My Father, My World: When Healthy Ties Produce Unhealthy Bonds
October 20, 2010 12 Comments
It was a day that I’ll never forget. Spring of 2002, a typical beautiful California day – with curtains pulled and windows up – the day that I declared, “If something were to happen to that man I would lose my mind”.
“He was my rock, my strength, my encourager, my number one constant, consistent, and unwavering cheerleader. He was the one, with whom, I could do no wrong. He loved things about me that others hated. Even in my failures he found good.” That’s the gist of my part of a conversation while sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of gourmet coffee with my, then, roommate.
Even today, I know that I am everything I am because he loved me. The writer of Celine Dion’s song, Because You Loved Me (which is like an old hymnal for me – I cry with gratitude everytime I hear it), must have channeled us because the song is totally exemplary of our relationship.
There’s only one man that has ever loved me this way, and that I’ve ever felt this way about and that’s, Sam Green, Sr., my Daddy.
I remember that day so well because everything within me cringed with the realization that my dependence on my father was not just unhealthy, but it was unfair…unfair to him and a setup for me to fail; to be devastated should/if/when something happens in his life that stops him from being everything he had been in my life.
My father is to be commended for his commitment to me. Daddy would do anything within his power to make life easier for me; to ease any pain and I love him for it. I know who I am because of Daddy’s constant reminders to me. He, not only, recognized my strengths – he reaffirmed them regularly by telling me and by guiding my thoughts and experiences so that they were real to me and he protected them; he directed and supported them. I put him on a pedestal that no human being is capable of living up to; neither should they be expected to.
I realized that I’d made my Daddy responsible for making me feel good. I realized what an unfair burden I’d placed on him. I realized that it’s not fair to expect anybody, except me, to be responsible for making me feel good.
In that moment at the kitchen table, completely bothered by my discovery, I needed to understand how I, Ms. Independent, got to that place of enormous emotional dependence; I suddenly hungered for total self-reliance.
In every tough spot of life when I’d just take it to Daddy, I was assured his stroking and his approval. Daddy knew how to make me feel good. Then I realized that as an adult with success in every area – but repeated interpersonal failures (understanding temperaments/personalities enough to teach it, but not live it) – that identifying and correcting the error of my ways was MY responsibility. Daddy was just doing what he’d always done – made me feel good, but it was up to me to be my best me. I needed to grow up! Would I dare take the journey?
It was that beautiful California day, that I truly became a woman. That decision led me to appreciate my father for the deposits he made in those formative years and for the support that he’d been my entire life. I decided that I would no longer call Daddy to make me feel good about my issues. Instead, I’d resort to the deposits he’d made within me: deposits of courage, resourcefulness, resilience, and persistence. He’d always told me these reservoirs were at my disposal to understand and overcome everything in my life. It was easier to turn to Daddy than to trust myself.
The process of owning, accepting, and embracing my weaknesses produced the ability to do for myself what nobody else could ever do.
Today, I still enjoy a very close relationship with my Daddy and I still call him about my issues, but now it’s with reports of how I’ve worked them out. Although, one of the hardest journeys I’ve ever taken, it has birthed enormous inner strength.
I realize that he will not be with me always, so I make every encounter count. While I adore that old man, when it is his time I can let go with celebration in my heart. I have a lifetime of wonderful memories with him and I’ll know that I have made the most of our time together. I will – no doubt – have my moments of missing him terribly, but I will continue to live my best life, hugely, in honor of his.
In order to help me to detach from what others think; to courage up and think independently enough to do my own thing Daddy would often tell me, “You came in this world alone, and you’ll leave alone.” I’ve often drawn from that deposit and have expanded its meaning: I came in this world for my own individual, unique journey – much of which I’m responsible for creating – and the state of mind and spirit that I take this journey (and exit from it with) is solely up to me.
Dare you take a parallel journey? We’re Growing UP…Grown IS Sexy! 😉
Do you have a similar experience? Leave a comment…I’m listening…
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All the best,
Speaker, Individuality Advocate
Author of Living by Design and Living in Harmony