The relationship with my father was always conflictive. Maybe it all started with my conception. While my father only wanted one child, my mother wanted two. To make her dream reality, she secretly stopped taking the pill and became pregnant again. She betrayed him. Her story was that my father went on holidays alone shortly after I was born. How does a man feel if he becomes a father of a child he never wanted? I assume it must have been difficult for him.
My parents separated when I was one and I saw him again two years later. The following two decades, I was torn between my infantile need to be approved by my father and rejecting him because of his manipulative personality traits. When I was 12, I cut contact with my father for the first time. His badmouthing about my mother’s family was too much. I saw him again when he got married to his 2nd wife four years later. I wished that he would stop blaming my mother now. But nothing changed. My mother died when I was 19, and I hoped that her death would put his mind at ease, sooner or later. The little girl within me still hoped to receive his approval. Eight years later, his torrent of hatred against my mother and her family persisted. It was unbearable to listen to him. His stories never changed.
Does a daughter have the right to cut contact with her father?
At that stage, I wasn’t sure. My father’s favorite bible quote was “You have to honor your father.” He used it each time when he wanted to impose his opinion on me. Sometimes I asked myself silently, and a father – is he supposed to honor his daughter?
One day, I finally woke up and acknowledged that he just wasn’t able to approve me. I was sick and tired of his repetitive stories and his unforgiving attitude. I cut contact with him. It wasn’t easy or comfortable, but it felt right. It was not for his sake, but for mine. Even though, I didn’t know it at that time, it was one of the most caring acts I ever did for myself.
Do you have the right to cut contact with your parents?
I faced many opinions. Some people looked at me disapprovingly; a couple of counselors told me that I had to meet him and hug him to be able to forgive him. Other therapists approved it and told me that I had to find the right distance to be at peace with him. I felt confused by the different opinions. Was it right what I had done?
Who knows what’s right or wrong?
Each opinion reflected the perspective the other person had, their story and their values. How much did they know about my experience and my inner process that led to my decision? Not much.
Years after I cut contact, I still had a secret address so that my father couldn’t find me. But one day, he did. I called a police officer from the victim’s department, and she phoned him. Later, she told me that he would insist on having the right to see me. She asked me whether I would be willing to do so. I said, no. I just wanted to have my freedom. She continued: I have many years of experience with victims of violence. I know that you have every reason to fear him. It was the first time that somebody outside my family confirmed my truth about him, and her comment helped me to believe in my intuition and release my doubts.
You can’t choose your family and, as a child, you get used to accepting what is. However, as an adult you can choose how you want to relate to them. You are not obliged to stay in a situation that is toxic for you. You have the right to find the distance you need to protect yourself. You even have the right to cut contact. Trust your inner voice because the only person who knows the correct answer is you. You don’t owe anybody an explanation. You don’t need anybody’s approval. The only thing you need to take into account that cutting contact is just a step on your journey.
My ties with my father didn’t end with ending the relationship. It was one important step that allowed me to heal my relationship with him, to forgive and heal my heart. In a way, he’s now closer to me than he has ever been in my life. Sometimes, the best option to love somebody is without having a relationship with him.
Whatever decision you are facing, I know that you will make the right choice for yourself and your life.
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Do you want to read more? Check the post Love and Freedom.
Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.