Just finished crying...

MrsBugi

Platinum Member
Aug 19, 2005
2,483
8
0
#1
Just finished crying after having one of the shortest but most powerful, honest and authentic talks of my entire life. With my dad.

My father is a traditional Chinese man. He "doesn't understand emotion" and only operates logically. As a former engineer and software developer, he literally thinks in 1's and 0's. He didn't say "I love you" until I was 19 years old, and only then when I explained how important it was for me to hear those words from him. He shows his love by providing and by giving gifts, not in the form of words of affirmation.

I've been practicing patience, acceptance, and forgiveness. But there is one incident that stands out that I've had a really, really hard time letting go of.

It was the day I graduated from USC with my Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy. I'd worked hard to pay my own way through grad school, and I was proud and excited to walk the stage in my cap and gown with my family cheering me on.

Things didn't quite work out as planned. As I was driving my family to campus for my graduation, already wearing my cap and gown, my father sat in the passenger seat of the car, his face cold and angry. He called me a "stupid," a "dumb idiot," and a "loser" for not having a $100k+ paying job lined up and ready for me to begin. He yelled at me that I was a "waste" and that he wanted nothing to do with me or my graduation. He told me that he was disappointed in me, and that I would never amount to anything.

My mom and sisters sat quietly in the back seat, deathly quiet.

I remember parking the car upon reaching campus and running off blindly, tears streaming down my face. More than anything, I wanted to make my father proud. I wanted his acceptance. Support. Validation. Love.

And once again, that day of all days, his rage and anger took over. I accepted my diploma with a heavy heart. Afterwards, I found out that my dad had taken a cab back to the hotel with my mom. I took my sisters to the beach, trying to make the day a happy one. I bought myself a t-shirt. It was a Peanuts shirt with Lucy sitting in her homemade therapy stand with a sign above it that read: "Psychiatric help: 5-cents."

I rarely spend money on myself and prefer to spend it on others. The shirt was a splurge for me... A graduation present for myself.

My dad never spoke of that day again. And I didn't bring it up, either.

My youngest sister Amanda recently graduated from UT-Austin. The entire family was there to support her. My dad bought her a rose, and we ran around the campus taking pictures together.

I was proud and happy for my sister. But part of me was sad and heartbroken that my dad hadn't been there to do the same for me.

Today, during a quiet moment alone with him at the breakfast table, I told him that I wanted to forgive him for what happened at my graduation. That I love him, and that I am grateful for him and all that he has sacrificed for our family. The tears began flowing again.

He looked at me quietly, without emotion. Then he said, in his logical dad voice: "That day was different for you than it was for me. Let me explain.

There is part of you that is a dragon. You were always best at school. Smart, good at tests, academics always easy for you.

So that day, I was angry. Angry because you weren't using your smart dragon to make money with a good job. Angry because you had gone to two elite universities with nothing to show for it, just traveling and wasting time that way. I was angry because I always knew you could be a good doctor or lawyer, but you didn't use the smart dragon to do that.

Now I see and understand that you value different things. Happiness instead of a good job. Traveling instead of security. I don't understand what is in your head and I don't understand why you think the way you do, but now I understand better who you are.

And I think that it is more important for my daughters to be happy. If you are successful as the President but not happy, then that is no good. So now after all these years, I understand. And as long as you are happy and safe, then that is okay."

Those words may not have meant much to others, but they meant the world to me. To finally be seen and accepted as-is by my father... Life-changing.

I cried and gave him a hug. He awkwardly patted me on the back (my dad doesn't do hugs or physical affection, either). Then he thoughtfully said "This is a good lesson that I've learned. I think I will share it with people at my Chinese church."

He stood up from the table, clasped his hands behind his back, and began walking away. Then, he turned around.

"You are still the dragon for your sisters. You must watch out for them, help them, love them, and take care of them. Since Mom and I won't be around forever. You are the oldest, so you must always be this dragon for your sisters."

I promised through my tears. "I will, Dad."

He walked away, nodding slightly.

And with that, a huge weight had lifted of my chest. I saw, loved, and accepted him as-is. Then and now. And he saw me.

I love my daddy.
 

mrCide

Diamond Member
Nov 27, 1999
6,187
0
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#2
This is a nice story, thanks for sharing..
 

