Letter to my son Redux
The apology(ies) you seek can be found starting on Page 4. Even though this is a long letter, I ask that you read it from start to finish. Most parents would never be as transparent as I am trying to be with you but I think that the information contained in this letter is on a “need to know basis” and that is why I have decided to share it with you.
This is a tale of multiple traumas. If you decide to read this, you might want to sit down and get comfortable because it is quite long. I have decided to share this information with you because of the recent correspondence between us. I ask that if you choose to read this that you do so with your own daughter in the back of your mind.. I want to offer an explanation for the “monster” I became. Monsters are not created in a vacuum. Although I am sure you do see me as a monster, I was not born that way. My horribleness was created. I became that way because of the cumulative traumas I endured in my lifetime. When I was younger, I did not have the proper skills to process these traumas effectively or address them verbally or emotionally. The previous link outlines some of the common misconceptions people have about trauma. I am going to be as transparent as possible because I want you to know the circumstances which helped shape me when I was growing up. The zip drive in the envelope contains the digital version of this letter in case you wish to view the links provided.
As I’m sure you know, I was abandoned at about the age of six months. I was left in the garden of an orphanage with no clothes, no blanket, no information about my identity. The nuns at the orphanage took me in and I was eventually registered for adoption with an organization called Catholic Charities and at about the age of eleven months I was sent to Chicago where I was picked up by my new parents. I view this as the second “abandonment” trauma because I had, no doubt formed some sort of bond with my caregivers and to be wrenched away from them with no explanation must have been devastating for me as a baby who would not have understood the words even I had been given an explanation. I agonized over not knowing anything about my birth mother really until about 10 years ago. Although my mom told me repeatedly that I was a wanted child, that I had been chosen by them, I still felt like I had been discarded like a piece of garbage and I could not understand what I had done that was so wrong that meant I had to be sent away like that. Because of that, I grew up with a very deep seated lack of true self-esteem and a bitter sense of self-loathing. I came to despise my cultural heritage. I viewed myself as having been such a terrible baby (and child) that my own mother had to “get rid of me” and send me away. What I have since come to believe though, is that my grandmother or another woman whisked me away because my grandfather was going to kill me. I also believe that he may have killed my biological mother because all one had to do was look at me to know that I was the product of an out of wedlock encounter with a non-Korean man. Blood lines are exceedingly important in Asian countries, something my former boyfriend explained to me. These types of executions are called honour killings and while they were not common occurrences in late 1950s Korea, that is what I eventually came to “believe” happened. Because I was approximately six months old when I was found, it is obvious that someone tried to keep me for a while.
Growing up was very challenging for me for many reasons. In my world there was not a single person who looked like me. Can you imagine what that would be like? My parents had chosen to adopt a Euraisian child because they wanted a child that would have looked like what a natural child of their interacial marriage might have looked like. But, unlike you, who had multiple siblings there was no one anywhere in my universe who looked like me. I grew up being bullied on a regular basis, called Jap and Chink and slanty-eyes. This is part of what contributed to my BPD in terms of not ever “knowing who I was”. and contributed to my deep sense of shame about my national heritage.
My father was an utterly silent man. Although I know in my heart and guts NOW that he loved me, he was completely non-verbal when it came to telling me that.I do not remember him ever giving me a compliment or telling me that he loved me until I was 28 years old and in the hospital because I had taken yet another overdose. He came to all my high school shows but never told me he thought I was any good. I don’t really even remember him ever giving me a hug or showing any physical affection.
When I was 16 I was cast in a community theatre production of “Oliver” and started going to rehearsals across town. There I met a man named Gary who was 5 years older than me. He and I started dating and it was wonderful because he had a car!! The fact that he was so much older than me also made me feel special. I think that I let all his attention get to me quite a bit and got a swelled head because in the fall of the next year, my group of 8 girlfriends who I had gone all through grade school with told me one morning that I was “too full of myself” and they no longer wanted to be friends with me. From that moment on, I became a persona non-grata ceased to exist in my high school They would not speak to me or even make eye contact with me. I suddenly found myself “banished to the dog house” with no friends, no peers, no one I felt I could confide in about all my pain and sadness. I just felt “bad” again. Meanwhile, Gary was pressuring me for sex very aggressively. I finally relented and went one afternoon with him to his parent’s house -- they were at work. In the upstairs bedroom of his parent’s house he raped me. After he was finished, he casually got up, crossed the room, picked up a box of Kleenex and threw it at me and told me to “clean myself up.” Now at the same time, Gary had another girlfriend, a woman named Colleen who was his age. He was seeing me AND her at the same time, something I of which I was well aware. Even after he raped me I continued to see him (and have sex with him) because I was either too stupid or naive to realize what had happened. I “loved” him and did not have enough self-esteem to value myself enough to put an end to the relationship. I also felt enormously threatened by Colleen. It is no surprise that about four months later, I found myself pregnant. He and I flew off to Washington, DC where I had an abortion at a clinic called Pre-term. I was all of 16 years old. When my father found out about the abortion and him transporting me across state lines to get it, he wanted to have him charged with statutory rape but I insisted that he not because, well, because I still “loved him.” Stupid me. He eventually discarded me like a piece of garbage.
