The Bridge

I have six good memories of my father. When I was four, we spent the winter in Florida, and my dad bought me an ice cream sandwich for the good behavior I displayed one morning while running errands with him.  There was the time, also in Florida, that he saved me from being stuck in an elevator by myself.   After a drinking binge with my friends, as a teenager, where a drunken fall caused me to chip my front tooth, my father, a dentist by profession, took me to his office that night and bonded up the chip, without once berating me for how the injury happened.   There was my wedding day, where nothing spectacular occurred with him.  I was just glad that he showed up.  There was the summer while he was in between wives, that he wanted to be a “dad” again where he helped my husband install a fence in our back yard.  There was the morning, after years of not speaking, that we had breakfast together, a week after I had run my first marathon.  My dad, who was once a contender in that world, raised a glass to me and welcomed me in to what he referred to as an “elite club.”

What mostly happened in between these six instances are circumstances I’ve chosen to not focus on, yet by not focusing on them, I’ve built a lifetime worth of history around these six events.  I’ve found that in his death, I’ve stretched these six things out so far and so wide, that I’ve built my father into being a hero in his own tragic story.

photo (1)

The loss of my dad hit me hard a few months ago.  Perhaps it’s the time and the space and the silence I’ve had since moving to the beach, but there have been many long walks beside the ocean, filled with tears and grief and guilt of “not trying harder” with him.  I’ve convinced myself in these moments that if only I had done “A” or “B” differently, I could have made it work, or we could have made it work, and we could have been happy together, and we would have been a family.  I had become the nemesis character in my father’s tragic story, the one who was selfish and intolerant, the one who walked away.

I don’t talk about my father much here, because I don’t know how to do it without sounding like a victim.  I’m not in this space to sound like a victim.  I’m here to share with you the life lessons that have helped me grow, and on a good day, may help you grow or at least may get you thinking.  But I’ll tell you this much because I think it will help you understand where this story is going. My father was a deeply troubled man.  His patterns of erratic behavior have led therapists I’ve seen over the years to theorize that he probably lived most of his life with an undiagnosed mental illness.   He was in one, the most charming and charismatic as well as cold hearted man I’ve ever met.

Not long ago, in the middle of my grieving and rewriting my father as a valiant protagonist, I received an email from someone close to my dad, who outlined why I was excluded from my father’s estate.  I’ve known for years that I was cut out of my father’s will.  That knowledge did not stop me from racing to his bedside last April before he died.  It also didn’t stop me from grieving and guilting myself to pieces for not “trying harder.”  However, there was something about the reasons stated as to why I was cut out of the will that caught my attention.  It was a window into the twisted thought process of a man who gave me life, but who was best kept out of my life for my own and for my children’s well-being.

That email jarred me in such a way, that in that instant, I was able to let go of the guilt and the second guessing and the fantasy of what might have been and the stretching and pulling of six good memories over a lifetime.

It also made me realize, in that tingly, chills all over the body kind of way, that I’ve spent a lifetime idolizing men who have very little to offer.  When it comes to discriminating the good men, the stable men, the solid men, from the not so good, not so stable, not so solid, there is a large piece of my antenna that’s gone missing. I’m someone who can easily get swept up by charisma and a good line, and I’ll overlook the “minor” things…like…you know, the ability to make me a priority, to be respectful, to make an effort, to take actions to back up words.  This stuff may be common sense for most women, but when I tell you I’m clueless, I really mean I’m clueless.  On paper, I can write down what I want in a relationship with a man, but my view is so distorted that when it’s in front of me, I don’t see it.  I don’t see the things that are lacking because my heart and my brain function in such a way that they compensate for what’s not there.   Do I blame my father for my screwed up relationships with men?  No.  Is there some conditioning in me that needs to be reversed that could be traced back to early life events?  Perhaps.

For whatever reason, that email about my father’s estate was the window beginning to open for me.  It was the light on this lifelong blind spot that I’ve had when it comes to men.  I’ve talked about blind spots before here, and to borrow Donna Farhi’s definition, they are “when our own weaknesses and faults become enmeshed in our personality, we can’t see ourselves clearly.”  I have never been able to see my reactions to men clearly.  Ever.  The only reason why I have the clarity of knowing this now is thanks to yoga.

light on yoga side


It’s the ability to watch my thoughts and look beyond my thoughts and watch my emotions and question my emotions  – to observe myself from ten thousand feet, as if I were observing another person, that got me to see this.

