5 Things I've Learned From My Father


It's 1:30 am. I can't fall back to sleep after having a dream about my late father. 

It just occurred to me that he died right around this time four years ago.

Four years ago, yet the pain is still so fresh.

I remember everything leading up to his death. I especially remember every feeling I experienced during that time: anger, fear, uncertainty. 

When I think back to my childhood, it’s hard to remember the good times. There was so much anger, fear, and uncertainty; anger in my parents’ marriage, fear that one day something awful would occur, uncertainty of whether or not my family would stay intact.

When my father got sick, my feelings evolved. The anger turned into sadness, the fear turned into bravery, and the uncertainty turned into realization; realization that these were the last moments I’d be spending with him. With that, I accepted who he was, took care of him in his last days and loved him as best I could. 

Through the years, I always felt that others felt sorry for me. I felt as though they saw me as weak and in need of saving. But contrarily, I’ve learned so much through growing up with an alcoholic father. 

  • Independence. I never felt like I could depend on my father. When he was drunk, he was unreliable and scared me. When he was sober, he was angry and hostile. As a child, I learned to depend on myself. I never looked for handouts or felt entitled to anything. I’ve worked hard for what I have and will continue to do so.

  • Entrepreneurialism. Despite never attending college, my father owned three businesses. He had so much determination and passion, but unfortunately the alcoholism got the best of him. I learned from him to go after what you want and never let anyone say you cannot do something. My work ethic is unparalleled and my determination keeps me motivated every day to reach my goals. 

  • Gratitude. I’ve learned to appreciate all I have: the opportunities that have come my way, my education, my health, the roof over my head and most importantly, my mom who did the best she could, and my sister—my best friend. My sister and I stood by each other through it all and have a bond like no other. To have someone know exactly what you’re feeling, exactly why you make certain decisions, and exactly why you’ve become the person you are, is comforting beyond belief.

  • Forgiveness. I learned to forgive my father, as he had his own history. He moved from Italy to the US at the age of 12. He had to start a new life, make new friends, go to a new school and learn English. That would be challenging for an adult, so I can only imagine what it must’ve been like for a child. After dropping out of high school, he was drafted into the army during the Vietnam War. When he returned, there was minimal assistance for Vets. He didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. He experienced a deep depression and developed PTSD. As a child, I remember all the times he woke himself up from jumping in his sleep. He dreamt about the bombs he used to hear. To take the fear, pain and memories away, he found comfort in alcohol.

  • Compassion. In order to understand a loved one’s actions, you must have compassion. Instead of holding on to my anger, I realized all my father had endured—as an immigrant, a soldier, a husband, and a father. I’v developed compassion in many areas: compassion for animals, children, the mentally ill, the elderly, and especially for women. I feel that I’ve been called to help others. As a health coach, I work with women who want to heal themselves, as I have healed myself.

Claudia Petrilli, a Certified Health Coach, creates a supportive and fun environment for women struggling with weight, hormone imbalances, skin issues, and stress. You'll learn better eating and lifestyle habits, while embracing self-care, movement, and your passions. All of her programs are designed to help you take the steps to be healthy, happy, and whole for a lifetime of balance. As a graduate of Institute for Integrative Nutrition and certified through The American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), Claudia offers one-on-one coaching, DIY online programs, and workshops. Visit www.behealthyhappywhole.com to get your FREE Starter Guide and 24-hour Cleanse or email info@behealthyhappywhole.com to set up a complimentary 20-minute Discovery Session.