How I finally spoke up to tell my dad the truth.Photo: foxtongue
This Father’s Day, I woke up in the morning, had a tiny cup of coffee (which I had quit drinking last year but could not refuse this morning as my boyfriend sweetly offered to pour me a cup) and read a section in the Honolulu Weekly on Hawaiian book reviews. There was a feature of an interview with Haruki Murakami (Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore). I learned that he had been an artist-in-residence at the University since September. That made me want to meet him so I could ask him to mentor the aspiring writer in me.
And then it hit me—I haven’t written in a while.
Murakami offers why he’s never experienced writer’s block:
“Rule number one: I write when I want to write. I don’t write when I don’t want to.”
These are wise words from a successful writer who was considered a rebel as a young man in a society that he considered “tight.”
He came here to be a free writer, to express himself without the fear of breaking the rules or sounding weird and different. He came here to be free to be himself.
Such a close reflection of my own upbringing, as speaking up was not really an option in our household where my father was practically a dictator. His word was always the final word. It’s been nine years since I began life as an independent adult so I should exercise my constitutional rights more, especially the freedom of speech.
Fast forward 15 years to the present and here I am tasting a fresh batch of vegan oatmeal cookies that was an experiment gone excellent, the result of a labor of love which I gave myself after I got off the phone with my dad.
It is to this elephant article that I owe sincere thanks for providing me the motivation to call my dad today and tell him that he is a good dad and that I love him; to finally clear the blockage that stood between us. Like the author, I would have defined my relationship with my dad to be “complicated” in the past. But I was always hopeful that this would change.
I lost my mom to cancer four months ago. It was a little unexpected and I am still definitely overcoming the emotional turmoil that was flowing like lava beneath the surface, ready to explode at any time, keeping me hot with the anguish that results when someone loses a parent in their mid 20s. One positive result that was yielded posthumously for my mother was that my father came back into the picture.Photo: photon_de
He had been absent from the family since their divorce over 10 years ago, and I don’t even know if my mom’s dying wish was for her kids to bond with their dad again, but I have a strong feeling she did. My intuition tells me so; she just wanted all of us to be alright, and being alright involved us being together again as a family.
Her death was sweet and peaceful; her pain seemed to dissipate and she was surrounded by her loved ones. The physical death was not complicated. However, her dying caused a lot of ruckus between me and her side of the family. I felt that they were too distant, both physically and emotionally, but they are in Korea and I don’t speak their language, nor do I really know them because we had fallen out of touch too long ago.
When it came time for me to pick up my ashes, I got a lot of flack from them for intending to spread her ashes in Mt. Shasta, where she was living. They claimed to want to bury her ashes right next to her father who had passed away a month before she did. This outraged me to no end because not only had they not sent cards or flowers, they never even called me after she passed even to see how I was doing. And now they want me to bring her ashes to Korea? Please!
So last week when my dad emailed me to say that he was stopping by Honolulu on his way to Korea to pick up a portion of my mom’s ashes, I finally let the lava burst through. Like Pele protecting her land from the oppressors, I went into attack mode and refused anyone else from taking my mom’s ashes away from me.
I was the one who took her into my home, unknowingly nursing her to her final breath. The least my dad could have done was to ask me what I thought, but do dictators ask what their people think before they dictate? No.
I spent the last seven nights in a regressed state of the child who was angered from being bossed around by adults. I felt angry, especially towards my dad who had never been good at communicating and understanding deep-seated emotions. And boy, were mine deep-seated.
But when I watched Phoebe in Wonderland last night, an excellent indie flick about a young girl who couldn’t stand having to follow the rules anymore, it dawned on me that I was being that girl, frustrated by an authoritarian dad whose rules were totally against my own beliefs. But, as Eckhart Tolle acknowledged Ram Dass’ words in A New Earth, “If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your parents.”
Take a big, slow, sweet breath.
I called my dad today to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. I told him that I was sorry for sending him such an accusatory email, that I just wanted to be heard and have my feelings considered by my surviving family, that I have let go of the past and look forward to moving forward with him and everything else, and that I love him because he is a good dad and I don’t think any less of him.
I think he choked up for a second there. He told me he loved me too, and to take care of myself and that the three of us (me, my dad and my brother) will always be well in touch.
And so I felt very accomplished after that talk. I finally owned up to my truth without worrying about hurting my dad’s feelings, and as soon as I did, all of the dark, looming clouds parted. Hallelujah, the angels sing.
Eckhart Tolle says, “The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again.”
So now I feel free. My heart is radiating with so much joy and love again—and those cookies I just baked were vibrating with the love that poured out of me.
As I take another deep breath in, I take in the goodness from the giving universe. All the love that comes in pushes whatever remaining stuff there is that comes out with the exhale.
For today, I implore you, just as the author of the article to which I owe this article to, to spend a happy Father’s Day and really be present and spread the love. Love, love, love.
“You have so much love in your heart that you could heal the whole world.” ~ Louise Hay
Upon realizing that there was never going to be a career in psychology, Seychelles Pitton decided to quit her job. While backpacking through southeast Asia where she saw ancient and natural remedies practiced by people in their own homes, she was inspired to train in bodywork and energy work, completed Reiki level 1 and pursues to lead a holistically balanced life. Today she counts swimming with the honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle) as one of her favorite pastimes.
Editor: Brianna Bemel