How many times are we looking but not seeing?  How many times is the truth so painfully close but we can’t quite grasp it due to the conditioning of our brains and hearts and souls?

Yoga has also taught me that it’s ok to walk away from a situation if I can’t maintain my peace in it.  And – I can walk away from a relationship without the need to place blame.   I can walk away respectfully.

9th Street Bridge

I don’t have to burn the bridge, but I don’t have to cross it either.  Sometimes, it’s just a matter of, “It’s time for you to go your way, and it’s time for me to go mine.”

I’m content to let my father go his way now.  And I’ll take the six good memories, but for what they are.  And no more.

As for men, I’m sure there are some good ones out there, and maybe there’s even one for me, but for now, I have a lot to learn.  I need to retrain my brain to see what’s there as well as to see what’s not there.   I have to recondition myself to see things for what they are versus what I want them to be.

If you were to ask me today if I’d ever get married again, the answer would be a very quick and certain “hell no.”  But I just might surprise myself one day.    If I do, there will be a beach, and a white dress, and a veil, and a bouquet of Gerbera daisies, and really good New Jersey pizza.  And a blog post about it, for sure.  I promise you.



The Bridge — 90 Comments

  1. We don’t discuss my dad. It is for reason. But regardless of all of the things that happened in my life, I believe they are to shape the person I am today. And while I have my bad days, I more often have my good days. I’m not disappointed with who I am. In spite of or because of him. It doesn’t matter.

    Hugs to you. Take your six memories and treasure them. It’s six more than none.
    Carla recently posted…Good VibrationsMy Profile

    • I get not talking about dads. My kids didn’t know anything of my dad until I raced off to Florida before he died. Regardless of my dad, I’d have things to learn in this life. Tough things. Maybe the same things? Maybe different things? Who knows? I think as long as we’re willing to face what’s in front of us on any given day, we’re doing OK.

  2. I’m glad that you are able to move past the guilt of thinking you could have tried harder – you are so right to just take your 6 memories and treasure them but not have any regrets!!!
    I love that picture of the sunset over the water – gorgeous!
    Kim recently posted…Trying to Keep it ClassyMy Profile

    • Kim, I am so glad I broke past the guilt barrier and can find peace with all of this. And I love that photo too! This is where I live now! How lucky am I?

  3. Jersey Girl- I simply adore your willingness to open up & share all of this with us. You my darlin’ are BRAVE. You my dear are exactly what I want my daughter to realize she can have, she can move from one state to another all by herself if that’s what she wants to do, and start a life & be strong… I admire you SO much! XO love!!! ~A, City Girl~
    Amber Day Hicks recently posted…Ladies only Blog Share Party!!! Crazy, busy, hectic, & stressful holidaysMy Profile

    • City Girl, your daughter, all of our daughters, can go out there and do anything. I hope my girls realize this a little sooner than I did, but better late than never. And once you get that, there’s no turning back. Love right back at you. xo

  4. Yes. I will.
    You gave me such a good “in”. I was reading every word, twice even, wondering how on earth I’d respond, but knowing of course that I would know what to say when I got to the bottom.
    And then I realized I could say that I’ll be there to photograph your wedding, if there is one, and of course I’ll be there for many other things too.
    You remind me so much of me sometimes. And so much of Lindsay. I think it’s all of us with our father thoughts and yoga/writing/art, etc.
    Of course this in no way implies that you are not 100% your own person in my mind. I just like that we three do/will get things about one another. Jersey pizza things. Music things. Life things.
    Tamara recently posted…Honey, I Broke The Baby & My Mind.My Profile

    • I love that I remind you of people you love and would never take that for your thinking I wasn’t my own person as well. And here’s the other thing. Of course I would be HONORED for you to photograph this so called wedding of mine, but if you’d just rather come as a guest and not have to work and just enjoy the whole thing, that’s fine too! I’m leaving this entirely up to you – but of course, you’re coming either way. xo

  5. You are so strong, Ike, even in your hardest moments. I envy your strength. You have dealt with so much! I have never known my dad but I wonder if I rather know him and go through pain OR just never know him at all.

