Hold onto nothing as fast as you can

When my dad died in March 2003 I was slapped in the face with emotions I didn’t know what to do with. I hated my father. I hated that he stood for nothing. I hated that he was an alcoholic and a drug addict. I hated that he threw things at me and left me feeling helpless in traumatic situations. I hated what he did to our family. I was so unbelievably angry at him …and that anger was justified and made a little home within me.

After the divorce my brother and I had to spend two weekends a month at his place where we would mostly sit around eating beef jerky and playing old video games while dad slept off a hangover in the other room. When I was twelve years old I called him a loser to his face. He told me years later on a phone call how painful that was to hear from his daughter. Until then, I wasn’t sure he cared at all.

I wished him dead a hundred times. A thousand times maybe. And then it happened. He died. …And then I was sad.

What was I to do with all of these feelings? How could I be sad for a man that I hated so much …a man who had caused me so much grief from infancy? …a man who caused my family tremendous pain?

Though I saw him sick in the hospital a month before he passed, I did not go to his funeral. I couldn’t bring myself to go and to this day I do not regret that decision.

At the time of his passing, I was staying at my mom’s while the house that I had bought with my then fiance was being renovated …he was sleeping on an air mattress at his place of business and refused to join me at my mom’s. I had also finally admitted to myself that the severe anxiety and panic attacks I had dealt with for three years prior were all-consuming and preventing me from leaving the house and began taking medication to cope. The months {and year} to follow would soon prove to be more difficult than I could have imagined.

Living with my mom at that time put a strain on our once great relationship. My mom’s reaction to my dad’s death was odd to me at the time and our childhood dog {Rikki Sweatinose} passed soon thereafter. Even though she invited me to stay with her, she blamed me for bringing my three Boston Terriers and added stress into/onto the household causing the death of our beloved dog. I felt I had no other choice.

At the end of April 2003 our newly purchased house was renovated enough to live in the upstairs and be together again. We moved in and continued working on our house but by mid June, a week after my 27th birthday and over a year of engagement with zero wedding plans, our seven year relationship ended . . .and back to my mom’s I went until I could find a place of my own.

By this time, what used to be a really close relationship and friendship between mother and daughter was slowly rotting. The more I forgave my father for his ways the more I blamed my mother for hers and the tension between us grew very very thick.

I became to understand how distraught my father was. How his own demons ate away at him …and how his entire life was a stab at death. He was truly tormented and because his generation didn’t really express themselves but instead put on a fake smile and acted like everything was perfect, his only choice was to self medicate. I think it hit home when in a conversation with his wife months after his death she informed me that she had found a vile of cocaine in a shirt pocket recently when we all thought he was free of it, I felt pity instead of anger. I was no longer angry at what he had done to me but instead sad that he lived such a miserable existence and couldn’t break free of his mind. I started feeling bad that I hadn’t seen it sooner and given him more of a chance while he was alive.

…and like I said, the more I found peace with my father, the more I started seeing things in my mom that I had overlooked prior to his death. I blamed her for not allowing me to see my dad’s pain instead of being victimized by it. I saw things from my dad’s perspective and finally saw her part in the the divorce and realized that she, as much as she liked to believe it, was not fault-free. In fact, I started thinking it was more her fault than his but really, I was just placing my anger on her instead of him. I hadn’t freed myself of the emotions, I just put them on her.

A little over two years later, my mom could do nothing without me jumping all over her. Anything she said was wrong. Anything she did was stupid. She also was going through a tough time herself and because of our tension would absolutely say ridiculous things. I was mad that she couldn’t give me a wedding. I though she was judging my lifestyle. I found out some things about my childhood and wondered why she hadn’t been a better mother. Any family gathering was so tense everyone was just waiting for her and I to blow up and go off on each other.

I held onto this anger tight. I thought if I let go, if I forgave her, all would be forgotten. That those things I was angry about would be void and meaningless. If I let her off the hook I wouldn’t be able to be mad at anyone for the way my life turned out and I would actually have to take responsibility for my own choices and actions. I would have to accept that my life story was of my own doing and that was a hard one to swallow.

My mom got married last May and I didn’t go to the wedding. Just as I didn’t go to my father’s funeral. That was my last stance with her. I’m not sure why but that is where I ended it and started seeing my mom again …how I once did without the anger: as my mommy and my friend and my heart slowly opened up to her once again. It wasn’t over night but a slow softening and releasing and allowing her to be part of my life again.

The thing is, once I actually let go of that anger and holding onto those righteous feelings, they didn’t matter any more, it all melted away …and then I was truly free.

