park. Dad used to hold me on his knees, and feed me apple slices freshly carved out – the sweetest apples I have ever eaten. I also remember him protectively teaching me my name, age and address, just in case I ever got lost; he also taught me which is left and which is right, and how to ride a bike. Then I grew up a bit, enough to be reproached things I that do wrong, or that I should, or shouldn’t do – and be punished for it.
did, each time, only, one minute too late. Mom took me to a hypnotherapist.
close my eyes, and, with his deep, calming voice, he proceeded to say: “It’s night time, the sky is dark blue, and all the stars are out. The crickets are
singing and the moon shines over the land. It’s peaceful and quiet…” His voice stopped after a while, and it was all silent. Not sure what to expect, I
asked Doctor Hypnotherapy: “Do I have to lie like this for much longer?”. The Doctor took a deep breath, and started all over again: “It’s night time. It’s
dark, the stars are out, and the crickets are singing “. After a while, he stopped. I was bored: “What else?” I asked. The Doctor shrugged, looked at my
Mom and said: “I’m sorry, Ma’am, I can’t hypnotise your daughter.” And that was that.
favorite doll or toy. I tried to please him but I couldn’t help it. Little by little, I started fearing him.
We always had house help that lived with us in our small one-bedroom apartment, a woman who’d be both housekeeper and Nanny for me, their only child. I grew jealous of the Nannies, who would come and go, and yet, every new face in our home was invested with the authority to discipline me. In one bout of resentment, I called my Nanny “Cow”. Dad removed his leather belt and beat me with it. He didn’t have to do it often: one stern look piercing through my eyes was enough to silence me, together with his severe voice: “You should be ashamed of yourself!”; “Don’t you talk back to me, you cheeky girl!” and, when I’d lower my eyes in shame, he’d thunder: “You look at me when I’m talking to you!”
hide things from him that she’d approve of but he wouldn’t, like when I’d accompany her to the beauty salon and get my nails polished with red. Eventually, Dad would get a glimpse of my painted nails, when I’d forget to keep them behind my back, and yell at Mom: “Go get that shit removed from the child’s nails right now!”. I think my mother feared him as well.
would return home from work, just to postpone the dire confrontation. By the time I was a student, all I felt towards Dad was fear, the frustration of
failing to please him, and the resentment for his control over my decisions and for his put-downs and reproaches. In my family, there was no tradition of
expressing appreciation or acknowledgment, but there always was a generous and daily expression of blaming, shaming and reproaching. When my mother became mentally ill, and after a few years died, I felt lost and alone, and could hardly wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of my father’s home and of the country, to make sure that I was free.
the fear, frustration, rejection and resentments. That was my personal import into my new, adoptive country; and it was so heavy, they should have taxed it and made a fortune from it.
books and getting therapy which helped me flash a light inside my mind. I went from feeling not-good-enough to feeling righteously angry at my parents,
especially my father. Every time we visited each other, I was triggered by things he would say, and could hardly wait to get away from him, again, and
sitting on a bench in the Herastrau park, in Bucharest: me, my Dad, and Eliza, my stepmom.
brother, who was her favorite. My Dad’s father was a kind, compassionate man, softer than his wife – a well-reputed obstetrician with a heart bigger than the pocket, nicknamed the Doctor of the poor in his town of Bacau, because he would not charge the patients who couldn’t afford him, and if they didn’t afford the prescribed medicine, he would dispense it to them at no charge.
the family had no more income to subsist. At twelve, my father saw the end of his childhood, when he took on a physically demanding job carrying heavy bags on his still developing body. He lost his childhood, his joy of life, and the health of his spine. He became as strict as his mother, a severe, controlling
but loyal provider for his chosen family – my mother and I.
and not-so-well-paid, but deeply rewarding world of inner exploration and transformation – the world of the healing arts and therapies. I started connecting the dots between my couple relationship dysfunction and my childhood experiences, and began to understand more and more how to make amends.
family system: love flows naturally from the old ones to the young ones, from grandparents, to parents, to children; and when somebody swims upstream, like a child who gives emotional support to a parent, or a parent who uses his or her child for emotional support, the flow of love is impaired and everyone in that family system is affected.
my surviving parent, my Dad.
love you’. I said: ‘Dad, I need to hear this from your own voice!’.
could ever put in words’. With hearing his statement, I felt the rush of a mighty current up my spine. I was in my forties, and blown away by this declaration
from Dad, which I hadn’t hoped to hear, and was now healing my mind and emotions. No psychotherapy could mend a pained psyche like my father declaring me love.