    Your epiphany was so real and smart. I know it must help to at least have some close with that.

    Tamara would do an excellent job capturing your photos. excuse me–she WILL do an excellent job!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…How to Easily Wrap A Wine BottleMy Profile

  6. Oh, Nellie, I don’t know. I think if I never knew my dad, there would just be so many questions. I think we will always have questions regardless though. Questions are one thing, but I’ve learned that second guessing is something else entirely. And yes, I am so grateful for my epiphany. And I love that you call me Ike.

  7. And there it is. Ahhh… oh how I love this Ilene. I love your clarity, your insight and most of all your incredible strength and perseverance in an agonizing yet deliberate journey you need to explore, and finally embrace as your victory.

    I think you are there, my love. I think there will be more cleansing breathes to breathe with pure air. Not polluted. I think your heart will beat a little stronger, and your eyes will see a lot deeper- as you go forward, on this road that is yours to walk/run/leap at times. Each time you fall- you get up and stand a little higher.

    Stand tall my friend.

    Stand tall.
    Chris Carter recently posted…Mother Of All Meltdowns: The PERFECT Gift!My Profile

    • The pure air sometimes feels like a shock to the system. It’s so…pure. But I can get used to this. And while I retrain these eyes of mine, I’m counting on you and my other besties to see for me. Got it?

    • Thanks Michelle. Insight is everything. Once we can see things for what they are versus what we want them to be, the rest is easy.

  8. I’m sorry that we both share a poor relationship with our fathers but yet it’s another thing we have in common. I love that you have taken the negative and made it a positive in your life. Wisdom is found in the strangest of places and can strike at the weirdest times.

    As someone who claimed they would never, ever in a million years get married or have children, one mantra I’ve picked up is “you never know”. Love to you!
    Melissa Burton recently posted…Fabletics ReviewMy Profile

    • I think that when we are open to truth and to wisdom, it will always find us. Sometimes it takes time, but it always appears. Hugs, sister.

  9. This is breathtaking, Ilene. I say write about him, especially if the specter of him is still there nagging at you, and I imagine it is or may reappear in the future. When have you ever lived your life like a victim? Never! You survived him, at a very young age, in every possible way – you probably began to survive him the moment you were born. Celebrate yourself for that! But don´t ever worry about sounding like a victim, or not, or not having the closure you think you should have, or having it, or anything else. Your writing is such a light, it´s clarifying to anyone who reads it, and to yourself. So whenever those father stories beg to be told – tell them! Your audience will only be more enlightened for it, as this wonderful piece is proof of – and all the readers out there (me included!) whose lives have been cracked open by cruel and neglectful fathers will know they are not alone. Hugs! t

    • No, you’re not alone and so many who have contacted me in the short time since I wrote this piece are not alone. Sadly, the clubhouse is pretty packed. And as the revelations keep coming, I will share them. And remind myself and everyone else in that clubhouse that we have each other through this. xo

  10. I’m so glad that email brought you peace. Although I’m fairly blessed in the parent department, as a teacher, I see too often what poor parenting does to children and it gets my goat when people blame themselves for their parents’ faults. More often than not, it’s the parent that needed to try harder.

    And I’m trying to work on that beach for my white dress, but it’s expensive during peak season!!!!! As you know, it took me a long time and a lot of healing to find AND be ready for a good man.
    Single Mom in the South recently posted…All She Wants For Christmas Is…My Profile

    • I love that you are going the beach wedding route! Too bad I’m not in a different place and we could do it two for one. Ha! Although I didn’t know you “back when,” you’ve alluded to this journey taking a while for you. And it seems very much that it’s been worth your while, and one day, depending on what path I choose, I know it will be worth my while too. xo

  11. I recently had a revelation like this myself, when I went to my 20 year reunion. I love that your eyes can be opened to something so immediately that you have been dwelling on for years. I’m so happy to read that you can now take it for what it is and even become more aware because of it. I also love not burning the bridge but not having to cross it either. YES!!!
    Allie recently posted…How To Survive the Elements & 20% Off…My Profile

    • It truly IS amazing, Allie, right? To have something right in front of you for years and then one day, you see it? I feel fortunate for this – and I also LOVE what you found at your high school reunion.

