Thursday, September 20, 2012


one of my favorite tv shows is back for the new season - parenthood. i know, i know, i've blogged about it before; i love the characters and family dynamic of four grown kids. so many of the interactions are spot on (as one of four kids) and i swear i tear up at least once an episode. so good. anyway, this week's episode included a conversation where the advice to heartbroken drew, who is a senior in high school and whose girlfriend dumped him, was simple, "it's ok to be sad."

"it's ok to be sad."

i believe this wholeheartedly... it's important to grieve the loss of things- whether they are big kinds of things or little ones. maybe because i am a crier by nature (matt always says i'm better off if i cry at least once a week) or maybe just because when i truly grieve the hard things in life i feel like that is when i am able to turn towards wholeness.  

i haven't written about my dad for a long time on here, mostly because i think i worked through a lot of the pain from ending my relationship with him. matt and i went to a lot of counseling (well worth every penny), and had to work very hard to process, begin healing, and make new habits as a family after everything happened a few years ago. i was really sad for a long time, and i kind of holed up in my house for a few months in the fall and winter of 2008, mostly just to grieve the loss of my dad and some semblance of my relationship with him. i cried a lot. i ignored my phone and email a lot. i essentially made my home into a little fort. and once i was (finally) ready i gathered my tribe of safe people to cry next to and to listen to me.

i think about my dad all the time, partly because i look in the mirror and i can't help but see him; i resemble him pretty closely. i recognize his nose, his eyes, his smile. sometimes it is surreal that he still exists in this world - that every day he wakes up and has an entire life with people i don't know, living in a place i don't know, doing a job i don't know. most of the time i am so grateful for the past few years, and for all of the internal work that my siblings, our spouses and my mom have done; i think that on the whole our family is more whole and healthy than it was leading up to october 2008 when our family as we knew it changed. i don't think any of us realized how much of our family dynamics were silently being dictated by my dad's secret life. so really, truly, most of the time i am glad that we stand in the place we are now. i chose to personally have no contact with him, and that has been a very healthy decision for me, matt and our daughters. 

but you know, sometimes? it's ok to be sad.
sad that i don't have a dad anymore. 
sad that any form of relationship that my siblings have with our dad will always be fractured. 
sad that my girls only have one grandpa.
sad that my mom goes to bed alone at night, and that she has to carry the weight of head of our family all by herself.

{here i am with my dad ten years ago on my wedding day}

for some reason i was really sad last night as i went to bed. i had just taken a very sound asleep m to the bathroom; she snuggled into me as i carried her back to her bed and she burrowed into her pillow and blanket and in that moment i just loved her so, so much. i thought about how my dad saw me when i was a little four year old (that looked a lot like my four year old now). i thought about how i couldn't imagine raising my child and having her be out in the world and me not having any contact with her. it took me a long time to fall asleep so i just stared into the darkness until i finally closed my eyes.

a month or so ago, after we hosted some high school students at our house for the week (it just about killed me this time), i texted some of the adults in my life who loved me through my own not-so-fabulous-in-the-attitude-department tween and teenage years. my uncle, my dad's brother, was one of the people i texted and he texted me back, "i'd do it again in a heartbeat." matt looked over at me and i was crying as i read it - a mixture of feeling really loved (it was really the perfect text to get) and also this weird ache that it was someone else besides my dad who would say that to me. i went inside, by myself, and sobbed for a long time.

this july, around my mom's birthday - which is a week apart from what would have been my parents 40th anniversary, the sadness hit again. i was emotional on and off the whole week. and even though i think my mom is in such a better place not being in the marriage she was in, i still grieve.

grief is like a wave, with no warning, seemingly out of nowhere it knocks you down and as you are flailing about everything else recedes because in that moment you are overwhelmed and just need to survive. but then minutes later you've caught your breath, and you are back in the water splashing around. i woke up this morning and the sadness abated, instead feeling gratitude for my daughters as they piled on top of me in bed (guilty: always trying to get a few more minutes of sleep) and gratitude for matt next to me as ruby lovingly smashed her face into him and said, "my daddy."

for a long time i had to tell myself that it was ok that i felt healthier and happier without my dad in my life. that i didn't need to justify to people why i'd made that boundary- that the people who knew how my dad had wounded me understood, and that was enough. that it was ok to move past the grief into a place of joy in his absence. it was ok to be happy.

but a few years out, i have to remind myself that sometimes it's ok to be sad too. 


  1. all the love int eh world to you. amen to" it's okay to be sad"

  2. Hugs. Yes, it's okay to be sad. And sometimes being sad isn't pretty -- there's a lot of red nose red eyes and bodily fluid mess to it. That's what tissues and chocolate are for. (It's a widely known fact that dark chocolate contains snotoflyvines, which have a calming, cooling effect upon the sinuses. Actually, I just made that up, but I'm hoping it will become widely known.)

    1. ha- i love your made up scientific lingo. i buy it; you're pretty smart. math/science - it's all in the same ballpark. :)

  3. lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. As you say, things can be good but hard. You can also be happy but sad. Sometimes one outweighs the other and you forget that you are also happy.

    Reading your post made me sad but I was also smiling at the same time. Seems odd but it is ok.

    1. so true- thank you scooter for reminding me of good but hard! i love it.

  5. Oh Sooz. I was thinking about you and your dad just the other day....random. And I too look a lot like my dad and think of him every time I look in the mirror. And see his eyebrows over my eyes.

    I admire you so much for doing the hard work of going through this process- not around or over or under, but through. Thank you for reminding all of us of the importance of feeling our feelings. I especially love that you model this for your girls. I think we all assume girls are feeling all the time but it's different when you give yourself permission to feel certain things that can be scary or mysterious.

    Love you lots. Let's have coffee.


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