It had been five years since I saw my father, five years in which I did a lot of growing up and learning. And in the first five minutes of my visit, I was startled to understand a truth about him that I had never noticed before: he was like a little kid. With his Mafia-boss title and all the people who were afraid of him and did what he commanded and all the lives he held in his own hands . . . he was a hurt and confused child, like the rest of us. I felt sad for him.

“How are you?” he asked. “Are you taking care of your mother?” Blah, blah, blah. Same old, same old. I saw he was keeping up some of his “I’m insane” act, with his whisper and groggy demeanor. I don’t know if it was because he was used to talking that way for so long he didn’t know how to stop, or if he was doing it for the benefit of the cameras and the guards.

For the rest of our eight-hour visit, Dad mostly talked to Mom and my sister Yo, and I watched him. It was strange to see someone you love in a place like that, especially someone like him. He looked like he didn’t belong there, yet it was exactly where he belonged. After so many years of our family living in denial about who Dad was and what he did, there’s nothing like seeing someone in his position in an ugly orange jumpsuit eating old Ding Dongs out of a vending machine to give you perspective and help you face the truth.

When it was time to leave, we hugged again briefly, and then standing two feet away from each other we both said, “I love you.”

A few weeks after I got home from the prison visit, I woke up one morning in a state of intense “readiness.” I felt energy bouncing around in my body, as if it wanted to release something. I sat down at my computer, in my pajamas, and started typing:

Dear Dad,

I am writing today to tell you who your daughter really is. I don’t think you know me very well because of all the things that have been in both our ways for most of my life. Before I begin—first and foremost, I forgive you. I forgive you for all the things you couldn’t do; for the father you couldn’t be; and for anything that was said, done, not said or done. I also forgive myself for all the anger, rage, and resentment—and for anything I said or did that hurt you in any way.

You see, I am choosing to let go of all of the lies, deceit, betrayal, hurt, and pain because it does not feel good to carry it around anymore. It affects every aspect of me, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I have come to a place in my life where I desire more freedom, and I realize that the only way to get this is to forgive anything and anyone who has hurt me, knowingly or unknowingly.

So let me tell you a little bit about myself. I have come a long way since the days of anxiety, deep depression, and panic attacks. These are most of your memories of me because that is how my body responded to the stress in our family life. I have very sensitive energy and can feel and sometimes take on (although I’m getting better at this) other people’s stuff (feelings, emotions, etc). So whenever Mom was feeling anxious, depressed, worried, sad, angry, etc., I would feel it, too.

Mom wasn’t the only one I could feel but she was the closest to me, and I took on a lot of her stuff. Most of the time it felt like it was your fault as to why she felt this way, so my emotions toward you seemed justified. But then I realized that you weren’t the only one I was angry at. That it wasn’t all your fault. That everyone in this life is responsible for their own happiness, and that included me and Mom. So I learned how protect myself from other people’s “stuff.” I learned how to let go of people’s pain, sadness, loss, etc., and allow them to take responsibility for themselves. This was a profound knowing for me. It changed me to the core.

I am very proud of who I am today and continue to work on myself to be more aware. My anxiety is minimal now, and I no longer have panic attacks. My depression has decreased dramatically, and I feel that I can deal with things much easier.

I told you previously that I am a healer. I am committed to helping people find their way. I am committed to Spirit and look forward to learning from other people and working with them. By the way, I need you to understand who “Spirit” is. I work mostly with the energies of God, Jesus, Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the Archangels. It is where I feel most comfortable. I see miracles every day, small and large, in my life and in the lives of my clients. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.

Dad, I know that when you read this, you will understand what I am saying because it will resonate with your soul. I will continue to pray for you and send you good energy. Thank you for being my father and for helping me learn my lessons in this life.

In gratitude and love always,


Was I telling him that how he had lived his life was acceptable? No. Was I absolving him? No, that’s not for me to do; I’m not the judge. With my words, I was relieving myself of my own pain and forgiving him for whatever part he took in it. My days of blaming others or living as a victim or fighting other people’s battles were over for me. It was time to move forward, own what was mine, and let go of what wasn’t.

Rita Gigante has dedicated her adult life to healing people spiritually, emotionally, and physically. She has a degree in exercise physiology and is a licensed massage therapist and Reiki master.

Love & Blessings,