  12. I recently walked from a friendship. I didn’t burn the bridge, but I realized almost every interaction I had with said “friend” left me feeling stressed out and feeling guilty or rage. There are times when I regret it, it has been hard to see this person move on and know that all of my friends who are still friends with her are hanging out without me at a gathering or party said friend is hosting, but at the end of the day it is what is best for me. I’m glad to hear you’re on your way to peace over the relationship with your dad. xo
    NJ @ A Cookie Before Dinner recently posted…#AskAwayFriday With Mister GMy Profile

    • It’s hard to walk away from a friendship. But if the bridge is not burned, that means there is a road back. Sometimes, the other person changes and is ready for us, sometime we change and we’re ready for them. Sometimes no one changes and we make peace with what’s in front of us. That’s what I hope for you and for me and for everyone really – is that peace.

  13. Ilene, there is so much honesty and reflection in this. Thank you for sharing. I was reading through the comments, and your response to Michelle really jumped out at me: “Once we can see things for what they are versus what we want them to be, the rest is easy.” So much truth in this! It’s hard to strip away our own filters and desires, but when we do, the truth can be very liberating.
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted…Holiday Links for People Who Love to LaughMy Profile

    • It’s our filters that trip us up every time. I think of all of the situations in my life that I have read into – with either a negative or positive charge…instead of just letting things be what they really are. Here’s to always being able to see the truth, even when the truth is hard.

  14. You are an amazing woman! I can relate to not speaking with a father. I went 13 years and it was always a rocky relationship (he was an alcoholic). It wasn’t until he was going in for open heart surgery that we spoke and mended ways as best as we knew how. He didn’t survive the surgery, so I’m thankful that we spoke and at least tried to have some sort of relationship. This was a beautiful, touching post. :)
    Crystal recently posted…Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party: These Crazy, Stressful HolidaysMy Profile

    • Alcoholism, mental illness, personality disorders, they’re a bitch – especially when you are dealing with a parent who has one of these afflictions. It makes them incapable of reason, and incapable of parenting – but they don’t realize that thanks to their illness. It took me many years to really “get” this. And clearly, it’s still sinking in now – hopefully on a deeper level. I’m glad you got to see your father before he passed away. I had that chance too back in April, and despite our complicated history, I will cherish that.

  15. Ilene, my new friend, it seems that we have more in common than the way our sons began their little lives. We’ll have to have that coffee sometime, and really talk, because while the details are not exactly the same, we both had dads that we never truly ‘had’ as our ‘daddies’. It’s a long story, but the short part of mine that I’ll tell you is, I spent many years yearning for a relationship of sweetness with my father, and sometimes, I still have an ache about the chances not taken-by him, and in later years, in a way, by me. God bless you, and if I don’t see you before Christmas, have a very sweet, Merry Christmas. Let’s get together in the new year, okay? 😉 Love, Christie

    • Christie, I am saddened to know that this is a sisterhood that I share with you, but I will gladly stand by you in ANY sisterhood. You are such a kind and loving soul and to know that you know what I speak of, and still shine the way you do, well that speaks volumes about who you are. And yes, we owe each other a coffee date. I’m holding you to that! xo

