anger · detachment · faith · fallibility · family · forgiveness · humaness · serenity · spirituality

The Father-Daughter Dance

My friend found out yesterday that her father is dying in
Switzerland, and she and another friend happened to be at my house yesterday
morning when she got the call. It felt like divine timing that she “happened”
to be at my house, instead of alone in her apartment, when she received this
call, and then had to argue with her phone company to get international calling
added to her account so that she could call the ER where her dad was admitted.
We were able to sit there with her, just to sit in my kitchen
while she paced my living room, on the phone. Able to make her tea and just
set it there, whether she wanted to drink it or could or not. Able to bear
witness to her tears, and her fear and her love and her fraughtness about
timing and money and taxes and passports and citizenship.
We were able to help her talk through her very next steps,
just the ones she needed to do that day in order to prepare to get on a flight
tonight.
It was a gift to be able to be present with that.
These past two days, I’ve pulled the “Emperor” card.
Shuffled them thoroughly, cut the deck, and again, this morning, I pulled the
Emperor card.
I squick at this card. I don’t like it. In my book, it lists
the traits of this card: Fathering, Structure, Authority, Regulation.
Um, you all know my dad was in the military, yes?
My friend yesterday, between phone calls, told us how much
she loved and admired her father; what a kind man he was, how great a man he
was. It was obvious that she had great esteem for him.
I, do not have the same feelings toward my own. And
strangely, I got an email from him just a few days ago.
We haven’t spoken in months. Not since his brother died
unexpectedly over Christmas.
But, I had been thinking about him, and that it was probably
time for me to send an, “I’m not dead” email, just a check-in, just to touch
base. And then, there was his email.
So, I replied. Reported the generic updates I would tell a
casual acquaintance about my life. And it’ll probably be another several months
until we speak again.
I’m still livid, folks. I’m still angered and betrayed and
astonished at how he behaved when I had cancer, when I was going through chemo.
How he demanded phone calls on his time table, instead of mine, when I was the
one in a hospital bed with chemo dripping into a port in my chest. How he simply told me, when I
asked for this to change, that, “This is how it works.” How, even though he was
newly retired
and was working in
the yard
of his fiancé, he somehow didn’t
have any other time in the day to call his daughter in the hospital.
And mostly, it’s just sad. It just still saddens me that
this man has no idea how to show up for people. That if it isn’t something that
is structured, regulated, and orderly,
he doesn’t know how to address it, and therefore, he simply tries to quash it.
And, unfortunately, people, I’ve grown up too much to be quashed by him
anymore.
I’ve done a ton of work around him, asking for compassion
and forgiveness. In fact, just these few weeks, I’ve been using a new
affirmation: I forgive my dad fully and easily.
Strange to realize now, after the new email, the
Emperor card, my friend’s ailing father, that this might be part of that process. This doesn’t seem like coincidental
timing to me.
I know that I have more work to do. I know that I feel very
unwilling to forgive him, even at the same time that I have compassion and
understanding for someone who never, ever had kindness modeled for him. Someone
who didn’t have his own father, and only a step-father who demanded perfection and doled out derision.
I know “how” to have compassion for him. And sometimes, many times, I have it.
But, forgiveness is another thing.
And I know that my unwillingness to forgive, to continue to
drink the poison I intend for him, is only holding me back, and is only
creating blackness in the light I want to move toward. I know that my
unwillingness to forgive yokes me to him as surely as shackles, or, perhaps, as
surely as love. 
I also know that it is only in the past few weeks that I’ve
begun seeing this new therapist, and last week, just the mention of my
father, almost in passing, came up. She remarked later that it was clear there
was some work to be done there. Which, obviously, I know, and hope for us to do together.
The last thing, and the only thing that’s keeping me from
burning that Emperor card is the end of the description in my book. It says
this card can also stand in for the archetypal father “in his role as guide,
protector, and provider.”
Surely, mine was not able to be this in a way that was
supportive. But these are the exact qualities that I’ve been seeking and hoping
the “Universe” embodies. That I’ve been praying for, and trying to trust the
Universe to have. That it supports me with guidance, protection, and
provisions.
Individual, versus Archetype. Reality versus Fantasy.
Compassion versus forgiveness.
I really hate that card. 

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dating · fallibility · growth · honesty · humaness · learning

The Longest Lesson

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There is a phrase around here that says something like,
“Life is day at school: Some of the lessons are easy, and some of the lessons
are hard.”
I went back into my email this morning to grab an old
“Oprah/Deepak” meditation (because even though the last 21-day meditation
“challenge” ended a while ago… the link still works!). The one this morning
centered on the thought, “I attract that which I am.”
Sometimes I love this idea. I feel full of love and
potential and vigor, and love that I am attracting that into my world and
orbit.
Today, however, I heard that phrase, and my guts steeled a
little. I attract that which I am.
This isn’t a tear-down of myself, but these few days, I’ve felt
scared, inexpert, impulsive and mistaken. – I sent the blog that said I don’t
want to “escalate” things with the 25 y.o. to the 25 y.o. … I wrote with it, There’s
probably a better and more graceful way to let you know why I have to cancel
Saturday’s date, but here.
And like pulling the pin on a grenade and handing it to him,
I pressed send.
You can imagine this brought about a series of results and
reactions, which I am now attempting to repair. Inexpertly. And perhaps unsuccessfully.
Yesterday morning, I did some writing about my motivations
for doing this and had a conversation sharing this with someone else. It’s part
of the reason I wasn’t able to write yesterday morning.
It feels sucky, is how it feels. It feels shitty to know
that there are different ways to do things, and know you did it otherwise.
I feel sad because I (rightly) pulled the cord on a
potential relationship, and I feel ashamed of how I did that.
It’s okay. I’m human and inexpert, and learning and growing
and trying.
But, that also means I’m attracting into my world people who
are the same – AND WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST BE FUCKING PERFECT?? Be kind, and honest, and simple all of the time? It would
make this “lesson” much easier, wouldn’t it?
Can’t we all just get A’s, and “go to the head of the
class,” and all be valedictorians?
Can’t we all just stop stubbing our toes against our own
fears and hardships and boogeymen?
Can’t we all just have lives where we feel confident,
expert, proud, self-admiring, and kick-ass?
Why, in order to get to all the above feelings, must we go
through all the stubbing first?
It sense no make.
And I’m tired of being a flailing human being. I’m tired of
doing it almost right, of showing up almost fully. I’m tired of almost feeling
whole and complete and awesome.
Sometimes, I do. I won’t lie. Sometimes, I really really do.
Sometimes it’s for minutes, sometimes for hours. And even a few times, for
days, I feel like I’m really walking on a yellow brick road toward Oz.
And then the trees start to throw apples at me.
I *get* that “this is all part of the process.” But
sometimes the process sucks.
And in my attempts to wriggle out of discomfort, I land in a
higher degree. By being dishonest, abandoning my truth, trying to make someone
else deal with feelings that are uncomfortable or pave a way for me that is
less rocky, well—I know it’s the very absolute best that, as fallible,
learning, human, I can do today. But I wish, well, I wish I didn’t take that
person and potential friendship down in the process.
(End of tantrum)
(…maybe.)