Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day

It is Father’s Day.   It is natural to be thinking of my biological father, the father whose genetic make-up is a part of me.  Yet, despite the fact that I carry this man around in my denim pocket, he is no more a part of me than the other fathers I have had.  There have been many who have creeped into the crevices of my soul – seeing me and knowing me in ways my own father never could.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my Dad.  I just wish he had more interest in being an active participant in my life.  He has always been generous with his ink in cutting a check and for that I am grateful.  He has helped me out during difficult financial times.  I have gone to him for advice and he has been a good sounding board, but he has tended to play therapist much easier than Dad – emotionally distant and neutral in his responses.  Sometimes I just want a Dad who tells me what he thinks and what he feels.  I want him to be on my side and rally for me when I need him to.  I want to feel his love, to know he wants to spend time with me and looks forward to seeing me.  I want him to put his book down and be present with me when we are sitting in the same room.  I want him to make me a priority in his life – okay maybe not his top priority but somewhere above his friends, travel, and his own personal adventures. 
I realize we all probably have mixed feelings about our fathers.  We idealize them as kids then as we grow to their level and see eye to eye, all of a sudden it’s like we can see into their souls and realize they are not perfect.  It’s a disappointment that we grapple with – some for maybe only a short time and for others maybe for a lifetime.  It is hard to let go of that ideal father we so wish we had.  It’s not easy to get to a place of accepting him for who he is – just Dad. 
Despite my struggles with this myself, my Dad has taught me some important lessons and has shared with me some wisdom I live by.  From him I have learned to trust life’s process – that all will work out for the best if we so believe.  He has taught me the importance of recognizing life lessons in challenges and difficult situations and to view these experiences as opportunities to grow.  Perhaps my focus towards personal growth largely comes from my Dad and I can credit him for the career path I chose. 
Yet, there are many other father figures I must give credit to as well.  I can think of a few who have taught me important life lessons.   My step-father, despite, his mental health challenges taught me the importance of “being there” for others.  He was always there for me.  He was my audience when I wanted to model a new outfit I bought.  He would beam with pride and his eyes would swell with tears when I shared an accomplishment.  He would help me understand and appreciate politics when I challenged my resistance and took interest.   
A supervisor, Alan, challenged me to self-reflect and take responsibility for my actions and choices.  Through his sharing of parables, he demonstrated that we all have a story and can be the authors of our own.   Another supervisor, Dave, helped me develop my professional thinking and judgment – not by sharing his own but simply by asking questions that helped me connect my own thoughts and draw my own conclusions.  He gave me a model for helping to empower others to do the same.  
Ranjit taught me many important things as well– namely to not look for love outside of myself.  He taught me self-love and the importance of fulfilling my own desires.  He taught me how to breathe and find that peaceful place in my own soul.  With his lessons, I have learned to let go (if even just a little bit) of looking to my Dad to be that ideal father.  I am now more able to accept my Dad for who he is, not expect him to be any different and to recognize the gifts he has given me.  This has saved me from continued hurt and disappointment and for that I am grateful to Ranjit.
And Dave, my fiancĂ©.  With his love and support I am healing parts of myself that were wounded by my father.  He reminds and encourages me to look to the Father of us all, for what no human on earth can give.  There I can find my ideal Father!  He in turn is giving me the things my Dad never could – love, understanding, reliability, emotional availability, and validation.  Through his love and stead-fastness, I am getting re-parented and growing from that wounded child into the woman who is so ready to embrace life, love and 2nd chances.  Thank you for that Dave.  There is no greater gift!
Thank you fathers.  Happy Father’s Day!