  16. By the way, Ilene…I too went through many years of relationships/dating with the ‘wrong’ males. I realized SO many years later that I was constantly choosing young men/men that were only just ‘reachable’, if there is such a word. They were always guys that were not ‘there for me’, not ever easy to love, and there was always, always angst and/or an unbalanced emotional attachment, as far as my always caring for/loving them so much more than they ever did care for me. I was choosing men that essentially were my dad- which was so ironic, when you think about it. You’d have thought that I’d have ‘gone for’ guys that were the polar opposite, showing me and sharing with me all that I was so yearning for, searching for with the most important male in my life in those years. I went through years of there being either emotional strife with a guy, or the worst, some physical abuse, in my sad, unconscious search for ‘the one’. Thankfully, when I finally decided that I deserved more, deserved so much more respect and all that I longed for in a relationship, I made the best decision I’d ever made in my 30-something years on Earth. I decided not to date until I was happy being without a male in my life, as far as a boyfriend or future-husband, husband,etc., and until I was completely sure that I was in the right frame of mind, the right state to judge a man solely on his true colors. I wanted a man that had all or at least most of the attributes that I felt I deserved as a human being, rather than the men of my recent past- the ones I ‘settled for’, because I was so wanting the love that I (unconsciously) was wanting from my father. Guess how long I did not date? I still am amazed that I did go for so long, myself…I didn’t date for three years. And, when I did decide that I was ready to do so, that is when I met the man that I am married to now. That’s a whole other story- this time a good one. It’s very possible to find a good man, a man that will love you and treat you the way that you deserve. Just make sure that you know in your heart, down to the depths of your soul, that you are ready to recognize him when he comes around. I might not have been brave enough to take the chance with my future husband, in fact, I know I wouldn’t have been, if I hadn’t taken the three years of ‘me time’ that I did. God is good, and he whispers these ideas into our ears and hearts at times, but if we aren’t willing to hear the words, we don’t learn some pretty amazing things in life. God bless you, and I know that if you have patience with your self, you’ll get to wherever that special man is waiting for you…if that is what you truly want, anyway. If not, life can be sweet living without a marriage. I’m just one of those people who feels more pleasure in the sharing of life’s ups and downs, and the sights and sounds. 😉

    • I think you just described where I am right now, or I am at the very beginning of what you described. All of the years of idolizing men who have little to offer the way I idolized my dad. Time for that huge step back and continue the observations that I’ve now started. And take it from there. xo

      • That old sayings of “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” and also, “Learn to love yourself, and then you will allow your self to be loved.” come to mind. God bless you, and thank you for your words. I am not saying that my life is perfect by any means, but once you come to this realization and to the time where you realize that you are not deserving of mistreatment, or of less than what you really want out of a relationship…life does become that much more rich. :-)

    • I really attest this to yoga. Sitting on that mat and stopping my thoughts and then observing them…as if I were observing someone else. A few weeks ago, I was terribly upset about something. I knew I was over reacting. But instead of riding the crazy train with it, I sat back and said, “What’s up with the way I’m reacting to this?” And I took the inquiry deeper. Thank you, Yoga.

  17. Wow, thank you for sharing what I imagine must be a ver hard topic for you to share. I think it is an amazing feat that you can choose to focus on the positive memories of your father instead, and were also able to let go of the guilt. It sounds like this whole experience in the end has only made you stronger and more self-aware.
    Bev recently posted…How do you keep the creative fires burning?My Profile

    • I 100% believe that our lives are what we focus one. We will always have struggles but we can choose to focus on the good. Always.

  18. How do I learn more about yoga? When you write about your dad it always does me in. I think this is why I love to see Tamara write about Cassidy and Scarlet – because every little girl should get to have that mother and that father and that little brother. Every little girl should get to be a beloved princess. And yet, so few of us get to experience anything like Scarlet does, even for a day. Then we blame ourselves for what we did not have. It’s a hard thing to erase.

    That feeling? Of seeing yourself from the true outside? It used to happen to me when I was a kid. I remember being in the big chair in my grandparents’ kitchen and floating above myself. Watching everyone in the room. And wanting to speak but I couldn’t get back in to do it. I was just up there, helplessly watching. It was not scary at all, even as a kid, just frustrating.

    I want to learn how to watch without feeling so helpless.
    tammigirl recently posted…The Time I Have Spent With KingsMy Profile

    • Tammi, There is this amazing book by Donna Farhi – the woman that I quoted in my post, called “Bringing Yoga To Life,” which explains, in layman’s terms, what the practice of yoga is all about. It does not focus on the posture practice at all, but it gives you the tools to so that you can work with the postures in such a way that you are getting the full mind/body/soul benefit. There are many, many books, but I think this one is a good first read.

      It’s funny you mention floating above yourself. I never did this as a kid, but I still have a recurring dream where I’m screaming at my dad but nothing is coming out of my mouth as hard as I try. So, I guess that’s my feeling of helplessness. I don’t think I’ve had that dream since he’s passed though. Maybe I’ll never have to have it again.

