Across the Abyss

Today, I had to speak to my father, which I generally dread because his way of holding a conversation is generally to yell and scream at each other. But in this conversation, I got to see how far I had come in really relating to him and how who he is impacts me.

Generally, I have always left the conversations, feeling less than powerful and blaming him for not ‘allowing me’ to be or do something. But since we haven’t talked in 9 months, I was surprised and pleased with how I dealt with the situation. I saw how much I grown in how much I had allowed his words to have power over me.

When you live overseas, you are not in your comfort zone. All your issues with yourself and others do come to the forefront because you have no where to ‘hide’. Of course, you can isolate yourself in the foreign community, drink a shit load of beer, or go to work and then come home. But eventually your ‘stuff’ will be there magnified waiting for you to deal with. Each time abroad, I have had the opportunity to transform myself into becoming something more than I thought I could be. The experience itself requires you to up the level of being, but the opportunities to integrate lessons learned into this new self are optional.

These opportunities have enabled me to bring closure to a painful past, particularly with my father. We have had a very tense relationship, and for years I believed as he would say that I was the source of that tension. When I moved back in to his house last summer, I saw that none of that was true.

Living in Kaoshiung, I was living next door to a neighbor who mirrored my father in attitude and behavior, verbally and emotionally abusive. Couple that with the fact that I was working on resolving my anger issues it wasn’t the greatest 10 months of my life. To reach the peace in my life that I wanted, I knew that I had to give up my anger, yet was not truly aware of it. I had many New Age and self help books to tell me how to do it. I even had an astrologer on hand to help me thru. Yet, I wasn’t getting thru.

Living everyday in a culture where you can’t read or speak the language is strenuous. The level of stress is higher because you the one that will make it or not make it “happen”.

So, add this to the weight of the anger I had toward myself, the world and in all my relationships, I was a wreck. I began a meditation called “Planetary Meditation for Peace” suggested to me by the astrologer. After a month of trying, I began to be able to quiet my mind. In the meditation which uses the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, I heard the line “where there is hatred, so let me so love.” My mind stopped and in that moment I became aware that I held the hatred in me. In that moment, anger ceased to have power over me. I became aware of the impact that all my anger had had in my life and was free.
When you have moments of clarity like that you will be tested. When I realized how much in control of my emotions I could be, I could begin “to control’” the situations that triggered the anger, I no longer was at its mercy. A new day had arrived.

My biggest test would come when I would have to move back in with my father for the summer. During that summer, I realized that I was involved in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship once I stopped responding and allowing myself to be triggered by his anger and words. Armed with that knowledge and realization that I was not the source of his anger as I believed so for many years, I found myself more compassionate toward him, because I know he isn’t aware of the impact of his actions. I began to really see that my father is struggling with his own issues stemming from a harsh childhood. I also began to embark on the realization that I wasn’t as weak and powerless in my life as I thought I was.

Each time abroad, I have had some sort of assistance. But this time it was all on me, the financial part, and the part as to where to live and what to do. During these 9 months of not talking to him and doing it on my own, I have been able to see where in myself I have been still “tied” to him in child/parent relating. I realized that I had to just approve of myself and come to trust myself in what I did for my life. Up until that moment I had second guessed what I did based on what I thought he would say or think. This showed up in all my other relationships as well here. I begin to realize that the approval and support I was seeking was within and once I took that jump, I have found that a lot of my demons have been laid to rest.

At some point of adulthood, one has to just see mom and dad as Jane and John. Come to realize that they have the same fallacies as we do and allow them to be. I think in America we idealize parenthood way too much. We need to stop blaming our parents after 20,30,40 years of what they did, and didn’t do and come to realize that – not that they did the best the could- but that they are very very much like us, struggling with their own demons, losses, and hopes in their own world. It pains me not to be able to see my father grow beyond behaviors that are detrimental, yet they serve a purpose for him and in true love and forgiveness, I have to allow him to be who he is, for he is perfect.


6 comments on “Across the Abyss

  1. Anonymous
    May 22, 2004

    Hi Jen,
    I read your profile re: your relationship with your father. I am glad you are starting to mend the relationship. I however, don’t see it in quite the same manner as you, but I guess I was on the outside looking in. I believe 100% that both your parents loved you in the best manner they were capable of doing, but it always seemed like you required more than they or anyone could possibly give. I hope you can truly find the peace you so desperately seek…..It is out there but only you can find it. I tried to post this as a comment, but was unable to do so.


