Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “No Forgiveness for Father” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “No Forgiveness for Father,” whose father left the family when she was four and tried to reconnect with her and her siblings after the sudden death of her mother two years ago. “I was so angry,” she wrote, “20 years later and he only contacts us because our mother died and he’s sorry for ‘our’ loss. I didn’t want anything to do with him. It’s been two years since then and all my siblings have had some contact with him and my half-sister has attempted to contact me. Everyone keeps telling me I should try to give him a chance, that he’s trying, but I just can’t.” After the jump, find out whether she had a change of heart and how she’s doing today.

First, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my letter. I appreciate the outside perspective. As for an update, there have been a few changes. My half-sister had a baby and I decided to send her a congratulations email. he was very excited so I feel like I did the right thing, even if I’m not ready for a full relationship with her. Besides, babies are the best reason in the world to start a new connection. It’s difficult though. I know she’s not to blame for our father’s actions but it’s hard for me to talk to her without wondering how different my life would be if he had stayed involved and, quite petulantly I know, what made her so special that he would decided that she was worth raising.

Yes, I have a lot of resentment at the moment. I can’t help but question how drastically my life — and the lives of my whole family — would be if he had stepped up and took the responsibility of being our father. Before losing my mother, I had dealt with it, had accepted that for whatever reason he didn’t want us and I was okay with that; my mother was more than enough of a parent. But a commenter really hit the nail on the head: when my father tried to contact us the day my mother died, it felt like an intrusion. It felt like he was trying to use our grief to claim a position of support and was intruding on such a private and personal family matter – a family he never wanted to be a part of.

I planned my mother’s funeral, dealt with insurance and bills, wrote thank you cards, paid the church, the funeral home, the pastor; I did all of that by myself, without him, and I wanted to grieve without him. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive him enough to establish a relationship with him. My siblings have all contacted him and now have somewhat of a relationship with him and he has tried to be there for them. I won’t try to take away the efforts he has made with them; he’s trying, and he’s respected my boundaries.

As for my aunt, she and her husband — my mom’s brother — were very involved in my childhood. I spent summers in her pool with my cousins and she helped my mom as much a possible. My mom’s family all contributed and helped us out, but none of us are well-off so we all did the best we could. My aunt has always taken a second parent role for us and she feels that it’s her job to push us to do what’s “best” for us. To her, that means letting my father try to be in our lives now. I explained to her that I wasn’t ready and asked her to just leave it. She understands; she just didn’t realize how much pressure she was putting on me.

I’m still trying to deal with losing my mom and that’s hard enough without the added worry of establishing contact with my father. Someday I might want to pursue a relationship but right now I need to concentrate on myself. I’m recovering from a severe depression and some days are still a struggle. I don’t feel guilty for rejecting him, for now, and hearing from others that it was okay cemented my feelings. So, thank you for the great advice!

 
Thank you for the update. I wish you continued healing in the wake of your mother’s death. I’m happy you have the support of your siblings and your aunt during this sad time. Best of luck to you.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

7 comments… add one
  • avatar

    El September 19, 2011, 2:01 pm

    LW, my mother is in the same exact position as you, and after 30 years (and lots of therapy) she is still not in a place where she can have a relationship with her father. It may never happen. And you know what? That’s okay. Like you, she’s surrounded by family who loves her, and that more than makes up for her father’s shortcomings. Keep your head up, and surround yourself with those who love you. You don’t need a father to become an awesome, confident woman. 😉

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  • avatar

    Foots September 19, 2011, 2:29 pm

    I don’t know, LW, it doesn’t sound like much of an update to me. It sounds like ur back at square one.

    I think you need counseling to deal with the bitterness & anger. It only hurts you, not him.

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    • avatar

      Sailorbabe September 19, 2011, 3:11 pm

      I don’t feel the LW is back at square one. She has made her steps forward evident by beginning to have a relationship with her half sister and her child. I feel the LW is entitled to feel however she decides to feel about the relationship with her father, plus, she is still grieving for her mother, which may only add to the things she is already feeling. I also believe that she has come to terms with being ok with not having a relationship with her father, and she has addressed how she feels about that situation with the people who were pressuring her the most to accept her father’s presence in her life. I’m sure when and if she’s ready, she will identify and release whatever negativity she may feel toward her father, but only when she is ready.

      LW thank you for the update! It’s good to see that you’re taking steps forward.

      *hugs*

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    • avatar

      Sailorbabe September 19, 2011, 3:11 pm

      I don’t feel the LW is back at square one. She has made her steps forward evident by beginning to have a relationship with her half sister and her child. I feel the LW is entitled to feel however she decides to feel about the relationship with her father, plus, she is still grieving for her mother, which may only add to the things she is already feeling. I also believe that she has come to terms with being ok with not having a relationship with her father, and she has addressed how she feels about that situation with the people who were pressuring her the most to accept her father’s presence in her life. I’m sure when and if she’s ready, she will identify and release whatever negativity she may feel toward her father, but only when she is ready.

      LW thank you for the update! It’s good to see that you’re taking steps forward.

      *hugs*

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    • avatar

      convexed September 19, 2011, 9:15 pm

      Sure, it would be wonderful for the LW to move past bitterness and anger, for her own sake, on her own time. But I think its her own emotion, and its valid, and I don’t think its fair to suggest (though that may not have been yr comment’s intention) that ppl hold on to bitterness in order to hurt those who have hurt them. The LW has suffered so much loss, and to recover is a long and complex process. Her insights here are not evidence of ‘back to square 1’, but a demonstration of the difficulty of navigating this ordeal, and evidence tnat she is in fact taking on that work, by recognizing her own needs and continuing to consider what relationship she might have, if any, with her father, half-sister, and the new baby.

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  • avatar

    AKchic September 19, 2011, 2:45 pm

    *hugs*

    There is nothing wrong with not wanting a relationship with your father. Now, or later. Right now, taking things one step at a time is a good thing to do. Grieve for your mother, and your loss. Rebuild your life, but don’t try to fill the loss of your mother with your largely absent father. He isn’t a replacement for your mother. He may think that he can help “fill that void”, but honestly, he has no right to try to replace her, or the place she left behind.

    I am glad that you are getting to know your half-sister and her child. That is a good place to start. Should you choose to have a relationship with your father at some point, I think that it is a good thing that people have stopped pressuring you. The urge to rebel against it is strong after a death like that, especially in these circumstances. You feel disloyal to your deceased mother in a way.

    Good luck to you. Nobody said life was easy.

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  • avatar

    SGMcG September 19, 2011, 3:01 pm

    Good for you for reaching out to your half-sister about her new baby! I know that had to be hard, especially since you wanted nothing to do with her, let alone your father. Take all the time you need to determine if you want to contact her further, or contact your dad at all. Coping with the loss of your mom is not a race and there is no deadline on your emotions – the most important thing is that you endure through it all and take care of yourself.

    Good luck LW.

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