Eventually, I started to see a young man named Mike who I had met at the ice skating rink. Mike and I soon became “engaged” and then because he had just enlisted in the Marines, he shipped off to Okinawa.Four or five months after he left, he called to break off the engagement because, as he told me, he had gotten a local girl pregnant and her father was insisting that he marry her. He told me during that phone call that he was sorry but he had never really loved me, he just wanted to see if Asian girl’s vaginas really “went sideways.”
Meanwhile, back at home, my father was beating me up and assaulting me on a fairly regular basis. It was mostly because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut when he and I would argue and I challenged him by talking back to him incessantly. The only way he knew how to stop me was to knock me down, climb on top of me and hit me back and forth across my face. The last time he assaulted me I got up off the floor and said to him, “If you ever hit me again, I will KILL you!” I must have had a look like thunder on my face because he never hit me again. All this happened in the context of me going each Friday night to the disco downtown where I would pick up guys and go back to their apartments and have sex with them. This promiscuity led me to become pregnant again. I was looking for love in the arms of any man I could find. I soon left home and moved with a girlfriend to Washington, DC where I met your father. He and I had a whirlwind romance and I fell head over heels. being a relatively uneducated person, I fell in love with his mind. He was the smartest person I had ever met and he still holds that place for me. But, I soon ended up getting pregnant (again) and had yet another abortion. Was I using abortion as a form of birth control? Probably. But you see, he was still married at the time to his first wife, Ellen and he told me that he was not ready to get married again. He also couldn’t get married so I had to, as he said, “get rid” of it which I did. I actually ended up going back to the very same abortion clinic I had attended with Gary.
When he finally did propose he made if very clear that:
I had to become Jewish (not a problem) and
I had to give him children -- lots and lots of children
Should I have married him? Given the way our marriage became so toxic over time, probably not. Years later at the psychiatric hospital in the United States, my therapist there asked me many times what benefit I thought a 30 year old man derived from marrying a 19 year old girl. It’s a good question. Am I glad I married him? Yes, because had I not, I would not have had my family. Did I suffer in the marriage. Yes, for many reasons, some of which were the toxic dynamic between your father and me but also because as the years went by I became more and more mentally ill.
Immediately after we got married we went to Italy where he was doing his first post-doctoral position with Dr. A.S. m who later went on glory. We were initially supposed to go there for only one year but after just a few months your dad starting talking about how S wanted him to stay long-term and take over the running of the Center. I had the first major breakdown of my marriage while we were in Italy. I was going in and out of psychosis and your Dad eventually sent me back home to my parents because he didn’t know what else to do. I was drinking heavily and I was pregnant with your oldest brother. It is a miracle that he was not born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
I lived my whole life trying to outrun my “badness”. It was only after your Dad died that I began to look back on my life and seriously be able to take responsibility for my words, actions and even my thoughts. Starting to practice daily gratitude played a big part in my recovery journey. It was spurred on by a conversation I had one night with A. She said to me, “You know, I don’t understand you. You have four beautiful children who love you, enough money that you can go anywhere and do anything and yet you are always so unhappy and miserable. Why is that?” My first reaction was, “Well, who the HELL do you think you are!!” But when I went to bed that night I kept thinking about what she had said and I came to realize that she was right. I remembered how when I was discharged from Parkwood I was a non-smoker after having smoked for about 30 years. I remembered the way I had to make a decision not to go and buy a pack of cigarettes and how I had to make that decision EVERY DAY for the next three years because that’s how long it took for my cravings to go away. And I decided that I could make a decision to practice happiness and for me, doing that took the form of practicing daily gratitude. It took about six months before I was able to start to see any differences in me. But, over time, it changed the way I viewed the world and how I interacted with the world and THAT was what propelled me down my journey of healing. It changed me because it taught me how to focus on all the good things I had/have in my life instead of just on the bad things (current and past). So, when you said in your letter, that I need to SAY things like that instead of just posting them on social media, I agree completely. My room mate and I verbalize our daily gratitude each morning after we finish having breakfast together. Still, effecting true and lasting change is hard. It is often three steps forward, two steps back.I started by meditating daily for about 20 minute, then I started learning about DBT. It was a long, gradual process.
