Oh, Tatum…

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On the episode “A Home Coming,” Tatum really struggles with a key first step in rebuilding broken relationships.

The Setup

Tatum is returning home to LA to try to mend her relationship with her father, Ryan, which has been busted since he abandoned her for Farrah Fawcett when she was 16.  The day before she arrives, she gets a call from her son, Sean, saying he and Ryan got into a fight in Ryan’s car and that Ryan tossed him out and left him by the side of the road.

What Tatum Says

Tatum is now freaked out about meeting up with her father for the first time in years and isn’t sure if she wants him to come to her birthday party that night.  She says his out-of-control temper is exactly why she ended the relationship with her father, that he hasn’t changed a bit, that everything is exactly the same, and that she has a bleak view on their prospects for rebuilding their relationship.

Back Up And Tell It Right

Tatum is making a key, incorrect assumption that many people make when rebuilding broken relationships and which often becomes the excuse to halt the rebuilding process: that anything SHOULD be different.  It’s important to enter these things knowing that, yes, the relationship is going to pick up in the exact same horrible spot it left off; no, no one is going seem different because you are viewing each other through the lens of past pain; yes, the personality characteristics that scared you or drove you nuts when you ended the relationship will have the same effect on you now.  The key difference is what you’re planning to do with all of it.

In Tatum’s case, a good place for her to have started would’ve been with an assumption that of course her father still has a temper and that she’ll be triggered by old abandonment/fear issues, etc. – but that that’s all okay.  The question she might have wanted to ask herself is: assuming not a single thing about Ryan has changed, what, if any, sort of relationship do I want with him and what do I need to do to keep true to who I am regardless of what he’s doing?

I’m keeping the faith, Tatum…