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    16 posts, 14 voices, 737 views, started Dec 15, 2008

    Posted on Monday, December 15, 2008 by Dana Arcuri


    • When I was two years old, my father was cheating on my mother repeatedly. Finally, my father left my mother, four sisters and I for good to marry this “other woman.” When my father divorced my mother in the early 1960’s, divorce was rare. My mother was devastated, humiliated and heartbroken. She packed up her old station wagon, relocated her & my four older sisters and myself to Pittsburgh, PA, which was her hometown. During the initial months of our move to Pittsburgh, my mother experienced severe emotional challenges and she attempted suicide. Fortunately, she realized that ending her life would be a mistake and she called her sister for help. My mother was rushed to the hospital and her life was saved.

      The memories of my childhood are very depressing and unpleasant. My mother started dating many different men, working full-time to earn a living and support us five girls and it was not an easy life. My father, who lived in Michigan, had his own life with a new bride. They started their own family and had two daughters. My sisters and I only had the chance to visit our dad during summer vacation. Every summer, my sisters and I would fly out to Michigan to spend a few weeks with our dad, stepmother and two stepsisters. Emotionally, this was very difficult for me. My dad was like a stranger to me, a man who I did not know.
      He was not the kind of father that a girl dreams of having. He was emotionally unavailable and physically, I only visited with him for two weeks out of an entire year.

      As I was growing up, my dad would rarely contact me by phone or mail. I will never forget on my 13th birthday, I opened up a birthday card from my father that said, “TO MY LOVELY GRANDDAUGHTER.” (Excuse me.....I am NOT your granddaughter! Did you even bother to read the card that you bought for me!?) As you can tell, this truly left some serious scars because I went through life constantly being reminded that my own father, my flesh & blood, did not give me the time of day. It hurt and still does hurt.

      By the time that I was a teenager, I was rebellious, jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend, failing school and getting caught up with a wild crowd. I wrote my dad a “hate” letter, which basically told him how disappointed I was in him and that I never wanted to see him again.

      Eventually, I matured, grew up, settled down and got married. Once I started a family of my own, I tried to make peace with my father. I sincerely wanted to forgive him of all the past hurts. I wrote him a letter and told him that I forgave him. For several years, it seemed as if my father attempted to make peace with me, too.

      However, for the past eight years, I have noticed that my father rarely contacts me. No matter how determined I was to forgive my dad, to attempt to let go of the past, the old hurts would ALWAYS resurface. Especially on my birthday when my father would not call or write to me. Over and over, I continued to feel as if my father was repeatedly emotionally hurting me. As a Christian, I wanted so much to simply release him from all negative past incidences that upset me, but for some reason, I struggled with what I thought a good Christian should do versus what I honestly felt inside my heart.

      This summer, I decided that my relationship with my father is empty, painful and a major disappointment in my life. I came to accept that my father will NEVER be the father that I need or want, but I must stop allowing him to continue to hurt me. I decided to make new boundaries that would no longer include my father. I cut my dad out of my life for good. I silently prayed that God would help me forgive him even if I have to work towards forgiveness daily.

      I made new boundaries and I shared this with my sisters. I asked them to respect my boundaries. But now the holidays are here and my dad is ignoring my boundaries. He sent me a birthday and Christmas card. I did not open them and I do not want the money that I know he sent inside the cards. Money can not buy me love. My dad can not send me money and think that this little act of kindness erases his lack of affection or attention towards me. The whole year passes by without my father ever contacting me at all and he thinks that sending me a birthday & Christmas card with money is going to make our relationship all better? I think not.

      I am in a very uncomfortable dilemma. Do I stick with my boundaries, send back the unopened cards and remind my father that I cut him out of my life? Or do I accept his cards and gift of money as a way to try to make peace, though, I highly doubt it will change anything in our relationship? This has upset me and it stirs up old baggage that I prefer to leave in the past. I believe that my father has never understood how I feel, no matter how many letters that I have written him. I fear that if he calls me on my birthday next week that he will ruin a perfectly good day that I should be celebrating, not crying over confrontational issues.

      Is anyone else finding the holidays to challenge your boundaries that you have already made? Do you feel that people or family do not respect your boundaries? Does anyone else find themselves having to forgive the same person over and over and over??? Please say a prayer for me.


        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          (華娃娃) ChinaDoll wrote Dec 15, 2008
        • It takes two to Tango or untango.  If you want to have peace, I personally encourage you to open and accept the gift.  Donate to a charity on his behalf silently if wanted.  I know it takes a long time to heal a broken heart, but everything requires a start.  Give it a shot.  I send you many prayers and you and your father are in my daily thoughts.

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          Doreen XoXo wrote Dec 15, 2008
        • I am saying many prayers.  My heart goes out to you.  Your story brought me to tears.  I personally, would send back the cards “return to sender....address unknown“.  If you truly want to keep your boundaries...which by what you state you would be better off....I would certainly return the letters.  You probably will feel a pressure lifted off your chest if you do that.  I know I would.  


