I Am My Father’s Daughter
He taught me to be strong, to never give up, to be independent and to never trust strangers. He taught me algebra, astrology and the importance of safety measures.
I’ve spent more time with him during the first three days than in the past 3 years.
Our parents did the best they could with the resources available to them at that point in time. Forgive them and they will forgive themselves. Let it go. Accept it and move on.
Understand that you can’t change the past. You can try to evolve beyond the anger and the guilt and extend your hand and say “Let’s hang out. I want to get to know you better.” And maybe, just maybe, you will not see a father who was always thinking about himself, who was never there for you and who doesn’t know anything about your life, your fears and tears…But a father who is just a human trying to make the best he can today with his own baggage, regrets and wounds.
“You know, suitcases on wheels are a great invention. Twenty years ago we didn’t have these. I had to carry 20 kg bags with no wheels.” said my father while rolling a tiny blue suitcase at the Kuala Lumpur airport.
These are the kind of phrases I heard almost every day during our 3-week trip around Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Mostly on my own budget.
About the super difficult functionality of iPhones & iPads, about tiny Singapore hotel rooms and modern casual sex relationships, about really big and really cool airplanes and pretty much about everything that was non-existent 20 years ago in my father’s Soviet world.
My father was also keen on telling me stories and lessons learned from his own life. “You need to ask me questions. You need to ask for my advice. I might not have the most updated information but I have the experience.” he said.
And so we started our journey with some bumps here and there but overall it was the best bonding experience I had with my father.
He might be in his 60’s but he is young at heart. My father and I don’t have a loving father-daughter relationship. In fact, we never did. All I remember were fights and constant disagreements, disapprovals and conflict. We never understood each other. I was never good enough. There was a lot of blame, guilt and unresolved issues. All, of course, started when my mother passed away when I was 8 years old.
For the past 7 years I was visiting home once a year. Once a year we would meet in a cafe in Chisinau, Moldova, and we would awkwardly talk. About nothing. Sometimes we would fight and he would leave. Meeting my father every year was a pain. Every time.
After spending 3 years in South East Asia I decided to invite him over. Quite a strange decision you might think. Why?
“I would regret not knowing my father better. I would love to have healed my relationship with him. This is the last big step I need to take to complete my personal growth journey at this point. And at least try to resolve my daddy issues with men.”
This was my reply to a very serious question of “What would be your biggest regret on your death bed?” while playing a fun game over shisha and hot wine.
So there we were 2 months later: father and daughter in Koh Samui riding motorcycles and diving for the first time in our lives.
“I feel like I’m young again!” he told me while riding the mountains of Koh Samui.
“I never thought my dream of scuba diving would come true so soon.” he said after we emerged out an 8-meter dive somewhere in between Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.
We travelled buses, planes and ferries. We spend nights in hotels, hostels and apartments. We played big tennis and did aerial yoga for the first time. Together. I’ve broken up emotionally a couple of times. I learned how to be patient and explained how to connect an iPad to wifi 20 times per day.
I’m still processing this experience in my mind, heart and soul. What I know now is that I felt proud, connected and I got to know my father as human being with his own world, fears and doubts, regrets and disappointments. #papaceachirova became a hashtag. It might even become a movement. A silly one, probably.
It was an experience of connection, bonding and just pure fun. We laughed and took it easy. We adjusted to each other. He advised me on what backpack to get on Kao San road in Bangkok and I got him hipster glasses at Chatuchak market. He was fascinated by the whole experience and I felt great being able to make that happen.
If today he was going I would proudly say that we did it. We got a chance to look into each other’s eyes and see each other for who we are. This time without blame, guilt or fights. Like a daughter seeing her father and a father seeing his daughter. Or rather, like a friend seeing a friend.
Those of us who have been deprived of loving present parents are being held down by the trap every day. It influences our relationships with other people and with ourselves.
Let go, forgive, life is beautiful. And so are our parents.