  19. A song comes to mind..

    Ican see clearly now the rain is gone.
    I can see all obstacles in my way.
    Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
    It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day.
    It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day.


    Read more: Jimmy Cliff – I Can See Clearly Now Lyrics | MetroLyrics
    Alison recently posted…Do More Of What Makes You HappyMy Profile

    • What I love about this song is that the lyrics are not devoid of mentioning obstacles. He can see the obstacles but it’s still a bright day. Being able to see the obstacles are half the battle.

    • It’s such a great practice. And we can only get sharper with it over time. And when I’m committed to this I learn so much, and sometimes, am lucky enough to change.

  20. I love learning more about you…even if it might be things like this. You really have a way of showing things in a positive light even if the circumstances weren’t always the best. I think as we age, we do get wiser and realize things are what they are. You can’t change people even as much as you want to. I’m glad thought that you are second guessing yourself anymore about what you could have done to make the relationship stronger.
    Natalie recently posted…Review Extravaganza: January-March 2013My Profile

    • Natalie, I think you’re right in that a lot of these lessons just come with time and age and wisdom. And having the full and real understanding that we can’t change other people is life altering. It brings us peace, when we let it.

  21. It’s like I can’t really find the words for the proper response for this post. I almost feel like if I truly start writing I may never stop. I will say this. I am sending this to my sister. We are both motherless and were in many ways before our mother actually died. Our relationship with our father is permanently changed in a way that we still struggle with and in some ways we have made peace with it. I just want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, how much this post has affected me. I am going to save it and read it again.-Ashley

    • And I just want you to know from the bottom of my heart that I am glad I am here to share this with you. Not that it eases your burden, but to let you know you’re not alone. xo

  22. Ilene, we really have so much in common!
    “It was a window into the twisted thought process of a man who gave me life, but who was best kept out of my life for my own and for my children’s well-being.” —> this sentence gave me chills and about sums up the relationship between me and my father.
    I haven’t talked to him in years and I know I will never see him as long as he’s still alive, and I wonder about whether I will regret it. Yes, I wonder about it, because deep down I want to do everything “right”, but in my heart I know that it’s exactly how it’s supposed to be now.
    I can’t write about him either, because it would be from a place of revenge and I can’t do that.
    So glad that you found that window – the view is looking pretty good, eh?
    Kerstin @ Auer Life recently posted…5 signs you need a breakMy Profile

    • Kerstin, it’s the hardest thing in the world to walk away. Especially with a parent. No matter what they’ve done or how poorly they’ve treated us. In our hearts and in every little wave in our brains, we feel bonded to them, even those who are not worthy of this type of loyalty. When I first made the decision to walk away, there was a physical hurt associated with it. I think I’m trying to say that I get this. I get your “wondering” and wanting to do things “right.” But I also get and support your decision to walk away for your sake and the sake of your kids. I hope that you ultimately have peace in what you’ve decided. I think that’s the most important thing of all.

  23. This is a lovely and thought-provoking post, Ilene. I know that looking at things with clarity can make all the difference – and until we do, it is hard to move forward toward new and better things. I am happy that you have found some peace in that discovery. I also love the thought of not burning a bridge, but not crossing it either. I will remember that.
    Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted…Letting GoMy Profile

    • In the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, there is a chapter on relationships, and Byrne uses the phrase “turn away with love” when we need to let go of someone in our lives who disrupts our peace or whose presence feel harmful in some way. I love this phrase because it removes the negativity of having to walk away. And it also removes the permanence in it. It’s helped me greatly with this decision and others like it.

  24. Wow. You “speak” to my “life” every time I read your post Ilene! It is always meant for me to stroll on over to your site and receive my daily nourishment for my soul. I know I have told you before but this past year has been a huge transition for me and my son, but getting back to just being in my own and owning who I am, what I need, and what I want for myself has been rewarding. You couldn’t have said it better. “It’s okay to walk away from a situation, when you can’t maintain peace in it anymore.” Thanks so much for sharing your story. You are a strong, mindful woman. Thanks for your inspiration! ~Leah~
    Leah Elizabeth Locklear recently posted…My Top Five Favorite Blogs: (They should be yours too!)My Profile

    • Thank you Leah. I wish you strength and courage and wisdom as you go forward on your journey, of adjusting and learning and growing. I think it’s great that you are owning “you” and yes, when we can’t maintain our peace in a situation with another person, that’s always a sign.

