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Elaine Sinnott, a child of divorce, shares her story of healing and forgiveness.

Leaving my dad

I walked out the back door of the building, leaving behind the sweet smell of chocolate and turned to see my mom, all three of my younger siblings, our new German Shepherd puppy, and a car packed full of stuff in front of me. My heart sank. She was leaving my dad. It was real.

“We’re not going home tonight,” my mom told me as I got into the car.

At 17 years old, I was very aware of what was going on. My dad’s drinking had gotten out of control and I was taking on the role of being “in-between” for my parents. The silence between them whenever he was home had become deafening. I was emotionally exhausted and never wanted to be home, either being out with my friends or working at our local chocolate factory in town. My three younger siblings, however, didn’t have an escape.

We went to a hotel that night, one of my mom’s wonderful sisters paying for a three-night stay for us to try and get it through to my dad that he needed to change things. My sisters, brother, and I thought staying in a hotel was pretty darn cool, though, and made the most of it. We went swimming in the pool, watched cable tv, and visited the hotel gym.

I remember taking my little purple berretta to school and asking a teacher if I could park there without a permit, just for a couple days, since we lost the bus while staying at the hotel. And the teacher firmly said, “No.”

I broke down crying, saying I needed to have it to get to school because we aren’t at home because of my dad.

“Do you need to talk to someone, hon?” the teacher asked.

“No,” I quickly refused. It was an embarrassing situation and I didn’t want to sit down and talk and cry anymore. I went about my day willing to take a fine if they charged me.

Longing for stability

After those three days, we went back to my dad. I don’t remember if anything changed immediately, but we eventually left again and for good. A friend of my mom’s had an empty house on the market, within walking distance of my work, so we ended up staying there until the end of the school year. It was in a bad part of town, but it wasn’t with my dad, so we felt great relief being there. We went from there to an aunt’s house, then to another aunt’s house all within four months.

I graduated high school and did not invite my dad. That was the first of many things he wasn’t invited to. I was too angry with him for abandoning us. On top of that, my wonderful Papa passed away from pancreatic cancer a week after I graduated from high school. He was an incredible, faithful father figure for everyone in our family, and that loss on top of the loss of our family was almost unbearable.

That fall I listened to friends in college talk about their parents, their love for each other, and how excited they were, especially for holidays, to be with their parents. I longed for that stability. I felt so robbed. I never had that to go back to on breaks from college -- a home I grew up in. Or two parents anxiously welcoming me back home. I longed to be a “daddy’s girl,” I longed for him to choose us. To choose me over a substance. I longed for a loving father-daughter bond.


I held that anger in for many years, from 2007-2016, when I was a wife myself and had four children of my own. During my husband’s third deployment in 2016, I ended up having a huge conversion and realized what a personal relationship with Jesus was, and I learned what true forgiveness was. I knew Jesus suffered immensely for my sins to be forgiven. If I wanted to be forgiven, then I had to forgive as He forgave me.

It was then I realized arguing with my dad through texts about the same stuff over and over wasn’t helping. It was there I learned I could forgive him, but I also had permission to not have a relationship with him, that a relationship wasn’t a requirement for forgiveness. That freed me of so much. Now I can pray for him, and send him pictures of his grandchildren and every now and then have a civil conversation.



A Father-daughter bond

It was also then that I learned I could have a Father-daughter bond, with the most perfect Father in Heaven. That I wasn’t abandoned. That I was chosen. That I was loved.

This is why my faith has become so important to me. Not because it’s a fairy tale ending, but because it’s TRUTH. And I can feel it in my soul. I can feel my Father’s love for me. I can feel Him smiling at me and sometimes even belly laughing at my jokes.

We are freed from the chains of betrayal, abandonment, resentment, anger, unforgiveness, and loneliness when we find the Truth. The truth that we are loved and so very wanted.


I learned I could have a Father-daughter bond, with the most perfect Father in Heaven. I wasn’t abandoned. I was chosen. I was loved. #catholicmom

Are you being held down by any chains of resentment, abandonment, or unforgiveness in your life? Have you experienced God’s total, unconditional, very personal love for you? I recommend starting with reading the Truth in Isaiah 54:10 and 1 John 3:1 and asking our Father to lead you from there.

Copyright 2020 Elaine Sinnott
Image: Derek Thomson (2018), Unsplash