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          Maria Louise Van Deuson wrote Dec 15, 2008
        • I relate so much to what you say about your dad and your childhood. I send you lots of virtual hugs and understanding. Ultimately, do what you NEED to do for you! You set those boundaries for a reason, so don’t waiver. He really cannot make up for his lack as a dad in the past. One card at birthday and Christmas really doesn’t make up, AND if you have to continuously worry about him saying something insensitive to ruin your’s not worth it!

          Your father is the way he is, and chances are he’s still the same person. He’s not going to change at this stage of the game. You are right that a card here or there doesn’t make up for the lack of relationship.

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          Linda Hendricks wrote Dec 15, 2008
        • I agree with Chinadoll.... setting boundaries is good... but that is meant to only limit how his behavior affects you.

          You cannot control another person... no matter how hard you try... and that person will be who they are... they aren’t going to change... especially this late in life... someone I worked with used to use the is what it is... I have decided is what it is... about a lot of things in life

          My childhood was nothing like yours... but my parents were pretty emotionally unavailable for me... and really continue to be... it is what it is... I learned that they don’t mean to be... but the fact is they are... and that will never change... I have learned to accept what I can’t control and not expect differently

          His gesture of the card and gift... probably means there is caring behind it... but the fact is he is... for whatever reason... unable to be consistent or more for you... accept it... and his failings... and set the boundaries at how his failings affect you and your life... you will sleep better at night...

          I know it’s easier said than done... and I rant on occasion to vent my feelings...but then I let go of it... it is how I have learned to deal with people ...  

          I hope you realize you are not alone....

          God Bless

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          (華娃娃) ChinaDoll wrote Dec 15, 2008
        • I like to reiterate again.  We’ve all been parents, do we claim to be perfect?  We made mistakes, sometimes big and sometimes small.  I hope you will find a place in your heart to forgive and love - even he is a dead beet stud.  WWJD?

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          Vikki Hall wrote Dec 16, 2008
        • I had a similar relationship with my father. My parents divorced while I was 12 and while my parents were still together I have no fond memories.
          My dad made many promises to me only to keep breaking them. He did pick me however 1 time for a day to be spent with him. When I got in the car there were 2 young girls (my age and 1 was younger) and he introduced them to me. They were calling him dad and I was meeting them for the 1st time with NO notice. I also was meeting his new girlfriend for the 1st time again with NO notice.
          I had a lot to be bitter about as I was the child left at home with my Mom going thru her turmoil. Both of my older sisters were out of the house so I learned how to pay bills, grocery shop, fix a leaky faucet and so on. So yeah I had resentment too!
          I married the man of my dreams when I was 19, had children with him and then divorced him at 28. Again that resentment for my dad resurfaced. So I sent him a letter spewing (yep spewing!) all kinds of whatever. I blamed him for the failure of my marriage and everything else that was wrong with me.
          Once I did that I did feel better. He finally contacted me a few months later to discuss. I told him we didnt need to that I was done. He is my father and it was his responsibilty to show me the way.
          We never had a great relationship after that however since I was true to my feelings I was alos able to let go of most of them.
          My dad died a few years ago and I never had a relationship with him that my sisters did. However I no longer felt resentment. I did cry at the loss of him, but not for me. He apparently made an impact on alot of younger people in his church and his retirement job (yep at Walmarts) and they told stories of inspiration about him. I’m glad he was there for someone who may have needed him more. I am and will always be my Mom’s baby and she is the one who was the parent I needed.
          So follow what is true for you and do not hold resentment. Your dad may be needed by others more than you really needed him.
          I will pray that you will find peace.

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          Jenz ~ wrote Dec 16, 2008
        • Hi. I’m very sorry you had to go through all of that. I wish I had the perfect words of wisdom, but, I don’t. I am however, sending alot of understanding & sympathy your way. Maybe I should say empathy... Or both.
          From experience, I do know how it feels to analyze/question and deal with ‘ghosts’ from the past that stir up old baggage re one’s parent(s) that chose not to do the job. It does hurt in a way that only people who’ve experienced this can truly understand. You go right ahead & do what is right for you & feel anyway you need to or want to. We are here for you 24/7.
          I am sending you hugs!!
          You could send the envelope back, or just keep it & go buy yourself something nice. You deserve it & he owes you pretty bigtime anyway.
          I do hope you feel better and are able to make peace with the situation for yourself.
          Prayers & best wishes~

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          Jacquie6363 wrote Dec 16, 2008
        • Godsglamourgirl, you have all right to feel angry and betrayed, because he has robbed you of something very dear and precious.  However, despite all the bad that has transpired, he is your dad and we are instructed to honor our parents as we are also instructed to forgive 70 times 7.  He might not have known how to be a dad to you and for years might have been struggling with his inability to be the father that he should have been. I had the love and attention of my dad until he passed when I was 15 years old.  I cannot imagine not having a relationship with him, if he were still alive.  Try to give him the chance that he never gave you.  You will never go from 0 to 60, but a civil union would be a good start and it may never get to nothing more than a civil union, who knows.