MrsBugi

Platinum Member
Aug 19, 2005
2,483
8
0
#4
Thanks for reading.

Pretty scary to be so honest and vulnerable, but my relationship with my father is something that I've struggled with my entire life. If this can help anyone else out there or give them hope that things CAN change for the better, then it was worth it.
 
Oct 3, 2003
12,215
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#6
Happy to hear. Sucks that he ruined your graduation though.
 

brainhulk

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2007
8,799
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#7
nm
 
Last edited:
Sep 17, 2002
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#8
Glad to hear! I can imagine that would have been a very difficult day for you.
 
Sep 20, 2007
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#9
I think every family has someone like that. Unfortunately, these issues never get resolved for a lot of people. It's born out of selfishness or parents trying to live vicariously through their children.

My paternal grandma is a lot like that. Very closed minded, very "keeping up with the Jones's". When my dad wanted to start his own business, 18 years ago now, she firmly believed it would fail. She wasn't proud of him for doing so. When the company ceased operations in 2009, it stood one of the most profitable construction firms in the province, with one of the highest bond ratings. We were making money when everyone was losing it. When he retired, he did so on top. I believe their standard of life would not be as good had he listened to his mother and abandoned the idea.

The fact that we choose to live relatively modestly still irks my grandma though. She can't brag to her friends and relatives about us. We don't have a million dollar home in the country with Mercedes, swimming pool, and room for a pony. My dad's cousins have that, but they're in debt to their eyeballs. We don't owe anybody anything. I doubt they'll ever come to terms with each other. She's just not the type of person who will ever budge, or show emotion outside of rage.
 

RbSX

Diamond Member
Jan 18, 2002
8,354
0
76
#10
<------ L&R is thattaway
 

MrsBugi

Platinum Member
Aug 19, 2005
2,483
8
0
#11
Happy to hear. Sucks that he ruined your graduation though.
It really, really sucked at the time. That was almost 6 years ago.

After talking to him today, I understood that in some weird way, that was his way of showing that he loved me. That he believed in me, and that he was angry and disappointed that I wasn't "reaching my full potential."

I carried that anger and bitterness around with me for a long, long time. By letting go of it and forgiving him, I was able to release myself of a huge burden that I'd been carrying around. It was incredibly powerful, and now I want to focus on and appreciate him as he is now, developing the relationship that I know we can have.

We all make mistakes, as parents and children... Forgiveness is a tough pill to swallow sometimes but the healing that happens as a result is profound and unmatchable.

So grateful to have learned this lesson... It took 31 years, but better late than never. :)
 
Oct 12, 2009
36,987
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#12
Glad for you and I'd hug him every time I saw him because he's not comfortable with it and he should be. Breaking down them barriers, FTW.
 
May 19, 2003
23,211
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#13
Oh man, I'm gonna get banned for this one...I know it. I've been dying to use it though. MrsBugi, I post this with the best of intentions.






















 
May 3, 2004
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#15
You made me cry. :)

My dad and I had our disagreements, because we're a lot alike. But now we have the best relationship we've ever had, and I appreciate it more than I can tell you.

I'm happy for you. :)
 

MrsBugi

Platinum Member
Aug 19, 2005
2,483
8
0
#16
I think every family has someone like that. Unfortunately, these issues never get resolved for a lot of people. It's born out of selfishness or parents trying to live vicariously through their children.

My paternal grandma is a lot like that. Very closed minded, very "keeping up with the Jones's". When my dad wanted to start his own business, 18 years ago now, she firmly believed it would fail. She wasn't proud of him for doing so. When the company ceased operations in 2009, it stood one of the most profitable construction firms in the province, with one of the highest bond ratings. We were making money when everyone was losing it. When he retired, he did so on top. I believe their standard of life would not be as good had he listened to his mother and abandoned the idea.

The fact that we choose to live relatively modestly still irks my grandma though. She can't brag to her friends and relatives about us. We don't have a million dollar home in the country with Mercedes, swimming pool, and room for a pony. My dad's cousins have that, but they're in debt to their eyeballs. We don't owe anybody anything. I doubt they'll ever come to terms with each other. She's just not the type of person who will ever budge, or show emotion outside of rage.
Thanks for sharing, mmntech. It ultimately goes to show that however someone reacts is never about you... It's all about them. Nothing will make someone happy if they choose to live life from a place of rage, bitterness, anger, and resentment.