You don’t know this but your father was never able to sever his emotional tie with his first wife. Whenever there was a fight between us, he would leave the apartment (and later the house) and get on his bike and ride to the university and call her. To vent? I don’t know. To seek comfort? Perhaps. They also wrote letters back and forth to each other and she had the chutzpah to send them to our home. This practice continued for nearly 20 years until until I finally told him that if she was going to continue to write to him she had to send letters to his office and that I would throw away any future mail from her. They maintained their connection/correspondence until about a year before he died. This caused me enormous pain over the years. I spent the duration of my marriage feeling like your father’s concubine because there I was at home, changing the baby’s diapers, washing the clothes, wiping the snotty noses and cooking the meals while he maintained his primary emotional allegiance with his first wife. Do the words fundamental betrayal make any sense to you? Shortly after your younger brother was born before I took my first big overdose, I dragged him to a counseling session with Rabbi H. who chastised him for what he was doing. It didn’t help because he never severed emotional connection with her. So I continued to exist in a state of real desperation and what felt like true lovelessness. And I began to fall out of love with him and feel exceedingly trapped.
I eventually took off in the car one day and ran away to the large park with the intention of finding an out of the way place where I could gas myself in the car. That was the final straw that broke the camel’s back and what ended me up in he psychiatric hospital in the United States While I was in the hospital in the psychiatric hospital in the United States, he became romantically involved with another woman who I will not name and even though he never had a physical relationship with her , he became emotionally enmeshed with her which felt like such a betrayal because it was the ONE thing I was worried about. There is a poem in my book about that relationship and how I came to be told about it. But getting back to the story...
So, there I was 28 years with four children, no means to support myself and feeling enormously trapped. It is no surprise that I reverted back to my original plan of escape, suicide.After I had my tubal ligation, my obstetrician told me that he was very worried about me because as the doctor was putting me under I looked up at him and asked to please make it so I didn’t have to wake up. I felt trapped because I knew that if I ever tried to leave the marriage, I would not be able to take my children with me.I would not have been able to support you and your Dad made it very clear that he would not allow it -- that he would fight me in court. So as bizarre as it is to say, I was willing to leave him and all my children behind through suiciding but not through divorce. Pathetic, isn’t it? As much as I wanted to leave him and take my children with me, I knew I could not do it financially but more to the point, I knew doing that would not have been in my children’s best interest. So, I stayed. I basically stayed, like many women who stay in unhappy marriages, for financial reasons.
The first time I attempted suicide at age 16 I took an entire bottle of aspirin. I laid down in my bed expecting to be dead in a few hours. Instead I just started to slowly bleed to death internally and experienced a lot of pain. It would have eventually killed me but it would have taken a very long time and pain would have been almost unbearable. After many hours when the pain did become unbearable, I told my mother what I had done and she drove me to the hospital. I spent a few weeks inpatient and was discharged with a referral to a psychiatrist who I saw about six times. I finally just refused to go any more because it wasn’t helping me.” At that point no one could have helped me. The diagnosis of BPD was not even included in the DSM until 1980 and that only happened because psychiatrists recognized that they had patients who they simply could not help. It wasn’t until the early 1990s when Dr. Marsha Linehan released her pioneering, breakthrough treatment protocol.
After you were born and I found myself pregnant yet again with my fourth child, your younger brother, I was terrified that I would end up having great big baby because, as you know, you weighed 12 pounds. I went to see my gynacologist told me, “I don’t do abortions but you don’t have to have this baby if you don’t want to. I can refer to someone who can do an abortion for you and your husband never has to know.” He told me to go home and think about it for a week or so. I spoke about it in depth with my friend, Candy and, in the end, decided that I couldn’t go through another abortion. But the pregnancy was difficult because I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes almost immediately and put on insulin. I spent my days checking my blood sugar, planning my meals and having one insulin reaction after another. After your younger brother was born,my obstetrician told me that I shouldn’t have any more children and that he thought I should get my tubes tied. When I broached the subject with your father he told me that if I needed his permission for the ;procedure that he would refuse to give it. I asked him if he would get a vasectomy and he categorically refused. Why? Because, he said, “If we ever split up I want to be able to have more children with another woman.”. It turns out, I didn't need his permission but he refused to drive me to the hospital or pick me up. I ended up taking the bus and being picked up by my friend, Helen and spent two nights sleeping on her couch as I recovered.