On Monday, I went over to my mom’s new place to just hang out with her. We looked at old magazines and sunned by the pool and decorated a bit and just chatted the day away like we used to. We could seriously chat from morning breakfast, through lunch time and then onto dinner, without blinking an eye. I had such a nice time and was so happy to be able to spend it with her.

She emailed me yesterday at work: subject line HEY MAEG! …and instead of rolling my eyes, I smiled and jumped to open it.

I emailed her back: I’m so glad we’re friends again. I love you.

And it couldn’t be any more true.


LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at ...love Maegan.com sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, and home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life with her husband and adorable dogs, two Frenchies & an old Pug in wheels. Here you will find her talking about their journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation up to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life.

65 Comments

  • Anonymous

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    Al-Anon was a lifesaver for me

  • Blair

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    Wow, What a moving and personal story. Relationships with parents can be so hard and I am so happy that you and your mom are on the right track again. You are so right about what anger and holding on to that anger can do. You are one tough cookie!

  • ania

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    I love your blog….its so sad at the times…n i feel like crying…..its so touching…

  • Leigh

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    I am so glad that you posted this. I have let go and became free as well with my father and his death, and now as well understand that his life was a completes separate entity and finally when I realized that, anything I took personal, (him not being around) his alcohol) Peace washed over me.

    I am so glad you are at a great place and finding that peace with both of your parents. This post has such great reflections for anyone that may be dealing with similarities.

    xo

  • OHN

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    Somewhat similar, I also hated my father. When I got the call that he died, I was shocked to feel myself cry! I finally figured out, I wasn’t crying because he was gone, I was crying because he never knew how great I had turned out in spite of him.

    Letting go of things is very hard to do, at least for me, but I sure try :)

  • Snarky A.

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    Beautiful post. Absolutely beautiful.

  • Gwen

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    I am honestly in tears. I am so happy that you are enjoying a renewed friendship with your mother. I lost my mother almost 5 years ago to MS and I sometimes wonder how our relationship would be if she was never sick and was still with us. However I still believe that her illness and death has molded me & my family into the people we are today. Much love to you & your mom!!! XOXO

  • Mrs. D

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    My dad has struggled with drugs and/or alcohol for much of MY life, so I totally get it. Fortunately, he has recovered (he credits his relationship with God for saving him). I am glad you have made peace with your parents, no matter how long it took. Sometimes time is the only thing that can heal.

  • Char

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    thank you for sharing this and opening up some people to seeing that though our parents are flawed, like us, they fight their own set of demons. my life with my parents were never easy but god knows if I had to deal with all they dealt with if I would be the easiest person to live with. but, I was lucky enough to be loved and that is beautiful.

    beautiful post.

  • Fabi

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    amazing of you to share your story with us. im going through my own issues with my mom at the moment as most mothers and daughters do, and it makes me feel just a bit better to know so many of us go through the same type of thing. :)

  • Dana

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    Oh dear, this is so real. Your blog is amazing, you write beautifully!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  • Hanako66

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    I am so happy for you that you were able to come full circle like this:)

  • The Socialite

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    What a wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing this with us! :) It just goes to show how it’s never to late to reach out to someone.

    You are such a strong person! ;)

  • La Belette Rouge

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    It seems that you and I were thinking about the same topic today. Great minds think alike.

    I am so happy you have reached a place with your mother where her emails make you smile. You deserve that.

  • Megan

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    Thank you for being so honest. I am glad this post has a “happy ending” with you & your mom reconciling.

  • Baking With Plath

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. I am so happy to hear that things are better between you and your mother.

  • drollgirl

    April 22, 2009 | Reply

    way better now, for both of ya. that is so cool and so nice, and you both must be relieved. :)

  • ~alison

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    I have say, Maeg, I am impressed with your own personal awareness and being able to make these changes all on your own. In order for me to gain the personal awareness I needed, I needed a therapist to help me see it. I think it is really awesome what you did. I’m sure your mom enjoyed Monday as much as you. And that is special.

  • Kez

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    I am so glad you’ve found peace with your mum. It’s so huge that you’ve found forgiveness in your heart.
    Living the rest of your life so angry and bitter would have been such a sad thing to happen.

  • Violet

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    This was beautiful i could stop reading… you should write a book it would be a best seller

    XX
    Vi from Cali

  • yours truly dear

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    thank you for sharing this story. i have a bad relationship with my sister and it is something i need to work on. thanks for your attitude, i can definitely learn from it.

