• author
    • Gary Huerta

    • May 21, 2013 in Columnists

    A bit of fatherly advice

    As I see the social media posts of friends celebrating their children’s various graduation achievements, I am filled with happiness for them. This year, my daughter will also graduate from high school. But I will not be celebrating it with her because she’s opted to cut me out of in her life. So for me, there will be no Facebook posts, pictures or memories of the event.

    I’ve missed out on virtually every one of her high school experiences. I don’t know whether she attended her proms, football games or what activities she participated in during high school. I don’t know if her heart was broken by some guy or whether she found true love among the halls of her soon-to-be alma mater. In a couple of weeks that chapter of her life will close and with it will go all of our opportunities to share it together.

    We missed it. All of it.

    Three years ago, I made a bad decision and sent a text to my ex-wife about our daughter’s “extra-curricular” activities. The text had content in it that was less-than-complimentary about her behavior. Nevertheless, it was never intended for my daughter’s eyes and. My poor judgment was not within the content of the text – it needed to be said between parents because it required our collaborative attention. My mistake was putting my negative comments about my daughter in writing and giving them to someone who actively wanted to do me harm. I never thought my ex-wife would sink so low as to show it to my daughter. But I overestimated her rationality and underestimated her animosity. And that sealed my fate. You’d think I would have learned from Shakespeare’s Othello – my favorite tragedy.

    Once my daughter read the text, she refused to talk to me and despite my requests to help rectify the matter, my ex-wife simply sat back and did nothing. Well, that is, if you consider plunging a knife into my back to be nothing. Well played, Iago.

    But truth be told, that moment is not something I beat myself up over. I regret being dumb enough to trust my ex, but it was a valuable, and costly lesson learned. You can be sure I have not made that mistake since.

    I have also learned to accept that the bitterness, anger and unwillingness of my daughter to move beyond the contents of a text message, never intended for her eyes, is not my doing. It is her perception of reality. I’ve apologized in writing several times for anything she may have read that hurt her feelings and reached out to let her know my door is always open. I cannot control how she feels or what she thinks. Trying to do so would only prove to be a futile waste of time.

    So for what it’s worth, here’s that tidbit of fatherly advice to anyone out there holding on to anger, resentment or some other fear-based feeling that gets in the way of finding greater joy and peace:

    Life is shorter than you can imagine. So find joy when you can and drop those things that create tension and conflict, for they just get in your way.

    The important thing to remember is that the only person who really hurts you… is you. Your pain, anger, frustration, disappointment, whatever – is colored by your perception. I doubt anyone is holding a gun to your head, forcing you to be pissed off and hold a grudge. If there is such a person, please ignore my words of wisdom, remain in a state of anger and hold that grudge!

    I am an expert at making life more complicated than it needs to be, so you can take this advice from an all-pro, hall-of-fame facilitator of his own agony: Let go of your anger.

    I could live my life furious at my ex-wife for the current circumstance. Or I could beat myself up endlessly for writing that text. Or I could harbor some resentment at my daughter for not letting me into her life. And I could continue to drive myself mad with rage, like Othello himself. The truth is, for a while, I did all of the above.

    In the end, such emotions serve no purpose but to limit my own ability to be happy. I can’t control what my ex or my daughter thinks about me. I know what the truth is. So that just leaves me to control how I feel about the situation and whether or not I want to let it ruin me. Which I don’t.

    I now see the existence of my ex and the temporary absence of my daughter in my life as a valuable opportunity for me to grow and evolve how I react to such circumstances. In no uncertain terms, I am grateful to both for helping me work through this issue more positively.

    Do I get this right all the time? Are you kidding? I’m constantly judging and rationalizing. I’m a flawed human. But I can tell you that on those instances when I do let go of the negative, I can transcend the anger or sadness I am holding onto and make my world infinitely better.

    As for my ex and daughter, I hope someday they both benefit from their side of the experience. It would be sad if they didn’t.

      • Justin

      • May 21, 2013 at 10:52 am
      • Reply

      Great stuff Gary. Thank you for this. I am in the process moving forward and exercising my own ability to let go of an unfortunate situation. Reading this was a great support. Thank you again and here’s to greater happiness all around.

    • Thanks Justin. We all do our best to work things out. I’m glad this was of some support.

    • Gary, as we have emailed, divorce can be a bitter pill.It takes both parties to recognize that the kids come first and even though you might hate each other, it is never to cross over to the kids. Your ex and daughter will never be fully recovered until there is a peaceful resolution. Everyone is disappointed when a marriage ends as they really never thought that would happen to them when they said their I Do’s and had children. In the end I am can guarantee you that your daughter will make a decision when she is ready to see both parents for what they truly are and learn to except the faults of both and decide for herself what they can bring to the table. It eventually comes to pass that those turned into devils will eventually be angels and the real party that was the destructive one will loose out. It might not happen for a while but it will. After being a mediator for 5 years dealing exclusively with divorcing families, I have seen this alienation work to the determent of the parent participating and continuing the drama. Your daughter will come to know you love her and are there for her whether she acknowledges it or not right now. You will get your turn to explain. Meanwhile be happy and look for peace yourself.

      • Jimbo

      • May 21, 2013 at 8:24 pm
      • Reply

      Wow. What a personal thing to share. But the message, in our own individual ways, fits. Thanks.

      • Nani

      • May 22, 2013 at 9:47 am
      • Reply

      I am going thru a similar situation, but different circumstances. And a heck of a lot longer than two years. Thanks for sharing your story… nice to know I am not the only one going thru it!

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