Do I know and believe that your father loved me. Yes, I do. I love this song because it exemplifies our relationship. But after HIS father died, and he “got religion” he became extremely rigid and controlling in terms of our household Sabbath observance, the level of kashrut which would be observed in the house, who and how we socialized with our friends.. I eventually gave up and started to run away from the house every Saturday -- out to lunch and the mall with my good friend, S. or another friend named Ingrid. This just reinforced an already bad dynamic between us. Eventually when I lost my job and the government decided to retrain me by sending me to college, I felt as if my prayers had been answered because I finally had a relatively pain-free way out. I left and vowed that I would not return. But during those two years of living apart, things mellowed between us. We started to “rediscover” each other and what had drawn us to the other way back when. After I finished my two years at school, I returned to London to do my apprenticeship at the professional theatre in our city. An absolutely gruelling year which included working 7 shows back to back finished in April of that year and five days later, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and my world crashed to the ground. As I m sure you remember, I became extremely depressed and completely unglued. My anxiety became incredible and even though Dr. C, told me that I no longer met the diagnostic criteria for BPD I had developed an anxiety disorder and he put me on ativan which I eventually became addicted to. During the two years that your father was ill and dying, as you know, I attempted suicide multiple times because I could not bear the thought of the “ultimate” abandonment by him through death. Dr. C. said that I was experiencing anticipatory grief and that once your father finally passed and I had finished my mourning I would probably be relatively okay.
After your dad died, I spent the first three years basically sitting in the big green chair in my living room watching TV. I know that I must have gone out to the bank and to get groceries but I have no recollection of ever doing those things. All I remember is the way I would get up in the morning, go into the living room, sit down and turn the television on and then just sit there until about 10:00 at night. I started going to my Mom and Dad’s in the winter and my Mom talks about the way I never spoke. At all or when I did it was in monosyllables.
I spent the first five years after he died looking back on my marriage and reflecting on it trying to figure out what went wrong and where all the bodies were buried. And I came to the conclusion was that it was ME who drove the car right off the pier and into the bay time and time again. It was ME who was toxic, who was always angry and couldn’t control my emotions.I didn’t know why I couldn’t control them.To me, they just seemed to come out of nowhere.As you know, I could go from zero to nuclear in seconds. As Dr, Phil says, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” I lived in denial for years about my behaviour and how I reacted to prompting stimuli. Learning about prompting events and the action urges that go along with them was a tremendous revelation to me. When I was doing DBT I learned several things which have been instrumental in helping me to change myself. I learned that everyone views the world through the filter of their past experiences and their present vulnerability. I learned that extreme anger, the kind I displayed nearly all the time, is a smoke screen to cover up hurt. I learned that DBT was the gold standard treatment protocol for people like me and I vowed to get into a DBT course which I finally did and it was a life changing, transformative experience.
I will tell you, though that on some level, I always recognized that I was a really terrible mother to my children. I was a very ambivalent and reluctant mother and should probably never had children but it was one of the terms of the marriage. I have felt enormous guilt over the years because of the way I was like a human wrecking ball in my children’s lives. I know that the things I did and said were terrible. I know that had you been raised by me alone your lives would have turned out very differently. Your father was a wonderful mother AND father to all of you kids.Much of what transpired during the two years of your Dad’s illness has been erased from my memory and I suppose that’s for the protection of my own sanity. You have no idea how much I wish it could have been me who died instead of him. But I do remember some of the events you brought up such as beating down the door with you on the other side and telling you I was going to kill myself with pills and it would be all your fault. Terrible. For that I am truly, truly sorry and I apologize to you from the depth of my heart. Why was I so angry at you? Because I felt like you had completely abandoned me and betrayed me. I know you were only trying to protect your father from all my toxicity. It hurt so much though because you, were my golden child from the time you were born. Despite the traumatic birth you were a delight to me. You never cried and were always smiling. Your pediatrician told me that he didn’t know if you had suffered any brain damage during the birthing process and so I should keep you as close to me physically as possible I carried you around in a Snugli until you were 30 pounds and I couldn’t carry you anymore. You were my sunshine child. I was the one who eventually sought out Mrs. M. and drove you each week to your piano lessons. I was the one who picked out and paid for your piano so you could have something to practice on. When everything went to shit when your dad got sick and you felt like you had to “protect” him from me, I saw that as a tremendous betrayal and rejection of me. But, of course, it was the right thing for you to do.
