Sunday, June 16, 2013

Letting Go.

Today we celebrate dads.  The guys in our lives who cheer us on during our games, recitals, potty training, graduations, and learning algebra.  The guys who can wear a stern and disappointed face when we've been disrespectful or mean-spirited and glisten-y eyes when you score your first basket, ride without training wheels, and wear your wedding gown.  The guys who show love in a fun way. A tickle-until-you-cry way.  A 'play catch in 95 degree heat' way. A 'build with Legos' way.  A 'snuggle away the tears' way.  A giving way.  A way that means long hours, stressful hours, endless hours...working hard to provide comforts and stability that often times go unrecognized and taken for granted.  Providing the foundations for children to grow up feeling safe and loved and cared for; turning selfishness into selflessness.  Setting the standard for how his children will grow up to show love toward others.  Believing in his kids: no.matter.what.  Being the kind of guy his son emulates and his daughter wants to find in a husband.  Being present in the lives of his children not just physically; but emotionally. Spiritually.  Morally.

It's a tough job, and what can make it tougher are the times when things don't always turn out as you'd imagined them to be.  The times when your kids don't listen and wind up spilling the bowl of cereal on the floor.  The times when they strike out rather than have the game-winning hit.  The times when they sneak out of the house to meet up with a less-than-desirable boyfriend.  They times when they slam the door in your face, or hang up the phone, or don't call at all.  They times they break your heart.

Fatherhood isn't an easy task.  I know this not because I'm a dad, but because I'm a kid who didn't always make it easy for my own dad.  There were fights.  Mean words.  Disrespect.  And years of silence.  Years.

Being a kid of parents who separated at a relatively early age isn't easy.  It's big and scary and confusing and hurtful.  Things happen in the 'grown up world' that are kept away from the innocence of children; to protect them from whatever truths may exist in the chasm that's been exposed in the relationship.  Being privy to only part of the story allowed for the gaps to be filled with additional doses of hurt and anger and confusion.  As time went on, actions occurred, situations arose, events happened, and words exchanged {or not exchanged} that compounded those feelings; condensing them into a ball of bitter energy that began slowly eating away at my interior.  At the time, the only option I found was to retreat.  Remove myself from what I considered the source of my pain.

And so it went.

My dad and I didn't speak for a long time.  A really long time.  Granted, living 1800+ miles away from him made it a little more 'possible' to be incognito in our relationship, but even with the modern conveniences that technology offers, I still chose to remain a 'silent stewer'.  I stewed in bitterness, confusion, and painful memories of the past.  I stewed in the hurt I felt not only as a victim but also the guilt I felt as a facilitator of deepening the wounds rather than letting a scar form.  In all this stewing, I did not find the result I had hoped for when I decided to withdrawal from finding positives in the relationship I had with my father.  I needed to change.

The decision to face the broken relationship(s)--{ties were not only severed with my dad, but basically his whole side of the family as well} did not actually come from me finding the strength to do so; but rather it came from the positive relationships I have with my brother Jason and his {at the time} soon-to-be wife, Juliana.  On July 14, 2012, they were married, which meant that my dad and I would see each other for the first time in many years.  He would be meeting his granddaughters for the first time, and seeing his grandson as a 6 year old; rather than the baby he had last seen.

There were uncertainties.  Assumptions made by some about interactions and {potential} outcomes.  Nervousness.  Mental preparations for all of the words that could be exchanged or the feelings that would bubble up as a result of being in the presence of each other.  {Of course, I'm only speaking from a personal standpoint, as I would not want to make assumptions on the behalf of others.}

The time came for the wedding rehearsal.  Walking toward the gazebo, I can't tell you the shakiness going on inside my heart.  The polarity of wanting to go with what I knew {my brick wall of isolation}, or smashing the wall entirely and starting completely fresh.  Each step was like a pendulum swinging from one side to the other.  When I arrived at their threshold, I found that the pendulum stopped, resting somewhere in the middle of the continuum.  The 'gray' space between the darkness of silence and the light of forgiveness.  Ugh.  What an uncomfortable place to be.

Since that encounter, nearly a year ago, my other brother Geoff married his wife Kate which meant that amidst the celebration of their love, my dad and I saw each other again.  The pendulum of uncertainty still swung that time around, still settled in 'that gray space'; however the gray seemed lighter, more foggy than dark.  I took this as a sign, and I began to change the way I prayed about the situation.

Since moving to Texas, I've found more space in my mind and my heart and my soul to grow in my faith and my connections and my purpose.  I could easily say that space had once been occupied by practicing the craft of teaching; however that excuse is a simple way to write off the fact that I must not have been ready.

I guess now I am.  I'm working on it.  Slowly learning, growing, and softening to the idea that I  Not to excuse behaviors, words, or actions.  But to clear out anything that is not contributing to my betterment.  I let go to release and have inner peace and renew relationships in a way that will allow me to become a better example for my kids, to become a better wife for my husband, and to become a better daughter for my dad.  I choose to let go, to begin to forgive, and to move forward.  I choose to focus on the positive in the relationship with my dad, rather than continue to stew in the negative.  I let it go.

Letting Go
To let go doesn't mean to stop caring;
it means I can't do it for someone else.
To let go is not to cut myself off;
it's the realization that I don't control another.
To let go is not to enable;
but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is to admit powerlessness, 
which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try to change or blame another;
I can only change myself.
To let go is not to care for;
but to care about.
To let go is not to fix, 
but to be supportive.
To let go is not to be protective;
it is to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to deny, 
but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue, 
but to search out my own shortcomings
and correct them.
To let go is not criticize and regulate anyone,
but to try to become
what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past but to grow
and live for the future.
To let go is to fear less and love more.

{Author Unknown}

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