  • Anonymous

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Thanks for this post. My dad is an addict of ALL sorts. I have NO tolerance for his bullshit but after reading it helps me to realize that maybe he deserves a chance.

    Bravo. Another amazing post.

  • Jasmine

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    wow. that’s so intense. i’m so happy that you’ve gotten to a place where you are able to be friends with your mom again and where you’re free of that anger! that’s amazing! i have a really strained/non-existant relationship with my dad too so i completely understand those feelings and they can consume you.

  • TeeTee

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

  • Mommy In Pink

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    What a touching story, thanks for sharing!

  • rachel elizabeth

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    this post took my breath away. i’ve had such a hard time with my parents and i’ve struggled through it, but man.. wow.

    i’m so glad you were able to get to where you are with your mom now. you’re amazing.

    xox

  • K.Line

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Your honesty is a sign of experience introspection. I loved this post. Such a mature stance. Thanks, M.

  • Gem

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    i went through a similar change in my relationship with my mother over the past 2 and a half years. We’re finally getting to be friends again. It’s a great feeling.

    Thanks so much for sharing this xo

  • Summer

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Oh what a movie type experience you have,but i’m glad to know that you and your mother are now back on the same track..;D
    Just enjoy the days,those happy days with your love ones.;D

  • Dorkys Ramos

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    What a heartfelt emotional post, maegan. I also have a strained relationship with my mom and it only worsened after my parents divorced. I switched back and forth between wanting to blame and punish my dad and then my mom.

    She and I have our nice moments, but I also have to learn to accept her as she is and realize that her upbringing was much stricter than mine so she never learned how to be loving and giving.

    It’s hard when all you want is your mom to stroke your hair and tell you everything will be ok. But it’s also forced me to tell my own self that instead.

    Thanks for sharing this story. I’m happy to hear you two have worked it out! That means there’s hope ;)

  • Manda

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    wow, great story …thanks for sharing :) I am curious to hear more about the anxiety, panic attacks, and meds…

  • Joelyne

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    thank you for sharing that story maegan. i’m glad you can now share good times with your mum.

    joelyne
    xxx
    http://www.thesydneygirl.blogspot.com

  • freeTEYme

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    You had me in tears. I love both my parents and my sisters and I are so blessed to have them. Thanks for sharing this M, it made me realize that life truly is short and that we should not dwell on past hurts.

  • GiGi

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    I felt so sad. I’m so far away from my family & I don’t want to be angry, but I am. I know what the right thing is -let go, but it just boils inside. I love them all so much though.

  • Diana

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    This humanizes you in ways I never imagined. Thanks for being so open.

  • Bella

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    I think what grabbed me the most was the solidarity you’ve found again. It’s genuine, heartfelt, and giving… I really admire you for sharing.

    xx

  • Underfunded Heiress

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Wow, thank you for sharing. I almost started to cry. So sad but at the same time such reality. I’m glad you made amends with your mom. Life is difficult enough without holding onto anger and hurt feelings. I think it’s important to remember that nobody is perfect and we all struggle with something internally. Your so insightful.

  • Chessa!

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    I love coming here. Thank you for being so open and real. it’s so refreshing. xo

  • Girl Japan

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Maegan! I admire women who can open up and free themselves, it was not until recently that I could release anger..you are a truly amazing woman, and I understand “NOT” being able to leave the house, and panic attacks- they come and go now and then and would love the talk with you about…

    We should be angry but then let it go, blogging for me has been savior, it has helped me open up, not care what others think and luckily, we can met some True real friends through this medium…

    xoxoxoxo

  • Chessa!

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    ps–I love Tori Amos so much. Under the Pink was a lifesaver for me. sigh.

  • Franco

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    OMG, this is so powerful, the longest post i’ve ever read. I didn’t know about your father, you re so strong, wow, I’m lucky to have grown up in a good enviroment.
    thanks you for being so honest!
    you rock!!!!!!

  • Cathy Voyage

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    That is such a touching, honest and open post and it made me really think about how glad I’m with my family.

  • Tiffany

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Amazing. Touching. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this. You are very wise.

  • Jennifer Juniper

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    It’s nice that you can build that relationship. I wasn’t able to do that until I had my own children. I was able to put myself in her shoes and know the hurt I was causing wasn’t fixing any wrongs she had made. It would break my heart if my boys hated me the way I hated her.

    I can’t say I’m head over heels today (buying a Mother’s Day card is still tricky) but I am more accepting and can relate. It’s a big step, you will be happy you took it.