I do remember though that you bore the brunt of most of my horrible behaviour. I remember one night standing in the back hallway of the house pouring a bottle of orange soda over you and telling screaming at you that I disowned you. What a horrible, unthinkable thing for a mother to EVER say to her child. For that, and all the other things I have done to you over the years, I ask for your forgiveness.
I ask your forgiveness for all of this. DBT teaches real life skills to people with BPD. I I simply did not have those skills when my children were younger. I did not know how to cope with my distress levels. DBT has taught me distress tolerance skills. I had NO idea how to communicate effectively with other people. When I was frustrated I would yell and scream at them partly as a way to scare them away which it always did but also as a “self-protective” mechanism because it kept me from feeling vulnerable to them. It also protected me from having to feel those awful feelings that had been stirred up. As you once said to me, “It’s hard to hug a porcupine.” I had no insight into the way my anger both “protected” me and kept me isolated (two direct opposites that were both true at the same time). I paid a terrible price for all this dysfunctional behaviour. I now find myself completely socially isolated. I spend most of my time alone. But in a strange way I have learned to enjoy that. I have been able to learn that I am NOT a monster, that my behaviour, as awful as it was most of the time, existed for a reason. For me, the world was always a very scary place. It still is for the most part. I am afraid to be vulnerable to other people because I have learned over time that doing so opens the door for them to hurt me either physically or emotionally. I learned how to take a “best defense is a good offense” stance so that people don’t get too close and thus, can’t hurt me in either of those ways. Last year when my former boyfriend assaulted me when we were in Hawaii, it dredged up all the terrible memories of the way my father used to assault me. I later confided this to my DBT therapist, and told her that in ALL my years of therapy, I had never disclosed that to any of my therapists, not even my therapist in the United States.
What I will say is that whenever a relationship goes off the rails it is never the fault of just ONE person. Both parties contribute to the disintegration of it. I hurt you, you hurt me. I often went out of my way to hurt and torment you. Again, mea culpa. You responded to the earlier mea culpa as having been sarcastic. I do not mean it that way. I used it in the context of my Catholic grade school education. The Merriaman’s dictionary defines it as: “a formal acknowledgment of personal fault or error.” Please believe me when I tell you that I did not mean it sarcastically. It was my way of saying, Yes, I am guilty and my oblique and probaly cryptic way of offering an apology.It was used in the context of my Catholic school upbringing where I learned, Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. The problem with written communication as I’m sure you know is that the people do not have access to body language. I learned years ago to never attempt to resolve conflict online or by email. I guess I should add by letter as well. That said, I know I reacted badly to some of the language you used in your responses to me particularly the way in which you described my first letter as “nonsense” and my behaviour at Nathan’s wedding as “juvenile”. I told my therapist that I thought you had written that because what I said in my speech must have hit a little too close to home for you but she said no, she thought it was your lawyer training speaking -- that is the way lawyers write. Still it stung.
I am not telling you any and all of this as a way to solicit your sympathy or as a way of excusing the terrible way I was as your mother when you are young. I am merely telling you this as a way to offer some form of explanation for why I became the person I became.
I have worked very hard to make fundamental changes in myself something which you are not aware of because we do not see each other on a regular basis. I wrote to you because I wanted to start to try to build bridges back to you. You interpreted my letter as being yet another hostile, hate-filled communication and for that I am enormously sorry. Both letters were written in cooperation with my DBT therapist and my psychiatrist. They both read both of them and did not see any hate-filled language directed toward you by me. I took enormous care not to display any hostility or anger toward you and I received their approval for both of them. But, because you view me through the lens and filter of our past negative interactions, you were not able to see that. I understand that. You asked me for an apology and here it is: As we say on Yom Kippur, “For all these transgressions, I ask your forgiveness.” I truly hope that someday you will be able to forgive me. I wrote this piece on August 14, 2017 and it talks about the way I was finally able to forgive my father. Being able to do that was part of the impetus for me to start on my journey of recovery.
I just want to mention my current psychiatrist doesn’t think I have BPD at all, but instead I have cPTSD mostly because of my young age when the traumas first began to occur. your younger brother disagrees with this but she is an expert in cPTSD. I don’t know what to believe but I do know that DBT is what helped turn things around for me.
