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September 11, 2008

I'm so sorry

...When I was growing up, my family had its own way of dealing with disagreements. We stopped speaking. Sometimes the deep freeze lasted a day, sometimes a week. Every once in a while, an offending cousin or aunt was simply erased from the family landscape, airbrushed out of our lives like a deposed member of the Politburo.

I stopped talking to my parents after a series of family difficulties culminating in an angry phone conversation with my mother in 1988. This communication blockade continued to 2000. Other than an annual Christmas card from my parents, which they warmly signed using only their last name, there was no interaction whatever for 12 years.

People like me who were raised in a grudge-holding culture know that the silent treatment is self-perpetuating. The longer you are silent, the longer you will be silent. The further out into the ocean you sail, the harder it is to see the harbor. After a year or two or three, it's not so easy to pick up the phone and just chat.

And then my father sent me a card in which he wrote three very powerful words: "I'm so sorry"...

The Power Of ‘I Am Sorry’ By Janice Wilberg

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Man that's beautiful.

Posted by: chris at Sep 11, 2008 9:47:06 PM

I've been frequenting Grow-a-Brain for about a week.

This is the best blog post ever.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Posted by: Marc Fawzi at Sep 11, 2008 10:04:23 PM

In my family there is always somebody on the outs with someone else but in most cases they reconcile before too long. I found this story very moving. Perhaps it will prompt someone to say those three powerful words.

Posted by: the nag at Sep 12, 2008 4:46:49 AM

Good post my friend. I didn't talk to my mom from the age of 17 to 23. that's how long it took for her to stop the harrassment/abuse that had been pervasive my whole life. I left town, would go home to visit my family and leave the minute she started in on me. i didn't even visit her in the hospital. but i kept going back and would comport myself peacefully as always but just leave when the fur started flying. it took about 5 years for her to learn that she can dump on everyone else in the house when i'm not around and definately never on me, and it has been about 15 years now and we have a fine relationship. the rest of the family wonders why i'm never the target of her tirades, i just shrug my shoulders and say that i'm good at showing people how to be around me, if they want me to be around. the terrible part is the intense loneliness one can feel when absent from their family. your metaphor of being out to sea nailed how one can feel adrift and directionless without any markers back to who you are, which is what your family is supposed to provide for you.
i'm glad your dad has opened his heart to you, and i hope that some healing can be done over the time you've lost with each other. good luck to you, lg

Posted by: lg at Sep 12, 2008 2:35:24 PM

The day you posted this, September 11, is my mother's birthday with whom I am estranged. A while back I was also estranged from my daughter for 3 years. I am not writing this boasting or proud of this. I feel that by my silence I have less stress. I have no regrets, unfortunately. Almost wish I had because this could be my story. I have no family other than my mom and my daughter. For many reasons I stay in silence and mostly I think it is to protect myself. I have learned to rid myself of destructive people in my life in order to "save myself" and feel that is what I am doing or perhaps trying to justify it all!

Posted by: Betty Jung at Sep 12, 2008 11:56:19 PM