I have a lot to say (but need to collect my thoughts)…

One thing that I’m trying to commit myself to doing is reading more blogs. It’s hard to keep up with everyone and even though I wish I could get paid to read/respond to all of those blogs out there, it just can’t happen. But sometimes you come across a blog post that sits with you more heavily than others. So much so you’re not even sure how to respond…

My friend Martinus wrote one of those posts last week.

He writes about having a father. A father that left when he was young. A father that is now sick and he’s hearing the dreaded “he’s not doing well” message (meaning Martinus should make amends before it’s too late).

This is part of our life changing journeys that I like to call “Oh well fuck me aren’t you just rearing your ugly head at the wrong time thank you very much emotions”. (PS if you’re new to this blog; I eff bomb quite a bit…you have been warned). I wanted to comment on his blog post. I wanted to leave some words of wisdom that would brush the dark clouds of emotional weight aside and give him the virtual “you’re going to be okay” warm fuzzy feeling but in the end after staring at my computer for a few minutes all I could type was this:

“I have a lot to say but need time to collect my thoughts”

And in my thoughts Martinus has been ever since. So much so I put this blog post on my to-do list as a reminder to come back and leave those thoughts for him, not on his blog post but here for the masses to read because it is in the masses that we find understanding, compassion and that almost inperceptable nod of the head that sends the much needed “I get this” message.

One of the things I rarely talk about here is my own father. I know I’ve mentioned a few times that he left when I was barely six weeks old and for most of my life I had been plagued with the “he left because of me” or the “why wasn’t I good enough for him to at least be a part of my life” feelings that later became the catalyst of the Freudian-like behavior of using my body because I thought that was the only way I could get someone to love me.

On my eighteenth birthday I sat by the phone expecting him to call.

For some reason I had devised this fantasy that the only reason he never contacted me (and when I say never contacted me I mean he.never.contacted.me.once.ever) was because he was waiting for me to become an adult and the day I turned eighteen would be the day I would hear the phone ring and on the other end would be him after all these years proclaiming he loved me and that I was the most beautiful daughter in the entire world.

But that day came and went as did the previous 6,528 days before.

Fast forward to being thirty. Ten years after my mother passed away. The phone did ring and on the other end was his voice. He didn’t come looking for me. I went looking for him and after some letter writing to an ex-wife of his that I found by happenstance; she led me to my paternal grandmother who then led me to him, the man that helped bring me into this world.

Him: “How have you been?”

Me: “You mean today or the last 30 years?”

That phone call led to us writing letters back and forth for a bit. In those letters he said one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard and it was in those words that the forgiveness began: “There is nothing I can do to change the past. I am an old man and my actions come with consequences that lay heavy on my heart. I have to carry those consequences with me to my death bed and for that I am sorry” He didn’t try to give me an excuse (“your mother and I were fighting too much”, “I tried calling but….”). He just took responsibility for his actions and knew that there were consequences…

We met once for a few hours a couple of months after our initial phone call. In those few hours I saw the things in him that I didn’t see in my mother. I saw the other half of who I was biologically and it closed a much needed door that I had been trying to shut for thirty years. He told me things my mother never told me (how they met, his relationship with my half brothers) and as I said goodbye he hugged me. Hugged me like a father should hug his kid but knew it would never happen again. It was desperate and full of “I’m sorry”.

His actions had consequences.

I came home and returned to my life. A fatherless life. A few years later I received a phone call from his wife Diane informing me that he had been sick and passed away. I naturally asked about funeral arrangements and when it was silent on the other end for an awkward moment or two I asked again about the funeral…

“he died three years ago”

Martinus, here are my thoughts: Your father knows what he did wrong. You can’t go through life and not know when you screwed things up. He was in your life for many years and then he wasn’t. You didn’t disappear from his thoughts, or his heart. He missed out. His actions have consequences and he is fully aware of that.  When my father was sick and he knew he was dying he chose to leave this world with that burden on his heart and for that I am grateful. He knew there was no point in trying to amend the past again one last time for the sake of his own conscious.

If you want to be with him at this time of his life that is totally up to you. You can not let your family dictate what you should and shouldn’t be doing. His actions has consequences and those consequences come in the form of “Martinus has every right to do what he feels is right for him, not for his father”. If you want to see him it will be because you need to close that door for you, not for him. My father knew I had closed that door when I drove away that afternoon. He did me a favor by not trying to pry it open one last time.

If you ask me I think this journey is more about emotional weight rather than physical weight. How we deal with shit when it rears its ugly head and spews it’s venom is up to us. We can no longer soothe pain with food. At the end of the day, the ice cream tub is empty and we still feel raw, exposed and vulnerable. When we feel pain we need to allow ourselves the right to feel. Being hurt or confused is just as important to our emotional stability as feeling elated and clear headed.

And just as the actions of others have consequences, so do our own actions.

If you can live with them then I say you’re making the right choice.

Whatever you choose.

10 comments to I have a lot to say (but need to collect my thoughts)…

  • This brought beautiful tears of recognition to my eyes. You know exactly why. I love you and Martinus and all of us who have had to deal with inexplicable loss that we have somehow come to believe were our own doing. You are so right. You gave me strength and resolution today, again. As you always do. THANK YOU, my friend. The gift of having you in my life just doesn’t ever stop.

  • I know it’s for Martinus. It’s a great post. It makes me think. I made amends with my father a long time ago and you know, Tara, he said something similar to me. And as soon as I was able to say “hey. OK. let’s start from now then” we’ve had a good relationship. Like really good. That was my decision, no one else’s. I have tried to talk to my brother a bit about it but he wants nothing to do with my dad. Even when he had cancer. I told him, “look, all I can say is, life IS short so if you are ready, WHEN you are ready, then just try to move forward. and if you are never ready, that’s ok too. No one is going to judge you and if they do, fuck ’em”.

