I was 24 when I wrote these letters and in graduate school working through my pain.
On, October 22, 2004, I gave myself a two-part self-care assignment that I committed myself to.
Directions for my own self-care:
Robin, you are to write two letters:
Letter # 1: Write a letter to your father
Letter #2: Write a letter to yourself responding as if you are your father
In this letter, share with him both what you need and needed from him and how not having it affects and effected your life.
I MUST take responsibility for my needs
I MUST NOT blame, shame, or judge him.
I MUST have compassion and empathy for who he is.
Write this letter to you, from your father.
Write the letter as though you are your father.
In this letter give yourself what you need to receive.
NOW, Robin…YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE THE LETTERS TO HIM,
but if you do, your relationship with him may be better as a result.
Written by Robin Mohilner on October 22, 2004
I know that you did the best that you could do in raising me in each moment with the interpersonal resources that you had and circumstances that you faced. Dad, I am so proud of you, it must have been so hard for you to be a father not knowing from your own father what it was like to receive unconditional love, support, safety and acceptance.
I can’t imagine how painful it must have been to never feel good enough in your father’s eyes. I will never understand the pain of watching your mother be sick your whole life and having her die without ever seeing you become a man. Now I can understand why you distanced yourself when mom had cancer and when grandma passed away. I imagine that somewhere deep down inside your heart is still hurting. It’s okay to cry Dad, its okay to mourn your loss. It’s not your fault.
It must have been hard to become a father, to be fully responsible for another human life. You must have been scared and confused at times not knowing what to do with the tiny fragile life that fit into the palm of your hands. You must have felt a tremendous pressure knowing that your actions, words, deeds, values, and beliefs would shape this little life and mold it into a beautiful woman.
Dad, you succeeded. I am the strong, intelligent and independent woman you hoped for me to be. I am the woman who speaks her mind, stands for what she believes in, and isn’t afraid to take a risk.
However, Dad, I’m not the woman I desire to be and deserve to be. And I am not as strong as you think I am. Dad, I choose men that are emotionally unavailable because I do not know how to be or to allow myself to be loved by a man that is truly able to be a partner to me and love me for everything that I am. Even worse, I try to change them. I try to make them fall in love with me especially if they are emotionally unavailable.
I do this to myself because it is safe. Dad, I love you more than words will ever express and I know you love me. However, you were not emotionally available in my life. You did not know how to express or show me love. I knew you loved me, but I did not receive it. I did not experience the emotion of being loved. You had a hard time hugging me, and you didn’t tell me you loved me until I moved to college.
Dad, I couldn’t change you. No matter how much I knew I needed to be loved, I couldn’t make you love me (show me that you love me). So unconsciously, I recreate our relationship with men hoping that I can convince men who are emotionally unavailable to be able to truly be in love with me. And Dad, I’ve failed every time.
Sadly enough, there is a belief floating within me that I’m not loveable. Due to my choices, I have reinforced the belief multiple times. I fear that if I continue on this path, I will come to consciously believe that I am not worthy of having someone be in love with me.
Dad, I don’t want to feel not loveable anymore. I don’t want to have to convince or change a man to love me. I finally realize that no man’s love can replace the love I needed to receive from you. So I’m telling you now that I forgive you for not giving me the love that I needed. I forgive you Dad. I can’t change you, but I can forgive you.
At the same time, I give myself permission to accept full responsibility for my choices here-on-out. I now have the gift of awareness and it is my duty to act on it. It is my responsibility to make new choices in who I choose to love and move beyond my comfort zone of emotional unavailability.
I love you Dad. And it’s not your fault that you couldn’t express to me the love that I needed.
All my love,
Written by Robin Mohilner on October 26, 2004
I love you more than the word love could ever define. It broke my heart to learn that deep inside you feel that you are unlovable. Even though I completely disagree with your feelings, and see you as the most loving and lovable person I know, I want you to know that it’s okay for you to feel that way. I’m sorry that you are hurting.
I don’t want to make any excuses for how I have treated you. I haven’t been the most loving father. I was not there for you in the way you needed me to be. I couldn’t handle your sensitivity. I reacted to your emotion by trying to fix your problems instead of allowing you to share your feelings with me. I’d like to say that I reacted that way because I’m a man and that’s just what we do. But that would be a cop-out. Robin, I did the best that I could do and you deserve better. I’m sorry my little girl, you’ll always be my little girl. I am so sorry that I was not able to be the father that was able to show you how much I love you.
