Tatum O'Neal on How She 'Found' Herself


i wanted to force our secrets out into the open. much as our lives have played out in public and on the screen, i felt the camera, with its unflinching mirror of truth, was the mediator most likely to propel us forward in our journey. my father would have a chance to show that he was not the man who, in a Vanity fair article, said negative things about me and his sons; that he's more than the mug shot seen around the world after he was arrested in 2007 for firing a gun at my brother griffin. And i would have a chance to show that i'm more than the daughter of someone famous, the wife of someone famous, a drug addict whose children had made it in spite of me, not because of me.

so this tale includes the ups and downs as we tried to forge a new relationship—at times a fraught, emotional, and seemingly doomed effort, but also a funny, surreal glimpse of a father and daughter who made an iconic film together in the early seventies, who've had their problems and still have them, who are celebrities but still regular people, trying to survive as father and daughter as best we can.

WHAT DOES IT mean to forgive—literally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually? As far as i'm concerned, my father started me on a rocky path in life. what does it mean to watch a man who hurt you grow older, to see that the years you have left together are diminish¬ing, day by day, and to realize you have to choose between accepting the person he is or letting him go forever? For so many years, i cut my father off, but i finally felt it was time to face him again and try to heal the wounds.

i began this journey thinking that i needed to find a way to let go of the past—that forgetting was the only way to forgive. Parents and kids can make terrible mistakes. but as ryan and i circled and spun, pulling each other closer and pushing each other away, i found that the past was always with me—always reasserting itself. sometimes it was melancholy, sometimes hopeful. sometimes it gave me strength. sometimes it kept me true. but it always bound me to my father, with a complicated, ordinary, undying love.

ryan cannot change the past, but in making a Tv show about our reconnection, i believed he had the opportunity to give us the present and a future, and that would be the best gift a father could give his daughter.

i was terrified to bring my father back into my life. ryan can be the most charming, sweet, gentle person in the entire world. i have always wanted to please him. i have always longed to bask in the glow of his acceptance and love. but i remembered his anger, and i still feared it. still, i decided that if, regardless of my fear, ryan and i could forgive each other and repair such a damaged relationship, then anyone can, and it would be an effort worth sharing.

And so i am telling everything. The truth. The struggle. The hope. The love. i believe it is the right thing to do, and that it will bring the right outcome, whatever that may be. we are all dealt dif¬ferent hands, and some are tougher than others to survive. There are traumas and there is damage that create seemingly insurmountable hurdles. but i am as determined to move forward as i've ever been. You can and must survive, no matter what. That's my motto.

There is always hope.

CLICK HERE: Tatum O'Neal Talks About Her Drug Abuse, Chaotic Childhood and Forgiving Estranged Father

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