  • I’ve never read Martinus’ blog until now, but I am clicking over after I leave this comment. Your post resonates with me for a few reasons, but one I will share here.

    I am adopted. I wonder about the day where I may get a phone call, or an email from one of them, or someone else in the family. I wonder if they think about their actions, and the consequences of putting me up for adoption. I hope they feel the consequence is a positive one, but I also wonder if they have any guilt/shame wrapped up in their decision…maybe someday I will be able to find out. All I know is that their actions gave me a loving family to grow up with.

  • Rachel

    My father died in 2008, before I got a chance to meet with him or speak with him. The reason I never got the chance to speak with him is because my mother was too lazy to pick up the phone and give the State of Michigan my contact information (he had been looking for me and was paying back-owed child support from 2007-2008).

    The child support stopped in February 2008, he died in August of lung cancer. I didn’t find out until a year later when we found his sister in law on facebook.

    So now of course I cannot forgive my mother and haven’t spoken to her (for the millionth time) in more than a year and don’t plan on it ever again due to her being a general piece of shit.

    So what happens if and when she starts to die? Do I go to her? Spend time with her and push aside the seething hatred and beat-up-little-girl-heart and honor the fact that though she is a jackass, she is my only living parent?

    I’m not a big fan of regrets, and I only ever tend to regret the big stuff. I think I would regret it if I didn’t go to her. I would rather live in the fantasy that everything is ok between us and be there when she passes than hold onto my anger/hate and watch it multiply and take over greater areas of my life than it already does (helps to keep me fat, scared and alone). I would do that for Me, not for her. Because hating her, hating anyone, takes away my capacity to be happy. And I’m a selfish person, I want to be as happy as possible dammit.

    Martinus is in a tough spot for sure. I would follow what would be least painful on My Heart. My best wishes go out to him and to everyone dealing with big painful issues like this.

  • Amy


    I read Martinus’ post like you this week, with many, many thoughts throughout my head. All were very personal. None I wished to share with the masses.

    But now I read yours, and the subsequent comments and I compelled to echo both of your courage. I’m not sure I can even share my thoughts on my own blog, where people who know me In Real Life visit. Because they are that personal. They are that raw and painful.

    My story is the flip side of yours and Martinus’, in a way.

    In my story, I’m the mother of the child whose father has never met him. I’m the mother of the son going through all of what you are going through. My son’s father disappeared when I was six months pregnant. I’ve never heard from him since. I tried to find him several times, and eventually connected with some of the family. I put them in touch with my son when he was a teenager and stepped aside.

    I’ve always tried to be enough for him, to provide him with enough love and enough people who love him in his life. But I also was always honest and supportive of his wish to know his father, and I helped in any way I could think of. It breaks my heart to know he wants more, and not to be able to give it to him.

    My son is now 23. And I know he too wishes that his father would call. Like you Tara, I thought maybe his call would come on my son’s 18th birthday, or maybe the 21st. But it never did. And now my son is getting married, and has told me he wishes someone from his father’s family would be there. To witness. To share. To be present and be a part of this very important event in his life.

    To read these stories of adults on the other side of my own story is eye opening. To hear in your words perhaps what my son cannot share with me. It isn’t a comfort, per se, but it helps to know that we are not the only people this has happened to.

    Thank you for your courage, all of you.

  • Oh fully loaded and a lot to say..but I left my comment for Martinus…and summarize it here…

    That pain will never go away…completely anyway…

    the answers lie in breaking out of the MYTHS we took on as kids from how those parents treated us..and remembering it wasn’t our faults…BACK THEN but as adults we no longer need to carry on the invalidation …because it was just a story..a myth…We are WORTH way more than we were taught…or took on..


  • Although you said a lot of poignant things in your post, the thing that jumped out at me is when you talked about this journey being more about the emotional weight than the physical weight and how we choose to deal with things. Ain’t that the truth! I know that if I choose the same way that wasn’t working for me for my entire life, I will always be battling weight until one day when I lose this battle. Thanks for the reminder that the time is right now to stand up and move forward, even through the muck.

  • Tara, although you wrote this for Martinus, you wrote it for all of us who have any sort of wound or scar from our childhoods, or even more recently. When I get bogged down in my thoughts and feelings about my mother, from whom I am estranged, I will remind myself to come and read this post.

  • So beautifully said. For Martinus and for all of us. I lost a father 8 months ago who was with me almost every day of my life. I cared for him through cancer and hospice at home and was with him the moment he closed his eyes. When I wonder did we do the right thing for him, it leads me back to my choice (our choice as a family) and it was right. It was the only thing I could live with. Thank you for reaffirming this. Even though our stories are different a choice we can live with unites us.

  • I’m a little late to the party on this one, but…

    It’s comforting on some level to know that we’re all in this together. I’d wager that most of us will have to deal with something in this vein eventually, and this is a reminder that a.) everyone’s situation is a little different, and b.) we all deal with these situations differently.

    My father left my mother before I was born, but she remained in contact with his family (she was best friends with his sisters). He has his own family now, and I haven’t tried to contact him, although I easily could. My mother’s first husband, whom she married when I was in 7th grade and divorced two years later, died the year after I started college, and I was devastated. My mother’s second husband of some 15 years, whom I honestly never really got along with, is dealing with liver damage and the prognosis is generally grim.

    So, I’ve been there before, will be there again, and am not sure how I’ll deal with it in these different circumstances. But I’ll know that there are people out there who get it, and can help.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

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