  • Saskia

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Thank you for this absolutely beautiful post. We can all learn so much from it.

    Saskia x

  • Laura

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    You are the true meaning of survivor! I am so sorry for what you’ve been through, but so happy for who you’ve become.

    Come and stop by and let me know what your definition of a survivor is?!

  • Velvet

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Your writing style and personal style is so different from most other blogs…I’m glad you found me and left a comment so that I could find you too!

    Parents are a tough bag…I told my brother several years back: You will only understand mom and dad when you realize that they are no longer the adult, they are behaving like children and right now you have to be the adult. Because two children could never come to a resolution. One of the parties must always be the grown up. And it helps if both parties are.

  • scarlethue

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Beautiful post Maegan. I had a friend last year who’s alcoholic father died– he fell and hit his head, so it was sudden. It was such a weird funeral, and he had the hardest time mourning his father who’s life had been cut short twice, once by the drinking and again by the fall.

    Letting go of anger like that is so important. You have to forgive, not for the sake of the people that have wronged you, but for your own sake. If you don’t, their wrongs are still controlling you. I wish my older brother would learn this. He’s almost 30 and still hanging onto things that happened 15-20 years ago.

  • kookie kulasa

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    This is such an honest, moving, heartfelt post, Maegan. Thank you for sharing this with us :) I’m sure a lot of people can somehow relate to this. I think we all have someone in our lives whom we feel or have felt angry with. At some point, we need to learn to forgive and stop being angry. Again, thank you for this entry :)

  • Vanessa

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    What a great post. I’m glad that you have reconnected with your mother.

  • Brown Eyed Girl

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    What a sweet and intimate post to share. Thank you for laying it all out. I know that must be hard. How awesome that you and your mom are becoming close again!

  • The Alleged Ringleader

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    I’m so proud of you! This was a great post and I found so many parts and pieces that I could identify with as well. You couldn’t be more right about forgiving and letting go, when you are ready to do it there is such a weight lifted from your soul!

  • Tara Gibson

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    what a heartfelt story! I admire your honesty! I am glad you reconected with your mom!

  • faith

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    I can totally relate to this post. My mother and I do not have the greatest relationship and honestly, it’s something that i’m not only embarassed of but I find myself worrying about more and more now that I’m having a daugther of my own.

    Thank you for always being so honest Maegan. Your blog is amazing.

  • Kelly

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    Great post. I have a similar story, thanks for sharing.

  • Bar-b

    April 23, 2009 | Reply

    hey, this was beautiful. almost too beautiful to publicly comment on. Thinking of you. Loving your ability to write and experience this. Isn’t getting older kinda of flippin’ cool?

  • PS~Erin

    April 24, 2009 | Reply

    What an emotional story there. How wonderful it must feeling to come through it with such a happy ending/beginning.

  • BeeHappy

    April 24, 2009 | Reply

    I love that you aren’t afraid to be real in your blogs! I’m glad you and your mom worked it out over time! Thanks for sharing this story! You are a remarkable person!

  • Penny

    April 24, 2009 | Reply

    My boyfriend has a lot of issues with his biological father,who was murdered when my boyfriend was 17 and whom he hadn’t seen since he was 10.I wish so much that he could work through them,but he just tries to act like nothing is wrong.It’s very sad :(

  • karina Manghi

    April 24, 2009 | Reply

    Great post!

  • Candi

    April 24, 2009 | Reply

    Great post Maegan. You are such a strong person, and I admire you so much!

  • down and out chic

    April 24, 2009 | Reply

    you’re experience with anger is so profound…we definitely all have a story and i appreciate you sharing yours.

  • Bruce

    April 24, 2009 | Reply

    I have read a lot of blog similar to this about strained relations with parents, loss, regret, remorse, reconciliation. If there is one good thing about blogging, this is it. It gives us a chance to vent and get our feeling out there…like therapy.

    After a while, it appears that this was the norm. When we were growing up, it seems our parents were ill equiped to raise their children, and now we must all look back and wonder why, and try and figure it out, sometimes with their help, sometimes without. I suppose that the best thing that comes to light out of all this, is that you are not the exception, you are the norm. It seems there were a lot of dark secrets and repressed feelings back in the 60, 70s and 80s.

  • amy

    April 30, 2009 | Reply

    amazing post ~ thanks for showing so much vulnerability in posting it

  • Filipino love

    November 4, 2009 | Reply

    I’m happy that you are already friends again. Just forget what you did to your dad before and forgiving is the only key to happiness. You deserve to be happy so keep it and the good relationship you have with your loved ones.

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