  25. One of my psychology professors used to talk about the “Aha! moment,” and how that can be a turning point in the therapeutic process. This post seems like one of those moments. You speak of a blind spot, and I get it…yet your writing is so metacognitive. You analyze your thinking but don’t separate from emotion – I love that. That will serve you well…although I suspect that it already has. Thank you for sharing with us, Ilene.
    Dana recently posted…Sign here, SantaMy Profile

    • Thank you Dana. I love sharing my aha moments! It’s amazing to step out of the years of conditioning in a certain area of our lives and see it – and feel it differently. It’s a gift.

  26. I truly believe that every single thing we go through in life is for the purpose of teaching us something. There are lots of lessons we miss and lots of lessons we don’t want to learn either because the subject matter is difficult or not interesting or some other reason. Ilene, you have this amazing ability to take so many situations that other people would have packed away in the bottoms of their minds; open them up and dig out all the learning there is to be had. That, my friend, makes you an amazingly strong woman!
    Rabia @TheLiebers recently posted…Five Minute Friday; ReflectMy Profile

    • Oh, Rabia, I want to hug you right now for this incredibly kind comment. Although the thing is, I don’t know if we ever really “pack those things away.” We can try but they’re there, somewhere. They may be buried, but if we don’t dig them up and face them, they will try to get out on their own, in ways that are more destructive. I think in this sense, I may be more practical that strong. But I thank you for your support and for being witness to my words and thoughts and aha moments.

  27. There’s a song by Patti Scialfa (wife to Bruce Springsteen)that I first heard, ironically, when I was going through some of the roughest times at the end of my first marriage. It’s funny, but, sometimes, I forget I was ever married before, because it never felt like what a marriage should be, like my marriage does nowadays. Anyway, the lyrics that really hit me when I first heard them are:

    Oh mama when you were a young girl
    Did you ever love a man so much
    As if he were some fantastic jewel
    That you should never be worthy of
    But all those illusions strip and fall
    And he is just a man after all

  28. “I’m not in a space to sound like a victim.” Here here Ilene! That is awesome. That one sentence is very telling of the level of wisdom and strength you have to offer. If more people DECIDED they weren’t in “a space” to be a victim, we’d all be better, stronger people. Lovely.
    Andrea recently posted…BeQuoted: Nelson Mandela EditionMy Profile

    • I wrote a post over the summer for Tamara about letting go of the victim identity and how life changing that is. Trauma is one even or maybe a series of events but we allow the to follow us around for a lifetime – only to hurt us. So, yes, let’s hear it for not being victims.

  29. Your self awareness and ability to see the bigger picture are amazing. It is inspiring how much you have taken charge and changed your own life. It is sad how a relationship with one person can affect our relations with so many others. But most of us don’t realise what we are doing ever. Or if we do don’t have the guts to change.
    Jess recently posted…Exciting ProjectsMy Profile

    • Jess, it’s so true – that domino effect that one “bad” relationship can have. We are doing ourselves a huge injustice by letting this happen. If we can see it and change it, not only are we better off, but the people around us are better off as well.

  30. We are storytellers; we create the narrative we want so desperately when it’s not there, and we use the details we have to make it work. Yoga, unlike memoir, allows us to live with the gaps, with the unknowns, and to make peace with what is missing, too.

    And then, to tell a different kind of story, that is perhaps even more complete.

    You are one amazing woman.

    • “And then, to tell a different kind of story, that is perhaps even more complete.” I love this sentiment. I love how this alludes to the fact that if we can live an honest life and see life for what it is versus what it’s not or what we want it to be, that it will be richer and fuller and more satisfying, that sometimes not getting what we want is the best thing that can happen to us, or at the least, builds character.

      And you are one amazing woman too by the way.

    • Thanks, Tiffany. If we don’t face things head on, they will catch up to us one day. I’d rather do it this way. It really is the “easier” alternative!

    • I’ll take that hug from you any time! For any reason! And I’m very grateful I had this break through. Self doubt is never productive. In any realm.