I've learned that we all have a choice the moment we open our eyes in the morning... To make it a good day filled with gratitude, or to make it a bad day filled with anger and bitterness about past things that we can't change. I lived a lot of my life as bad days, and have found that it is much more enjoyable to live life with good ones.

We are all responsible for our own paths... Cheers to your dad for following his heart.
 

MrsBugi

Platinum Member
Aug 19, 2005
2,483
8
0
#17
You made me cry. :)

My dad and I had our disagreements, because we're a lot alike. But now we have the best relationship we've ever had, and I appreciate it more than I can tell you.

I'm happy for you. :)
*big hugs*

I'm happy for you too, sixone.

Thank you for reading.
 

MrsBugi

Platinum Member
Aug 19, 2005
2,483
8
0
#18
Glad for you and I'd hug him every time I saw him because he's not comfortable with it and he should be. Breaking down them barriers, FTW.
High five, highland!! Done and done. It's totally happening. :)
 

Away

Diamond Member
May 1, 2005
4,432
0
71
#20
Great story. :thumbsup:

Makes me wish I had the chance to make peace with my father.
 

RbSX

Diamond Member
Jan 18, 2002
8,354
0
76
#21
Oh man, I'm gonna get banned for this one...I know it. I've been dying to use it though. MrsBugi, I post this with the best of intentions.

You were the fat kid in school no one liked weren't you?
 
Nov 27, 2001
28,923
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#22
Thanks for reading.

Pretty scary to be so honest and vulnerable, but my relationship with my father is something that I've struggled with my entire life. If this can help anyone else out there or give them hope that things CAN change for the better, then it was worth it.
I believe I can certainly sympathize with having a difficult father figure. I may not be Chinese (far from it), but my father was rather walled off emotionally. Honestly, I never understood him until after he died. In some ways, I always resented the way he acted/behaved, but when I sat down to think about it, I felt bad for him.

I've seen similar reactions as your fathers in regards to academics. I recall getting all As in high school except for one A-, and the only reaction I got out of my father was, "You should have gotten all As." Now, I know that he just wanted what was best for his children, because he thought of his own situation as nothing but a failure. He was just absolutely terrible at expressing his desire to see us perform better, but still proud when we do well.

One thing I told myself is that when/if I have children, I hope I don't act like him.
 

MrsBugi

Platinum Member
Aug 19, 2005
2,483
8
0
#23
I believe I can certainly sympathize with having a difficult father figure. I may not be Chinese (far from it), but my father was rather walled off emotionally. Honestly, I never understood him until after he died. In some ways, I always resented the way he acted/behaved, but when I sat down to think about it, I felt bad for him.

I've seen similar reactions as your fathers in regards to academics. I recall getting all As in high school except for one A-, and the only reaction I got out of my father was, "You should have gotten all As." Now, I know that he just wanted what was best for his children, because he thought of his own situation as nothing but a failure. He was just absolutely terrible at expressing his desire to see us perform better, but still proud when we do well.

One thing I told myself is that when/if I have children, I hope I don't act like him.
I completely get it. The resentment is completely understandable... You want so badly to be treated with openness and unconditional love, acceptance, and support... And when it doesn't ever come, or if it doesn't come in a way that makes sense, it hurts. A lot.

It sounds like you've had time to gain clarity and perspective on your father and to have more compassion for him... When someone feels like a failure, they act out from their own place of rage and disappointment. It just sucks when the person that gets hit hardest is a child, and it is sad if a parent is never able to work through their own stuff to give their own child what we all need... A kind word. A hug. An "I'm so proud of you."

In their own strange way, I think all parents want what's best for their kids, even if some of them are better than others at showing them and expressing it. Big hugs to you... I imagine your father would be proud of you if he were alive today.
 

rivan

Diamond Member
Jul 8, 2003
9,678
0
76
#24
On the bright side, your father was more present in your upbringing than a card once a year.

I'm glad you've overcome what you have in the relationship.
 

MrsBugi

Platinum Member
Aug 19, 2005
2,483
8
0
#25
On the bright side, your father was more present in your upbringing than a card once a year.

I'm glad you've overcome what you have in the relationship.
True. I appreciate what I had and what I have, which I know is more than others have.

Much appreciated. I am glad and grateful for every step of this journey.
 

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