Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Coming to terms with an absent parent

"What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have."

Such wise words spoken by Oprah at Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards. These words are not limited to the #metoo movement, but they transcend throughout so many of life's challenges and have inspired me to finally share more of my truth. But you have been warned, this is not a light-hearted read. Rather, it is one I hope will help provide someone who is struggling with an imperfect parent the tools to begin to heal.

The last three Christmases, I came home to find a package on my doorstep with scribbled, nearly illegible handwriting. Our names are spelled incorrectly and the gifts are inevitably two sizes too small.

They are from my father.

Although he will never meet my children or know me, I send him a thank you note and a photo, gently reminding him of my children's names and ages. It has taken years to get to this point, but I'm living proof it is possible.

See, my father has been in and out of my life since I was a child, often disappearing for years. Upon his return, he is just helpless and apologetic enough that I'm easily charmed. The charactertistic of a true alcoholic; never fully understanding the pain he has caused in the wake of his absence.

There was a time I felt so.much.anger that he would insert himself back into my life at his convenience, only to leave as quickly as he came. I did not understand his choices and I counterproductively blamed him for the wrong in my own life.

My anger has diminished over time as I've poured my energy into more positive things in my own life; first my career, then my marriage, my passions and my family. I have found so much comfort knowing that him and I are not the same and I have chosen differently.

In more recent years, I made a conscious choice to replace anger with compassion. It's helpful to think of my father as a flawed human being. I don't know his struggles (and I lost the desire to make sense of it all), but I don't care to punish him. I am busy raising a family he will never know and that seems like punishment enough. And that beautiful family has given me the greatest gift of all, a second chance. A chance to have the childhood I had once wished for myself, through my children. As I watch them experience life and I am able to provide them with comfort, security and unconditional love, it is healing my heart.

This healing is an ongoing process, but worth every effort. However painful my truth has been, it has also served as my greatest motivator to do and be better. And when I see it that way, it closely resembles a blessing.


  1. This is really powerful and moving. Thank you for feeling it. Thank you for writing it. Thank you for sharing it. (There is someone in my life who suffers from alcoholism as well, though not my parent. The hurt its caused is so real, as well as the need for healing and moving forward.) <3 <3 <3

    1. Thank you, Rachel. That means so much coming from a beautiful, published author! I hope you are able to find some peace in your situation as well.


© Lake House Effect. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.