Reconnecting with a parent after 22 years
After 22 years of estrangement, I finally reconnected with my father, and it was a life-changing experience. Learn why I did it, and the valuable lesson that will 100% improve your life if you let it.
But first, the story.
Why haven't I seen my dad in 22 years?
Well, it was purely my choice.
It is not uncommon for a father to not be on the scene for many reasons.
However, our circumstance was unique.
My mother had BiPolar Disorder 1, and due to her condition, she was frequently in psychiatric hospitals.
When this happened, we had no family to take us in, which meant I was put into foster care often.
The reason we had to go to foster care was that my dad refused to leave his job in Saudi Arabia to care for us.
He chose his career over his children.
This was very hard to deal with and process as a kid.
Why couldn't he just leave and come care for us?
My turning point was when my mum died in February 2022.
Life changes significantly after that. A little bit of happiness and that security leaves you permanently.
Your view changes on what actually matters as well; death does that; however, I decided to make a real change.
After I buried my mum, I decided I wanted a relationship with my dad.
I didn't want to have a lot of questions go unanswered, and I would regret not at least attempting to reestablish communication.
There were a lot of questions I needed answered still, I needed some closure.
To at least understand the rationale for abandoning your family.
Before I could do this, I realised I had to 100% forgive him, or I would get to angry over the phone.
Once I truly forgave him before even speaking to him, I felt a wave of relief come over me, and it instantly improved my mindset.
So I reached out via whatsapp, and it didn't go as I originally planned; the first message was fine; however, I received one back saying, "I watched your mum's funeral on Livestream. You speak too fast; you spoke too fast in your Eulogy."
I was gobsmacked; after all this time and probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do, you could have to criticise my eulogy.
My blood was boiling; I was so angry.
However, I had forgiven him, so I just let it slide and didn't react.
Once we went over this setback, I would proactively call him to discuss various things, and I would always be non-reactive.
Even though I said to myself I forgave him, when you have so much anger toward someone for 22 years, it's hard to stay level-headed.
During 2022 we spoke regularly, and I got a lot of answers.
Most importantly, the reasons for abandonment.
Even though I didn't agree with them, I could at least put myself in his shoes and understand the difficulty of my mother.
Being the partner of someone with BiPolar Disorder isn't easy!
Towards the end of 2022, I decided to invite him to come over and stay with me during the Xmas break.
He is 77 years old and doesn't have any family in Australia, only in Germany.
Being the first Christmas without my mum, I thought it would help take my mind off that fact as well.
When you haven't seen someone for 22 years, you play various scenarios in your head of how it's going to play out.
My advice is don't!
Don't have expectations, as you will be disappointed if it doesn't go the way you expect, as it certainly didn't for me.
Even though he is my dad, I didn't know him from a bar of soap.
I didn't know what he liked to do or if he was even sorry for what he did.
Would he apologise to me in person for everything? That's what I expected and wanted.
I never got the apology I wanted or the level I wanted, however, I did get significant closure on questions I had for decades.
I also came to learn about him, and his entire story, and from this story, I came to understand the way he was.
We are all a product of our life experiences, and he had some extraordinary ones, to say the least, as you can imagine someone being born in Europe in 1945.
Those experiences post World War 2 significantly shaped who he was.
Do those experiences justify you abandoning your family?
In my opinion, no, however, none the less I understand his viewpoints.
We spent ten days together, and my life is significantly better for it, not worse.
This underlying resentment I had towards him has completely vanished 100%, and all it took was forgiveness.
I believe forgiveness is one of the most powerful things you can do in your life straight away.
We all have relationships that have been fractured and could be better.
It's always something that is dumb and that doesn't really matter that fractures them.
Let it go because it doesn't.
Be proactive and reach out to that person.
It will take your action, don't wait for the other person to do it.
Even if it doesn't go the way you want it to do, at least you made an effort.
You will regret not taking action more than actually doing it.
You really have nothing to lose.
By doing this, I brought someone back into my life, making it better.
You can do it as well; practice forgiveness today.