Healing the Relationship with My Parents

Healing the Relationship with My Parents

More than 20 years had passed since my parents' divorce, which had come as a complete surprise to my sisters and I. Until the day they informed us that they were getting divorced, we each profoundly believed that they had the perfect marriage.

During the last years of their marriage, unresolved conflicts and deep-seated issues, which were completely unbeknown to us, were kept hidden behind a facade of happiness and unity. While I am sure that the main reason for the facade was to protect us, things don’t always turn out as we intend.

It wasn’t the blow of the divorce that had the biggest impact on us as teenagers, it was actually the surprise of their divorce. This surprising revelation shattered our notion of a perfect family, forcing us to reevaluate our understanding of love, commitment, and trust.

Decades later, the time had not only arrived for me to have an in-depth discussion about our family with each of them, but I also found myself genuinely ready and equipped to engage in such conversations.

I invited my father to come over in the evening and together we sat in the backyard for a casual dinner. I felt a bit nervous as I knew what was about to happen, and I could feel his nerves building up as well. After about 15 minutes, I took out a heartfelt letter that I had written to him. Papi I said, you don’t need to say anything. All I expect from you is to listen and to give me a hug at the end. As I started reading the letter aloud, our eyes started tearing up, particularly when I read:

“Until now, I didn’t understand why you and mom didn’t fight harder for your marriage. But now I understand. I understand how much both of you tried to make it work, how much you fought to salvage the family you had worked so hard to create. You did the best you could. The best you could to show me a window through which I could witness what an ideal family looks like, and what having a caring father feels like. You were my best friend and I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you to rupture the perfect image that I, as your oldest son and #1 fan, had of you. I now understand the effort you put into being an exemplary father figure and giving me all the love that you never quite received as a child. Thank you for trying your best.”

By the end of the letter, we both stood up and hugged each other with our faces drenched in tears. In my 40 years of life, this was the first time that I had seen my father display any emotion, let alone cry incessantly. It was a beautiful moment that I am sure we will both cherish forever.

The following evening went somewhat similar with my mother. My voice cracked and her tears started flowing as I read:

“In you I see a girl who was misunderstood, overprotected, and whose wings were cut too young. However, despite that, the little girl found a space in her heart where love grew, and then converted it into pure, unconditional, and infinite love for me, for my sisters, and for everyone around you. The type of love that you so desperately wanted and needed growing up, but never quite received. Thank you for your unconditional love.”

It is true indeed, parents are guilty, but they are not to blame. Everyone is trying their best to give something better than what they received.

Mom and Dad, I love you both unconditionally. I forgive you, and my hope is that you have also forgiven yourselves.

With my deepest gratitude,