          Accept his cards, who knows, he might be trying to reach out to you in those cards, to explain where he failed, maybe not?..  As far as the money goes, it can never make up for the lack of attention.  If you feel uneasy about keeping it for yourself, give it to charity, pay it forward.

          We all set boundaries and they should be respected, but sometimes, just for once we can put ourselves in another’s place and just wonder, “what if“...

          I am truly sorry that you had to go through such an awful experience growing up, and despite the scars that are left you have become a strong individual.

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          Dana Arcuri wrote Dec 16, 2008
        • Joyfull09, WOW!  I could not have said it better!  I think that you hit a bulls eye!!!!  

          Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts, prayers, suggestions, opinions and encouragement.  It gave me much to think about.
          This is a difficult situation in my life that I will need to spend time praying about.  


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          Mztracy wrote Dec 16, 2008
        • Do you really have peace?  

          This is all in my humble opinion...

          my father and i had a crappy relationship. He left my mom by dumping his clothes and all his belonging into trash bags right in front of me when i was 14.  

          i remember telling him he was supposed to do this when the kids were at school. i remember being so angry at what he was doing to my mom. i tried to hold back the tears watching him just throwin all his things in those bags.

          for a while we did the friday night dinner and movie. one night my mom was not home and i begged my dad to stay until she got home. said he had to work early and could not. i was terrified in our big house awaiting my mom. i sat in his old chair with my 3 dogs on the floor in front of my for 2 hours. i did not move. turns out, he did not have work, what he had was a night with his secretary.  

          needless to say that was the last time i went anywhere with him. my mom then moved me 500 miles away.  

          My dad and i had a ‘strained’ relationship until i was 27 or so. At times, I feel we still do.

          by the time i was 15 he had married the secretary and 6 mos later had had his only son. then 15 months later his new baby girl.  

          i had been the baby, having two older sisters. Just the other day i told my hubby that my dad probably would be happy if his first life had never happened. Even at 44 i feel like the baby and the divorce still crushes me.

          my dad a few years back told me that he never really knew how to talk to us girls, even my half sister. that he always felt whatever he said was wrong. i asked a lot of questions as i finally wanted to know from his side, what happened. he admitted he did it all wrong, but no one knows how to have a good a divorce.

          i do the majority of the calling as he is just the not calling type. he is exactly like my fil. maybe it is a ‘man’ ‘dad’ thing.  

          I am glad we have ‘come to terms’ with alot of our differences. I know that if we did not and something happened i would never forgive myself.

          But, no matter what, i know i try and will keep trying. This way i will never look back and say...if only i had said i love you....

          He may never come around to what you exactly want, but YES they can change. my dad has quite a bit. and trust me, for my dad it is a ginormous thing!! Is it perfect, no, but really is anything perfect.

          If your peace IS without him, then send the card back.  

          But, do you really have peace?  

          I know, I ramble, i hope what i said makes sense.
          blessings to you...

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          Jomi wrote Dec 16, 2008

        • I don't think anyone ever has peace, truly. There are too many times we try to look back and start with the could haves and should haves. Personally, I worry about being on my death bed and having the heavy burden of any kind of guilt being on my heart. There is always something that we or someone else could have done differently. but, we all do the best we can with what we know at the time..I hope that makes sense.
          It always takes one to make the first step.

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          (華娃娃) ChinaDoll wrote Dec 16, 2008
        • I don’t mean to make my point across so strong.  I just want to add:
          If you decide to return the letter unopened, what’s the point behind that? Are you trying to tell him you are angry and want to disowned him? To me it seems to be a childish art, IMHO!
          Whatever it is, please do not send the letter back unopened - this is my last attempt - let silence be your guidance for now.  Sometimes it requires us to do nothing.  For in nothing, something secretly is developing.

          Sorry to intrude again.  I pray for wise choice whatever it is.

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          Joan Cox wrote Dec 17, 2008
        • from personal experience.. i know how you feel.. i would continue to accept the gifts.. because even though we may hate it.. he is ‘family‘.. and hes not sexually/physically hurting your children..  

          or causing daily drama.. the sad thing is.. HE is missing out on everything you have to offer.. and your children can offer.. he is missing out on a family.

          I would be nice... polite.. in a ‘im not a rude person sort of way‘..

          me? I would have a vindictive side.. i would take the money, and do something with charity in HIS name, get a card or plaque or whatever.. and mail it to him....  

          like ‘Thank you alex for your donation to save a whale’

          (you get the idea)..  

          doing a good deed.. and mailing it back to him sort of thing

          hugs plus you are teaching your kids how to help others.. out of an uncomfortable situation.

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