So, there you have it. My story in all its gruesome details. As a closing I will say that part of my problem with not receiving photos of your child is because I NEVER receive photos of your sister’s child. It’s terrible for me because I know that your sister takes TONS of photos of her (as I am sure you do (of the baby) and yet I have not received a photo of either of these granddaughters in almost 18 months. I don’t understand that all. All I know is that I feel left out and it hurts. Because of my past rejections and abandonments I have a particular sensitivity to things like this. Those are my biggest “prompting events” and I have traditionally reacted very badly to them. But maybe after reading this letter when you take everything in context maybe you can understand why. When your dad was dying, for me, that was the ultimate abandonment. We had been married for 28 years and though many of those years were filled with unhappiness for me, I always loved him very,very much. I said that your father would be horrified if he could see the way you have treated me and I still stand by that because even when I was at my worst your father loved me and understood that it was my illness talking, not me. Over the years he pleaded with me to get the “real help” I truly needed. Unfortunately for both of us, that help didn’t arrive it was almost too late. I think that if he were to walk through the door now he would not recognize me. He also would have been talking to you and trying to smooth things over between us. Your dad was the glue that held our family together and when he died we all sort of became disconnected from each other.
I have moved on and I have changed. As I mentioned, it is all documented on my blog.
All I have to say is that if you wish to engage in further discussion about all of this, I am open to it. I am willing to pay for 3-4 sessions with a family therapist as long as it is someone who is skilled in DBT. There are many DBT therapists in your city and I don’t think it would be hard to find someone.
As for me, never asking if I could stay at your house…..I am not in the habit of inviting myself to people’s homes. I didn’t want to intrude and I thought that from the point of view of etiquette the invitation should have been forthcoming from you. I don’t know if you will recall or not but when my former boyfriend and I attended your last Seder you mentioned that you and your wife often host Friday night dinners and asked if I would I like to come to one? I said yes but never received an invitation from you. It is extremely hard for me to ask anyone for anything. EVER.
In the words of the Al Chet which we recite on Yom Kippur,
-For the sin which we have committed before You under duress or willingly.
d for the sin which we have committed before You by hard-heartedness.
For the sin which we have committed before You inadvertently.
And for the sin which we have committed before You with an utterance of the lips.
For the sin which we have committed before You with immorality.
And for the sin which we have committed before You openly or secretly.
For the sin which we have committed before You with knowledge and with deceit.
And for the sin which we have committed before You through speech.
For the sin which we have committed before You by deceiving a fellowman.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by improper thoughts.
For the sin which we have committed before You by a gathering of lewdness.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by verbal [insincere] confession.
For the sin which we have committed before You by disrespect for parents and teachers.
And for the sin which we have committed before You intentionally or unintentionally.
For the sin which we have committed before You by using coercion.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by desecrating the Divine Name.
For the sin which we have committed before You by impurity of speech.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by foolish talk.
For the sin which we have committed before You with the evil inclination.
And for the sin which we have committed before You knowingly or unknowingly.
For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.
I atone for all the transgressions against you every year on Yom Kippur but I don’t know how to atone with you personally. Aside from offering you this humble letter. But, for what it’s worth: For all the transgressions I have made against you over the years, I ask for your forgiveness. It is up to you to decide whether or not your will grant it. I know that I have done as much as I can. when I say I have to practice Radical Acceptance it is because I have to allow myself to lay this burden down. In the same way you talk about how my mental illness consumed you, our dysfunctional relationship has also consumed me. I can no longer feel guilty for being mean, cruel, heartless to you because of my illness. I have to ask for your forgiveness but I also must show compassion to myself by forgiving myself.
I will also say in closing that my perception of how you have treated me has been seen through my experience with your sister and the way in which she has held me at arm’s length regarding your sister’s child.
One thing I learned in DBT which I found fascinating because I never saw it this way and that is: two things can be direct opposites of each other and both can still be true.
I looked back in my calendar and I see that you did come to visit me four times in the last 10 years but the last time was when your wife was pregnant with the baby. I am grateful for those visits. At this point, unless you wish to take me up on my offer to seek out and arrange for three or four family therapy sessions to discuss all this, then I have to say that I think we should agree not to be in contact. That would be best for me and probably you as well. I wish you all the best. You have achieved great things in your young life. I’m very proud of you and, even though I’m sure you don’t believe it, I do love you very, very much.