Robin, I’ve never told you how I see you. I’ve never expressed to you your own worth. I know I’ve told you that no man is good enough for you in my eyes, but I’ve never told you why I feel the way I do. I don’t say that just because you’re my daughter. Robin, you’ve been my source of hope and joy through out your entire life. I looked forward to going to work in the morning, not because I liked my job, but because I knew that when I left the house at 6am, that my little girl would be in her bedroom window waiving to me and blowing me kisses. You did that every morning and it gave me something to look forward to. And I couldn’t wait to get home because I knew that the moment I stepped in the door, my little girl would be waiting for me at the top of the stairs. You used to be so excited to see me. You couldn’t wait to share what you learned with me. You had so many questions to ask me. You were full of so much life and you haven’t changed. Robin, there were days I hated my life because I hated my job. Your beautiful spirit got me through those days and I took you with me everywhere I went. You were my reason to move forward, to try, to work hard. You are also the reason why I did not take promotions in my career because it would have required for me to spend less time with you. I wasn’t willing to give that up for anything in the world.
I should have told you how much you mean to me. I didn’t know how to. So I’ll do my best now. Robin, I am so proud of you. I am so honored to be your father. I believe in you. Not just in your abilities to succeed in life. I believe in your character. I believe in your values. I believe in and trust in the decisions you make. Wow, I am so proud of who you are. Robin, I’ve watched you struggle in life, I’ve watched you hurt, and I’ve seen your heart break. It hurt me so deeply to not be able to help you; however, watching you overcome adversity and react to the world has given me the utmost faith and belief in you. You cannot disappoint me. You have never disappointed me. Simply by being who you are, you have exceeded my expectations.
I know that I’ve never told you that you are beautiful. I am so sorry for that. I know that growing up you felt ugly and undesirable. I didn’t do anything about it. I realize that over the years I’ve just had a hard time looking at you. I want to see you as my little girl, but you’re not anymore. You are a beautiful woman. It’s really hard for me to accept that. I’ve never told you this, but I notice how men look at you when we go out. They’re looking at my little girl sexually, and even though I know that you’re an adult and that you have sex, I just don’t want men looking at you in a disrespectful way. So I guess that I keep myself from seeing what they see. But I can’t deny that you are gorgeous. However, you are gorgeous to me for different reasons.
To me Robin, your heart makes you gorgeous. You amaze me. You give of yourself not expecting anything in return. You love people unconditionally, even if they don’t love you. You have always been there for people when they need you, even if they reject your help. People have hurt you so deeply, yet you always find it in your heart to forgive them. You fall down and get back up again. I don’t know how you do it. But you are the most loving human being on the face of this planet. And I don’t just say that because I’m your father. I say that because you are the only Robin that exists and I am so blessed to have the honor of being your father.
Now let’s talk about men and your relationships. Robin, you know that I feel no man is good enough for you. Again, it’s not just because I’m your father. I realize and am so saddened that you have sought out emotionally unavailable men with the hope of changing them as a reflection of our relationship. Watching you has brought me pain because deep down inside I have always known. I can’t change that. I can’t change the wounds I’ve created within you and I can’t change your choices. I hope that with you now realizing your dating pattern that you can change it yourself.
What I can do is tell you what I hope for you in a partner. I want the man that you love to be able and willing to love you in the way you deserve to be loved. He must love you unconditionally because any less is not worthy of your love. A man that is worthy of you will adore you and cherish you. He will be there for you and give you permission to be weak. Robin, I know it’s hard for you to be weak; you’ve been the source of strength for far too many people your whole life. This is why a man worthy of you will give you permission to trust him, to trust that it’s okay for you to be weak because he will be there for you. Robin, I’ve watched you be rejected by men and I know the pain that it has caused you. A man worthy of you would never reject you; he would never make you feel that something is wrong with you. He would never ever make you feel unlovable. You will never have to convince him to love you or convince him of your worth. I could go on and on about this because my standards for you are far greater than I can express here. Maybe I’ll do so in another letter.
Robin, I know I didn’t write this letter myself. However, I know you know that this is how I truly feel. I hope writing this letter was a healing experience for you. And whenever, you need to hear something from me feel free to be the one to tell yourself the things that I do not know how to say.
I love you my little girl,
I shared both letters with my dad.
Although he has not changed drastically.
He makes the effort to tell me he loves me and gives me hugs.
He lights up when he sees me doing what I’m passionate about.
I know he is proud of me.
What changed is me.
I have changed because I finally accept him as he is
And no longer expect him to be someone he is not.
This has made our relationship better.