Dad bought a PC and downloaded Skype to be able to be in touch with me. One
day, after a Polish airplane full of dignitaries crashed, I was talking on
Skype with my father and stepmother, who had been shaken by this piece of news.
Dad wanted to talk about the recent events,
which at that hour I was still oblivious of. I was used with Dad’s little
reproaches when we talked: ‘What? You don’t have a comb to comb your fuzzy
hair?’. This day it was: ‘What? You don’t read the news?’
happening in the world?’
kind of world is it that you live in, without reading or listening to the news?’
I became again Dad’s little good-for-nothing girl. And I cried, and cried.
I need to hear from you what you like and appreciate about me.’
and continued to address my father: ‘Dad, from all the people in the world, I
need to hear it from you, for my own mental health. I’ll make it easy for you: it
can be physical, character or behaviour. I just need to hear something –
anything – that you like about me.’
it was not, and if I asked him to move a mountain an inch to the left, it would
have been as easy for him.
‘I like your pendant’.
further equipped for healing my relationship with Dad: I was practicing Shadow
Work and Self-Inquiry. Shadow Work allowed me to identify and own any trait
that I recognized in my father or step-mother, which bothered and triggered me.
The moment I would go through the silent mental process of integration, I’d
look at my father and tell myself: ‘Here we are, two critical, or judgmental complainers’
– and any fear or resentment would just drop away. I was turning fifty and for
the first time ever, I could feel warm affection towards and from him. I used
the ‘Who am I?’ self-inquiry practice to expand my identity beyond the boundaries
of the separate self; so whenever Dad would utter another complaint or
reproach, and after owning the same trait and behavior in myself, I’d expand to
recognize a general human suffering taking the shape and form of my father’s
pain; and this recognition blew my heart open in the compassionate desire to
alleviate this pain not only in myself and in my family, but in this entire
world that I am a part of.
I was in the living room with Eliza, chatting, while Dad was in the bedroom. I
yelled from the living room to my father: ‘So Dad, what is it that you like
about me, as a person?
much, more than I ever thought possible. And that you are able to help people
the way you do.’
kind of affectionate love I had not known for my father. The language I had
just heard was made of words that I hadn’t thought my Dad would have the
ability to utter. For the first time ever, I felt my father’s love for me, and
even more surprising and healing: I felt my own love for him. During the months
to come, I’d periodically rub my eyes in disbelief, wondering whether this love
would last. So far, so good, and it gets better.
difficult surgery that he went through. I was afraid I wouldn’t get to see him
alive, and I prayed day and night for his health. I spent two weeks with him
and Eliza, and the imminent loss shaping up with old age and illness magnified
the affection I felt for him. I found a hunched, weak, pale and depressed old
man who had lost his zest for life – still controlling and problem oriented,
but too weak to scare me. Somehow my childhood Dad and my now-Dad became two
people, one to heal from, and the other to love. Or perhaps I had distinguished
within my mind between the doing and the doer, and while I still refer to ‘doing’
in my mental care practice, I have forgiven and embrace the ‘doer’. Inspired by
Hellinger, I had mentally told Dad what I often invite my clients to say to
their parents in a family constellation session: ‘I am your daughter, and you are
my father. If you only gave me life, and nothing more, it would have been enough.
I say YES to this life, and I promise to make something good of it.’
much more than life: you provided and made sure that I had all the food,
shelter, clothing, health care and education I needed. You instilled in me the
love of education and learning. You taught me practical tools for survival when
I was a child, and you taught me how to ride a bicycle. You never left sight of
me, and when my mother passed away, you cooked all my meals, and fed me. I am
who I am today thanks to you, Dad.
have brief hugs, with Dad patting my back in his awkwardness with displays of
affection. Blame it on my Biodanza practice, but this time around I held my
father tight in my arms, running my hands around his hunched, tight back until
I could feel it softening and warming up a bit. And we kissed each other’s
cheeks, and held on each other until we’d melt in each embrace, until my father’s
pale cheeks turned a bit rosy, until I saw a smile on his face and even his
famous smirk when cracking a wise-ass joke.
many generations, and in all this long line of ancestors, I am the youngest
one, and the most privileged one as well, because I am able to bring healing to
the soul of my family, and alleviate this long lineage of suffering. My
sister-like friend Dana always says: ‘Those who have give to those who don’t
have’. She mostly talks about money. But the ability to heal and make amends is
more precious than gold, and those who have it give it to those who don’t. I am
the lucky one to turn fear and resentment into love, and to hear my father say
to me upon hugging for our good-byes: ‘Au
fost doua saptamani de vis’ – ‘These were two fabulous weeks’.