    • I have had to work on this for years now – the dad thing. The bottom line is that blood ties do not make family. Had my father not been my father, I never would have accepted this kind of person into my life. Ever. But we feel compelled to go back and to try and to grieve when it doesn’t fit the picture we think it should have. It’s a tough road and one I hope you find peace with.

  31. Ilene, this one is so poignant for me. I am so thankful for the honesty with which you write about this. Very hard for me to write about some of my own very similar issues myself, and can’t quite put my thoughts into words, but thank you. And xo.
    Meredith recently posted…The Christmas WinMy Profile

    • Meredith, wishing you peace with issues that may be similar for you. And yes, this stuff is not easy to articulate – for many reasons. xo

  32. Oh my friend. This lands very firmly with me right now. There has been a lot of observing my thoughts and patterns lately, especially with regard to relationships and family. And this –> “I don’t have to burn the bridge, but I don’t have to cross it either.”? That’s a realization that I’ve had recently and plus the 4 locks and 4 keys has been a really interesting shift for me. I still don’t know exactly how I can work that out in my life yet but it’s empowering and a little scary at the same time. For me, it’s been a huge leap to realize that we are powerful story tellers – creating stories for ourselves and others that may or may not be true (or don’t always have to be). xox
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Holiday Gift GuideMy Profile

    • I loved Justine’s comment about what yoga gives us. It allows us to see the truth in the story, without having to revise it or fill in the gaps. To be able to see things the way they are, that is such a gift. And the 4 locks and 4 keys, to be able to accept people where they’re at, like *really* accept them? I’m not there all the way, but I ask for this kind of ability all the time. There is peace over there. xo

  33. I don’t have anything really deep to add to this discussion other than saying, this is one of the most powerful things I have read in a long time, and it reflects many of my own feelings about my parents. You are so wise Ilene. I have valued men that were worth nothing either, and I can relate that back to my parents in many ways. I love your philosophy though. Don’t have to burn or cross that bridge. Love you.
    Alexa recently posted…Does Google Know it’s my Birthday?My Profile

    • I love you too. And while I’m sorry we share this commonality, I am glad that we have each other, and so many others, in this sisterhood. So many layers to peel off to find ourselves – and so many layers of the stories we tell to find the truth in things – and about people. I’ve had a lot of unlearn since my childhood and have a lot to learn still, now. xo

  34. So beautifully written, it was hard to come up with a comment. What do you say after such raw, honest, thought provoking words? I think there comes a time in our lives where we need to talk stock of the things that we want to carry with us into the future, and the things we choose to discard. I’m glad you chose a few select memories of your father, but there is no need to take more. I’m also glad that you have freed yourself of guilt. Your father was a man who was responsible for himself and his behaviours – right or wrong. You do not have to carry his baggage. You have your own:) I believe that one day you will find that strong, amazing man who will adore you, respect you, and be the kind of partner you never thought existed. You are well on your way for being ready to recognize this man.
    Leah Davidson recently posted…It’s a Wonderful LifeMy Profile

    • Thank you Leah. I feel a thousand times lighter about letting go of the father guilt. I am so grateful that light bulb finally went off in my head. And as for men, I’m going to trust you on this one. And I’m going to keep trusting you – until I am more capable of trusting myself. One day, my friend. One day. xo

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  37. **I don’t have to burn the bridge, but I don’t have to cross it either.**

    Gorgeously, stunningly written. I felt every word inside my bones. Thank you for doing that for me.

    I love that you carry those magical moments (6 of them) and don’t allow the other memories to define you, control you.

    Hard as hell, right?

    I love the symbolism of the bridge.

    For the cover of my book, my sister, Kay, is crossing over the bridge into Liberation & Freedom.

    It can mean so many things to so many people.

    I appreciated your writing immensely. And your raw honestly.

    My Inner Chick recently posted…Our Stories Become Our LivesMy Profile

  38. And an invitation please!? I’m so glad that you are getting some answers or light is being shed so that you can learn and move on. I love the paragraph about not burning bridges but not crossing them and that sometimes, it is just time to move on. I have many friendships that this applies to at the moment and I needed to read this.
    AnnMarie recently posted…For the New Parents of a TeenagerMy Profile

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