Fear is a Killer
Today I want to tell you a different story about a young girl who witnessed her father shoot her mother and how she forgave him. Rhonda Britten (born Rhonda Wiitanen December 1, 1960, in Two Harbors, Minnesota is the founder of the Fearless Living Institute, an inspirational and life-changing speaker, bestselling author, and actress.
She was the middle child of three girls and was the target of her divorced father’s physical and emotional abuse. At the age of 14, she was the only witness to her father shooting and killing her mother and then shooting himself, which was one of the primary reasons she does counseling and life coaching.
Rhonda’s books are not only inspirational but she gives practical advice on how we can make changes in our lives.I have found her books truly inspirational and have recommended her books to lots of mums and dads whose lives were going nowhere. In her own words, she gives us an account of that fateful day that would change her life forever
The last time I saw my Dad was on Father’s Day in 1975. It was rainy and cold much like most June days in the U.P., short for Upper Peninsula. I grew up in the part of Michigan that looks like the mouth of the wolf. […].
It’s a little-known fact that more millionaires were made during the copper rush of the U.P. than the gold rush in California. But I digress as I tend to do when I am talking about my father. You see, the last time I saw my father, he had a rifle in his hand and he was raging at my mother, bullets flying. When all was said and done, both my parents lay dead by my father’s hand and I was the only witness, the one left standing.
Most people assume I hate my father. Or worse, that I am glad he’s dead. I feel neither. I have forgiven him for that horrid act and that forgiveness has softened my heart and turned into love. Yes, I love my father. He has taught me more about love than anyone because he has taught me everything about fear.
Fear is a killer.
It kills hopes.
It kills dreams.
It kills careers.
It kills relationships.
In a flash, it killed my parents.
It almost killed me.
How is it killing you?
I know this because of my father. He killed because he was afraid of the emotions he couldn’t control. He stewed when he was hurt. He blamed and attacked when there was an inkling of embarrassment or shame. Humiliation? He’d rather die.
After my mother’s announcement that she was leaving him after enduring his jealous rages, infidelities, and abuse for over two decades – they were buried on what would have been their twentieth wedding anniversary – he put two bullet holes into her while repeating over and over again, “This is your fault. You made me do this. This is your fault.” He was a victim until the bitter end.
My father killed (and died) because he was afraid. Afraid to lose, afraid to feel, afraid to be human.
This is why fear has become my specialty, my obsession. I am not going to let fear decide my life, my future, my fate. It isn’t going to tell me what to do, or convince me to blame the ones I love how wrong they are, or suck one ounce of passion out of me. No siree.
I was a witness to the horror of a life lived in fear.
But fear is so subtle, so seductive, so invisible, I have had to learn all of its tricks to stop myself from following the easy path of a fear-driven life. I have devoted my life to understanding how fear works, learning how to process it in a healthy, loved to learn all of its tricks to stop myself from following the easy path of a fear-driven life. That’s what I have done for the past two-decade-plus. I have devoted my life to understanding how fear works, learning how to process it in a healthy, loving way and master it so I can live the life my father was afraid to and my mother never got to.
So here I stand. A daughter of a murderer. A daughter of a man who lived in fear. A daughter of a man who taught her how to love. My father lived in fear and died in fear. I’m not going to do the same. I choose love. I choose forgiveness. I know he’d be proud. Is there someone in your life that you’ve refused to forgive?
So many people come to Fearless Living afraid to forgive. I understand. It took me 14 years to really forgive my father and my life had had to be in the gutter before I would do it. Oh sure, I told myself I had forgiven him and if anyone asked, I would say I did.
But my life proved I hadn’t. Not really. Sheree didn’t want to forgive her ex. Not forgiving him made her feel powerful. She felt controlled for their entire twelve-year marriage so she did not want to lose her power now. She was afraid to forgive him because she thought forgiveness meant, She had to be ‘friends’ with her ex again. She couldn’t put boundaries up and say no. She worried it would take away her anger that, in her mind, was keeping her safe
My father was dead when I forgave him but that doesn’t mean he didn’t haunt every waking hour. Sheree’s husband was very much alive and they shared custody of the kids. She had to learn how to forgive as well as learn how to keep her boundaries solid and her voice strong. Divorcing him was a fearless act but forgiving him is what set her free.
Sheree had to forgive her ex if she didn’t want to taint her children with her fears and create a new life that was from her soul’s calling. I had to forgive my father to move forward and put the past behind me. I had to forgive my mother to see her humanity. I had to forgive myself to give myself a chance at happiness.
Who do you have to forgive? Today make a pact with yourself that you will write a list of people, and it may include you, that you must forgive to let your past go. A great place to start is the people that bring up feelings of anger, jealousy, bitter, betrayal or make you numb.