yourself
A father's life is no longer about himself but rather about how he fulfills the most crucial role in his life, raising kids. When a father becomes addicted, a disease for the sake of conversation, and the behaviors accompanying this, he fails at his job. The ways in which he fails are significant, and often the worst results of are hidden deep down in the children. Forgiveness is the act that breaks the trend of resentment and emotions running our lives. Forgiveness allows us to heal this wounded child inside of us that says if we stay angry, he stays hurt, and we can stay safe by never getting hurt again.
The only one to suffer is you. If you stay angry, or whatever the opposite of forgiving is, you must dedicate energy to that. Forgiveness, however, is letting it go. You don't have to agree or do anything once you find a way to forgive; you get peace. As long as you don't let your "righteous" mind that wants things to be "fair" speak up and control your actions, much like he probably did, you will be at peace when you learn to forgive and practice it in your thoughts.
Resentment will kill you if you don't get a handle on it. Alcoholism is often treated through a spiritual transformation. One of the most significant changes in dependence is discovering more about yourself, your view of life, and what you are connected/attached to. Without a higher power or some moral compass, people who struggle with addiction justify their behaviors on their feelings and then will always fail. It's why relapse is so prevalent. The work that needs to be done to be able to live life on life's terms is profound, and many aren't ready or expect to have to do that much.
This is all downright unfair. You have been wronged, ripped out of a childhood and now dealing with the consequences of a choice/disease your father had/chose. Even if addiction is strictly a brain disease, just like any disease, there are choices to be made that exasperate or improve our conditions. You have every right to allow your inner child who was mistreated to be angry and grieve. You do not have the right to be a victim and stay angry. You do not have the right to not participate in life because of what has happened. No matter what has happened to us as children, our life is ours; let's own it and work with what we have been given.
You will work on forgiving because it benefits your children/current or future/spouse/friends etc. You forgive because that is how you transcend addiction and find your bulletproof vest to live on life's terms and maintain despite the pains of real life. You forgive because you aren't going to let this wounded ego control you and tell you what to do.
You will acknowledge your anger, but you will not act on it. You will acknowledge the pain, experience it, and not run from it. You will not abuse your life by trying to remedy or avoid the inevitable pain, and sadness like an alcoholic does. You will learn to be grateful for the bad parts because it teaches you things. You are going to do the things your mind, formed from the material of your father, tells you not to do. This situation will involve forgiveness.
If you haven't noticed by now, your emotions pass, your thoughts pass, but your deep, embittered view of yourself and others initiated by the disdain of your father is a habitual response that leads you to where you don't want to go. Stop the formation of a habit that will bring you down. When you start to notice resentments or "poor me" thinking, stop them and find something to be grateful for at that moment. Please do not indulge in the habit of being angry; it will be hard to break.
Utilize all of this information to change how you see the activity of forgiveness. You aren't going to, 'forgive," but you are going to love. Forgiveness is too abstract. You focus on how you can give yourself what you needed growing up, love, support, and acceptance. Forgiveness will come with this. You will learn to forgive, not to forgive, but because you love yourself. By maintaining peace for myself, I get to be empathetic, understanding, loving, and kind to others. I know that when I don't do these things, I am not doing well and feel angry and resentful.
You are worth the work. You are advocating for that child, giving yourself what you never did growing up. Love.