Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The process of writing this memoir about my dad's life and death has been a healing one for me so far. Certainly difficult at times, to wade through emotions I don't think about on a daily basis, but inspiring to realize how far I have walked along the road and hopefully my words can provide healing to someone still in pain over a sense of disappointment with their own father.

At the retreat I was at on the weekend, ladies I had just met were asking me what I was writing, so I gave them a brief sketch of the memoir. Everyone was interested and had stories to share about their own relationship challenges with a difficult parent or parents. I did a small poll, asking the question, "Who was disappointed with the father they were given?" and found most of the hands in the room were raised.

Why is this the case? Why are there so many daughters in the world who are damaged by the dads they had? A difficult relationship between father and daughter colours everything in a woman's life. I've always struggled to be comfortable in the presence of a man who is the rough age of my dad. I don't know where to look, what to say, or how to feel. The whole exchange is generally awkward for me.

The exception to the rule is my first boss when I was 17 years old and just graduated from high school. He stepped in and filled the role of surrogate dad to me, and began my road to healing with his no-nonsense affection and support for me. He offered the toast to the bride at my wedding when I made the difficult decision not to invite my dad because he was off his medication and not in a stable emotional place to be with guests on such an important day for me.

At the B&B I was at over the weekend, I enjoyed a few interesting conversations with the hosts, and was amazed at the level of comfort I felt talking to an older man who could've been the age of my father. I realized when I got home that something deep inside me that was broken is starting to mend, at the ripe old age of 37, and that thought brought me to tears.

We can grow, and change, at any age and at any time in our lives. The possibilities for healing are always there, if we are open to them. I feel a little better every day when I watch Ava interact with Jason. I thank God that she won't have the same angst and fear in the world that I did, facing life as an adult with only half of my confidence in place, and a gaping wound somewhere in the middle of my soul that I've spent years trying to fix. She'll have other struggles, but she will take for granted a comfort level with men that I started life with no knowledge of. For this I am grateful, and I will keep my eyes open for every chance I can find to heal the cut on my heart, and continue to mend what was once broken.


  1. Julianne,

    I can't wait to read your book! I had no idea about your dad, but it is very sad when people are so emotionally sick. I had a fairly good relationship with my step-father but as you know my dad died from alcoholism very young. It really is ashame that there seems to be a high level of people with similar stories. I wonder if it is something societal.

    I am encourgaed to hear the healing you have gone through, and how open and honest you are

  2. I wouldn't have traded either of my parents for anything. My dad and I have always had a close relationship but my mom's and mine has been notoriously rocky. That being said, I wouldn't trade them in- everyone has their flaws (I know your Dad's were glaring and really tough to deal with), and I think that any of the bumps that I have faced with my parents have made me who I am today and make me the parent that I am today.

    I think that without your situation wtih your dad, you would not be as receptive to Ava and Jason's unique relationship, you would not have as much self-reflection when it comes to your own parenting and you may not be as understanding and compassionate towards those that struggle with relationships such as yours with your dad.

    We all get dealt crappy hands in life sometimes - its how we deal with those things that determines the outcome for us and those around us.

    I'm proud of you for writing this memoir. I know that there will be challenging times for you emotionally while doing it, but in the end you will come out feeling cleansed and maybe even have a new respect for your mom, your siblings, yourself and even your dad.

  3. Thank you so much for these wonderful comments. I received a lot of FB messages as well with people raising their hands electronically to say they struggled with disappointment about the relationship they had or have with their fathers, and I heard from people who had wonderful fathers and found new gratitude for them through this post.

    Janice, you are so right when you say that our parents make us into the people we are, with our own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, and I wouldn't trade that either. I think the key is to be honest about your experiences, learn what you can from them and move on in a healthy direction, instead of spinning in frustrated circles because you are following unhealthy patterns of anger and resentment.

    These responses have encouraged me so much to continue with the memoir, to be as honest as I can, and I really hope that my story with my dad will help and encourage others. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to have warmed my heart.