  2. Anonymous
    May 22, 2004

    See this is where you and I differ. I saw your parents as suportative and encourging in all you did. No matter what, they stood behind you even in the most difficult of times; that has nothing to with monetary! I remember clearly your father and mother always being concerned with your happiness. Jennifer, they loved you unconditional. It is funny that you say I don’t know who you are because I do, remember, I watched you grow up. I know you need a lot of support and acceptance and that is fine, because that is who you are and that is what makes you unique. I know you admire me and love me deeply, that makes me feel wonderful! You have always made me feel special because you see the goodness in me. I find it difficult to be around you because you always have the shield of “I have to get you before you get me” attitude, and that is not who you are. I have had pain in my life, but I tried to do everything I could not to make anyone feel that way. I feel you sometimes like pain and you want others to feel pain also. You keep saying everyone is redundant with what we keep saying, maybe what we are saying has some truth. You remember that I said a very bad thing on the day your mother was put to rest, but you forget I apoligized. I can’t take back what I said, but I will let you know that I loved and admired your mother for her strength and independence. I wanted to be like her when I grew up because she had it “going on”. You forget you have said a lot of mean things to me and my sisters, but we let it go. You know when I like you most? When you are not trying to fix everything and just being who you are at the core. All I keep hearing from you is how you were treated, how you feel. What about how you make people feel when they are around you? What impact have you and your actions had on others lives?


  3. Anonymous
    May 22, 2004

    Wow that was powerful. Well, it took along time but i have found the peace that I been looking for. Here’s a question that can be answer by only you, why is it that you and your sisters view me as someone who “required more than anyone could give.”whatever that is suppose to mean. That’s so outdated and redundant especially since none of you have an inkling as to who I am, was and becoming. I will be so straight with you now because it so that time. Pat, for years I have held you in the highest esteem. Someone who I regarded as a hero. I continued to hold that belief especially after you,on the day I buried my mother, said passing me “lets get this over”. That 3rd nastiest thing I had heard on that day. On that day, I lost a mother, and a best friend named Joya. . What you didn’t know is that my father is emotionally abusive and verbally abusive. A fact that he is not able to understand and see. Something that I accept as a part of him. I understand that now that I am an adult that I can set the boundaries that I didn’t have as a child. DONT confuse their material generosity as a substitute for love and respect toward another’s human being humanity. Which I know you do because it’s a constant reminder in our relationship of what I had compared to what you and your sisters had. Drop the comparisons. The constant comparisons and discussion of what my parents did, especially mom, and grandmom continue to keep the divide that is in this family.My relationship with my father may never mend. It is me accepting him for what is and what I possibilities I see in him. I see greatness in him as I see in you, Jackie, and Lisa.

    Love always

  4. Namahottie
    May 22, 2004

    Last summer when I was in Virgina with you guys Lisa and I had very good conversation. She told me somethings about your father and what went on in your household. Before that I had always lived under the impression that you guys had the coolest house hold full of love and no conflict. Her sharing those things with me made me see how similar we are and had a greater understanding,as well as compassion, where, why and how the 3 of you relate to me. Yes my parents,more so my mother, were very supportive, not in words but actions. If you could have read what I posted, I was pointing out how I was seeing within me where I was limited in my thoughts and beliefs in relating to them. How it was me that was the source of difficulty in my life. As for my wall, its very hard to be around you also. Our last encounter was terse and you very impoliet on several occations. I have learned to distance myself from you because I have always gotten the message that I always say something that offends you. So i never know how to act toward you. In the past few years, I have learned thru my relationship with Tina to understand how and what I say has impact on the 3 of you. And as soon as I realized that I offend any of you I have appologized and tried make it clear. Maybe we just need to chalk it to that’s just me and laugh at. I do have a excellent sense of humor specially when it come to laughing at my faults and mistakes. What I feel is the problem is that there is a view of me that I am “just like my mother”. Which is frustrating. But you are on point when you said I was trying to fix everything. Did it ever occur to you in a funny way that me fixing came from a place of love, not wanting to see anyone suffer and be apart of the group? That my love for you guys is tremendous. And that my “fixing” is not saying that anything is wrong with you but that I want to help, be apart of your life and be supportive. I have learned to not share my”fixing” since i learned that thru my relationship with Tina. What I have come to realize is that I was so concerned about gaining all of your approval. And that something I will never have because it is not anyone’s responsiblity to do so. Pat you have held a critical view of me since we were kids. I accept that. If we ever get to the point in our lives, when we can share ourselves with each other, and I can come to you as I am , I know that your advice and point of view will always be filled with wisdom, clarity and empowering. I love you

  5. Anonymous
    May 22, 2004

    I hope so too, only time will tell.


  6. Anonymous
    May 25, 2004

    Hey Jen,

    You are very brave to post your thoughts and feelings like this on the internet. I admire you for that.

    Sounds like your stay abroad is healing for you.

    May it continue to be so!


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This entry was posted on May 22, 2004 by in Uncategorized.
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