The wind is dancing through the trees
The sun's heat glimmers through the leaves
I watch the boughs flow and bounce with the wind and the hazy sheen from the sun’s rays as they permeate the atmosphere
I can feel the sizzle begin as I watch my dog’s tongues loll and gag about as they sunbathe on the back deck
There is a quiet to the day as if all is hiding out in the shade…slowly emerging to the day’s heat
It is a gentle caress from the tongues of the wind on my skin, tinged with languid warmth
As I begin the day by walking my dogs to greet the summers day
It is Father's Day, and I feel moved to write about myself. This blog is about my journey in appreciating my father. Father's Day; Mother's Day, are holidays to remember and celebrate our parents. When we are little, those days may not have much meaning other than making a card for them or spending some time with our often busy parents. As we get older and have children ourselves, often these days have more meaning to us. Today I am writing about my dad and what comes up for me.
What comes up for me mostly is: thank you, dad. Yes, he was a very flawed man as we all are. Growing up with him as my father was a difficult experience. On the surface to many from the outside looking in, my family looked to be a very happy family with a special man as my father. He and my mother by proxy took in my friends when they were having trouble in their homes, as well as some of my sibling's friends. He could be fun and funny, silly, wise, and seemed to be a person of great integrity who had all the answers. And if he didn’t, he would find the answers. He looked to be the one to go to for protection and made himself seem irreplaceable and a Wizard of Oz.
On the inside, he was mean and difficult to my mom, he needed to be my savior and everyone else's, he was blind to my mother's weaknesses, and he needed me and my family to love him and be his friends, as he didn’t have many. He never wanted us to leave him. In that way, especially as a girl, for myself and my sisters, he could be very seductive. He could be cruel to those he disagreed with or didn’t like. And, on the other hand, he was funny, witty, fun to be with, creative, loved hiking and outdoor activities, was an avid baseball fan and a coach to my brother, he played catch with us and engaged the neighborhood into summer game activities, he organized great summer vacations, he loved to sing old campfire songs, and he loved going out on excursions and out to breakfast.
Did I say he was also a liar and a great one? He was a liar and a great one; so great that it was hard to see that was happening until he got older. Everything had to revolve around him. Family meals and discussions were all about him. If we wanted to be with him we had to do what he wanted to do. And I did because I wanted to be with him and he could be such fun. He also felt safe. He wasn’t really, but he made himself out to be the ultimate in protecting us. It was difficult growing up and leaving him. He often tried to come between his daughters and their boyfriends and then husbands. Such was my contradictory father. And such were and are the contradictory feelings I have for him.
We all have contradictory fathers. All of us at times are complicated and contradictory. Such though was my personal experience. For me, he also was a role model for how I conduct my healing work. I am not a psychotherapist as he was, but I learned a lot about people, how they develop, how to really listen and what can be behind how they present. I learned that a diagnosis is really just a description and a description is so much more helpful than a diagnosis. I learned how not to give up especially when I really want to. Sometimes I learned that to a fault as sometimes we have to let go and move on. I learned so many silly songs that are lots of fun to sing. I learned to love baseball and to enjoy outdoor excursions and going out to breakfast.
Sometimes our greatest learning comes from a negative learning experience. I learned the most from him in terms of how to love not only because I need it for myself, but to love for the other. He loved for himself. I learned through him who could never give up on some things, that sometimes we have to….it is time, and we need to move forward. I learned to not always speak first and to be aware of the other and their needs and desires…for him, everything was about him. And I learned what it really means to have integrity; he, it turns out, didn't really have much. I learned to do what he might say to do, but not do as he did. He would say for us to be honest and to look inside and that integrity starts with us. He couldn’t live it. I learned that it is ok to be me and to be different without feeling separate from others; to do that with inclusion. I am not better than anyone else. I am just different. He could say those things, but not do them without exclusion. I learned how to let go of him, and see him for who he truly was and love him anyway.
Thank you, dad, for everything. And thank you for the opportunity to grow and to break some cycles in our family that needed breaking. Without you, I wouldn’t have the chance.
We all have our own experiences with our fathers. Hopefully, we can appreciate the things we really like about them, learn how to grow from the things we don't like and choose to be like the things we like the most. Happy Father's Day.